Let’s face it. It can be hard to pull yourself away from work.
All the more so if you genuinely like your career, receive praise and promotions for “burning the midnight oil,” and especially when you see execs like Elon Musk and Jack Ma boasting about the extreme lengths they will go to for their careers.
But research has shown that it’s our relationships outside of work that make us the happiest in the long run.
The good news? A few small changes can go a long way in resetting your relationship while still honoring your passion for your career.
Recognizing there’s a problem is half the battle. So here are seven signs your work is more fulfilling than your romantic relationship.
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When you say ‘we,’ you’re talking about you and your company, not you and your partner
“Make sure you’re being mindful, because we do live in a culture of your identity being so tethered to your work. It’s very dangerous,” Charreah Jackson, author of “ Boss Bride: The Powerful Woman’s Playbook for Love and Success,” told Business Insider.
If you want to shift away from the company we (“we did really well this quarter”) to a more relationship-oriented we (“we are thinking about getting a dog”), Jackson recommends creating rituals with your partner.
For example, you could decide to do something outside together every Sunday or cook together on the first of every month. It’s an easy way to keep your personal life a priority and it gives you something to look forward to on a regular basis.
“One of the things I talk about in the book is when life gets hard, a lot of times it’s not your job or coworkers who will show up. It’s your friends, your partner and your family,” she said.
When you receive a text from your partner, it feels more like an obligation and gets an eye-roll
Texts from our partners tend to come with an unspoken deadline, Marla Mattenson, a relationship and intimacy coach, told Business Insider. If you don’t respond within a certain amount of time, you know there will be consequences.
The issue here may also not be the sender, but the content. As we get further into a relationship, texting tends to be less about flirting and more about logistics.
“It’s typically not a sexy text or ‘Hey, just sending you lots of love,'” Mattenson said. “It’s probably a ‘When are you coming home’ or ‘Will you pick up these things on the way home.'”
Here, Mattenson recommends modeling. Send your partner the kind of texts you would like to see lighting up your phone. Think about how you can make your texts more fun or playful, even if they are about who needs to pick up the almond milk on the way home. If you feel pressed for time, consider sending an emoji to confirm that you got the note.
“Obviously this depends on your relationship, but if there’s still hope in the relationship, then one of the best things you can do is model the kind of behavior you would like to receive,” Mattenson said.
When your coworkers ask about your weekend, you don’t have anything to say
“If your weekend is just recovering from your week, then your work week didn’t end,” Jackson said.
To reclaim your weekend, you may need to be a little more proactive in how you spend your time. What do you value: Activism? Time with friends? Get it on the calendar. Not only is this good in and of itself, it can also translate into a more dynamic relationship.
“That makes you a fun date,” Jackson said. “Because your partner doesn’t just want to hear about work either, they’ll want to hear about other things that are happening. So what else is exciting?”
You travel for business at the drop of a hat, but can’t remember the last time you booked a trip with your partner
“Research shows that couples who engage in new activities together increase their bond while also increasing happiness levels,” Mattenson said. “When you experience anything new, it keeps the relationship more fresh.”
But if you’re already feeling annoyed with your partner, you may feel hesitant to commit to even more time with them. Mattenson challenges couples to go into travel with “fresh eyes.” Be open and your SO might surprise you.
Of course, money is a question — after all, travel for work gets expensed while travel for fun gets expensive. But remember it doesn’t have to be a grand European tour to feel novel. Even a day trip or afternoon hiking offers plenty of opportunities to reconnect.
When you do a good job at work, you feel like others take note. In your relationship? Not so much.
Praise can be highly motivating. If you know that words of affirmation make you feel validated, then you can bring that quality out in your partner in a few ways.
The first is to make sure you’re loving yourself.
“Often, people don’t treat us the way we treat them. People treat us the way they see us treat ourselves,” Jackson said.
The second is to be direct with your partner and ask for what you need. Finally, when your partner does offer you the feedback you’ve solicited, let them know you appreciate it.
“Know what’s celebrated is repeated,” Jackson said. “It’s the same way with a three-year-old, it’s the same way with your 45-year-old boyfriend or your 45-year-old boss.”
You find yourself staying late even when your workload doesn’t merit it
It’s common for ambitious personality types to draw more satisfaction from work, where setting difficult goals, delivering results and climbing ladders all come with the territory.
If you know you get a thrill from achieving goals, why not bring that into your relationship? Mattenson recommends setting up a weekly meeting where you and your partner can discuss your relationship goals, such as becoming more patient in arguments or better articulating your needs.
You can also enlist your partner to work on personal goals with you. For example, if you want to read more, then the two of you could agree to set aside time to read while snuggled up, give each other book recommendations, or even transform part of your home into a little reading nook.
“If you can activate their goal-setting and ambition in relationships in a playful way, then you’re going to see a whole new side of your partner,” Mattenson said.
And one sign that you may be doing better than you think? Your coworkers and romantic partner know about each other
It’s easy to assume that if one aspect of your life is going well, then you must be making sacrifices somewhere else. Right?
But life doesn’t have to be so segmented. Our work and personal lives are not in competition with each other, but can actually bolster one another. According to Jackson, one indication that you’ve figured this out is if your coworkers and your significant other know about each other.
If your partner can cheer you on and offer advice during the ups and downs of your work day, and your coworkers know enough about your partner to ask after them, you might want to consider giving yourself more credit.
“It’s not about balance,” Jackson said. “It’s about integration and harmony.”
This article originally appeared on Business Insider.
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