Article by Jim Brangenberg
Being a workaholic can destroy your marriage. Whether you own your own business or you work for someone else, there is a danger. That danger resides in the fact that we all love to work. We love the feeling of great accomplishment. We love to work with others to reach a common goal. We love the exhilaration of closing a deal. And frankly, dealing with work and succeeding at work is easier than working on your marriage.
The whole problem with that mindset is that we got married to spend life with our best friend. We committed “till death do us part,” but we never considered that it may be work that parts us. How exactly do we protect our marriage from our work or our business?
Some of you may think that my premise is wrong. That’s fine, but I can prove it. Over the last 25 years, Martha and I have mentored around 75 married couples. Of these couples, the majority of them were entrepreneurs or business owners or leaders in their organizations. The number one complaint from the spouse who was home more often was that they felt like work was more important than them.
At first, when you’re a newlywed, you do have to work quite a bit in order to pay your bills and get a solid financial footing. You have to make compromises to get things moving in the right direction so you can eventually buy a house. However, that dedication to making a lot of money to get the kind of stuff you want can be heavily addicting. Once you have the perfect house, then you think you need the perfect car. Then the house isn’t big enough when you have kids so you gotta get a bigger house. And when you get a bigger house, you need furniture, and then a cleaning lady, and then this or that or whatever it may be. There is never an end to the stuff you can accumulate. And the more stuff you accumulate the more money it takes to take care of those things.
We have seen so many couples who have dedicated their lives to paying for their stuff, that they end up sacrificing their marriage and their family because of the pursuit of a job that pays for their stuff.
I believe we have it all backwards. If our marriages are to be important, then every decision we make needs to reflect that importance in our decision matrix. If the job that we need to take to support the lifestyle that we’ve adjusted to is going to interfere with the importance of our marriage, then we need to make some changes. Perhaps we need to downsize our home or our cars. Perhaps we need to commit to fewer sports activities for our children and maybe eat out a whole lot less. Any way you look at it, decisions that you make outside your marriage absolutely impact your marriage!
The destruction of a marriage doesn’t happen overnight; it happens over time. It happens as a result of decisions that you make that will impact the marriage directly. Like taking a job that will take you on the road five days a week, one that requires you to work 10-12 hours a day, or a position that requires a commute of two hours each way to work. Each of those decisions impacts your marriage.
So perhaps you should start with your marriage in mind. Don’t make any decisions that will compromise how much you love your spouse; show it in the time you invest in your spouse. Don’t be deluded into thinking that if you just could make more money, you’d be able to spend more time with your spouse and do more fun things. I can guarantee you that the pursuit of more money in order to be able to spend more time with your spouse never happens until it’s too late. Once the overworking spouse realizes their overworking has damaged their marriage, it is usually too late to repair it because the other spouse has already permanently checked out. Now, as believers, there is never a time when it is too late to reconcile. There is never a time when there is no room for reconciliation and forgiveness. However, the world does not support this. The world tells you that you should move on if you are unhappy. There’s danger in this.
You and I need to protect our marriages at all costs. When we sacrifice our marriage at the altar of work or at the altar of business, we not only destroy the number one relationship on earth that means most to us, but we destroy our relationship with our kids and our future grandkids. We may also destroy our relationships at church, in our small group, and even in our neighborhood.
Is it necessary to protect our marriage from our work and our business? You bet! Every day, you need to protect what is most important to you. Show your spouse today that they are more important than your work and the stuff that your work allows you to buy.