Your marriage and your career have many things in common. Both require hard work, passion, and good communication skills to be successful.  As the saying goes, “Grass grows where you water it.” Depending on the industry or career, you may have to choose which is more important to you – your job or your marriage.

You spend eight hours (or more) at work every day – and usually, the rest of your day is dedicated to your marriage and your family.  Unfortunately, in our demanding market, trying to balance your career with marriage is becoming harder and harder.

Companies are insisting on longer working hours, and we often bring work home with us. Our managers and bosses can email us at any hour, and we’re expected to be “on-call” even when we’re on vacation. We’re expected to give 110% every day in both our professional life and our personal life.   

For some men, this is great. They thrive off of the challenge their work brings. They find that their work brings them meaning to their life and they enjoy that – maybe even more than their married life. For other men, the never-ending workload creates extra stress and depression, and they would prefer to spend more quality time to hang out, travel, and relax with their wives and families. Of course, everyone has different priorities and things that bring them happiness.

So sit down and think deeply about it. Ultimately you need to decide. Which is more important, your career or your marriage? If it came down to it and you had to choose just one, what would it be? 

I choose my job!

So, you’ve asked yourself if you would rather keep your job or your marriage, and you’ve decided that your job brings you more fulfillment. There are many reasons you might feel this way. You might feel that you’ve worked harder in your career and have gotten further than you could have ever imagined. You might feel that you spend most of your weekends wanting to work. Maybe you’re a certified workaholic that loves the challenges that work brings to you. Perhaps you’ve started your own business, and you’re passionate about seeing your hard work pay off. Whatever the reason, your job feels more important to you than your marriage right now.   

Obviously, this is affecting your marriage. You wouldn’t be here if it weren’t. You’ve been juggling too many things at once, and you’ve dropped the ball a few times. I’m sure this has created immense stress on your marriage. Probably one of the reasons this is happening is because you haven’t been honest with yourself or your wife. You didn’t want to admit out loud that your job is more important to you than your marriage.   

So, how can you fix this?

Step 1: Acknowledge the situation

The solution starts by admitting to your wife that your priority at the moment is your work. I know that sounds crazy but honestly, you can’t start solving these issues until you come clean with her. Like with work, clear and direct communication is the backbone of a healthy marriage. Should you say: “Honey, I love you, but I love work more.”? Not unless you’re already done with the marriage and ready for a fight. Instead, go into this conversation with compassion. Sit her down and tell her, “Honey, I’ve realized that my career brings me a lot of happiness and fulfillment. I know I’ve been focusing a lot on my career, but the reason I’m doing that is because of reasons X, Y, and Z. With that said, I know that my work has caused some issues in our marriage and I would like to talk about that.”  

This is a good way to start the conversation because it shows her that your career is important to you beyond just the money aspect. If you both have a reasonably healthy  relationship, she’ll want you to be happy in your job. It’s also good to acknowledge that you’ve been spending more mental energy and effort on your career than your marriage. Everyone can appreciate the person who is introspective enough to look at the situation and admit that there are problems that need to be addressed. 

Step 2: Come up with a game plan

Now that you both know where you’re both at, you need to come up with a game plan. If you’re still looking to stay married, you need to compromise. The reason there is so much struggle is probably because your wife feels unappreciated and forgotten. Ask her about ways that you could improve the situation. What does she need to make her feel better about your work schedule? Maybe she would prefer if you didn’t talk about work all the time or maybe she wants you to stop working six days a week and stick to a Monday to Friday schedule. You get the idea. Be open to her suggestions. You don’t need to agree on every little thing, and of course, stick to your boundaries, but also try to see where she’s coming from. She married you because she liked spending time with you, exploring new places and things with you, and enjoyed your company. She didn’t expect to marry someone who only focused on their career.   

With that said, you are looking for tangible goals you can accomplish. Don’t be vague. If you both agree to go on a date night once a week – pick a day! If it helps, pick out the activity and make reservations ahead of time. If she wants you home for supper, then have her give you a call at 5 pm to remind you to head home. It’s hard when you have to choose between your job or your marriage, but  it’s easier when you can have a bit of both. If she respects you and your grind, and you respect her and her needs, then you can both work together to get through it. Balance is essential.     

