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.

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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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15 thoughts on “How to Cope When Your Husband Puts His Work First

  • Laurie Post author

    I can totally understand why your husband’s behavior hurt you, and why you’re upset that he didn’t invite you to his work party. I’d be upset and disappointed, too! I don’t think you’re being unreasonable.

    When you and your husband talk about your relationship – and whether wives should be included at the work parties – what does he say?

  • April

    We are married for 16 years now and working on the same company.there is a small group of employees who became close to the president of the company that group includes my first,i was invited to attend their small gatherings but my husband wont tag me along because he was not sure if im really invited.until sometime,the president did not invite me anymore.they went to different places without me.they gather without me.i told my husband to tag me along because i am his wife.however,he is too shy to ask the president.i feel bad about it.last year it was the house warming of our boss i told my husband if i can tag along.he said it is not proper.but after the party i learned that some of the invited employees tagged their friends in the event.again i wonder why my husband cant bring me.last week it was our boss’ bday party i told him if i can join him in the party..again he did not bring me along.i just want to know am i reasonable or not?why do i feel sad about it?i want to let him go but i cry inside?

    • Dip166

      “at first,i was invited to attend their small gatherings but my husband wont tag me along because he was not sure if im really invited.”

      What? If you were invited, why would you show up as a ‘tag along’ of your husband in the first place?
      I think it’s pretty clear he wants to leave you out of the small circle…
      Your mistake was probably to have given him the power to decide whether you should show up to an event you were invited or not. Personally, I would have stopped asking him to tag along a LONG time ago and, if he ends up asking me to for any reason in the future, I wouldn’t attend.

  • Beyonka Holliday

    My husband has a good job for himself. It is not a salary paid job but it is a full time hourly position and I am grateful to be able to stay at home with our daughter. Sometimes it seems like he loves his job more than us because he works long and extra hours even around the holidays which seems to take away time from spending time together. Then when he is home he usually clean, eat, play the game, and watch movies. This has been an everyday lifestyle this year and I am starting to not grow weary at some other things that also takes the place of committing ourselves to this marriage. Sometimes he doesnt come to bed with me. Last night he said that I was smothering which makes me want to find happiness outside of our marriage. Maybe I am smothering him, maybe he feels overwhelmed. Maybe he feels stressed. So right now I am in a transition of going to church alone with our daughter alone and since his license is suspended I take him and drop him off at work which is probably the reason he feel like we are burdens to him and his desires. It seems like all the pressure is on me to change my marriage but my hope remains in the Lord. I will rely on God to change my heart and help me see my husband the way he does. Right now my prayer is to give him the distance he needs while asking God to give me the strength to not seek to serve myself in this marriage and give up but instead open up ways where I can serve him and respect him just as he is. Please keep us in prayer.

  • Melissa

    My husband and I had been in a long distance relationship for years before we got married in 2014. The original plan was I sponsor him after we get married and he moves to the country I live in. We had a 2 year engagement and every year he changes his mind. Just before we got married he said he’ll spend half of the year with me and half the year in his home country beause of work. It was hard but it was a compromise I was willing to take. One year after we got married he’s all set move to where I reside but changed his mind again and went back to his country after a month. Then visits me after 4 months, stayed for leas than 2 months and left again. His goal is to save up enough and eventually make me go home to his country! I feel trapped. I don’t want to move anywhere else. He flipped the cards and now I have to move where he is. I hate my marriage and I hate my husband. We haven’t been together in one place for a more than 2 months at a time and we’ve been married for almost 2 years. What a joke! I am miserable and depressed and he knows it. He acts concerned but still doesn’t do anything. He still sticks with his new plan of making me give up my well established life. He’s so unfair and selfish. He has no word of honor, can’t keep a promise. I regret my marriage. I have turned from a happy go lucky person to a miserable and depressed woman.

    • No Deal

      Wow! That sounds very depressing. I ‘m sure you have told him how you feel. He does sound selfish. Counseling would prob help you guys. I can feel your pain. Hope things work out for you.

