My husband surprised me one day by stating, “Sometimes I’m jealous of your work.” I asked him why. “Because I wish you had that much energy for me.” Resisting the urge to defend myself, I paused and thought about his comment. I realized it was a call for balance. In reality, if I quit working and instead waited on him hand and foot, he wouldn’t prefer that. He agreed. He was just expressing his desire for the best of me from time to time, not just the leftovers after a hard day’s work.
Can you relate? Work is a major part of our lives. The average American worker clocking in 40 hours a week from age 20-65 will spend 90,360 hours working in a lifetime. How can you be both successful at work and at home? Solomon writes in the book of Ecclesiastes 2:24, “A person can do nothing better than to eat and drink and find satisfaction in their own toil.” Purposeful work is a blessing, not a curse. The curse comes when work massively or continually interferes with your home life. Here are five ways your job may be killing your marriage:
1. You’re always on the job. Before the cell phone and Internet, you left the office and you couldn’t work from home even if you wanted to. Now you’re accessible to your boss and clients anywhere there’s network coverage at any time of day or night. You weren’t meant to be constantly on call 24/7, even if you’re an emergency worker. You need regular down time to nourish your relationship with the most important person on the planet, your spouse. Make sure you turn off your phone on date night and vacations. Don’t stare at your phone when your spouse is talking with you. Look into his or her eyes. And please, don’t be part of the 34 percent who admit to answering their phone during intimacy with their partner!
2. You are in competition with your spouse. You may never say the words, “I’m more successful than you” but are keeping score in your mind? Ideally both of you should support one another in your careers. You should not use your professional status to prove you’re the bigger catch in the relationship or that you have dominance. Keep in mind that men and women are wired differently. In a study by the American Psychology Association, an experiment showed that when a man did poorly on a task but his romantic partner succeeded, his self-esteem went down. However, a woman’s self-esteem remained the same, even if she was outperformed by her romantic partner. Women, learn from this experiment. Give your husband respect regarding his profession because generally speaking, it means more to him than it does to you.
3. You avoid conflict by working. “Sorry, I had to work late at the office again,” you mumble. Truth is working longer hours is much easier than dealing with the tension at home. When we don’t feel successful as a husband or wife, we tend to bury ourselves in work. We can hide behind our busy schedules. If you avoid conflict with your spouse, it won’t magically go away. It will go underground. It will grow. It will get worse. Don’t become a workaholic and ignore conflict with your spouse. Avoidance will cost you dearly. Choose to engage with your spouse and make time for at least 15 minutes of talking every day.
4. You complain about work constantly. Are you incessantly harping about your dead end job, impossible boss, or annoying coworkers? It’s a marriage killer if you bring the toxic environment of your job into the walls of your home every day. Your home is designed to be a haven where you can rest up for the next day. But if you bring your workplace troubles and grumbles home with you, magnifying them with your constant complaining, where is a spouse supposed to escape? Of course it’s all right to share your workplace woes with your spouse occasionally, but not all the time. Instead, turn your grumbling into thanks. Be grateful that you have employment when others are searching for work. As it says in 1 Thessalonians 5:18, “Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”
5. You’re too tired to make love. Many couples are working long hours to make ends meet. When stress goes up, sexual desire can go down. You fall into bed each night, too tired to have sex with your spouse. Yet sexual intimacy is a primary way to communicate love and when it’s not happening in the bedroom, it puts an incredible strain on the relationship. Having sex releases feel-good hormones like endorphins and oxytocin which helps you feel bonded with your mate and more energized at work. Maybe you can dine out less and save money, so that you don’t have to take on those extra hours on the job. Look for ways to guard the sacred marriage bed. You’ll be glad you did.
Can you relate to any of these marriage killers? Do you have any to add to the list?
Arlene Pellicane is a speaker and author of Growing Up Social: Raising Relational Kids in a Screen-Driven World and 31 Days to Becoming a Happy Wife. She has been a guest on the Today Show, Family Life Today, The 700 Club and Turning Point with David Jeremiah. Arlene and her husband James live in San Diego with their three children. Visit Arlene’s website at www.ArlenePellicane.com.
Publication date: November 23, 2015