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Coping with a Workaholic Spouse

Georgetown Counseling and Wellness provides marriage and couples counseling for couples who struggle with communication and overworking.

Life with a workaholic spouse can start to take its toll on you and your relationship. You shouldn’t have to schedule in or beg for quality time with your loved one.

Unfortunately, workaholism can be often be mistaken for motivation or a strong work ethic. Over time, this behavior can snowball into bigger problems. Here are some ways to cope when your spouse is a workaholic.

Bring Awareness to the Problem

Some workaholics don’t realize there is a problem. Bringing up the issue will require some finesse, some time for understanding, and adjustment.

When discussing the issue, especially if it is the first real conversation about it, remain calm and supportive. Arguing or nagging will only fuel a fire which is counterproductive. Choose a neutral time when your spouse is more likely to be open and receptive to your concerns.

Come prepared with examples of how this behavior is affecting your life and your collective life. Use a non-judgmental tone when conveying these to deter any defensiveness.

Create Boundaries

Creating boundaries can be difficult for people who haven’t needed to do so before. It will take practice and possibly multiple conversations and revisits to get right. When choosing your boundaries, you need to have specific guidelines for what is acceptable and what is not. When discussing what your boundaries are, have a plan for the consequences as well as the support needed to maintain them.

Examples can include being home by a certain time for dinner or ending all work calls by a set time. In order to be most effective, you should have an activity planned at that set deadline to discourage running over. Over time, it should train your spouse to complete their tasks on time and not miss family time.

Explore Other Lifestyle Habits

Workaholics tend to need tasks and activities to fill their schedules, it isn’t always about work. While trying to encourage your spouse to scale back on work, you should have a plan to explore other healthy lifestyle habits.

Is there anything that your spouse wishes there was “more time” for? Is there anything that you both have wanted to do, but can’t seem to find the time for? Sit with your spouse and come up with some goals that can take the place of work. Formulate a plan on how to achieve these goals.

Meet Their Coworkers

Understanding your spouse’s workaholic behaviors can be difficult, especially when you don’t know much about their work environment or their coworkers. Take some time to understand what they love about their job and what drives them in it.

Host their coworkers for a dinner or go out for a happy hour for some social interaction with the people your spouse spends the day with. Getting to know them will help you bridge the gap between work and home for your spouse.

Prioritize the Social Calendar

Life gets busy! When you’re dealing with a workaholic, a good deal of their time is spent at the office or at least working in some fashion. Not everything on the social calendar will be easy for your spouse to attend.

Take a look at the monthly social events and prioritize the most important that you’d like your spouse at. Converse with them and set realistic attendance goals. This way, when work interferes with a lesser priority event, you won’t feel such an impact.

Have a Self Care Routine

While matters with your spouse might be intense or less than desirable right now, ensure you maintain focus on yourself. Their overworking has likely taken a toll on you in some manner, so take some time to regroup.

Be proactive in completing self care and exercise routines to bring yourself peace of mind. Find hobbies to fill your time if you’re still missing your spouse. This is about your survival too after all.

Seek Therapy

If workaholism is impacting your life, there could be benefit from seeking professional treatment in the form of individual counseling or couples counseling. Unearthing the underlying issue could be the fix you need. Schedule a consultation for marriage counseling with us today!


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