How to Not Let Work Get In the Way Of Your Relationship

woman working
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We’re not talking carpal tunnel. Your job can sabotage your marriage.

When you first imagined marital bliss, we bet you pictured lazy Sundays, romantic dinners out and shopping together to get swag for your new home. What you didn't envision were the constant calls from your boss, an annoying commute and bitchy coworkers. In fact, you probably weren't thinking too much about work at all. But now that the honeymoon's over (literally), it's very easy to feel depressed. The good news: There is something you can do. See what the seven biggest work woes are and learn how to prevent them from wrecking your marriage.

You're Starting A Business Together

Before you do anything, figure out who's responsible for what. The last thing you want is for one person to become the boss and the other to wonder what happened to your supposedly egalitarian marriage. Also, conduct business meetings outside your home, even if at first that means having to hold court at your local Starbucks. Those $5 skinny lattes are so worth not having to hash over financial spreadsheets in bed. Hello, talk about killing the mood!

You Hate Your Job

There's only one thing worse than going to work at a job you can't stand, and that's not being able to pay your bills. The reality is, most couples need both people to work in order to pay for stuff like, oh, you know, food, shelter and any chance of retirement. Don't blame your spouse if she really likes her job and you're “stuck" doing something you can't stand (imagine if you were both miserable!). Instead, brainstorm any career options together and come up with a list of contacts you can use to network. If your less-than-hot job happens to bring in a load of cash that you desperately need right now, call it what it is: a temporary sacrifice.

You Work In the Same Field

You're both pros at what you do, which can make it tough not to lecture about what the other person should've done differently in a given situation. If your spouse had a down day at work, listen to what he has to say and offer your support. On the flip side, if he gets a promotion, put your competitive thoughts aside. You know he'll be there for you when it's your turn.

Your New Office Buddy is the Opposite Sex

Hate to break it to ya, but about 66 percent of women and 75 percent of men admit to having sexual thoughts about coworkers, according to Playboy (hmm, could that be why the numbers are so high?). While most people don't act on those thoughts, it doesn't help that you spend more waking hours in the office than at home. So, yeah, your spouse's concerns aren't totally unfounded. Put her at ease by inviting her out with your coworkers for drinks. Also, keep your own actions in check. Complaining to your opposite-sex coworker about your spouse, sending nonprofessional emails or developing inside jokes are all no-nos.

You Work Late (A Lot)

If you tell your guy that you'll “probably" be home by six, it's not too surprising that he's peeved (and sitting in front of two plates of cold pasta) when you walk through the door at nine. Be realistic about when you'll be home so he can make other plans when you have to put in extra time at the office. If your schedule has you regularly working late, set aside one weeknight that's always your time. Make dinner together, watch your favorite mindless reality shows or take your dog out for a walk. Basically, do anything but talk about your afternoon staff meeting, which, let's face it, was pretty boring.

You Work From Home

Just because you work from home doesn't mean your job is easier or less important than your spouse's job. Clearly you're aware of that, but it's easy for your office-going spouse to think that you have enough free time to take care of all the household chores (because obviously you're just watching Oprah, eating Ben & Jerry's and updating your iTunes and not actually busy).

So what's a work-from-homer to do? First, set boundaries by creating a home office, even if it's just a corner of your guest room. Then make a list of who's responsible for each cleaning task so you're not stuck doing the laundry, vacuuming every single room and scrubbing less-than-kosher stains from the master bathroom toilet in the middle of your workweek (yes, you have one too!).

Your Boss Owns Your Life

It's one thing for your boss to ask you to stay late on the occasional weeknight, but it's another when he's constantly calling and emailing to the point where you have to practically sleep with your CrackBerry. You need to set boundaries with your boss, but do it in a way that won't jeopardize your career. Instead of saying, “I refuse to work past 7 p.m.," start out small and request getting out on the earlier side just one or two nights a week. Also, have a separate cell phone for work so you can leave it at home during a weekend trip or a romantic night out on the town.

Nestpert: B. Janet Hibbs, PhD, author of Try to See It My Way: Being Fair in Love and Marriage

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