When Your Husband Is A Workaholic
If your husband is a hard worker, that’s a good thing. But if he has a hard time letting go of work during personal time, he may be a workaholic.
I have been walking through the difficulty of being married to a workaholic for 18 years.
How do you know if you or your husband is a workaholic?
Those who struggle with being consumed with their work may show these symptoms:
- Working much longer than the 40-hour per week norm, even if his boss doesn’t require it
- Constant focus on work if he is self-employed
- Checking texts and emails around the clock
- Rationalization for social meetings—everything is about “networking”
- Irritation with you when you question how he spends his time
- Restless sleep, and resulting negativity, because his mind is always on work
Why is workaholism a difficult marriage problem?
Similar to a food addiction, you’re dealing with a necessary element. Work is a necessary means of living. He probably can’t and shouldn’t stop working, just like he should not stop eating. So how do you cope with this significant issue?
As with any addiction, the workaholic can’t get better unless he is willing to make changes. No amount of nagging, pleading or begging will bring your husband home to you or have him magically be fully present at home. But you can invite him to change with deliberate steps.
My husband’s ongoing work used to fill me with anger and frustration, but I’ve learned how to navigate it with God’s help.
Here is what I have done.
Realize his workaholism is not your fault. Men are naturally wired by God to tie their identity to their work (see Genesis 3:17-19). Yet almost every workaholic man I’ve met has childhood trauma that causes him to excessively strive to prove himself. Study his past and realize the problem pre-existed you. This step can help give you compassion for your husband.
Refuse to be your husband’s prosecutor. You can tell him how his long hours make you feel, but don’t point an accusatory finger at him. I like to deliver a word sandwich to my husband—affirmation, confrontation, then affirmation.
Try something like this: “I appreciate how hard you work to provide for us. Yet I’ve felt lonely the past few weeks since you’ve been involved in this project. I know you want quality time as much as I do—when can we schedule a date night?” This approach helps your husband know you are on his team.
By using “I feel” statements rather than “you are” or “you never” statements, you invite your husband to take an honest look at his problem without his feeling criticized. Most workaholic husbands will respond well to a practical request. He will feel good about himself if he can say, “Let’s have a date on Saturday” or “I will put my phone away during supper.”
If you notice your husband is open to change, suggest counseling or mentoring. My husband was happier with the idea of individual counseling over the idea of couples counseling. I’ve also prayed that God will give him business mentors who are not workaholics, so he can see that success is possible without excessive work. God has answered that prayer, and he’ll answer it for you too.
If your husband is reluctant to change, put a high priority on your own self-care. Consider the many positive ways you can use your time without him. Grow your relationship with God through daily prayer and Bible study. Cultivate strong friendships with godly women to protect your vulnerable heart from temptation. Treat yourself to bubble baths, nature walks, and other healthy choices that refresh you. Seek counseling if your emotions are overwhelming.
Thank God for your husband’s strong work ethic. Pray that God will nurture you in your husband’s absence and ask God to plant seeds of change and healing in your husband’s heart. Vent your negative feelings to God first, then speak the truth in love to your husband. God will strengthen your faith as you learn to minister to your workaholic husband.
Wife Step: Which of these tips will you use in your marriage this week?
Sarah Geringer writes about Finding Peace in God’s Word at sarahgeringer.com and is the author of three self-published books. Her book on Christian meditation will be published by Leafwood in late 2019. When she’s not reading or writing, Sarah enjoys painting, baking, gardening and playing the flute. She lives in her beloved home state of Missouri with her husband and three children, right in the heart of prime viewing for the Great Eclipses of 2017 and 2024.
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