In Singapore, it’s very common for people to work late and take their work home with them. For the single ones out there leading this kind of lifestyle, it might be tolerable as they might have lesser commitments and can afford to do so. When they do have free time, they can spend it however and with whoever they so wish.
However, when they transition into married life with this kind of ‘baggage’, it starts to become a problem. Being married means having to take care of the needs of another person, one of those needs being the fact that time and energy is needed to be set aside for them.
For those married to a workaholic spouse, they might experience a plethora of emotions. They might feel like they’re alone when their spouse constantly comes home late. They feel cheated when their spouse breaks on promises due to work, and might feel that they are not valued or not important to their partners.
According to Singapore divorce lawyers and news articles, a significant number of divorce cases here fall under the category of ‘unreasonable behavior’. While a lot of factors can fall under this category, it might not be surprising to find that some are due to workaholism.
We have identified some solutions to help you cope with a workaholic spouse. These techniques can also be applied to other workaholics in your life, be it friends or relatives.
- Allow your spouse to experience the consequences of working too much. Sometimes, people can be really stubborn. The only effective way for them to change their ways is for them to experience the negative effects of their actions. So in this case, letting your partner experience the effects of workaholism (such as burnout, fatigue, stress, etc.) may actually help them work less.
If your spouse doesn’t want to or can’t make time for activities involving the family, leave your spouse at home and do it without them. Don’t put your life or your children’s lives on hold waiting for your spouse to make time to be with you. This might help them realise what they’re missing out on, and they may willingly reduce their work to get involved in all the family fun.
- Don’t Nag. Nagging rarely works and is only a short-term solution. Don’t believe me? Ask children whose parents nag at them often. They start to resent their parents as they grow older, and end up being more reserved, keeping problems and thoughts to themselves.
The same will happen to your partner if you keep nagging. Instead of nagging, talk to your spouse nicely about your concerns. Tell them that you care about their wellbeing and that it hurts you to see them work so hard. Speaking in a calm tone (like a counsellor) will help your partner open up more, and hopefully you can get more insights as to why they have to work so hard. When you nag at someone, they rarely open up, and might end up resenting you. This will make it harder for them to open up to you in the future. Remember that nagging is a short-term solution. You have to be civil and talk in a polite, caring manner if you ever want to help them change their ways.
- Set Boundaries. This involves sitting down and talking to your partner in a calm demeanour, and ask them if there are any boundaries that could be set. These boundaries are meant to separate their work from family. For example, boundaries can be set such that there will be a family outing at least once a week, or having a date night once a fortnight.
However, do not be insistent. The key here is to compromise be flexible in your demands. Starting small is also a plus point. It’s manageable, won’t overwhelm your partner and it helps them keep to the agreement.
- Offer to help. This might seem like a no-brainer. When you see your partner being overwhelmed with mountains of work, you can offer to help lighten the load. You might not be proficient in what your partner does, if for example you are a teacher and your partner is a lawyer. However, there is always something easy that you can help with.
If there really isn’t any, or if your partner prefers you not to get involved in their work, then you can focus on other things around the house. When they get home from a tiring day at work, it will ease them to come home to see that the house is clean and well-maintained.
- Marriage Counselling. This should be a last resort, because most people have the perception that couples who go for counselling are having marital problems or are on the verge of divorce. This might not be your case.
Counsellors have varying levels of effectiveness. Some feel that they don’t help, while others claimed that it helped save their marriage. Whatever your perception of counselling is, I believe that it doesn’t hurt to try it at least once. You will come out of it with a better understanding of your relationship than before it. If it doesn’t work out, at least you put in effort and tried.
Sometimes, people work really hard because they are afraid of not having enough, or they think they are doing their part for the marriage. However, money is not the only priority in marriage, and it certainly cannot solve all marital problems. If that was the case, only wealthy couples would be happily married.
Making a marriage work is about balance. The belief that they are working to provide for the family is a great mentality to have, `but that is only half the battle. The other half is ensuring that you are there for the family when they need you, and being there consistently.
When one partner works excessively, her or she is not doing their part to make the marriage work. Workaholism, like most problems, start out small. But if they are not curbed, can spiral into bigger problems like infidelity or divorce.
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