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Married to a workaholic: 12 things you need to know

The age-old question of how to achieve work-life balance is still burning through relationships in 2020 and will surely continue to be a problem for couples going into the next decade and beyond.

That’s because work is such an important part of our lives that we can’t imagine not focusing all of our time on it.

After all, it’s how we make a living, earn money, and get the things in want in life.

But what happens when your partner takes his work more seriously than his relationships or what happens when all of your partner’s time is spent working and not seeing his family or friends?

Well, all signs would point to a major problem.

The worst of it is that most people don’t even know they have a work-related problem because it’s so natural to just keep working.

If you’re trying to get a grip on your relationship, but have a workaholic partner, follow these five steps.

They can help set you back on the path to connection.

Why is being a workaholic a problem in a relationship?

Let’s address the elephant in the room.

I’m guessing that a lot of people reading this are wondering whether it’s really an issue for someone to be a workaholic while also being married.

After all, they’re just working hard to provide for their spouse and family. What’s the harm in that?

The truth is: Everyone needs a balance in life, and in general, most people don’t need to work ungodly hours that they never have time for their partner and kids.

Even Barack Obama found time for his family while he is president.

And if you’re not going to contribute to marriage and family, then what’s the point in doing it?

You get life once, and being married and raising children are moments and years that many people cherish.

Furthermore, if workaholic issues continue in a marriage, it may result in spousal discontent or worse, divorce.

According to Maureen Farrel in Forbes, “on average, couples in which one partner is a workaholic divorce at twice the average rate.”

Being a workaholic isn’t fair on your partner as well. They’ll have to do more around the house and look after the children, all the while lacking emotional support.

When one partner works excessively, they are not nursing the marriage and it’s unhealthy for themselves.

Sometimes it takes a wake-up call such as a personal or health crisis for the workaholic to snap out of it.

But if it doesn’t seem like anything is changing anytime soon, then you here are some tips you can use to better your relationship and save your marriage.

Married to a workaholic: 12 things you need to know

1. Make every second count.

Rather than just spent your time together sitting on the couch watching television, make intentional plans to go out to dinner or have a date night.

It’s not the amount of time you spend together that is important, it’s the quality of the time you spend together that will carry you the distance.

If you feel disconnected from your workaholic partner, find ways to connect throughout the day via text or DM and set aside time each week to be together on purpose.

2. Find the good in a great work ethic.

If your partner is really addicted to their work, they might need to seek professional help, but you can certainly support them and be proud of them for all the energy and effort they put in.

It’s not easy to find people who are so passionate about their work, and so if you’ve got someone in your life who loves what they do and feels inspired to do good work, that’s not always a bad thing.

Try to find the silver lining in being with someone who takes pride in a job well done.

3. Leave the phones out of the bedroom.

If the only time you have together is at night before you go to sleep, don’t take your cellphones to bed with you.

This is a horrible habit for anyone to develop, but especially if you are already trying to deal with a workaholic partner.

If you find that you aren’t talking as much as you want or you want to connect with one another, try leaving the phones out of the room so you don’t have any distractions.

This is also good advice for the dinner table, rides in the car, or when you’re spending time in front of the television.

Try talking about a no-phone or no-laptop rule when you are spending time together.

4. Stop enabling.

I’m guessing that if you’re married to a workaholic that you’re doing most of the work around the house and looking after the kids.

You push dinner back to accommodate your partner.

The kids stay up late so they can have a few minutes with their father/mother.

So if you’re getting tired of having to accommodate your partner’s schedule, it’s time for them to accommodate yours.

Break the normal schedule and make them think about what they’re missing.

It sounds harsh, but it could be the only way to produce change. If your partner is coming home from work at 8.30 pm then have dinner with the kids at 7.00 pm.

Go back to the schedule that you used to have.

5. Figure out what the real problem is between you.

You might find that you don’t actually have a problem with the way your partner works, but that you’re using their work ethic as an excuse to take out your frustrations about something else entirely.

Humans do this kind of thing all the time but it’s not until we slow down or someone points it out to us that we realize that thing we’re mad about is not what we’re actually made about at all.

If that sounds like a situation you might be in, it’s a good idea to take some time to consider what’s really going on in your relationship.

6. Find a couple’s hobby.

A strategy that can get your partner to stop focusing so much on work is to get involved in a hobby together.

I’m willing to bet that if your partner is a workaholic then they’re also high energy and feels the need to always be doing something.

Any activity will do the trick here. You could take up golf, tennis or rock climbing, or even a regular walk around the block.

Whatever it is, getting involved in a hobby will enable your partner to stop focusing on work and get their mind focused elsewhere.

Also, it could be a great way for you two to connect and spend time together.

7. Make him feel needed in your life.

Look, this tip might sound strange for a workaholic partner, but the truth is, men love to feel needed.

Chalk it up to men’s evolutionary past of being the protector and provider in the relationship.

Men have an innate instinct to make their partner feel comfortable and secure and to step up to the plate and be the hero in their life.

And perhaps he just doesn’t feel “needed” around the house.

He has no one to save in that aspect of the relationship.

And this is why he focuses on work because the only way he feels like he can contribute is with his work and making money.

Perhaps you’re an independent woman who has her life on lock.

And as a result, you’re giving off a vibe that says you don’t actually need your husband in your life.

Do you ever ask your husband for help?

Do you just assume that he won’t lift a finger and you’re going to do everything?

He might not even know it, but a very real reason he won’t do anything around the house is that he can’t be your hero.

There’s actually a psychological term for what I’m talking about here. It’s called the hero instinct.

This term was coined by relationship psychologist James Bauer.

Now, you can’t trigger his hero instinct just giving him admiration next time you see him. Men don’t like receiving participation awards for showing up. Trust me.

