Why He Works Too Much

Last month on “Wifey Wednesday”, Sheila of To Love Honor and Vacuum answered the question “What Do I Do with a Workaholic Husband?” I thought Sheila did a great job in her answer; this is my attempt to add a bit of male thinking to the mix.

Come to bed! © ArtFamily | freedigitalphotos.net

 Here are a few reasons men become, or act like, workaholics: 

  1. It’s how he was raised: For some a “good work ethic” means working a ridiculous amount. Workaholic parents often expect high levels of productivity from their children from an early age. Work is how they learn to show they matter, and how they find acceptance.
  2. He thinks you expect it: Or at least he thinks you expect a level of income he can only provide by working far too much. Sometimes this is real, other times it is the husband putting his mother’s behaviour on his wife.
  3. Fear: My parents were children of the Great Depression. Having a good job and as much savings as possible meant the difference between life and death. Or at least it seemed that way. My father was able to move past this, my mother not so much. If your husband grew up in poverty, he may feel he has to work 24/7 to ensure his family does not end up the same way. Other men fear being laid off in a poor economy, and think working too many hours is a way to ensure they’re not the one let go.
  4. Avoiding Home: I have mentioned the first couple of years of our marriage were rough. Being together became difficult at times. I started spending more time at work than I had to. I was on salary, and I could always find something to do. I was not even aware I was doing it for a while. When I realised what I was doing, I stopped. Had I not caught on, or not felt up to dealing with my marriage, I could easily have become a workaholic. Working too much is a socially acceptable way to avoid your wife.
  5. It’s something he does well: Men who feel like a failure at other things may work many hours as a way of showing themselves and others they have worth and value.

If you can figure out why he is doing it, you have a better chance of getting him to change.

~ Paul, I’m XY, and I like my wife more than I like my work!

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4 Comments on “Why He Works Too Much

  1. Good points. I see myself (the wife) in numbers 1, 2, 4 and 5.
    #1 – Most of the positive attention I received in my childhood was from my father who praised accomplishments.
    #2 – Years ago my husband made it clear he expected me to do my fair share in providing financially for our household. An overachiever (see #1), I have been the primary wage earner and sole benefits provider for many years. Can’t remember when I worked only one job.
    #4 – Our relationship needed a lot of work, and avoiding home meant avoiding the relationship where I felt a sense of deep pain and failure.
    #5 – I excel at many things, and usually do so with ease. Not so with my marriage.

    “If you can figure out why he is doing it, you have a better chance of getting him to change.” Shouldn’t the workaholic be the one figuring out why? Or perhaps this could be tackled together. Doesn’t seem fair to put the burden on the spouse affected by the workaholic.

    • It’s always better when the one with a problem is the one working to change it.
      When the other person is the one looking for a change, understanding why can be a big help.
      Paul Byerly recently posted…What Will it Cost?My Profile

  2. I am the huge workaholic and overachiever, definitely not to avoid my husband (it predates our marriage), but I’ll keep an eye out for that dynamic. I warned my husband before we married that when I have a bad-temper day, I tend to feel like I do more and others do less, and be very critical. So he was forewarned, knowing it isn’t aimed at him, and I am very conscientious about not being critical of him because of my bad day. Two things that help: letting him know it’s one of my bad days, so he doesn’t take it personally, and saying “I am sorry” if I slip up.

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