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Volume 04 | April 2008 | Lonely but not alone

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Part 1 - Welcome!
Part 2 - Feature Article - Lonely but not alone

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Part 1 - Welcome!

Dear Partner of a Workaholic,

Welcome to this our fourth 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.

Some of you may have heard the feature on Woman’s Hour on Thursday 25th April which focused on the difficulties living with a workaholic creates. If you would like to hear that feature please visit the BBC web site at

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?
  • Do 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 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.

When I first began Recovering Workaholics I created it for people who wanted to redress the work/life balance in their lives. Those who wanted to enjoy their work but who were keen to create a life full of passion, enjoyment and fulfillment. It soon became evident that there were many people who were partners of workaholics and were desperately trying to manage the impact that their partners work habits had on their relationships and their lives. Sometimes the loneliest place is when we are with others.

Partners often contact me saying how lone they feel and how difficult it is to solve the problem because ultimately the change is down to someone else.

The article this month is designed to let you know that whilst you may feel very lonely, you are by no means alone. If there are particular issues or examples of difficulties you would like to explore through this newsletter please contact me and I will do my best to cover them in future newsletters.

It may feel like a huge challenge but you can help your partner to change their beliefs and behaviours but before you do so you need to examine and adapt your own.

If you would like some help to do this coaching can help.

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 - Lonely but Not Alone

You Partners of workaholics find yourselves in a very difficult place.

For much of the time you are expected to manage on your own whilst your partners are busy with work. As a childless partner it leaves you with great tracts of time waiting for your partner to be available to talk to or to do things with. Having them physically present is no actual indicator of your partner being available to you. Modern technology adds the final twist of the knife, as your workaholic partner has so many more opportunities to be back in work mode. Mobile phones, Blackberrys and emails all have a voracious appetite for attention 24/7.

If you have children you find yourself being to all intents and purposes a single parent within your marriage. An added pressure is that your children often idolize their missing parent. They are rarely there to do the boring stuff like homework and nagging them to tidy up their bedroom. When they do make themselves available the children get to do fun things. It is such a rarity that it gives the activity very high status. Once your partner returns into work mode you have the double whammy of having to deal not only with your own feelings but with disgruntled and disappointed children too. It can feel so unfair.

An added difficulty arises when your partner also wants to take time “for them” to unwind and relax. Where those activities exclude you and/or the children it very often acts like a slap in the face.

When your workaholic partners want to spend time with you or needs to entertain people for work you are expected to drop everything and be available. You are faced with variations on a theme of the following logic:

“You have been nagging me to spend time with you, then when I want to do just that you are off doing something else.”

“I have so little time surely you want to spend it with me even if you have long standing arrangements for the theatre with a friend.”

“My commitments are so much more important than yours, after all it is me who supports the life style you enjoy. You could do what you have planned at any time.”

“I bring home the money which keeps you in the manner you want, surely it is not too much to ask for you to be with me when I have the time.”

“I need you to entertain these important clients, after all it is their contract which pays the bills.”

“When I get home from work I’m too tired to deal with all this ….. surely you can sort out ….. the plumber… the insurance…. their homework…. the problem with the teacher…. the dentist etc.”

“I want to spend quality time with the children, so lets do something fun.”

“I buy them wonderful things… what more do they… or you want from me?"

I can hear you all saying “ We know the problem, what we want to know is how to fix it!”

If you have tried all the usual ways of trying to change the workaholic habits of your partner, may be it is time to change your attitude towards the problem.

There is no simple answer to what is a complex problem. I’m sure you have heard the old adage: If you don’t like things then change them. Where things are out of your control to change the only thing you can do is change the way you react to them. Very often changing your attitude impacts on the very thing you found impossible to change. The only place to start changing them is by changing yourself.

Understand that loving them and accepting their unacceptable behaviour are two different things.

Think about your particular circumstances. Do you sit waiting for your partner to find a small space for you in their life? By sitting waiting for them to be free you begin to create a structure within the relationship which states that it is acceptable for them to treat you in this way. They are able to sustain their pattern of behaviour because you are at some level colluding with them.

This is not about paying them back – indeed that is the very last thing I am suggesting.

This is about:

  • Developing a strong sense of your own self worth.
  • Being honest with yourself and avoiding playing the victim.
  • Learning what motivates and drives both you and your partner and understanding how to make both sets of needs work.
  • Being loving to your partner whist loving yourself.
  • Learning to communicate effectively with your partner. (Often we use the same words but the meanings we attach to them are completely different.)
  • Using loving language which sets out your case clearly and firmly. (Without accusing, nagging or whining.)
  • Setting out clear boundaries of what is acceptable and what is not acceptable and sticking to them.
  • Creating a life which you find fulfilling, even when your partner is not available. Making sure you make the most of every moment of your life rather than sitting waiting.

Incidentally these are the very same principles which work with children, indeed with most relationships.

Think about your life. Identify all the great elements in your life and those which need to change. Once you decide to take control of your life things will immediately begin to feel better.

In future Newsletters we will explore each of the principles in greater depth. In the mean time please let us know what would be useful to you.

To arrange some coaching support please contact me by email at or
Phone in the UK 01708 703959 (or International +44 1708 703959).

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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 organizational leaders in developing strategic vision and creating a “can do” culture.

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Copyright © 2008 Author : Gina Gardiner -