Struggling with a partner who prioritises work over family can cause resentment. Open communication, setting boundaries, prioritising quality time, offering support, and seeking professional help can improve the situation. Empower yourself by focusing on your own actions and working towards a better balance in the relationship. Acknowledge the complexities of work-life balance and cultural gender expectations, and address them through honest discussions with your partner.


When Your Partner Puts Work Before Family


As parents, we have so many responsibilities to juggle. I often hear from both mothers and fathers about how overwhelming it can feel, trying to strike a work-life balance which works for the whole family. Modern life comes with many pressures, including the expectation that we’ll devote long hours to our careers, even at the expense of our family lives. There are many reasons why we might devote more time and attention to work than family, so if you’re struggling with a partner who consistently does so, you’re not alone. In this blog post, we’ll explore some practical steps to help you navigate this challenging situation.


Prioritising Their Own Needs Over Your Relationship or Family


When I speak to parents about the challenges of relationships after kids, they often mention feeling resentful towards their partners. This resentment commonly happens when partners put work and/or their own personal wants and needs above those of the family.

For example, do you ever feel resentment towards your partner for any of the following…?

  • Prioritising their career over yours
  • Working when chores need doing
  • Choosing work over childcare
  • Expecting sex even when you’re feeling touched out
  • Relaxing when you don’t feel relaxed or have asked them to do something
  • Eating a meal in peace instead of joining the family
  • Prioritising their own needs in other ways


Balancing Work And Family Life: How Much Has Our Culture Changed?



A generation ago, it was the norm in our culture for dads to work and mums to stay at home, at least while kids were little.

Now it’s much more common for both parents to work. But careful consideration of each family member’s work/domestic/childcare/leisure balance seems to be rare.

In many straight couples, women are still taking most of the responsibility for childcare and domestic labour, whether or not men are taking responsibility for most of the earning. Are you happy with your balance? Do you feel respected and valued in your role? Are you comfortable with your overall division of responsibilities? Or do you feel resentful?

This issue can be complex, because sometimes we work to provide, which is about putting the family first. But sometimes we choose to prioritise work for other reasons, and some of those might ultimately be ways of putting ourselves first.

You might feel grateful for how hard your partner works. Or you might feel like you “should” be grateful, when actually you’re feeling unhappy, fed up, or resentful.

This can be a difficult topic, especially when money is tight, as it often is when we have young kids (and is for many families right now).

Families can get stuck making decisions on financial grounds which only serve to uphold patriarchal capitalist systems. When Dad earns more, families might decide that it “just makes sense” for him to work more. The gender pay gap becomes self-perpetuating.

No family can can change that alone, but all families need open, honest discussions about our choices, our feelings about them, and our wants as well as our needs.

This is the best way to get as close as possible to a balance which works for everyone, so your whole family can thrive.


When Your Partner Puts Work Before Family: Tips And Advice


Here are five tips to help you to manage the situation where you feel your partner is putting work before the family.


1. Communicate your feelings


Open communication is the foundation of any healthy relationship. Express your concerns calmly and honestly, focusing on how your partner’s work habits affect you and the family. Avoid accusing or blaming them, as this can invite defensiveness and conflict. Instead, use “I” statements to convey your feelings and needs.

For example,

“When you go back to your computer at bath time, I feel angry, then I realise I’m actually disappointed and sad. I need to feel supported and I want your companionship as we raise our kids together. Would you be willing to discuss specific times when you’ll leave work and spend time with us?”


2. Set boundaries


Discuss your boundaries regarding work and family time, i.e. what you are okay and not okay with. You might think your expectations are obvious and fair, but your partner will likely see things differently. Make requests, negotiate, and compromise to agree on specific times when work will be set aside for family activities.


3. Prioritise quality time


When time together is limited, we have to make it count. Put your phones away and have fun together – it’s the best way to connect and create happy memories. Discuss what you both enjoy and plan date nights and family outings together to strengthen your bond and make family life as appealing as possible for everyone.


4. Offer support


If your partner is struggling to find a balance, try to understand the pressures they might be facing at work. Show you care by offering support and discussing possible solutions together. If they’re overwhelmed, encourage them to speak to their employer about flexible working hours or potential adjustments to their workload.


5. Seek professional help


If you’re concerned your partner has become a workaholic, or their choices are putting a strain on your relationship, consider seeking the help of a relationship coach or therapist. Professional guidance can provide the tools and insights you need to rebuild a healthier, more balanced relationship and lifestyle.


When Your Partner Puts Work Before Family: Empowering Yourself


“Imagine life as a game in which you are juggling some five balls in the air. You name them – work, family, health, friends and spirit – and you’re keeping all of these in the air. You will soon understand that work is a rubber ball. If you drop it, it will bounce back. But the other four balls – family, health, friends and spirit – are made of glass. If you drop one of these, they will be irrevocably scuffed, marked, nicked, damaged or even shattered. They will never be the same. You must understand that and strive for balance in your life.” ~ Brian Dyson


Have you been holding back from sharing how resentful you feel about your partner putting work before family?

Perhaps you think there is no way your partner is going to change their behaviour?

Focusing too much on your partner’s choices can actually hold you back from resolving your resentment.

It can keep you feeling stuck, because your partner’s behaviour is not within your control.

However, it IS within your influence.

You can let go of your concern about how you’re going to change your partner’s behaviour when you feel empowered as you start to change your own.

My free guide to resolving resentment includes a seven-step action plan to redress your family’s work-life balance.

Get your free guide to resolving resentment now.

Take just ten minutes to yourself to read it today, because nothing’s likely to really change until you take some action.


When Your Partner Puts Work Before Family: Moving Forwards


If your partner has been putting their career and/or personal wants and needs ahead of the family, it makes sense that you would feel resentful. While it’s challenging to cope with a partner who prioritises work over family, open communication, setting boundaries, and seeking support can help you work towards a better balance. Remember, it’s important to approach the situation with empathy and understanding, as this will pave the way for a healthier, happier relationship for both partners and the family as a whole.

You can find my top tips to overcome resentment and rebalance your family life in my free guide to resolving resentment. Click here to download yours and get started making the changes you want today.

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