• Nurturing your relationship is not easy if you are also working long hours in a stressful job

  • Therapist Owen Redahan has tips for protecting your most intimate relationship from being damaged

  • If you are looking for a therapist, you can find one here

Unfortunately, working for demanding companies - and what ones aren’t these days - can make finding and maintaining a successful relationship difficult. These days the perceived greatest challenge to a fulfilling relationship is the partner’s long daily work routines. 

Early hours and later evenings can make cultivating intimacy challenging, though not impossible. Good communication, listening and talking, are key to a successful relationship. So to ensure it survives you have to find ways to keep in touch.

If a couple have not built up a strong belief in their future together and trust in their partner, then cracks may appear under the strain of long work hours and work trips away. A relationship is about two people deciding that they want to be together. If what they put into the relationship (loss of freedom, considering another, and having to work to ensure the success of the relationship) is counter-balanced by what they get out (intimacy, support, physical intimacy and whatever else you feel is important) then the relationship is more likely to survive.

The demands of work causes great stress. However it is important not to bring this stress home. If you’re not careful, for example, you may be more irritable which can lead to arguments. You may feel undervalued at work and this could affect your self-belief and you may wonder why your partner stays with you. Or you may get involved with someone outside the relationship who makes you feel good.

So, what can you do? Firstly decide what your priorities are. Maybe you want to put your career first? Then you need to decide if you have time for a proper relationship. Relationships have to be worked on and so naturally take up time, but if it is what you want then it is worth it. If you are in a relationship then talk to your partner. Tell him or her what’s going on. Let the two of you decide how you will work it through. You mustn’t think that you’re the only one who can make the relationship work. 

Is there any way you can manage your workload better? Perhaps getting in earlier to sort out things before the phone rings and emails flood in. Couples tend to prefer to be together during the evening, so getting in earlier may get you out of work earlier and give you that valuable time together.

Find ways to keep in touch. The occasional text to show you are thinking of your partner can help. But these shouldn’t replace either talking on the phone or ideally face to face. Find time to be together, even if it is only 10 minutes over a coffee. Don't talk about work. Talk about you, your relationship and your partner.

Ultimately, if you think your relationship is the most important part of your life and it's being damaged by working life, then you may have to consider a less time-consuming and stressful job. But before you do that talk to your partner about what you are thinking.

Further reading

Finding work-life balance

How to embrace mindfulness at work

Common relationship problems: how therapy can help

How to turn your interests into a career