Step 3: Look into divorce

So, you’ve tried talking to your wife and explaining the situation, and you’ve tried making game plans. You’ve tried to leave work early and not bring it home with you. You’ve tried to cut back on emails and  late night work dinners. Unfortunately, your job is just too demanding, and you’re not willing to give it up. It’s something you enjoy and something you take pride in.  

There is nothing wrong with that.

With that said, you have to realize that your wife deserves someone who is present in her life. Ultimately, if you both can’t compromise the struggle will continue indefinitely. If your career is that important to you and the stress of the marriage is becoming too much, it’s time for you to begin to look into finding a lawyer to discuss your options. Some issues in relationships are irreconcilable and making the decision between your job or your marriage might be one. If all else fails, then you need to follow the thing that brings you the most joy and fulfillment. 

I choose my Marriage!

So, you’ve thought about it, and you’ve realized that your career is hurting your marriage. If this is you, you’re not alone. The stress of the job, the commute, the long hours working in front of computer screens, and the stress of never having a minute to decompress can wreak havoc on a marriage. If you add in children and your wife also dealing with work, it can seem overwhelming.  Of course, emotions are going to run high and passion cold when you’re dealing with chronic everyday stress. In fact, it’s been reported that  64 percent of working parents revealed that they’re too stressed from work and taking care of families to have sex with their partner. But what can you do to change this?

Step One: Find a new direction

The first thing you and your wife need to do is take a very introspective look into your life together. Sit down at the kitchen table and hash everything out. Focus on the solution and don’t point fingers. Both of you have created your life together, and both of you are to blame for things going sideways. So rather than focus on that, focus on how you can work together as a team to get through it. Some questions you might want to ask are things like: What are your priorities as a couple? What would you like to have more time to do together? How are your jobs affecting your marriage? Do you travel too much for work? Are you working in a stressful work environment?  

Once you have answered these questions, you can start working towards your goal. If your commute is destroying you and eating into family time, then maybe you need to consider looking into getting a new job or moving closer to work. If your work is too stressful, then maybe you need to find a new team, go back to school, or talk to someone about changing positions. If you find that you don’t have time to de-stress before you get home, maybe plan to take a walk or go to the gym before coming home.

Step 2: Gain financial independence

Of course, sometimes it’s hard to switch your job or get out of a situation that is making you miserable. If you absolutely can’t fix your issue, you and your wife should try your best to gain financial independence. Cut down significantly on costs, create a budget, and begin to pay off debts. This may not seem like it will help your marriage, but a lot of marital stress comes from financial issues and the stress that comes from living paycheck to  paycheck. When you are that swamped in debt, you have no options and no bargaining chips. When you’ve gotten your finances in order, lots of money in your emergency fund, and your retirement all paid for, you can  look into working at jobs that make less money but give you more time.  

A good place to start would be talking to a financial advisor about your options. You could also look into books or blogs that could help you with saving and paying off debt. If you have thrifty friends that seem to have vast financial knowledge, ask them also. It’s not easy to change old spending habits, but you and your wife will breathe a lot easier knowing that everything is in order. Create a plan and stick to   it.According to Forbes, small steps will get you there much faster than having a big vague goal in front of you. 

Step 3: Change your situation

Another great option is to talk to your company or job about the situation at work and try to change it. The company that you’re working for may have a few different options for you depending on your situation. Many people now work from home a few days a week. It’s been reported that individuals who work remotely  are more satisfied with their jobs and also feel less stress from their jobs. Another option is asking to change from a job where you spend a lot of time traveling, to something that has more of a home base. With so many different ways to connect, its so easy to stay in one location and work from there.      

Talk to your HR department or supervisors and see what they say. If you’re working for a good company, they’ll want to keep you around, and they’ll want you both to be happy about the situation.  They can help you come up with a plan and execution to satisfy both of your needs. In the meantime, you’ll have more time and energy to spend with your wife and family and less stress to deal with. Which is what both you and your wife wanted to begin with. 

Choosing Between Your Job or Your Marriage is Hard 

All in all, deciding whether to choose between your job or your marriage is hard. There aren’t very many clear cut answers. What is most important though, is that you do what feels right to you. Don’t feel ashamed if you’d prefer to be at work than at home, and vice versa, don’t feel ashamed to prefer to be at home than at work. Neither is better – they’re just better for you. It’s your life – live it the way you want.   

Help a workaholic.

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(c) Can Stock Photo / photography33

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