4 Reasons You Should Treat Your Relationship Like a Job

Vanessa Torre

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If there is one misconception about relationships I wish we could abolish it’s that they shouldn’t feel like work. They absolutely should. When we stop doing the work, the relationship falls apart. Our jobs are the exact same way.

My ex-husband would frequently tell me he felt like just another one of my employees. Well, yeah. That’s not a bad thing, necessarily. I was his employee, too. We both had work to do in order to keep our little organization moving in the right direction.

I have run large teams, studied communication and been heavily trained in interpersonal dynamics and relationship building. These are valuable skills. Why would I not leverage these in order to help my marriage or any relationship for that matter?

Perhaps it’s how we’re conditioned to respond to our jobs, but I see so many people who take their job much more seriously than their relationships.

We pride ourselves on our work ethic but it doesn’t always translate over to our personal life. It absolutely should.

Our jobs may require us to be both boss and employee, leader and delegate, conceptualizer and taskmaster. The same thing holds true for our relationships. Seeing your relationship as a job allows for amazing connection and growth as a couple.

Put effort into landing the job

When you first meet someone and you’re interested in a relationship with them, you’re looking to land a job. You’re hoping to God that person chooses to hang out in the same space as you for an indefinite amount of time.

Amazing jobs and relationships aren’t a dime a dozen. It takes work and effort to find the right fit. Once we do, we should put the same amount of effort into obtaining both.

No one landed the job of their dreams going into the interview acting like they didn’t care. Remember that great story about your friend who half-assed their resume, showed up late for an interview, never followed up with the company and got a fantastic job offer as a result. Yeah. Me neither.

Have difficult conversations you don’t want to have

The most common breakdown in relationships and jobs is communication. Nothing is ever going to get better at work or at home if you have an issue and don’t say something and address it.

When a friend of mine comes to me with a complaint about their relationship, I turn into an HR director. The first thing I ask them is if they’ve said something to their partner. Usually, the answer is no. I understand venting is venting but if you go home and do nothing, nothing will change.

Bill from Accounting will continue to drain your coffee creamer if you don’t talk to him about it and set boundaries. The same goes for your partner habitually leaving the clothes in the washing machine for three days to get moldy.

We know you shouldn’t have to have the conversation. That doesn’t mean you ignore the issue. Do it anyway.

Find your HR director. You know someone with this skill set. Explain to them your issue and what you’re struggling with. A good HR director with help with that conversation. You can practice and role play with them, anything to make sure the conversation happens.

Give and receive feedback

When my ex-husband complained that he felt like an employee, it was because I was giving him feedback. He didn’t want feedback. There were things I needed from him and things he needed to do that weren’t happening. So I had the difficult conversation.

You can’t expect people to meet your expectations if they have to guess what those expectations are.

If I was going to have any hope that our marriage was going to get better, I had to tell him what wasn’t working, what I needed from him and ask what he needed from me in order to move forward.

If you’re the receiver of feedback, know that it’s given because change is needed. I am a big proponent of performance reviewing relationships. We do this twice a year at work, but rarely at home. Sit down at brunch or someplace else outside of the home and talk about what’s working and what’s not. Make a plan to get or stay on track. Think about it ahead of time. Come to the conversation prepared.

Always look to improve your performance when necessary

If your boss came to you and told you that he was struggling with your job performance you’d pay attention. When your partner does this, they need the same thing from you.

Here’s the reality for every single one of us: we work at will and can be fired at will. It doesn’t matter if there’s a contract in place or not. Someone can choose not to renew our contract.

I chose not to renew my husband’s contract after five years. Why? After repeatedly telling him what I needed for our relationship to be successful, he refused to do it. So I fired him. The same would happen if our boss gave us valid feedback and we totally ignored it.

It’s worth noting that none of this will make any difference if you’re not in the right place. Some bosses aren’t worth working for. Some employees aren’t worth keeping. We grow out of jobs.

If you need to move on, move on. There is nothing beneficial to anyone in staying in a job or relationship that doesn't make you happy. Make sure you do the work needed to make that determination.

Relationships as jobs also applies to short term relationships. There is nothing wrong with accepting a temporary assignment in either love or work. Where this goes horribly awry is when one party doesn’t know the assignment is short term. Imagine you worked hard to land a job and were excited about what you could do in that company only to find out they had no intention of keeping you beyond 30 days. Disenfranchising, right?

Our end goal in our relationships and our work is to feel happy, satisfied and like what we do matters. We want to feel appreciated and valued, seen and heard. Fulfilling your duties in either aspect of your life is what helps get you there. Take it seriously.

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Flaming pinball, nerd, music lover, wine snob, horrible violin player. No, she won’t stop taking pictures of her drinks. vanessaltorre@gmail.com IG: vanessaltorre Twitter: @vanessaltorre

Phoenix, AZ

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