Whether you love your job or hate it, chances are it's getting in the way of your love life. According to a 2007 survey by HR Live, reported in Dynamic Business magazine, the majority of Australians do, in fact, believe that work demands negatively affect personal relationships with partners.
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Karen Morris, deputy CEO of Interrelate Family Centres, agrees that work is a factor in modern relationships and sees couples in counselling as a result.
"Everyone is running on adrenaline," she says. "The working week is not 37.5 hours anymore. People are putting in long hours to make their mark. Because we're marrying or getting into permanent relationships later, both people are striving to achieve at the same time. When people come to counselling, they're laying down a whole series of things working hours, stress, the demands of a partner and then, on top of that, social time, friend time and children. It's very different to how it used to be."
And this is assuming you've managed to find time to leave the office to find a partner in the first place.
"A lot of people are hiding behind their job," says 'love coach' and author of Find Love, Carolin Dahlman. "They're single so they work to forget about being single. Or they're successful at work and that makes it hard to have an identity in their private life where they don't feel so successful."
So whether you're loved-up or still searching, chances are that work is playing havoc with your love life. Question is, what can you do about it?
When you're overworked and underpaid, it's hard to feel happy. But that's exactly what you need to be to find love, says Dahlman.
"If you're happy with yourself, you will attract good love to you," says Dahlman, "Stress is repellent and it saps productivity."
The key to happiness in love and work is to find a life outside the office. "Write lists about what makes you happy the things that make you laugh and feel joy," says Dahlman. "Once you have the list, take the time to do them. It will give you energy for work as well."
Stress is a major problem for long-term couples as well. "The trouble is that if you've worked a stressful 12-hour day, you need a substantial amount of time to settle yourself into home and make the transition to be present for someone else," says Morris. "We don't have that time anymore."
Decades ago, you'd be home by 5pm, have a drink, sit around, make a meal, sit together to have that meal, and then still have the night in front of you. "Now, you're racing in the door at 7pm or later, banging a takeaway on the table or in front of the TV and then going to bed," she says.
"With e-mail, mobiles and messaging all available after hours, it takes longer to settle. We used to have around five hours together after work, now we're lucky to get an hour." Throw kids into the equation, and you might get even less.
If this describes your lifestyle, Morris suggests that you need to think about priorities. "It's remedial, but it's a fact," she says. "How long can you do this? Is getting ahead at work the most important thing you need to be doing? You need to make sacrifices somewhere and if you don't make a choice about where that will be, the relationship will go. Unfortunately, relationships aren't seen as highly valued."
The trouble is that it's easy to assume that your partner will always be there at the end of a long day and that things will get better.
It's not always the case. "If necessary, schedule in 'love time'," says Morris.
Best of both worlds?
When you spend most of your life at work, chances are that your colleagues start to look pretty good. And while the office romance is no longer as much of a no-no as it was in the past, there are still risks involved.
"I think the big risk is that what you have is more about convenience than anything else," says Morris. "Would this relationship be sustained if you didn't have work in common?"
"And it's always more complicated," says Dahlman, "particularly in a smaller office."
Morris suggests that if you can't avoid the passion, at least put some boundaries in place. "You may need to talk to your line manager," she says. "It's often better to fess up than try to keep it quiet everyone around you always knows what's going on."
Both experts also suggest boundaries within the relationship. "Working together can be a passion killer after a while," says Morris. "You need to confine the work talk. If your private life is invaded by it, you'll lose out."
Although each couple is different, Dahlman says: "If work is a source of inspiration and power for both of you, it can work. But if you're not passionate about your job, that can affect your relationship in the long-run. Trying to have a life outside the relationship is always better."
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