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Calling all Partners of Successful Business People
Recovering Workaholics can help you create a life full of so much more than just work.
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Volume 02 | February 2008 | Partners excessive work habits get you down

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Part 1 - Welcome!
Part 2 - Feature Article - When your partner’s excessive work habits are getting you down

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Part 1 - Welcome!

Dear Partner of a Workaholic,

Welcome to this our second newsletter written especially to support Partners of Workaholics who have excessive work habits. In this newsletter we will provide support for those of you who have to deal with a partner whose excessive work habits means they work all the time and ignore you.

Are You The Partner Of a Workaholic?

  • Do you feel as if you play second fiddle to their work?
  • Is it left to you to make excuses to the children, to family and friends because they are late or too busy to attend?
  • Does your partner’s excessive work habits impact on your life and your relationship?
  • Do you send the evenings on your own – even when they are in the house?
  • Is your partner too busy or too tired to pay you the attention you need and deserve?
  • Is your life being affected because of the demands of your partner’s work?
  • Do you feel your own sense of self and your confidence are being eroded because they pay more attention to their work?
  • Are you feeling lonely and left out even though you are in a relationship?

If the answer is yes to three or more of the questions above you may be in a partnership with a workaholic.

You may be thinking:

“I didn’t need to see those questions in order to recognize that things between my partner and I are difficult because of his or her work. What I need to know is what to do about it!”

Workaholism is no different to the other “….holisms” in that the problem can very difficult for partners and families to deal with.

In the first instance you may recognise that there is a difficulty and be worried. Your worries may be for them, their long term health and well being. You may worry about the fact that the children hardly see their father/mother or that when they do they are too tired to show a real interest in them. Your worries may be about the impact work is having on your relationship and how it makes you feel about yourself.

Unless your partner accepts for themselves that they have a problem, it is extremely difficult to make them face it. Your concern may simply be ignored or be misconstrued as nagging. Until they acknowledge that they have a difficulty and they determine that they want to change their lives, you will need to deal with the impact it has on them, you and the rest of the family.

Am I saying things are hopeless? No of course not – quite the opposite in fact.

What I am suggesting is that in the first instance you need to understand what being a workaholic is about. Each person will have their own personal reasons for becoming a workaholic but if you have read the information on the website you will know that there are a number of reoccurring themes. I suggest you watch and listen for the clues your partner will undoubtedly offer, as to why they have become a workaholic.

When we work with an issue which appears to be outside our control it often feels insurmountable. It is my experience that we need to work on these external things by working on ourselves. There are things we can't change, but what we can do is change the way we feel about the issue and how it makes us feel. The paradox is that as soon as we make the mental shift in ourselves there is frequently a shift in the underlying problem too.

Being the partner of someone who is too busy to notice your needs, can begin to make you feel less attractive and really knock your self confidence. The reality is that in the majority of cases being a workaholic is about them and not you.

I suggest that you work on ensuring that you feel good about who you are and confident enough to help them to deal with their issues as and when they are ready to.

This months article “ When Your Partner’s Excessive Work Habits Are Getting You Down” looks at how you can make a start to deal with your partner’s excessive work habits.

Recovering Workaholics is a growing concern. We offer 1:1 coaching, and training to facilitate those who want a truly satisfying life. Understanding what drives us to work to the point where love, happiness and fulfillment are the poor relation is the first step to creating a life you truly love. We can help you work towards achieving your “dream” life.

We also offer support for those who are facing retirement or who have recently retired or experienced redundancy and who are finding it difficult to adjust to the change.

If you know of anyone who would be interested in working with us please let me know by contacting me at

Make 2008 the year when you took consistent action to make a positive difference to the quality of your own life and for those who share it with you.

With best wishes,

Gina Gardiner
Helping you create a life you love!

Recovering Workaholics
Tel in the UK: 01708 703 959
Tel from outside the UK: +44 1708 703 959

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Part 2 - When your partner’s excessive work habits are getting you down

How many of you feel as if you are banging your head against a brick wall when you try to tackle your partners excessive work habits? That what ever you say, it seems to make no positive difference, in fact it actually appears to make things worse?

Einstein’s definition of madness was to continue to do the same thing over and over again, when it hadn’t worked in the first place. Perhaps it is time to take a step back and to consider a whole new course of action?

