Late for dinner again? Not able to make it to Bobby Jr.'s baseball game because you have to work all weekend? Have you re-scheduled date night for several weeks in a row?
Chances are if you answered yes to any of these questions you consider yourself overworked. However, it's a safe bet to say that a large part of your overload is due more to procrastination than the actual amount of work you have to complete. Even if you end up meeting deadlines, other areas of your life suffer. One of the most crucial areas procrastination can affect is your marriage.
Not only does your spouse have to pick up the slack for responsibilities you no longer have time for, he/she will start to feel less like part of a team and more like a solo artist. This ongoing shift in the relationship can cause resentment and anger in your partner and lead to many problems.
Another issue that procrastination brings up that relates to marital problems is personal finance. By putting off bills and taxes, credit scores suffer and extra fees are paid. Even something as seemingly benign as Christmas shopping can mean major problems for procrastinators.
By leaving it until the last minute, procrastinators don't save up to pay for gifts and are forced to pay more or make their purchases using credit cards. This has a huge impact on the procrastinator's spouse as well and another rift is created in the marriage.
A happy marriage is built on teamwork. When one member of the team keeps missing the goals, the entire team loses. When you sign on to be someone's spouse, you become one half of a partnership. If you are unable to successfully contribute your 50% - whether that be in terms of finances, attention or any other tangible or intangible factor - you are not holding up your end of the bargain.
Though a marriage struggling due to procrastination can be turned around, it can take a lot of work. This is mostly due to the fact that the procrastinator is not likely to admit that he/she has a problem. Instead, the absences will be blamed on an overflowing workload or simply being too busy. However, if the procrastinator can come to terms with his/her problem and restore the equality in the relationship, the marriage can be repaired.
Can Procrastination Affect Your Personal Relationships?
Based on several studies, the overall rate of Americans who say they procrastinate is greater than 25%. The irony of this is that most procrastinators do not own up to their own problems. This means that the percentage of those who procrastinate is in actuality probably much higher.
But what is the big deal, really? If you can get your work done on time, who cares if you are burning the midnight oil to do so?
As it turns out, those close to you probably care quite a bit. All types of personal relationships suffer when faced with procrastination. Not only can it make loved ones feel less important because you are constantly putting them off, but it can also deplete the sense of teamwork that makes for strong interpersonal relationships of all kinds.
Another way in which procrastination can affect your personal relationships is somewhat indirect. Procrastination has a large affect on your personality by lowering your self-esteem, raising your anxiety levels and often leading to depression. All of these symptoms can be detrimental to how you deal with others - especially those closest to you.
If you have children, your procrastination can affect your relationships with them in at least two significant ways. First, you won't have time left over to spend with them because you have wasted it all procrastinating. Second, if they begin to recognize your patterns of putting things off, they may begin to pick up on them as well. If Mom can turn her project in at the last minute, why can't I?
For most procrastinators, fixing this habit isn't quite as simple as telling yourself to stop playing solitaire for two hours at work each day. The cycle of procrastination becomes so inherent that most procrastinators don't even know when they are doing it. Or, if they do, they think it isn't a problem because they work better under pressure anyway.
In order to foster a strong relationship with anyone you need to invest time. If you have no time to invest, then it will be impossible to hold on to that relationship. Procrastination steals your time and, in doing so, steals your ability to maintain close personal relationships.
Dealing with a procrastinating partner
Procrastination, when perpetuated with the knowledge that it imposes undue hardships and problems upon your unfortunate partners, is a selfish, irresponsible, and disrespectful behavior of individuals who are deceptively nice during their courtship, and force their innocent partners to discover and deal with the problem after they are already committed to the relationship.
The word "procrastinate" comes from pro- meaning forward, plus cras meaning tomorrow; and therefore, it literally means to put off till tomorrow. But, as we all know very well, that tomorrow never really comes.
Under a few special circumstances, procrastination can be harmless. Such is the case when people indefinitely delay pursuing their own aspirations and dreams, and end up being underachievers. However, most domestic procrastination is a conscious choice of behavior out of pure laziness that slowly spreads to all aspects of life, and harms everyone in the lives of the procrastinators.
And that brings us specifically to the question of how to deal with a procrastinating partner. It is clear from the title that we are talking about people who have either newly discovered the fact that their partners are procrastinators, or have realized the full implications of the partners' laziness after having committed to the relationship: may it be falling in love, a steady friendship, or even marriage. Clearly, at that stage, the stakes are high and that is why the affected individuals are thinking in terms of how to deal with their procrastinating partners, rather than whether or why to deal with them at all?
