How To Achieve Work-Life Balance When You Both Have Demanding Jobs

Working 40 plus hours a week is not conducive to quality time, but you can still make it work

Updated 08/08/18

Studio Firma / Stocksy United

Sometimes, life happens. A lot of the time when people talk about making your relationship work, they almost describe it like the two of you live in a vacuum with endless time, energy, and resources to devote toward each other and toward making your relationship strong. But life rarely looks like that. You might have family stress, you might have money stress. And, more often than now, work stress has a way of getting the best of us.

Our jobs are where we spend so much of our time. Yes, most people have a 40-hour work week, but at high-level and demanding jobs—or if you’re working two jobs to make ends meet—you can easily end up almost doubling the number. And when you’re working 60, 70, or even 80 hours a week, then where does your relationship fit in? It's not easy. Plus, if both of you have demanding work schedules, you’re going to have to be even more careful to keep the relationship going. But it can be done. Here's how to balance your life when you both have demanding careers, because your relationship needs some TLC—but so do you.

Scheduling Is Your Friend

Sure, when you both have demanding jobs then it may not always be possible to stick to a schedule. Last-minute deadlines, late meetings, and a million and one other issues can raise their ugly heads. But a schedule gives you a foundation, it gives you an outline to work with. Try to schedule in time together (and time for yourselves) every single week. Even if you don’t always manage to stick to the schedule, having something to work toward can keep you from getting complacent and letting your relationship suffer.

You should keep your goals in mind, so you're working toward them—even when you can't reach always reach them.

Set Soft And Hard Boundaries

More and more, work has a way of creeping into every nook and cranny of our lives. You can’t control what your boss demands or expects of you, but you can control how you handle those expectations. So try to create some boundaries. Have one set of hard boundaries that can’t be broken—no work emails in bed or no checking your phone during date night, whatever feels like a priority to you as a couple. Then, you can have some soft boundaries that you try to adhere to, but are a bit more flexible. Try not to check your work emails on Sundays, try not to work late three nights in a row.

Look at your schedules and see where you can take back a little bit of control.

Keep The Communication Going

When two people are busy and stressed, it’s easy for one (or both) of them to start feeling overlooked or resentful. You feel like you’re the only one picking up toilet paper from the store after a long day, they feel like they are the only person who’s done laundry in weeks. So keep the communication open—and keep being grateful for each other. Tell your partner that you appreciate them and try to notice when they’re going to extra mile. If you’re struggling with your workload or feeling neglected, talk about that, too.

It’s too easy to get all wrapped up in own little soap opera, especially when our job is monopolizing one. But if you’re communicating, you can work as a team—you can pick up the slack for one another, support one another when things get particularly difficult. Keep connecting and keep talking.

Don’t Forget About The Rest Of Your Life

Sometimes when life stress hits, it’s easy to get an almost bunker mentality—you go to work, if you’re lucky you get some time with your partner, and then you... go to work again. Nothing exists outside of the bubble. But a life isn’t built on a job and a relationship alone. Make sure that you make an effort to keep up the rest of your life, as well. Seeing friends, getting in some exercise, seeing the actual sun once in a while—whatever it is that you need to keep your wellbeing and mental health strong, try to prioritize it.

Although it can feel selfish, it's actually good for the people around you. You’ll be a better partner—and even a better employee—if you manage to fit in some nourishing self-care and get some headspace.

Let Yourself Off The Hook

The truth is, if you both have really demanding careers then there are going to be some tricky moments. Maybe you have some dream version of yourself where, no matter how busy you both are, you put on your dancing shoes and hit the town once a week without fail. But some weeks, you both may be so fried that binge watching something hilarious and mindless is your only option. Be realistic—and give yourselves a break once in a while. If you become obsessed with having the “perfect” relationship, that will just create another pressure that weighs down on you.

Instead, let yourself off the hook if you just need some R&R.

Work-life balance is always tough—and it's even tougher if both of you have demanding jobs. Do your best and, no matter what, keep the communication open. You want to feel like you're on the same team, not competing to see who can be more stressed. If you work together, you'll fight little pockets of space for your relationship—and for yourselves.

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