It is likely that the same characteristics which attracted you to your workaholic partner with their excessive work habits are some of the same characteristics which are now being less than helpful. Research has shown that we are often attracted by individuals who are successful, focused and who are strong minded. It is these characteristics which make us successful in business. Paradoxically they are often the ones which get in the way of a successful relationship built on inter-dependence. Research released on Valentine’s Day this year said that the best long term relationships were built on a combination of three things: passion, intimacy (the ability to share everything, good or bad) and commitment. Statistically it appears that there are many long term relationships which are less than ideal. On further research they discovered that these relationships often had two of the three.

Considering your partners excessive work habits, how does your relationship shape up?

Does your relationship live with an elephant in the room? Do you skirt around the real issues for fear of giving them an airing. Do you talk about the insignificant things but fail to communicate about what is really important to you both?

Is there a constant barrage of nagging because you are so fed up with being lonely in your relationship because of your partners excessive work habits? Does their work pattern govern your communication with one another?

How do you feel about yourself? Do you understand what is going on with your partner?

Being a work widow or widower can have a considerable impact on how you feel about yourself. It is easy to interpret the work patterns of a loved one and see it as your fault or responsibility. “They’d rather be working than spend time with me. I’m of less value then their work. They think more about what their boss thinks than they do of me and the family. There must be something wrong with me.”

In reality workaholics have a squewed work life balance for a whole variety of reasons. It is important that you take total responsibility for your own choices for what you say and do or fail to say and do. It is just as important that you hand total responsibility for your partner’s choices of what actions they take to them.

You can not control another person, nor should you attempt to. It is a recipe for disaster. This is one of the central principles on which my work is based. Take responsibility for yourself. BE HONEST! Kidding yourself creates a smoke screen at best and inevitably leads to major difficulties in the medium to long term.

Change those things over which you have control. Where you have no control, change the way you respond to it. The strange thing is once you do this, there is often a fundamental shift in the person or circumstance which was causing you the problem in the first place.

Before you tackle the relationship you have with your partner take a long hard look at the relationship you have with yourself. If you love and value yourself and are confident in who you are, you will find it much easier to create effective boundaries for what is and is not acceptable. These boundaries should be based on mutual respect.

If your current way of handling your partner’s current work practices has failed to create a successful change simply doing more of the same is unlikely to make a fundamental difference.

Before you can create a cohesive, well thought out plan of action, you need to audit the current situation carefully. For the next 2-3 weeks I suggest you look closely at the way you manage you’re
a) expectations
b) your boundaries
c) the way in which you communicate – your pleasure and your displeasure.

Do you spend what time you have with your partner nagging them about what they are doing or what they are neglecting to do? Do you moan about feeling neglected? Do you sit at home just waiting for the time when they will be with you or do you have a life of your own?

Analyze what is really happening. What exactly is it that is bugging you? Be really honest here. Think about how your actions and words impact the situation. Are you really concerned for your partner’s health or is your fear of being alone the most pressing issue? Do you feel rejected and unloved or is it that you feel as if you are playing second fiddle to their work.

Are modern technology and a lack of clear boundaries affecting family life? Does the mobile phone or email drive your time at home? Are your holidays sacrosanct or are you plagued by phone calls sitting on the beach or when you are having dinner.

Do you use sex as a reward or weapon?

Understanding the scale and the scope of the issue can be incredibly helpful when you are creating a way to solve it.

Workaholics often feel driven to succeed or driven not to fail which is often quite a different thing. They can be physically at work or missing from the present moment as they are working on in their head while they are at home. To understand what is driving and motivating your partner listen very carefully – I mean really listen! Watch them as they speak, over 60% of what is communicated is done so non verbally. Knowing and understanding yourself and your partner is the key to finding a successful way forward.

This is not a competition where if one partner wins the other partner loses. Take the time to understand what is actually going on rather than what you think is happening. The reality is often different.

In next months article we will consider how to plan for a different future.

If you would like to discuss how we can help you ensure you make the most of your life please contact us through or through

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Your feedback is greatly appreciated.

If there are any topics you would like covered in future issues please let me know on or complete the feeedback form at

What do you think?

Warmest wishes,
Gina Gardiner

For any further information about Recovering Workaholics or to discuss your coaching needs contact or
Phone in the UK 01708 703959 (or International +44 1708 703959).

Gina Gardiner, recognised by "Investors In People" as creating an "innovative and exemplary training programme for emerging and middle managers" and by Ofsted as an “inspirational leader”. Her experience includes that of “Change Management” and in supporting organisational leaders in developing strategic vision and creating a “can do” culture.

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Author : Gina Gardiner