  • Ursula

    My husband is a business man and he will be in his shop till is late and will come back late, it hurts me a lot because i have not gotten a job and he dosnt give me money I would have start business, I have been in the house alone taking care of my kids, am sad and tired of being jobless and staying at home, I have pleaded him to put our last baby in school who is one year now but he refused that i should stay how and care for him till his two. Am not happy with my marriage. I can’t discuss with him cos if i have time to discuss with him, he sleeps up. He dosnt stay at place without sleeping, am tired

  • christina

    My sister gave me some good advice. She said that a husband will either work too much or too little. I find that saying is true. Let’s be realistic, they wouldn’t be using their extra time how we want them to either. I’ve learned that my husband shows his love for me by working hard. I try to remember that when I’m lonely. I’ve found my own ways to be happy, it doesn’t come from anyone else.

  • Taka

    My husband is not just doing things for work. He does it because he’s worried about his boss. His boss is a woman, so I feel like he’s putting this other woman’s feelings before mine. He wants to change plans about meeting with our doctor(I’m pregnant) and when I told him I didn’t want to change plans, because it’s too late, he said that because he’s Chinese, being there with me to see the doctor isn’t that important. Now I’m dealing with feeling VERY unimportant since him being with me to see the doctor means he cares about me and loves our baby. He also didn’t just decide to change plans because his boss told him to, but because he feels bad for her. He’s done this before with other things, when he would want to change plans with me( we only get to see eachother once a week, because we live in different cities and the doctors appointments only happen once every month.) The first time he made his boss more important than being with me, he was going to help her move into her new house instead of be with me. When I told him not to, he just said that helping her would be more fun and he would get free food. I’m feeling extremely hurt, but don’t know how to say it at all. Every time I try, he just says that I’m being “crazy”. That his boss isn’t more important to him than me. But my problem is that he thinks about how his boss feels about something before thinking about how I feel about it. I don’t know what to do. I don’t know how to explain how I feel without pushing him away more. I almost feel like just giving up and letting him do whatever he wants and live like a single woman. Just forget about meeting with him and stop all contact. I don’t know what to do really. I know his culture is different, but it makes me really sad that this woman’s feelings somehow have more importance over my own. It shouldn’t be that way should it? 🙁

    • Maria v

      That sounds a little odd… and calling you crazy for expressing how you feel is definitely not o.k. in my eyes. It really doesn’t sound like a healthy relationship. What I would do is this:
      First, tell him how you feel and have a calm conversation about it. Tell him what is on your mind and how you have been feeling, and see how he reacts. If his ears perk up, great. Maybe you can hash things out and get on the same page. Ask for the time for him to listen, and be prepared to listen to him, too!
      Now if that doesn’t work, you have to move on to plan B. Show yourself that you can really live without him (spend more time with friends and family, do those things for yourself you’ve always wanted to do, get back in touch with who you are at your core and have fun with it! Maybe try exercising, sign up for a class, use little chunks of time to volunteer, take on a job… make space in your life for things that are important to you, and you alone, get to it, and keep at it). You do have a little one on the way, and you have to be the best person you can be so that you can be there for your child! In doing that, maybe he will see what he has been missing, and treat you with more respect. If not, by that point you will be feeling a little more free and confident to conquer whatever is on the road ahead. *virtual hug* 🙂

  • Laurie Pawlik-Kienlen Post author

    Thank you for your comments! I tend to use ! way too much in my writing – I’ve always been aware of this, and do appreciate the feedback that others notice it too.

    I edited this article, so my tips on what to do when your husband’s work goals seem more important than your marriage are more clear. Hopefully the message will be easier to understand, now that my excitement has been toned down 🙂

    I welcome your thoughts on dealing with husbands who put their career first.


  • Brian Hoff

    You exactly correct about writing giving insight and healing. I began to write down the things i stopped to think about why my marriage is where it is currently. putting it all out on paper really helped me see what i had been doing to my love and didnt even realize it. i have clarity on what need to do for myself to enable me to be the husband i was before. I pray that my awakening has not come to late