Happy, Married and a Workaholic? 5 Steps to Keeping a Healthy Marriage:
I know I am not alone when it comes to being a workaholic. I, as well as millions of other people, am a part of W.A.A., the Workaholic Association of America, even though we do not like to admit it. We have important roles and a long to do list which we must revise every half an hour. We wear a proud badge that says, “I get the job done at all cost.” We will sacrifice spending time with our family, our social life, and even our marriage, chasing work and checking off our ‘To Do’ list. The concept of a "balanced" lifestyle is almost unrealistic for those enrolled in W.A.A. However, that does not mean a "balanced" life cannot be achieved; a "balanced" life takes some flexibility and patience on your part.
My husband and I met in high school and have been together for almost 21 years. Of those years, we endured four years of a long distance relationship, 14 years of marriage, and nine years waiting for a child. Add to the mix, I had a demanding career that sometimes requires travel, long nights, weekends and 2 am emergency phone calls. Some of you might be thinking, “How can she handle all of that and still stay happily married for 14 years?”
Good question, eh? Allow me to share with you what works for my marriage from one workaholic to another.
- Be Considerate – When I first started traveling it was exciting and wonderful but it also took a toll on my marriage. In the beginning I was gone for two weeks straight and then almost every other week throughout the summer. My husband and I would have arguments because I never had time to stay connected when I was on the road. Often times, work always came first before everything else. Over time, I had to learn to be considerate of his feelings if I wanted this marriage to last. Therefore, every time I traveled I brought something back my husband would enjoy just so he knew I was thinking of him. Sometimes simple things like a phone call in the middle of the day just to say I love you. You would be surprised to learn how the little things can keep a marriage fresh and exciting.
- Prioritize Your Schedule – Focus on what is important to you and your happiness and build your schedule around that. Work will always be there, but spending precious time with loved ones and friends is not guaranteed. For instance, if I have work to complete in the evenings, I hold off until after dinner. A sit down dinner affords me the quality time needed to spend with my husband and children to just reconnect. This concept is even more relevant today considering I have two wonderful children (5 and 4) and I do not want to miss those precious moments with them because mommy is always working. I want to be fully available to see that smile and hear those stories, therefore, my ‘To Do’ list can wait until the morning.
- Don’t Stop Growing Together – Not only is it important for you to continue growing as an individual, but you must take the time to nurture and help your partner grow as well. A relationship involves give and take; it’s sharing life experiences and funny moments and pouring into each other all your love and passion for life so that both can grow independently and collectively. Somewhere along the way, workaholics tend to place all their focus on the development and not the collective. When you support your partner to achieve their dreams, not only do they become inspired by your actions and thoughtfulness, but they will pour that positive energy back into your dreams and goals which in turn, allows you to grow even more. I constantly encouraged my husband to never give up on accomplishing his dreams. When he shares his vision with me, I actively listen to discover ways I can support his goals. Whether I agree or not, I’m alwayswilling to listen to his ideas and offer suggestions and recommendations. In exchange, I’ve realized that he’s been more helpful then ever in pushing me to face my fears to birth my ultimate vision. There is nothing more fulfilling than a partner who believes in you, who will push you beyond your limits and will challenge you to become a better person.
- Keep the Marriage Fresh – In life, as well as marriage, it is really easy to become bogged down in routine. You must keep things fresh and exciting in the marriage or your mate will soon start to wonder what else is out there. Personally, I suggest making one day of every week a date night. Date Nights can keep you and your partner connected about all the events happening in your individual worlds. In my opinion, I would make this a priority! Take turns planning date night and select places both parties would enjoy. Perhaps your mate isn’t in the mood for a night out on the town –stay at home. You can save time and money by being creative when planning a date night. If you are staying in, plan a romantic dinner and spend time together in the kitchen preparing the meal. After feeding each other dinner, light some candles, throw on some classic Luther, break out the massage oil and watch the sparks fly!
- Know Yourself – This has probably been one of the most difficult tasks, if ever for anyone to implement. As a workaholic, I define myself by what I do and not who I am. I build my world around schedules, budgets, conference calls and client meetings. I engross myself in my business, my church, marriage and everything else on my checklist. Yet, if you stripped away all of my titles, who am I really? I challenge you to discover who you are and what you enjoy doing the most. If you can figure this out, I believe you will be one step closer to living a much happier and fulfilled life. In marriage, it is easy to become lost and sacrifice who you are without even realizing it. That’s why I suggest picking up a hobby or finding fun and creative ways to feed your interest. When you begin doing something you love, not only will it bring peace to your marriage because you are being fulfilled, versus waiting to be filled; but, all your hard work will feel justified. At some point, you’ll look up and realize there is more to life than work. My hobbies helped me to discover who I was without my partner. In addition to being satisfied with the results, my hobbies opened the door for new conversations and opportunities to support each other. So take a load off…go dancing, pick up that paintbrush, write that story, do karaoke or participate in an open mic –beyond all else, enjoy yourself.
I had to discover these life lessons and I’m still learning and growing as an individual after all these years. What’s most important is that I know they work. I have witnessed my life transform and I can honestly say that after 14 years of marriage – I am truly happy. Everyday I wake up to my best friend and know without a doubt, that we are working together to make our marriage last an eternity. From one workaholic to another, let me ask you; is this on your checklist?
Janna B. - Speaker, B.O.S.S. Cultivator, Streamline Success Strategist
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