For some people, work can be an integral part of a fulfilling life. However, it can also cause significant problems in a marriage, increasing tension and sometimes even leading to separation. Here are ten of the most significant ways in which work may affect your marriage.
1. Reduced emotional energy
When you pour a lot of your energy into work, you can find yourself with very little energy to nurture the marriage. Consequently, you may fail to notice problems that need to be solved, or even deliberately avoid engaging with problems because you are too tired to deal with them.
2. Short tempers
Stress at work can easily spill over into the relationship, leading to a reduced level of tolerance for your partner’s quirks and personal flaws. You may have less patience, be more critical and struggle to listen to your spouse’s perspective.
On a similar note, you may start to use displacement as a defense mechanism. When you defend yourself in this way, you take anger that you feel at a boss, client or colleague and transfer it to a ‘safer’ target (such as your spouse). For example, you might come home after a difficult meeting and become disproportionately furious at your spouse for forgetting to pick up the groceries.
A large percentage of affairs begin in the workplace, so it is clear that work also provides opportunity for infidelities that can damage or ruin your marriage. It’s important to keep a close eye on appropriate boundaries in the workplace, monitoring any developing attractions that could affect your relationship with your spouse.
5. Different priorities
Resentment can grow if one spouse starts to prioritize their career over the marriage while the other person feels that the marriage should always come first. If you have been married a while but still feel like you are in the early stages of your career, you may take the security of the marriage for granted and devote all your attention to your work.
6. Sex life problems
Work can ruin a sex life by sapping all of the physical energy of one or both spouses. When you are too tired to do anything but fall asleep when you get into bed, physical intimacy quickly begins to take a backseat.
Meanwhile, work stress can inhibit sexual performance when you do try to be intimate, leading to insecurities in both partners.
7. Unbalanced parenting
If one partner works a lot while the other stays at home or works less, you may find that parenting responsibilities lead to conflict. The person with a hectic career might feel excluded from the close bond between their spouse and child, but the person who takes more responsibility for parenting may also feel burdened or overtaxed.
8. Career dilemmas
If you work in a field in which jobs are scarce, there may come a point at which you need to choose between being close to your spouse and developing your career. A marriage can become strained if you sacrifice a good work opportunity for your partner, but it can also run into trouble if career development requires you to shift to a long distance relationship.
9. Social commitments
Spouses often end up arguing about the social commitments that naturally flow from work obligations. For example, the two of you may disagree on whether it is necessary or polite to go to a bar after work on a Friday, especially if there is a more general sense that the marriage is not being prioritized.
10. Self-esteem issues
Finally, if one partner has a thriving and rewarding career then the other partner can feel insecure or directionless as a result of the contrast.
Issues of self-worth, personal value and achievement can be especially relevant when only one spouse works or when both parties work in the same field but notice a dramatic disparity in their successes.
If you keep the above ten problems in mind, you are more likely to be sensitive to the different ways in which work can affect your marriage. Many of these difficulties can be resolved with open communication and a willingness to reflect on one another’s needs.