Why Does My Partner Get Annoyed When I Interrupt Him During Work?

Understand differences between men + women’s brains for a happier partnership

I used to live with a partner in a 2 bedroom apartment and I would occasionally pop in to check in on how he was doing and or ask a simple question.

I’d interrupt him to see what he’d like for dinner or if he had taken care of the task for our business, just taking a second of his time scattered throughout the day.

Finally after a month or two of our cohabitation he admitted to me that he actually desired to live in separate places. All my checking in was now becoming frustrating for him. Check out my article on Living in Separate Spaces.’

I was baffled and confused, quickly defending that I was “only asking for a second and left straight after.” I then learned, as he explained to me, that every time I came into his office even for “just a second” it forced him to pull his attention away from what he was doing and that it was disorienting for his system. Whenever I popped in, left, and came back he’d have to restart the task he was focused on and get back into the flow of what he was doing.

On the flip side, I used to leave my office door open during the day hoping my partner would pop in and stop by. I even told him to come in, even if I was working. But he never did and when I asked he, he reasoned that “I didn’t want to bother you, I saw that you were working.”

Now, in my coaching practice, I hear about this same confict all the time from my male clients and that their partners really don’t get it.

With the inundation of technology frequent check-ins via text, instant messenger, or email can have the same distracting effect, create annoyances and frustrations, and have an impact your relationship.

Whether you’re a man or woman reading this article, it will support you in:

  • Getting clear on your needs.
  • Communicating requests with your partner around check-ins throughout the day. 
  • Understanding how your brains are wired differently and what each of you need, even though it may not be the same.
  • Knowing how to coexist with your partner in a way that is supportive and relaxing.

So that you both can:

  • Be more patient of understanding of each other’s needs and temperaments.
  • Feel relaxed in the presence of each other.
  • Feel seen and understood.

1. Men and Women are Wired Differently

Before jumping in to blaming your partner or making them wrong for how they communicate or prefer to interact inside of your relationship, it’s important to understand that men and women’s brains are wired differently. 

 

Men tend to be more single focused and do one task at a time. Women have more of a diffused awareness and have the ability to do a couple of things at once and switch easily from task to task. Dopamine, estrogen and testosterone levels influence these differences as well as other aspects of our brain structure. We can also look back to how our brains were formatted during the caveman days.

 

Because of men’s nature, they are very focused when they work and their brain tends to block out other things. This also causes men to not as easily be able to shift from one thing to another with the same ease and flow that a woman’s brain can. Men experience these little interactions such as a quick question or hello differently than a woman, they tend to cause more of a disruption to his focus and flow. 

 

Women on the other hand have an easier time staying connected while doing a task and shifting from one thing to another. Small interruptions don’t throw women off, and they can usually easily return to the task they were working on. Therefore, she doesn’t realize the impact that a 5 second question has on her partner’s work flow. 

 

Another example of where this difference comes up is when a couple is casually hanging out but doing separate things, such as reading their own books while sitting next to each other. The woman is likely to be able to easily transition from reading to conversing and back to reading quite easily. Whereas, the man may not properly hear what his partner has said or respond in the most attentive way. It also might result in the man engaging with this partner, but not being fully present, thus not retaining the information that has been exchanged. It is also likely to take him more effort to transition back to his reading. There have been actual brain scans done that show when a man is reading, he’s practically deaf. Women, be careful not to misinterpret this and think you’re being ignored because you’re not. Your man needs time and your patience to shift from a task to engaging with you. 

 

Now with this background, let’s dive in a little deeper. 

2. For Men: Communicate Your Needs + Make Requests

As per my story at the beginning of this article, me popping in just to say hi to my partner, even for a second, was quite disrupting to him and his work flow.

 

Men, it’s important to communicate your needs around when you want your designated work time to be and what kind of contact you want or don’t want during that time. Remember she functions differently, so she is not likely to have an intuition around your needs. You may need a non-negotiable uninterrupted amount of time each day that your partner is aware of, to really get into the flow of your work. 

