6 Ways Work May be Getting in the Way of Your Marriage

Work is a part of God's plan. In Genesis 2:2-3, we see that God works: "By the seventh day God had finished the work he had been doing; so on the seventh day he rested from all his work. Then God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it he rested from all the work of creating that he had done."

He worked hard for six days and then rested on the seventh day. That is God's intention for us and work. Work gives us purpose and meaning. But it is not meant to consume our lives. With a good work-life balance, we can use part of our time to make a difference in the world, make some money and use the rest of our time to engage in fulfilling and enriching relationships. But what happens when our work gets in the way of our marriage?

Work should fill our time, not consume it.

Although marriage can be one of the most fulfilling relationships we have, working will overtake our time if we are not careful. When a marriage is not going well, it is easy to bury ourselves in our work to take our minds off our emotional and relational pain. Here are six ways work may be getting in the way of your marriage:

1. You think about work more than your spouse.

It is important to keep our minds focused on work during our designated time shift. But when we find ourselves thinking about work more often than we're thinking about our spouses, work might be getting in the way. Work can quickly become an idol if we're not careful. To combat this temptation, keep a blank journal in a drawer at your workplace. Begin the day by thinking of ten things you're grateful for regarding your marriage. Write down all the great characteristics of your spouse and the wonderful ways your marriage fulfills your life. Take out the journal at the end of the day and review what you wrote. On the way home from work, meditate on some of the items you wrote. What emotions come to mind when you think about your spouse? Your marriage? This will keep your mind focused and re-center yourself so that you are mentally present with your spouse when you get home. Your spouse will know if you are not mentally present with them. Your spouse will appreciate you when you put them first.

2. You use free time to complete tasks.

In today's world, we are rarely ever bored. There is so much to fill our time it is easy to keep busy every second of the day. But boredom is important to clear our minds of any brain fog and to give it a mental rest from the work. If you fill all your free time with work-related tasks, you'll never get the rest your body needs to recharge and re-energize. If you rest regularly from your work mentally, physically, and emotionally, your productivity will greatly increase when you return on Monday morning. Your spouse will also appreciate the quality time you spend with them. Spending time in meaningful activities with your spouse will deepen your emotional bond and keep your marriage strong.

3. Your conversations center around work.

Work is important not only to keep our minds and bodies sharp but work is also meant to make money to provide for our basic needs. In a marriage covenant, each partner vows to be faithful to the other. But when we become overly consumed with work, it can quickly become emotional infidelity if we are not careful. There are many ways to have an affair; work can be one of them.

4. You come home from work too late.

Although it's sometimes necessary to work late, overworking, coming home late regularly, and not spending enough time with each other can ruin a marriage if not careful. Setting proper boundaries is vital to a healthy marriage. If you are unable to say no to the boss, it may be time to either get another job or set proper boundaries. Especially when children are involved, both spouses need to take an equal role in raising the children. It is unfair to leave child-rearing to only one spouse. When this happens, one spouse can become very bitter and resentful toward the other. To combat this, let your boss know you will not be working late hours unless it's necessary. Let them know you will not be answering your phone after work hours. Do not make yourself available in this way, or else you will teach your boss and other leaders within your workplace that it is OK to break your time boundaries.

5. You are not emotionally present.

Not only is it important to be mentally present with your spouse, but it's also equally as important to be emotionally present with your spouse. Conversations that are only superficial or center around work will make it seem as though you are married to your work rather than your spouse. The two of you must talk about feelings, pain, conflict, and any other issues that may be coming between you and your marriage. Prolonged periods without talking about deep, emotional issues will strain your marriage. This issue may cause your spouse to consider separation or divorce if gone unchecked.

Being emotionally present means participating in activities, including passive ones like making dinner or watching TV. It is important to understand that menial tasks around the house must also be attended to. Being good stewards of what God has given us is an important part of fulfilling our relationship with each other and our relationship with God. When we see God face- to face, we will give an account for everything he gave us, including our homes and our relationships. If we are poor stewards of what God has given us, he will not be able to trust us with more. Luke 12:48 says, "to whom much is given, much is to be expected." 

6. You have trouble being alone with your spouse.

Another critical element to a marriage is having private or alone time. This helps strengthen the marriage bond. But when one spouse busies themself, it does not focus on being present with a spouse. It will make the other partner feel as though they don't matter. Once a partner tells himself they don't matter repeatedly, they begin to believe it. This is when the enemy tries to destroy the marriage. When a spouse believes they're not important to the other spouse, they will start to participate in more independent activities.

If you have difficulty being alone with your spouse, ask yourself: why can't I be alone? Are there issues in the marriage that you have been trying to avoid? If you are having trouble communicating or being alone together, seek professional help. You may uncover some issues and wounds have not been processed. Having a third party can help you process grief, extend forgiveness, and have a much stronger relationship because of it.

When put in its proper place, work can give a person's life meaning and purpose, making you feel like you're making a difference in the world. By placing appropriate boundaries around your work schedule and not allowing it to interfere with your marriage, you will make a difference in the world—not only in the workplace but also in your home.

Photo credit: ©Getty Images/GaudiLab

Writer Michelle LazurekMichelle S. Lazurek is a multi-genre award-winning author, speaker, pastor's wife, and mother. She is a literary agent for Wordwise Media Services and a certified writing coach. Her new children’s book Who God Wants Me to Be encourages girls to discover God’s plan for their careers. When not working, she enjoys sipping a Starbucks latte, collecting 80s memorabilia, and spending time with her family and her crazy dog. For more info, please visit her website www.michellelazurek.com.

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