How to Cope When Your Husband Puts His Work First

Does it seem like your husband loves his job more than you? If he puts his work first, you may feel lonely and sad. But you may feel better knowing you’re not alone….

“I am 27 and have been with my husband for nine years, married for three,” says Angela on How to Know if Your Marriage is Over. “We both work for the same organization.. We earn fairly decent money and have recently bought a beautiful house on a joint loan. It’s been a great time together. But for the last six months, I don’t feel loved or understood any more.”

Below is more of her comment on how her husband’s work is affecting their marriage. It sounds like healthy communication is an obstacle in their marriage – as it with many couples. Healthy communication takes time and effort, which is why some husbands (and wives) choose to put work first. Work is easier and less emotionally stressful than relationships.

Unfortunately, there are no quick tips or easy fixes. I don’t have magic solutions for how to cope when your husband puts his work first. All I have to offer are a few ideas and suggestions for reconnecting with your husband. Only you can decide if you can get marriage back on track – and how that will happen.

How to Cope When He Puts His Work First

If it seems like your husband loves his job more than you, you may feel lonely and frustrated. You’re not alone; many men are driven to achieve their career goals – even at the expense of their marriages.

Here’s the rest of Angela’s story:

“Around six months back my husband got an offer to work abroad for a year in another country 6,000 kilometres away! I didn’t have the option to leave my job to be with him, as I had started working after my Masters degree. I didn’t want him to take up the offer as I couldn’t imagine a life apart from each other. Also, our current salaries leave us with a sufficient surplus every month.. But, he decided to take the job to meet his financial goals. It seems like my husband loves his on more than he loves me.”

She’s having a hard time making the transition from being together all the time to not seeing him for the next year. “It’s been more than a month since he left, but I still wake up crying and miserable,” she says. “I know I have to cope with the cards that have been dealt me, but sometimes the pain is unbearable.”

Try to determine if this is just a stage he’s going through

Sometimes husbands put their financial and career goals as a higher priority for a short time…and then once those goals are achieved, they can turn their attention back to their relationships at home.

Of course, this isn’t the easiest thing to assess. “I sometimes wonder if all love is lost,” says Angela. “How could he make the decision to leave me and go away for a whole year? He calls regularly, he says he misses me, but I am not able to accept it at face value. Please help me. I need guidance on how to fix my relationship.”

The best way to cope when your husband puts his work first is to talk things through with him. If he won’t or can’t communicate with you, then it might be wise to talk to a counselor. You need supportive, objective, in-person guidance as you talk through your marriage issues. It’s not healthy to allow your feeling that your husband loves his job more than you fester and grow, without addressing it somehow.

Learn how to deal with feelings of loneliness and insecurity

My neighbors have been married for 23 years; the husband just left for a two year work stint in Thailand.  His partner is fine with it, and plans to visit every couple of months. I guess when you’ve been together for two decades, two years seems like nothing!

I’m married to a geologist, and most of his colleagues leave the country for work reasons. Sometimes they go for weeks; other times they leave for years. Sometimes their wives and families follow; other times, the loved ones stay home. My husband only leaves for six to eight weeks every summer — I’m one of the lucky ones.

So, though I’d hate to live apart from my husband for a year, I know his leaving isn’t a sign that he doesn’t understand or care for me. Sometimes men are more achievement and work-oriented than their wives, who are more relationship-oriented.

I can’t tell Angela how to make her marriage work, nor can I tell you how to cope when your husband loves his job more than you. But, I can encourage you to find meaning and fulfillment outside of your relationship.

Understand your husband’s “Love Language”

Husbands Job Takes Priority Over Your MarriageIn The 5 Love Languages: The Secret to Love That Lasts, Gary Chapman describes how different people give and receive love. I summarize his thoughts in Examples of the Five Love Languages – Different Ways to Love.

Is it possible that your husband puts his work first as a way of showing you that he loves you? I’m not saying this is a right, healthy or good way to express love…I’m just sharing ideas.

Angela’s husband’s decision to take the job far away – and his desire to achieve his financial goals – may be because he loves her so much, not because she and his marriage aren’t important to him. It’s possible that his love language is security and material possessions (“Acts of Service”).

Perhaps he’s more focused on his long-term goal of financial security – that’s what he’s working towards. He feels his marriage is loving and secure, so he’s confident enough to leave for a year.

Remember that people make decisions for specific reasons

Since I don’t know the whole story – and Angela’s husband isn’t sharing his perspective – I have no idea if he really is putting his work ahead of their relationship. I don’t know why he accepted a job thousands of miles away without considering how it would affect his wife and their marriage.

Every story has two sides. Every marriage has two perspectives. And, I believe that if they had a good marriage before he decided to leave, then he left to work in another country for a reason he believed to be good.

Maybe it wasn’t the best decision for their marriage…and maybe it won’t be the best decision for his career or financial goals. Maybe it’ll turn out to be the worst decision he ever made. But, I think Angela has to have faith that though it feels she and their marriage is less important than his career, he thought he was doing the right thing at the time.

Find ways to be heard in your marriage

I also don’t know if Angela’s husband is hearing how lonely, rejected, isolated, and disrespected she feels. Does he feel bad that he decided to leave for a year? Does he regret it, or how he handled it?

One of the best ways to reconnect with your spouse is to really hear and accept his perspective – and hope that he really hears and accepts yours! If you’re not being heard, read How to Cope With a Lonely Marriage.

When you’re separated by work (such as in military marriages), you could…

Read Emotional Disconnection in Marriage – How to Feel Less Alone.

And, build an interesting, fulfilling, fun life! I know life is lonely without your husband – especially if you feel like he puts work first – but the best thing you could do is create an exciting life for yourself. Not only will this make your time apart fly by, it’ll keep you happy and busy. The happier and busier you are, the more attractive you’ll be to your husband.

If you’re not happy or emotionally healthy, get counseling. Find a support group. Do whatever you can to become a strong, healthy, happy, vibrant, attractive woman. Do it for yourself first, and for your husband second. The more attractive you are to your hubby, the more he’ll yearn to be reunited with you…and the healthier your relationship will be.


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