Even people who have specific incompetence or inabilities, such as difficulty in writing, dealing with numbers, or remembering things, they owe it to their partners to openly admit their problems before committing to the relationship, and offer to make up for such inabilities by undertaking other tasks they can handle. Not talking about it and leaving it to the partners to discover it later on is as dishonest a behavior as hiding a serious disease is. And the sin is even greater when the procrastinating behavior is out of pure laziness, because, confessing to such a selfish habit of choice is meaningless, and quietly continuing it is purely evil. Unfortunately, many procrastinators are deceitful. They either are not decent and brave enough to admit their habit to their partners, or conveniently treat it as an unimportant detail that can be dealt with when the time comes.
Most procrastinators are lazy individuals. They don't want to do their own share of hard work, difficult tasks, and uninteresting chores, and spend the time on activities they enjoy, may it be watching the television, playing video games, surfing the Internet, or just doing nothing and lazing around. They promise to take care of things and do nothing. They let the work sit until others are forced to take care of it out of necessity or frustration. They let down others who rely on them. In short, they are selfish, exploitative, and disrespectful of others, and take undue advantage of them without feeling bad. Like parasites, they rarely live alone. They need others. They keep themselves surrounded by family and friends to do their dirty work, and that way, escape all consequences of their own laziness. They are excellent manipulators, and, by the time they are with their life partners, they have had extensive experience in using others to pick up their slack.
When small, they avoid cleaning their rooms or washing their dishes, and force their parents to do these things. During their growing years, they may have their older siblings to do their home work or write essays for them. In college they rely on their friends for the lecture notes at the time of exam. They contribute minimally to group assignments to get by. As they grow up, they become more and more adept at getting others to carry their burden. And finally, after finding their life partners, they happily delegate the job of carrying their dead weight to their other halves.
Since procrastination is a behavior of choice out of laziness, procrastinators are very much aware of how unfair it is to their partners. You would rarely find them exhibiting such behavior on their jobs though, because if they do, they would not have their jobs. There, they may be very punctual and careful of their responsibilities. For they know, that any laziness in workplace will get them fired. However, at home they do so because they know that they can safely get away with it. And they never feel bad about doing this to their partners. They know that their partners have too much invested in the relationship to end it for this reason. And this knowledge emboldens them to take their arrogant take it or leave it attitude toward their unfortunate and trapped partners.
Dealing with such partners is not easy. Since procrastinators pretend to not even be aware of the problem, the affected partners' first step would be to have a frank discussion to make them admit that this is their chosen behavior; make them aware that it affects and hurts their loved ones, and ask them if they are willing to make the effort to change. Whatever they may say in response, their true answer to this question will be known only in time, by their actions. Can people change age-old habits? Surely, but only if they want to, and not because someone else wants them to. And that is even truer in the case of seasoned procrastinators who have had many years' experience of getting away with their behavior. You can help them with tools and techniques to remember, sequence, and schedule important tasks that must be completed. You can have them write checklists, send them reminders, and have regular follow up discussions with them. In short, you can take the mules to the water, but cannot make them drink. The responsibility finally rests on them to realize that they owe it to their partners and family members to change their behavior.
If such behavior persists even after the procrastinators are made aware of how their irresponsible behavior affects their near and dear ones, it is a clear indication that they are selfish, arrogant, and inconsiderate of others. They do not respect, care for, and truly love their partners. One possible way to enlighten and reform such die-hard procrastinators is to force them to live alone, on their own, at least for a while. Only then will they experience the consequences of their chosen behavior.
If all such efforts fail, the affected, innocent partners are left with very limited options. They may just decide to tolerate the behavior as their fate, and take over the tasks shirked by the procrastinating partners, because they have already invested too much time, energy, and emotions in the partnership. Others may decide to continue trying to talk to their partners in the hope that one day they would change. However, few may find that the situation is intolerable. They may think: Why stay in a relationship where your partner does not respect you? If there is no respect, there is no love. And there is no reason for such relationships to exist. In that case, the most appropriate course of action would be to cut their losses, end the relationship and walk away from it. Which specific option each affected partner decides to choose would depend upon each situation and his/her assessment of all other aspects of the relationship.
Whatever way individuals choose to deal with the problem, the fact remains that lazy procrastinators are social parasites. They live off others. They prey upon their own. What they do is very indecent and unjust. If so, what can we do about procrastinators who refuse to change? Ideally, they deserve to be isolated and left alone. Then they can either shape up, or procrastinate themselves to their own demise. To some, this may sound rather harsh. But so is a bitter medicine for a terminal disease. If the procrastinators can be uncouth enough prey upon their own, exploiting their kindness or helplessness throughout life, why shouldn't they be treated harshly? In fact, any hesitation or delay by the innocent partners in dealing with the procrastinators firmly will only make the innocent partners further victims of their own procrastination as well.
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