I live with a man who works a lot.
As the senior web developer for a growing company, my husband Ted is on call 24/7. Even on weekends, vacation days, and date nights, there’s no guarantee he won’t have to address a pressing, must-be-fixed-now issue, let alone an important, should-be-fixed-now issue.
Some days I handle the constant demands of his job beautifully. I’m the picture of a supportive, understanding wife.
Other days, not so much. Even though I’m grateful that Ted has a job and a good one at that, there are days I struggle with the toll it’s slowly taken on our marriage the last few years.
Maybe you can relate. Maybe your spouse works a lot too.
Perhaps he or she’s not on call 24/7. Instead, it could be that your spouse travels frequently, or works 12 or 24-hour shifts. Maybe you’re even the spouse of an active service member who’s currently deployed. If so, you might be thinking, “So what that your husband’s job interrupts date nights. At least you get date nights. My spouse is overseas.”
While our situations and circumstances may vary, each of us understands too well that long hours and irregular work schedules can be hard on marriage. These work-related variables make it more difficult to connect regularly and consistently.
So how can you and I be supportive of our spouse’s career without sacrificing our marriages? Here are three things I’m learning to practice.
1. Remember the Benefits
I believe the attitude I have toward Ted’s job influences how supportive I will or will not be. Because of this, perspective is key. I’m learning to ask myself: When it comes to his work, where am I focusing my attention?
Ted’s job isn’t a typical 9 to 5; he doesn’t have a 40-hour work week. More like 60 to 70. Even though this means he works a lot and sometimes at odd hours, he also has a flexible schedule and even works from home two days a week. This flexibility has benefited me, our kids, and our family innumerable times. But the benefits don’t stop with a flexible schedule. I can come up with a long list of the great things about his job.
For me, it’s helpful to take some time to remember the unique ways Ted’s work benefits our family. It’s a reminder of just how hard he works – not simply for himself and his own benefit, but for me too.
2. Promote Balance
Once I have a positive perspective, it’s easier to promote balance in a constructive way, rather than one laced with resentment. Because the truth is, our marriages are important. Work shouldn’t crowd them out.
There’s always work for Ted to do. His inbox is consistently full and his list of projects long, but there are times when Ted can say, “This project can wait until tomorrow or until Monday.” Yet because he is a dedicated employee with a strong work ethic, he sometimes struggles with establishing boundaries and balance. The fact is, though, balance brings joy for us both.
I’m learning that I can help promote balance. I can gently ask, “Is this a true emergency that has to addressed on a Sunday afternoon? Or can it wait until Monday?” If it ends up that it just can’t, I can choose not to nag and instead find ways to patiently support.
Above all, it’s vital that I pray for my marriage. I need to consistently ask the Lord to give Ted and me wisdom on how to balance family life and work life. With His help, we can keep our relationship in the #2 priority spot after God.
I live with a man who works a lot. Maybe you do too. If so, I hope these three practical tools prove helpful to you too.