In today’s career-driven society, romance all too often takes the back seat. Here’s how you and your better half can keep the flame alive.
By: Kel Tan
If both of you hold regular jobs, it can sometimes be difficult to find time for each other. But while work-life balance is elusive, it’s not impossible to attain. Miss Sher-Li Torrey, the founder and director of social enterprise Mums@Work Singapore, offers helpful tips on how to strike a balance between your personal life and your professional one.
Demarcate your time
“Organise your day or week such that there are designated times that you can dedicate solely to your partner,” advises Sher-Li. This might mean banning work calls and emails after 7pm, or waking up half an hour earlier each day to catch up with your better half over breakfast. Also, carve time out for regular dates, whether it’s a simple weekday dinner or a Saturday morning workout at the park. This will give the both of you something to look forward to during the week.
“It’s like my wife is married to her job, I wish she would not go back to work on Saturdays when she doesn’t need too.” ~ Stance (married without children)
Be mentally present
Merely setting aside time for each other isn’t enough; you also have to make sure that its quality time well spent. “When we’re sitting at the dining table at home after a long day at work, our thoughts are often still at the office,” muses Sher-Li. Be fully present – put away your laptop and cellphone, and stop fretting about deadlines at the back of your mind. Channel your attention towards your better half instead, and really listen to what he or she has to say. By disconnecting from work completely, you’ll also feel more recharged when you step back into the office the next day.
Offer a listening ear
“Take an active interest in your partner’s career, and ask about his or her work day,” says Sher-Li. “Encourage him or her to open up about challenges at the office and understand, through tactful questions. Sometimes, what they are looking for is not practical advice but simply a listening ear.” However, it’s also important to limit talk about your jobs; make it a point to chat about non work-related topics, too.
Encourage your better half, especially when he or she is stressed out about an important development at work. “It can be something as simple as sending a good luck text message on the morning of a business presentation. Knowing that your partner is your biggest cheerleader is sometimes the most empowering form of support that you can receive,” says Sher-Li.
Stay connected throughout the day
Spend a few minutes each day checking in with your better half, whether it’s via a short text message, email, or even a quick phone call. That said, don’t let your relationship distract you while you’re in the office – so don’t spend hours on end on lengthy private conversations! If you’re more productive at work, you’ll get to leave the office earlier; this in turn translates into more quality time with each other.
Share household chores
After a long day at work, it can be daunting to come home to a long list of household chores. Share the workload – for instance, one of you can do the laundry, while the other can take care of the dishes. “Household chores are oftentimes the cause of fights, especially when one party feels that he or she is shouldering too much responsibility,” says Sher-Li. Assign clear roles and stick to them – it’s a shared home after all. Alternatively, consider hiring a cleaner to take care of the chores; this will free up more couple time for both of you.
“Something about my husband in the kitchen and cooking makes him look hot.” ~ Pei Lin (married with children)
Make career decisions together
“It’s important to talk about career goals with each other. Major developments in your career – be it a pay increment, promotion, loss of job or a whole new role – will potentially have an impact on your partner’s lifestyle. Seek his or her advice about these changes; knowing what each feels can go a long way in establishing an honest communication pattern,” advises Sher-Li.
“If I am not supportive of my wife’s career choices, who else will?” ~ Amrit (Newlyweds)
Talk about finances, too
Be transparent when it comes to money. “Financial issues often create strife between couples. Money management attitudes differ according to personality, and everyone has their own views about spending and saving. As such, it’s always good to understand what your partner values, and how he or she perceives money in the pursuit of happiness,” notes Sher-Li. Be upfront about any debts you’re carrying, and work out a monthly budget together – especially when there are mortgages and utilities you have to service. Also, agree on general spending rules, and always consult each other before making a big purchase. Most importantly, keep the communication lines open, and don’t be afraid of discussing any financial issues that might arise.
“It helps that my fiancée is very good with money management; thus, behind every successful man, is a woman” ~ Nelson (Soon-to-wed)
I Love Children thanks Ms Sher-li Torrey for her valuable input.