 

Remember to ask for what you want, not what you don’t want. For example, ask for ‘uninterrupted time’, instead of telling her to stop bothering you.

How you communicate your requests and boundaries makes all the difference in how they will be received.

If you like an occasional check-in or two from your partner during the day to hear about what they’re up to or provide support if they need it, let your partner know you are open for that. If you have a preference around how you would like for her to connect during your work hours, such as text or phone call, express that to her. Text messages seem to work best because they allow the space and freedom for a man to respond in his own time. Many of my clients agree that checking in once or twice throughout the day feels good, as long as it is done without any expectation of an immediate or timely response. 

The feminine connect through communication, and it will feel nice and reassuring for her to have little points of contact during the day. It’s just important to find the right time and way so that both of your needs are being met. 

 

Having your woman read this article to understand how you are wired differently can be a great way to start a conversation around setting up an ideal flow throughout the day for both of you and also to bring a new understanding to some potentially frustrating moments. When you are ready, initiating the communication might sound something like: 

 

“Us men are wired really differently. I know talking about what’s on your mind is really helpful for you and I want to be there to support you, I never want you to feel like you’re too much for me. I just need some uninterrupted time everyday for my man brain to get into the zone for work. I can’t come back as quickly from interruptions, so when you pop in or call even for just a second it pulls me out of my flow. Sometimes I am available for a longer chat and if I am, I’ll just let you know. If I’m not, let’s plan to have it at the end of my day”.

3. For Women: What Your Man Needs

If you’re a woman reading this article it’s important to understand your partner’s specific experience around your interactions, specifically when he is engaged in another task. 

As women, we’re wired to bond, our feminine psyche is different than the man’s. Talking, sharing about our day, reaching out for connection, all increases oxytocin and estrogen in our bodies, which lowers our stress levels and helps us to feel connected and in our feminine. 

It’s important to not make your partner wrong, blame them, or take it personally when they make requests to have uninterrupted time during certain hours of the day or when they are engaged in a certain task. Texting frequently and sharing back and forth over the course of a day may work great for a group of girlfriends but not for a man, it is not what his brain is set up for.  

Sometimes women interpret men’s need for uninterrupted time as that they don’t care or don’t want to spend time with them. They do care and men have shared with me how it’s especially difficult for them to stay focused on their work if they know something is weighing you down. When you trust in their love and care for you and have the patience to receive their support at a time that fits into their schedule, it makes moments of connection enjoyable and relaxing, instead of stressful and contentious. You are also going to get more of their presence if you wait until they don’t have to wrestle with how to divide their time between you and work.

By allowing and being welcoming of your different needs and ways of operating, you can trust that when you do communicate during the day, the interactions will be free of resentment or bitterness and actually allow you both to connect and cherish each other. If your partner wants to speak after his work hours, you can also trust it’s because he wants to be able to be fully supportive and not distracted because he’s unable to switch tasks. 

Understanding Your Differences Creates Harmony

Understanding your partner and their needs best could easily be a long-time practice. The truth is we’re all so different, complex, and nuanced. When we’re able to allow our partners to be who they need to be and accept them all the better for their differences, they feel free and safe in our presence. 

 

Women, expecting men to be just like ourselves or like other women you know, isn’t a fair way to approach your relationship. There are so many ways their biology is the perfect way of being for our specific needs. 

 

Men, your brain is different and has different needs, make sure you communicate those clearly to your partner.

The more you can let your partner in on your world, the better and more harmonious your time together will be.

Give her the information she needs to give you the space that you need. Something as simple as popping in to say hi and communicating throughout the day can cause a shared frustration if either partner isn’t understood. 

If you want to learn more about the differences between men and women, how to be a great partner and bring out the best in your partner, check out my online group programs Adored (for women) and Lead Your Love (for men). 

Justine Baruch

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