He spends more time at work than he does with you.
Sometimes it feels like he cares more about work than he cares about you.
Does that mean he’s half-out of this relationship?
Are you always going to be second priority to him, after his boss?
You might be surprised to find out why work REALLY matters to men.
His job plays an important role in keeping you together. (Crazy, I know!)
If he isn’t in the right job, or he’s not happy with his career prospects, or he’s got too much work on his plate, his dissatisfaction with his life could spill over into dissatisfaction with you.
Let me be clear:
That’s NOT your fault.
But you can blame yourself if you don’t realize what’s happening.
Here are 3 ways his job could be impacting your relationship and the questions you should be asking.
1. Career Before Commitment
Not all that long ago, a man needed to prove his economic prospects to the parents of his beloved. He wasn’t allowed to marry until he could prove he could support a wife.
Today, women define their own financial future, but the precedent remains.
Both men and women delay marriage until they feel like they’re on firm financial footing.
In economically uncertain times, that means marriage can get postponed indefinitely.
Dr. Gary R. Lee, author of The Limits of Marriage, argues that marriage is risky for couples who are barely making things meet. Getting married could make their financial situation worse, not better.
If a man hasn’t finished his education yet, or he can’t find work in his field in a dismal job market, then he’s more likely to want to put off marriage until he can offer his partner a good life.
Food for thought:
Is your guy avoiding any talk of commitment because he isn’t where he’d like to be in his career? Have you asked him what he thinks a couple needs to accomplish in life before they’re ready to marry?
2. Love Isn’t Enough
For so many women, love is at the center of their world.
Their work has heart and meaning because of the relationships they cultivate and the people they serve.
For many men, their purpose is at the center of their world.
They find their greatest fulfillment in achievement, overcoming the odds, and receiving recognition for what they do.
In the classic book The Way of the Superior Man, masculinity expert David Deida challenges men to keep their purpose front and center:
“Every man knows that his highest purpose in life cannot be reduced to any particular relationship. If a man prioritizes his relationship over his highest purpose, he weakens himself, disserves the universe, and cheats his woman of an authentic man who can offer his full, undivided presence.”
Regardless of whether this advice has merit, many men have taken it to heart.
They need meaningful work to stay connected to who they are as men.
When a man’s work doesn’t fill that role, he can end up taking out his frustrations on the woman in his life.
She doesn’t understand why he can’t just be happy. They have each other. Surely that’s enough?
But love is not enough for many men. Men also need a sense of purpose. When their sense of purpose is off track, their relationships can veer off track, too.
Food for thought:
Is your guy fulfilled by the work he does? Have you spoken to him about your desire to support him in his life’s purpose?
3. The Spillover Effect
The average American spends a third of their life at work.
Work is emotionally involving. Relationships with coworkers can be challenging. There’s always a fear of making a mistake, or letting down the team, or getting laid off.
In many ways, everything that happens to him at work also happens to you.
You bear the brunt of his stress and frustration. You listen to him complain and rant. You try to make him feel better when he comes home outraged or exhausted from the events of the day.
Research has found that having a bad day at work, or even just a super-busy day, increases the chances that you’ll snap at each other.
Having a high workload results in a less-satisfying relationship.
Yet many couples blame their stress on each other.
They think that the problem is their relationship, not their jobs.
We can all benefit from having time to decompress after work so that we don’t bring our bad mood home with us.
We can also benefit from what the Gottman Institute calls a “stress-reducing conversation,” which is 20 minutes where you take turns venting about your day.
The ground rules include not giving unsolicited advice, remaining 100% on your partner’s side, and understanding and validating each other.
Food for thought:
How do you de-stress after a tough day? Have you talked with each other about what you need in order to deal with the stress of work?