Plenty of people are dedicated to their careers. After all, with the increasing costs of a college degree you want to make good use of the money you've spent, and earn enough to pay back those student loans. There is also the obvious sense of accomplishment that comes from career advancement and promotions. Progressing in your career usually requires a single minded focus at the expense of other things in your life - like meaningful relationships.
Having such a one dimensional focus wrecks havoc on your personal life. A common complaint I hear from female friends is that their husbands and boyfriends work too much. That's probably something we can all identify with. Sure, they appreciate the work ethic their significant others have, and respect the dedication that they have to providing, but also wish that they could spend more time together. Finding the balance between a rewarding and successful career, and a fulfilling relationship is not easy - but here are a few of the things I have learned that help to make it easier.
Set Ground Rules
If you work a stressful job that requires a lot of focus, sit down and have a talk so that your significant other knows that when you are at work - you're off limits unless it's an emergency. Focusing on your job and getting things done means your going to have a lot less work to bring home with you. Without distractions, the quality of your work will improve and help you achieve your careers goals, while still allowing time for an active love life.
That said, it's a good idea to have those check in moments, a quick phone call or text to say 'I love you' or' I miss you' can go a long way in a relationship. Letting someone know that though they may be gone, they are not forgotten is a subtle romantic gesture that makes anyone feel good. If you get a break between meetings send a text, or set aside a few minutes out of your lunch break to call and say hello.
Set Aside Time for Romance
If you are dating someone, or married, it's critical to set aside time for romance. You should make time on your schedule for your romantic partner just as you would for work or any other important activity. Pick a day of the week that you both can agree on and have free for a date night or romantic activity. That will give both of you something you can look forward to. This could be as simple as a pizza and Netflix on the couch night, or a formal dinner and show.
What matters is spending time together. Now keep in mind this time together should be of utmost importance and almost nothing should break the promise of quality time with your partner. Make sure you complete any work tasks or personal matters before your date night so that nothing will come in the way. And promise that anything that doesn't get done will just have to wait. No one likes to be thought of as a backup plan, and if your always breaking plans or distracted by your cell phone or emails it's not fair to your partner. Which is my next point:
Limit Your Cellphone Usage Outside of Work
If you are a supervisor or manager, work is going to require your attention outside business hours from time to time. But if you are always taking work phone calls, or responding to work emails in your free time - not only are raising the expectations on what you can accomplish in a business day, but you're taking away time from things that create a meaningful and fulfilling life.
Talk to your employees, coworkers, or boss and make sure that they understand what defines an "emergency" requiring your attention outside of working hours. Maybe go as far as to say that you will only respond to emails or texts at certain times - then stick to it.
If you are already having trouble making time for a significant other, don't spend the the few hours you have together scrolling on social media, liking stupid memes, or sharing fake news and other time wasters. One of the most annoying things I have found when dating is that so many people are just constantly on their phones. When our time together is limited, I expect you to be in the here and now - not playing on your phone. That shows the person you are with that you do care about the time spent together, and trust me nothing happening on social media is as important as the person sitting there with you right now who is taking the time to be with you.
Limit How Much You Talk About Work
Right after work, I usually need to blow off steam. The stress of a hard day at work means I need to vent sometimes but I try to limit how much I talk about work to my partner. If something that happened is particularly amusing or important I will talk about it - but I have learned to set limits on how mush I talk about work outside of work.
I found a good number is 5-10 minutes of work talk in response to "how was your day" and I am sure to give her the same amount of time to blow off steam as well. Anymore than that amount of time is a waste that cuts into your romantic and personal life. I decided awhile back that no one could ever pay me enough to carry around their bag of bricks (stress and problems) to ignore my personal life, mental, and physical health. So when you leave work, leave the work talk behind.
Limit the Projects You Take On
When I was young and single, I would be the first person to volunteer for every project the boss needed help on. Sure, it earned me the boss's good graces and helped my career - but it also meant that I raised the expectations on what I could accomplish in a given day.
I ended up taking home a lot of work to get it done, and had to say no to things like hanging out with friends or dating. When I did meet someone I wanted to see romantically, I found that I just didn't have the time to dedicate since I was so overburdened with work. Looking back, I am sure I missed some opportunities to develop meaningful relationships with women that could have been "the one".
Creating a work life balance isn't always easy - but with some forethought and planning you can balance a fulfilling career and relationship. Call me a romantic, but I think the potential for love offers so much more than a career ever could. Sure, you need to make sure that the relationship is worth the investment - but when the time comes and you think she is the one make sure that you are giving her the attention required for the relationship to succeed.
Jeremy Wright is a self-described opinionated bastard. Follow him on Facebook.