Ask Lisa: My husband is a workaholic

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I have been going to see a therapist for 6 months now and my husband also went with me a few times but I feel it isn’t helping me and certainly not us. My problem is two fold. I have family of origin problems that I am carrying over into my relationship that I know I need to work on just for myself to be a better happier person. I was married once before and he cheated on me, so I carry that with me to.

And as far as my current marriage goes there is a total loss of communication. A complete disconnect. I don’t feel like we are connected at all anymore. I feel it is due to his priorities. He is a workaholic. To make matters worse he basically works two full time jobs, one as a college instructor, the second as a dairy farmer (family owned). The farm is the biggest problem because his family controls him even though he is a grown man and when I say control I mean control, he is their puppet (he even says so). We will be married 4 years in a few days and no it wasn’t nearly like this when we were dating, he made me feel important and cared how I felt. And now it’s all about anything and everything else and I resent him.

Most days I also feel as if he hates me to. He has just changed so much over the past few years and he blames everything on me. If only I were happy, If only I did this and the list goes on. I know I have my faults but he sees none in himself. He is to busy to even see that his marriage is a mess or maybe he doesn’t even care.

I don’t know how much longer to keep trying.

Lisa’s thoughts…

Like you said, there a few things going on for you; individually and in your relationship.  It sounds as though you have clarity around some of what you struggle with which is a good start.  At the very least you know your vulnerabilities, why they exist and how they might impact your marriage.  If you’ve been working with a therapist for half a year and don’t feel you’re getting any traction, I would let that person know how you feel and possibly consider finding a different therapist if after that point you still don’t find you are reaching your goals.  Therapists have different theoretical orientations, styles and personalities that aren’t necessarily a match for everyone.  It’s important you are with someone who you feel is helping.

As far as your marriage, with the amount of disconnection, lack of prioritization, poor communication and work focus it sounds like your husband has, I’m concerned the level of your resentment is reaching a crisis level.  Betrayal in a marriage can involve more than just infidelity.  A marriage can experience betrayal when one partner feels emotionally abandoned (in this case your husband’s focus being his work load and “workaholism” behavior).  Emotional safety is a critical part of any relationship, where both feel like they can trust that the other is there and they are important to each other.  The emotional safety and sense of being on the same team appears to be being eroded.  

I strongly encourage you to find a separate couples therapist to work solely on your marriage.  If your husband claims that he doesn’t have time for it, be clear that you feel your marriage is in crisis.  It’s important for both to take responsibility for your role in how the relationship is functioning.  It appears as though he lacks clarity around how his focus on work, time away and general assessment about your issues is making you feel.  And he might not really understand how serious this is or that it ultimately could derail your entire marriage.  

Sit him down when he is not distracted.  Tell him you love him but you feel your marriage is in big trouble and you don’t want to lose it.  It’s time for you both to put focus on your roles in the dynamic, to seriously look at how the relationship with his family is problematic and how you can repair and bridge the disconnection together.  

If at one time you both felt connected, loved and prioritized – you can find it again.


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