Tips for Spouses of Workaholics

Top Two: Don't Nag and Don't Enable

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If you are married to a workaholic, you may feel as if you are married to an unfaithful spouse. The sense of being alone, the number of broken promises, feelings of anger and disappointment, and a belief that you are not very important are all similar for spouses of cheaters and for spouses of workaholics.

"On average, couples in which one partner is a workaholic divorce at twice the average rate, according to a 1999 study conducted by Bryan Robinson at the University of North Carolina, Charlotte" ~ Maureen Farrell,  "So You Married A Workaholic." (2007).

Keep Your Marriage Healthy

Here are tips to help you keep your marriage healthy and to cope with your workaholic spouse.

  • Don't Nag. Nagging won't work. Instead, share in a positive tone what your spouse has missed by working late or by bringing work home and not being present to you and your children.
  • Quit Enabling Your Spouse's Workaholic Behavior. You may be enabling your spouse's need or desire to work long hours by delaying family meals, keeping your kids up longer, postponing family activities, and spending money on items and services you could do without.
  • Let Your Spouse Experience Consequences of Working Too Much. If your spouse doesn't want to go with you, leave your spouse at home and take the kids to the movies. If your spouse is too busy to take a few days off, take a weekend trip to visit family without your spouse. Don't put your life or your children's lives on hold waiting for your spouse to make time to be with you.
  • Find Things to Do Together. This could be considered manipulative, but find an activity that your spouse enjoys and that you can tolerate to tempt your partner to work less.
  • Ask to Set Boundaries. If your spouse has agreed to a day with you or even a few hours, agree to some boundaries. Hopefully, unless on call, your mate will be open to turning off the cell phone.
  • Seek Marriage Counseling. If your marriage is in serious trouble due to your spouse working too many hours, then marriage counseling should be considered. Even if can get your spouse to the initial session, you may help him/her understand the gravity of the problem. 

When one partner works excessively, he or she is not nurturing the marriage. It is also unhealthy to maintain a life that is so out of balance. It can easily put you on the road to infidelity and/or divorce. Sometimes it takes a wake-up call such as a personal or health crisis for the workaholic to snap out of this behavior. There are things you can do that won't have you waiting around for this to be the impetus for the change.  

*Article updated by Marni Feuerman