Are You Working Too Hard?

Are you be working too hard?  Especially at your relationships? Did last week's post about your job description trigger any thoughts about overworking? 

Most women overwork at their relationships. Of course, there are some notable exceptions: you can probably think of a few. But, in the main, overworking is what we're programmed to do. 

Our culture loves the concept of Hard Work, for many reasons: 

  • it supports the belief that we have to earn everything – including love
  • it suggests we're not – perish the thought!! - greedy: at least, we aren't trying to get something for nothing
  • hard work is seen as a virtue
  • whether or not it brings us rewards, hard work is meant to be it's own reward
  • it's the opium of the people - okay, that's me being flippant! 

Back in the day when I was a mere slip of a singleton, my mother told me to find myself a workaholic businessman (I think she, actually, meant a workaholic millionaire businessman). Why? Because she'd read something that suggested he would be too busy focusing on, and obsessing over, his precious business to stray! And if he wasn't actively straying, then we were just bound to be happy ever after, weren't we? 

Hmm! 

Mother's logic wasn't always flawless. 

Hard work, per se, is not so much a fulfilling Life choice as a Life-avoiding choice. 

In a curious sort of way, that holds true of relationships, too. When one partner is working their socks off in the relationship, it allows the other NOT to engage. The hard-worker will always pick up the slack. Picking up the slack is a job that 'just grows' – like the mythical Topsy. 

The hard-worker will keep doing the 'spade'' work. What they won't do is hold the other partner accountable. That requires quite a different skill-set. It requires them to hold the line, and step back. It requires them to give the other person the space to choose their own behaviour, and the time to make their own choices: choices you may not particularly like. 

What I've discovered from all the years working with hundreds and hundreds of women is that most women start working too hard at their relationships, virtually from Day 1 on. 

Why do we do it? 

Because: 

  • we believe that we have to earn everything – especially lasting love
  • it proves you're unselfish: at the veryleast, a partner will have to acknowledge you're not greedy, since you aren't trying to get nearly as much as you give. (Not until your partner finally has that 'light-bulb' moment, anyway.)
  • hard work is seen as a virtue
  • hard work is meant to be it's own reward 

What's more, it proves you are reassuringly low maintenance – as in, “You would not believe how emotionally economical I am to run” 

And, although my mother would never have put this into words: it may well leave you too busy, and too exhausted for an affair. 

How do you know if you are working too hard at your relationship? 

  • You frequently feel tired and drained
  • You're not getting heard – how much effort does it take, for Heaven's sake, for someone to LISTEN to you?
  • You're making excuses, or saying: “I'll be happy WHEN...”
  • The list of your chores goes on and on
  • It's been a while since you've heard much in the way of a heartfelt “Thank You”
  • You've just taken delivery of a new Superwoman suit... 

I don't think being Superwoman was a lifestyle choice for... Superwoman. But what I do know is this: understudying for Superwoman is a poor lifestyle choice for lesser mortals. It gets in the way of you getting what you really want. 

When you can't hold your partner accountable for his behaviours, you can't ask for what you need. 

When you can't ask for what you need, you stand next to NO chance of getting your needs met. 

Just because you can work flat out at your relationships doesn't mean you should. 

Superwoman got it wrong, bless her. Poor soul, she was so 20th century. She got it wrong, but you don't have to. Why not show her a better role model for the 21st century?

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