Working Too Much and Its Impact on Your Marriage

Updated 04/06/19
Credit: Christian Vierig. Getty Images

Everyone should have a job that makes them happy. It is another thing entirely to be such a workaholic that the rest of life fades to the background. Now, working a lot is socially acceptable—in the US, it's even encouraged. For those people, doing extreme amounts of work or being entirely dedicated to their career seems the right thing to do, but others may say that it is an addiction.  

Before the dawn of laptops, cell phones, and other electronic devices, leaving work at the office was not as difficult as it is today. When we can work virtually anywhere and anyone can reach us at any time, boundaries between work and pleasure are difficult to parse. 

Regardless, like any behavior, doing too much may interfere with other areas of your life. It can certainly put a marriage at risk. Spouses of workaholics (or of those who work too much), often feel estranged and disconnected from their partners. They often express a sense of loneliness. 

Signs You Might Be a Workaholic

One point to understand is that being a hard worker is not the same thing as a workaholic. A hard worker still has a balanced life, can leave work at the office, be emotionally present and engaged when home or away from work. If you have three or more of the following traits, you should take a critical look at your relationship with your career. 

  • Work is your number one priority.
  • You miss out on life events for work.
  • You are financially stable, yet work excessively anyway.
  • Your family complains that you work too much.
  • You try to find ways to make more time for work.
  • Being unable to work seriously stresses you out.
  • Missing work due to illness or injury puts you in a panic.
  • Hobbies and leisure are sacrificed due to work.
  • The amount you work has impacted your health.
  • You find a way to work even if sick or injured.
  • You rarely take vacations and if you do, you still work while out.
  • You always bring work home with you.
  • You find it hard to be "in the moment" because you are thinking about work.

Tips to Prevent Work From Hurting Your Marriage

  • Understand the importance of drawing a line between work and home.
  • Decompress before you walk in the door. For example, use the car ride home to listen to music, a podcast, or something else besides business calls. 
  • Make sure that you do not use the master bedroom for your home office.
  • When you first arrive home from work, embrace your spouse physically and emotionally. You can spend some time talking together about how the day went or other things that you may need to decompress from. Do not do anything else until you do this first.
  • Do not use your work schedule as an excuse to cop out on doing your share of the household chores.
  • Try to do one thing at a time. No attempts at multi-tasking. It doesn't work well anyway.
  • Turn your cell phone off entirely. Also turn off other electronic devices that could interrupt your ability to spend time with your spouse and children.
  • Set aside time for hobbies and leisure. Exercise is especially important.
  • If you work at home, make sure that you have some sort of a buffer zone between your home office and the rest of your home.
  • Stick to your scheduled work hours. It isn't fair to your spouse or your kids to work longer than expected.
  • Sure, there may be times when you have to work than you planned. Just don't make the extra work hours a daily occurrence. 
  • If your work schedule will temporarily include longer hours for awhile, make sure that you have at least one night during the week, and one day during the weekend to spend time together.

Whether you simply work too much or are a true workaholic, it will put your marriage in danger. If you find that you can't put your life in balance, get professional help through counseling or an executive coaching. It is worth exploring the underlying reasons why you continue to do an unhealthy behavior. You do not want to lose your spouse and family because you are not nurturing your home life.

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