A man wants to feel like he has earned your admiration and respect.

How?

You have to find ways to make him feel like your hero. There’s an art to doing this which can be a lot of fun when you know exactly what to do. But it requires a little more work than just asking him to fix your computer or carry your heavy bags.

The best way to learn how to trigger the hero instinct in your guy is to watch this free online video. James Bauer gives a terrific introduction to his concept.

If you can trigger this instinct successfully, then you’ll see the results immediately.

When a man genuinely feels like your hero, he’ll become more loving, attentive, and interested in being in a committed, long-term relationship with you.

The hero instinct is subconscious drive men have to gravitate toward people who make him feel like a hero. But it’s amplified in his romantic relationships.

Hack Spirit writer Pearl Nash discovered this for herself and in the process completely turned around a lifetime of romantic failure. You can read her story here.

Top tip:

Some ideas really are life-changing. And for romantic relationships, this is one of them. That’s why you should watch this free online video where you can learn how to trigger the hero instinct.

8. Don’t nag.

Regardless of how you feel about the situation, the worst thing you can do is start nagging your partner about their work habits.

First of all, they might really love their work and want to spend time doing it as much as possible.

Second, trying to get someone to change their ways never worked by jumping down someone’s throat.

It’s time for a different approach.

Instead of trying to get them to come to your side of the table, ask them why they enjoy their work so much and try to understand what the appeal is for them.

Do they feel connected or important when they are working? Do they feel confident and in charge?

Perhaps they don’t feel that way in your relationship so they focus on the things that make them feel that way instead.

There’s always a reason why someone pours themselves into their work and it’s not always for the reasons you might think.

9. Don’t demand.

Even though you might be married and even if you have a long history of telling your partner what to do, you can’t demand that they put work aside if that’s what they want to be doing.

Or, if you try to get between them and their work and they feel tremendous pressure to perform at work, your demands will only make it worse.

Instead of demanding what you want in your relationship, ask your partner what they need from you to feel supported in their work.

If you can’t provide them with the support they need or if you aren’t getting what you need out of the relationship, you’ll need to have a serious sit-down and figure things out between you.

Remember what you’re asking this person to do is choose between spending time with you and spending time on the thing that earns them money, respect, and authority in the world.

It’s difficult to ask someone to give up a job or spend less time on it so be ready for what you’re walking into and try to be as understanding as possible, even if things don’t turn out the way you want.

10. Sit down and organize who does what around the house

Does your husband come home from work and is so exhausted that he never lifts a finger around the house?

While you’re constantly busy doing everything?

Even when you force him to do something for you (like take out the trash) he reluctantly does it and never seems happy about it.

He only cares about work and thinks that if he is spending all this time working and providing for the family, then he doesn’t need to do anything around the house.

Despite what some people think, this is never okay.

Even if your partner works all day, you still need to split the responsibilities.

That’s the whole point of marriage and committing to creating a life together.

Sure, you might have more time to do a bit more around the house, but everyone needs to contribute.

And that means that you share responsibilities in all the different facets of life.

Otherwise, it’s a one-sided relationship where one party is working harder than the other.

And that is never going to work in the long-run.

Finances is just one aspect of a successful marriage.

So if you can sit down with your partner and divvy up the responsibilities, it will mean that they are given some more responsibilities besides simply work.

And this will be great for them to get them doing something besides work.

Furthermore, it will help reduce your workload as well.

11. Have an honest discussion

Having an honest discussion is crucial for any healthy relationship.

So, you might want to sit down with your partner and discuss why their workaholic tendencies are getting to you.

Let them explain why they want to work so much.

This is a time not to judge or criticize each other.

It’s simply a time to listen to each other and hopefully come up with a solution that you both can agree with.

Remember: Don’t start getting personal and attack their character.

That is when an honest discussion turns into a heated argument.

Nobody wants that.

Remember, if your relationship is to continue and most importantly, grow, then you need to have a productive discussion that addresses the real conflict.

Leave personal insults out of it.

Now if you’ve talked about the real issues with their workaholic behaviors, and you’ve expressed yourself in an honest, clear, and mature way, that’s great.

If you’ve both agreed to do what you can do to balance the relationship so you have more time for family and being together, then that’s the most you can hope for.

But if over time, you find that they return to their workaholic ways, then it’s time to ask them again what the hell is up.

It’s important to let them know that they can’t keep repeating this pattern because it’s affecting your relationship.

12. Get professional help.

There could be a reason why your partner is spending all their time at work and you might not like what the reason is.

Sometimes, if people are pulling away from a relationship or feel alone, they’ll dive into something that makes them feel good and productive.

If your relationship is a bit rocky to begin with and you’re pushing your partner away, they might use that as an excuse to dive into their work and ignore what’s really going on.

Talking to a professional can really help you both get clarity around the work behavior, as well as your relationship.

If your partner really is a workaholic, there won’t be much you can say to get them to change their mind and behaviors.

It can be addicting to try to meet demands and perform at their best and if your spouse or partner is suffering from these problems, you might need to seek professional help.

Sitting down with a counselor of couples’ therapist can help the two of your figure out where your priorities are and where you need to work on your relationship.

The goal of this kind of help is to get two people to come together in agreement, but if your partner is too dedicated to their work or feels like they can’t break away from it in any way, it might be a tougher sell than you thought.

Still though, if all else fails, professional help is always an option, and working through problems is always better than not acknowledging the elephant in the room.

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Lachlan Brown

Lachlan Brown

I’m Lachlan Brown, the founder, and editor of Hack Spirit. I love writing practical articles that help others live a mindful and better life. I have a graduate degree in Psychology and I’ve spent the last 6 years reading and studying all I can about human psychology and practical ways to hack our mindsets. If you want to get in touch with me, hit me up on Twitter or Facebook.
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