My partner’s job is less demanding than mine, and working from home has made it obvious. How do I stop feeling resentful?

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  • It's great you've been honest with your partner about how you feel. But instead of just sharing feelings, request specific types of help from her, like pitching in with household chores or giving you space to vent.
  • To keep yourself on track during the workday, write out your schedule hour by hour. You could also work virtually with a friend or coworker to boost morale.
  • Have a question for Julia? Fill out this anonymous form. All questions will be published anonymously. You can read more Doing It Right here. 
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My partner works for herself, and has always had sporadic hours — occasionally working hard and late for a few days or weeks, and then, in the long interims, clocking maybe three or four hours putzing on the computer.

I, on the other hand, have a 9 to 5 job (which is more like a 9 to 7).

Since lockdown, sharing the space with her has made me not only resentful, but less effective at my job.

I really like my job and keeping busy, and I know she wishes she had more work coming in right now. I've told her how I feel, and she understands, but that doesn't change the situation.

How can I ease my resentment when she gets to sleep until 11 AM and then meet friends for cocktails at 3? How can I be energized when I'm not seeing people around me work hard, like I did in the office?

– New York

Dear New York,

Feeling negatively towards your partner about something that seems unchangeable is tough stuff, but you're not alone.

According to New York City-based therapist Rachel Sussman, her patients often mention resentment towards their partner due to workload differences during the pandemic.

The key is to work through feelings of resentment before they boil over and erupt in a major fight, Sussman told me, and it seems like you've been working on that.

Since you've brought up your feelings with your partner and still feel the same, consider approaching the conversation differently.

Instead of leaving it at how your differing workloads make you feel, tell your partner what actions and words you need to feel better supported in your work and personal life, Sussman suggested.

To do that, first think about where your resentment stems from. Are you upset because your partner has the same amount of household chores as you, but much more free time to get them done? Does it bother you that she seems unimpressed by your dedication to your job? Or are you jealous that you don't get as much socializing time as she does?

Once you understand why you feel the way you do, you can figure out what you want instead, and present that to your partner. Reflection will also help you decide which tweaks you should make to your own schedule, in the case it's a fear-of-missing-out issue, which isn't something your partner can help with.

If chores are your biggest beef, Sussman recommended asking your partner to pick up more chores because it'd help reduce your stress and keep food in the fridge. If what you need is reassurance and a sounding board for those tough work days, explain that when you vent to her, you want empathy, not advice.

Write out your entire day, and work virtually with friends

If the main source of your resentment is the lack of time you get to socialize compared to your partner or your waning energy, you'll have to take a different approach. It'd be unfair to bar her from using her time as she chooses, or blame her for a lack of motivation.

Instead, consider how you could restructure your day in a way that feels good to you.

Sussman said many of her patients have mentioned a lack of work-related motivation. For them, she suggests mapping out their schedule every day.

"What I've been suggesting for them is really setting up a grid, which is like an hour-by-hour schedule including working out, taking walk breaks, taking fluid breaks, dropping and doing some push-ups, you know? So it just doesn't seem like they have this whole uncharted day," Sussman said.

Though you won't have as much time to catch up with friends and get drinks as your partner might, setting aside some time to do the activities you love will make work feel like less of a drag.

And if it's coworker companionship you really crave, consider video chatting with a colleague or friend who has the same schedule as yours while you both sit at your desks. Solidarity can do wonders, even if it's virtual.

As Insider's resident sex and relationships reporter, Julia Naftulin is here to answer all of your questions about dating, love, and doing it — no question is too weird or taboo. Julia regularly consults a panel of health experts including relationship therapists, gynecologists, and urologists to get science-backed answers to your burning questions, with a personal twist.

Have a question? Fill out this anonymous form. All questions will be published anonymously.

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