In a battle between your job and your marriage, this is how you find peace.
I don’t even know where to begin but I know I could use some help here. My wife and I have been fighting a lot these days and that’s not like us. Mostly, we’re fighting about my work. I’m in sales and things have just not been going well. Usually, I am a high performer but lately, I’m just striking out over and over again.
I’m trying to make up for the lack of numbers by working more, taking on new projects, trying to remind my bosses of my value even though I am not bringing the numbers in. I’m working late most nights and am usually in the office on Saturdays now, too.
Obviously, I get why she’s mad. I’m never home and as she reminds me, I never choose her anymore. She’s quick to tell me, too, that my kids are going to forget what I look like. I’m trying here. It’s not like I am out F-ing around with my friends, drinking. I’m working. I’m trying and I’m getting shit for it over and over again.
I feel trapped and stuck. My best isn’t good enough. I can’t get her to understand, and I can’t get ahead. What am I supposed to do here?
This sucks. Trying your best and feeling like you’re failing on all sides sucks.
I always tell people that we can manage stress at work so long as things are going well at home and we can manage increased stress at home so long as our work stays steady. When both go into upheaval at the same time, it makes for chaos and it’s hard to find your way out.
Tell her what you want her to think.
So often, these conflicts start because one person tells the other what they’re going to do and the conversation ends there.
At some point, you probably told her that work was getting tough and that you were going to have to pull some later nights and add some extra shifts and that you’d hoped it wouldn’t be for too long.
You informed her. You might have forgotten to talk with her.
To you, this is a no-brainer. You have to work harder when the numbers aren’t coming in so you expect that your wife will see that in the same way. You expect your wife to know that this isn’t your preference. Who, after all, would choose to miss dinner with their family? Who would be psyched to have to work on a Saturday?
Here’s the thing, though, if you just updated her matter of factly, you didn’t tell her everything she needed to know or everything she needed to hear. This makes it so she can’t respond in a way that meets your needs because she doesn’t have all of the information. You can’t assume she knows completely where you are coming from unless you tell her. Try this:
Honey, I’m in a tough spot at work. My sales are down 17% and my bosses are getting intense in their emails and meetings. They want a plan. They want to know what I’m going to do and the truth is none of what I am doing is working and I don’t know why. It’s unavoidable but I think this is going to affect our family and how much time I have with you all. I hate this. I am so frustrated and pissed off. Nothing is working.
In doing this, you’re letting her know what the deal is but you’re also letting her know that it’s bothering you. Sometimes, in communicating upsetting information, people communicate it like a news bulletin and forget to include their emotions or allow for the other person to respond. News bulletins don’t help people feel included or prompt them to offer nurturance or support.
Include her in the solution.
It’s your job. It’s your responsibility and it’s your problem so you think it’s on you to find the solution.
Not so fast. This isn’t just your problem. It’s a family problem. When one person is struggling, you are all struggling. If solving the problem is going to impact the family, include your wife in the solution.
I really think working more is going to be unavoidable. I am going to have to work some late nights and pull a Saturday or two. Can we look at the calendar and see what works best for us? Are there nights you definitely need me home on time or something that I can’t miss on a Saturday? This is going to suck but I want it to suck as little as possible.
Be open to her solutions, too.
From the outside looking in, she might see options that you don’t. Don’t blow them off right away. Just because you think the answer is more late nights and a few Saturdays, she may have an idea that comes from outside of the box and one that works better for all of you. Let her be a part of the solution.
What do you both need?
With all of this stress and with all of these compromises, one or both of you is bound to feel it. These kind of things just put people in a bad mood sometimes and that has to be understood and accepted. It works out so much better if you make room for it.
When one or both of you are feeling stress, what do you both need, respectively? Do you need space or time to work out? Scheduled 1:1 time or a guaranteed date night? A regular way of keeping in touch or checking in? A get out of jail free card for social obligations?
If you acknowledge that you’re about to enter a stressful period and respect the fact that it will change things for a little while, you’re setting each other up for success. You’ll feel connected because you’re acting connected. You’re approaching this as a team and it’ll keep you both on the same side.
Still Stuck? Grab Heather’s 10 Hacks for Better Work-Life Balance for free tips to get started today.