How can I get through to my workaholic husband? – Ask Evie

My husband is a workaholic and spends nearly all of his waking hours at work. He has 3 jobs and I work part-time. He doesn’t need to work so much, we don’t have money worries or anything. He just enjoys working. He will take any hours that are given to him and often goes from one job straight to another. He’s been known to work a full 24 hours. I just don’t understand why he does this. We have 2 children and he’s barely here. I have to do the majority of the childcare and when he is home he is really tired and is just on his phone all the time. I have repeatedly asked him not to work so much. I have told him that I need a break too. I can’t do everything but he doesn’t leave me any time for me to relax or do anything that I want to do. He just doesn’t listen to me and so I spend most of my time feeling very stressed running around trying to do everything. I can’t seem to get through to him what he’s doing and how it impacts us all. The children don’t have much of a relationship with him and I know that they feel neglected by him when I am at work. I just don’t know what to do anymore.

Thanks for reaching out – I’d like to start by saying that I can relate to what you’re going through. Having grown up with a workaholic father, I can imagine how your children may be feeling and why you’re so concerned. There are a few things to unpick here, so let’s start with your husband and his desire to work all the time. 

As his wife, it’s completely understandable that you’re feeling fed up. You need your husband to step up and be a partner. Someone who will help pick up the load at home. And as a mother, it’s incredibly painful to watch your children miss out on spending time with their father, all the while wondering why he’s not making an effort with them. 

So the first step here is to understand why he’s working so much. 

Is it because he’s seeking validation through his work?

Is he escaping family life or responsibility by keeping busy and out of the house? 

You’ve mentioned that you’ve already tried to speak to him about these issues, and he’s not been very responsive. If this is the case, and you’re unable to have an open and honest conversation with him, it’s time to start making plans for your and your children’s future. 

Staying in this situation is clearly taking its toll on you. He may be financially responsible, but being a father and husband requires much more than just that. You deserve a husband who supports you, and your children a father who makes time for them. 

And when it comes to the children – has he always been this way? Or did something happen to cause a shift in his behavior towards them?

Regardless of what happens to the marriage, it’s clear that you’d like him to connect more with your children. I know it isn’t your responsibility to do this, but it might be worth finding activities that he could bond with the children over. Consider his likes and hobbies, and suggest things he could do with the kids while you’re at work. 

If he continues to push back, it might be worth sitting him down and giving him a reality check – his children are going to grow up to resent him. While he may be physically present, his emotional absence will affect them in ways he probably doesn’t even realize. Ultimately, children don’t care about how many hours their parents work or how much money they’ve got, they care about the love and attention they receive. 

Have this conversation calmly. Don’t engage in a tit-for-tat argument, and don’t get caught up in playing blame games. State the facts, let him know how his behavior is affecting the kids, and leave it at that. Place the ball in his court, in other words, and step back, knowing you’ve done everything within your power. 

And now let’s shift the focus onto you.

You’re doing a lot, and it sounds like you’re reaching your limit. I can’t stress enough how important it is that you get some much-needed “me-time”. Drop the kids off at a relative’s house or hire a babysitter. Take yourself out even if it’s just once or twice a month. If your husband doesn’t step up, you’re going to need a community around you, so never be afraid to ask others for help. Depending on their ages, enroll them in after-school clubs to give yourself some downtime once or twice a week. 

You mentioned money isn’t an issue and your husband seems to enjoy working, so why not consider hiring a cleaner to come once a week to lessen your load? 

If he’s not willing to help out, you need to be proactive – start by reclaiming your independence. Take control of your life and don’t wait around for your husband to buckle up. If anything, when he notices this, it might kick him into action. And even if doesn’t, seeing his children move on with life without him may at least make him want to spend more time with them. 

This is a complex situation, and I hope you’ve got some good friends or family to lean on to help you through this. Ultimately, you can’t force your husband to change, but you can change your situation by thinking deeply about what you want in life and what will benefit your children the most. 

Sending strength and power your way,

Evie 

Do you have a question for Evie? If you would like advice from Evie, fill out the form here or send your problem to askevie@ideapod.com.

Ask Evie

Ask Evie

Evie is on a mission to revolutionize relationships and help you sort through your emotional woes. Her popular column helps readers break free from societal restraints and create empowering relationships - both with their inner selves and with those around them. With a wealth of experience in relationship counseling, backed by several professional certifications, she’s open-minded, big-hearted, and extremely compassionate… But she’ll also be completely honest in telling you the (sometimes) brutal truth, so you can get straight to the heart of the matter. Maybe you’re trying to save a marriage that currently feels like a sinking ship? Or worrying that your new friend isn’t quite as nice as they seem? Perhaps you’ve accidentally killed your partner’s goldfish and are weighing up the pros and cons of going to the pet store and finding a doppelganger, or fessing up? Whatever the dilemma, Evie’s at the ready to help sort through the emotional turmoil and guide you towards the next best step. To get in touch with Evie, click here.

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