One of the fundamental principles of modifying behaviour you don’t want is that you reward the behaviours you most want to encourage.
Yet many partners of workaholics work against this principle.
A wife or husband wants to spend more quality time with their partner. They are tired of feeling left out and on their own. They are feeling frustrated, lonely and fed up. Underneath, the emotions are bubbling away until the spouse arrives home.
All the negative emotions are like the lava bubbling away beneath the surface of the volcano which will come rushing to the surface and explode.
The workaholic is greeted by lots of complaints about how they never come home early enough, are inconsiderate, thoughtless etc. Or when they meet an atmosphere cold enough to freeze water and responses are monosyllabic and restricted to polite pleasantness.
Whilst I do understand how partners feel and they feel they need to offload, it is a flawed approach. Positive rewards and attention work well with children and are as effective with adults including workaholics.
Now, you know that if you always do what you have always done, you will always get what you have always got.
Your approach so far has not worked. Your partner is still a workaholic.
Why not try a completely different approach, not just once but consistently over time.
- Reward your partner for coming home.
- Welcome them with open arms.
- Make them feel special.
- Make their coming home and giving you time and attention an experience which is so good they will want to repeat it.
- Remember that they are likely to feel stressed and tired so give them time to unwind before you launch in.
- Welcome them home unconditionally. Let them know how pleased you are to see them.
- Positive praise and encouragement is the order of the day but it must come from the heart and not seem patronizing and mechanistic.
- Give them space to wind down and let them know that what you are doing.
- ‘Brought you a cup of tea – have some time to yourself and then lets ………’
You could argue that you have needs too and why should you put theirs first. It all depends what you really want. If it is for your partner to leave the job for the day to come home there must be a positive pay off.
It is likely that their success was one of the things which attracted you to them initially. The workaholic partner will often believe that they are showing their love for you by being a great provider. It has been my experience that the motive of workaholics is positive. They are not deliberately trying to make you feel unhappy, but are driven to strive for success in this way.
Working with a coach can be incredibly helpful when working on developing a healthy sense of self worth but there are things you can do to help yourself. Try the ideas above.
We would love to hear how you get on and if you have other ideas which have worked for you.