Love&Work: ‘the myth of separate worlds’

Tahir Sherriff

work vs loveIn Nigeria, as well as many developing countries, ignorance is visited upon the subtleties that make life interesting. One of such simplicity ignored is the complex relationship which exists between love and work.

Just as studies of love generally ignore its relation to work, studies of work also tend to ignore its relation to love. But this isn’t really the case, as love and work can be shown to exist in one sphere.

Beyond the popularly agreed observation that workers need to develop a love for their work to function more effectively, research on in these places ignored primary aspects of the work environment that influence job satisfaction, such as links between satisfaction with work and satisfaction with relationships. Work lives and love lives have been treated largely as not-related.

Sadly however, to learn about and become competent at interacting with the physical and social environment, one must explore, and since exploration can be often tiring and even dangerous, it is desirable to have a protector nearby, a haven of safety to which one can retreat, such as the warmth of a partner.

Some have used family relationships to balance this complexity. Others, mostly older, adopt a religious approach to the subject of love and work, aiming to strike a ‘spiritual balance’ in both affairs.

Yet others still dedicate more attention to either of the two at the expense of the other, often sacrificing growth for security & vice versa. A majority however totally ignore the relationship which no doubt exists between love & work.

This larger number may also agree that relationship pressure can affect job functionality causing problems of concentration. Especially when it is observed that workers engaged in a securely attached relationship reflect this at work through high ratings of work success and satisfaction, fewer work-related fears or worries concerning performance and evaluation by co-workers. The working habits of those in secured relationships do not jeopardize health or relationships with families & friends. Most workers in a secure relationship are not easily distracted by concerns over unmet attachment needs and do not explore primarily for the sake of pleasing or avoiding others.

It is also noticeable that an insecure relationship status does have a lot of perks. The freedom to explore, and the advantage of time to spare as well as the position available to pursue a career. Yet at the extreme it is also often associated with an orientation to work which includes a preference for working with others rather than alone, a tendency to become over-obligated as a way of pleasing others, combined with feeling that one’s own contribution is under-appreciated.

Workers in insecure relationships have also been observed to engage in daydreaming about success and praise, and fearing failure and loss of esteem, and this invariably leads to an inability to finish work projects, a difficulty meeting deadlines, and poorer work performance.

Localizing this studies to a complex environment like Nigeria, which merges work life with culture as well religious requirements, the question is often, do you spend more time with your loved ones, or do provide more funds for your loved ones?

Whichever one of these options one adopts, other factors which I have may have failed to list here will no doubt play a role. However, conclusions can be deduced that a balance at work place will no doubt receive a boost when there is an equivalent balance in relationship status.

“..one can live magnificently in this world if one knows how to work and how to love…”
– Tolstoy(1856).

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