You love your spouse, but you feel like you have more interaction with their phone than you do with them. And when you do get to spend time with them, you can tell by their blank expressions and generic responses that their mind is elsewhere. From late nights on their laptop to conference calls during family vacations, work seems to be your partner’s top priority day-in and day-out.
Could they be a workaholic? You’ve always appreciated their dedication and perseverance, but maybe they’ve gone too far. Knowing the signs of a workaholic and how to help can bring your spouse back to a healthy work life balance.
What is Workaholism?
The term “workaholism” was originally crafted by psychologist Wayne Oates in 1971, defining it as a “compulsion or the uncontrollable need to work incessantly”. Since then, researchers have described workaholism in various ways, but they all include these basic components:
- The individual feels internally compelled to work
- The individual works beyond what is reasonably expected
- The individual constantly thinks about work outside working hours
While workaholism still needs additional study, it’s widely accepted that simply working long hours does not automatically mean someone is a workaholic. Fortunately, there are workaholic symptoms that can help you tell the difference.
Symptoms of a Workaholic
- Work is Always the Number One Priority. There’s nothing wrong with being career oriented. The problem is when your spouse’s job takes precedence over vacations, date nights, family functions and enjoying a normal weekend at home with you and the kids.
- Work Isn’t Actually Fulfilling for Them. Does your loved one seem happy? Do they actually enjoy what they’re doing? People struggling with workaholism don’t find fulfillment in their work and tend to feel more anxious and stressed out.
- Your Spouse Has Deprioritized Their Health. Workaholism can lead to sleep deprivation, emotional exhaustion, increased cholesterol and other health problems. If you’ve noticed your spouse’s health deteriorate as they progressively work more, they may be a workaholic.
- Your Spouse is Stressed When Not at Work. Does your spouse struggle to relax even when they’re home and off the clock? Workaholics tend to feel increased stress when they aren’t working, oftentimes because of their own internal guilt and pressure to go back to work.
- Your Spouse Doesn’t Listen When Told to Take Time Off. Everyone needs to take time off work to actually enjoy life and avoid burnout. Unfortunately, workaholics tend to ignore vacation time and don’t listen when others tell them they should take time off.
- Your Spouse Has Tried to Hide Work from You. Have you woken up in the middle of the night to find your spouse working in bed? Or have you caught your spouse working instead of out with friends, like they originally told you? People suffering from workaholism tend to try to hide the amount of time they’re working from family and loved ones.
- Your Spouse is Drinking More or Using Drugs. It’s not uncommon for workaholics to turn to alcohol or drugs to cope with the work stress they’re feeling. If your spouse is drinking more or if you’ve caught them using drugs, they need dual diagnosis treatment to help them overcome both addiction and their workaholic tendencies.
How to Help a Spouse that’s a Workaholic
Workaholism doesn’t just affect your spouse; it affects your life and your marriage, too. Chances are you don’t want your spouse to give up their career aspirations, but you want to actually spend time with them and continue building your life together.
If you want to help your spouse, the first thing you need to do is remind yourself (and them) that it’s more than okay to want attention from your spouse. You shouldn’t feel guilty for wanting to go out to dinner with them or to have their undivided attention when you’re on vacation. It’s important for you to communicate these feelings to your spouse and help them understand your perspective.
Beyond that, try to get them into a habit of shutting down their phone and laptop when they’re home with you. Another good tactic is to have them disconnect their email on their phone, so they can’t get constant alerts. These tactics can help your loved one mentally “sign off” from work and focus on the present moment.
And if all else fails, therapy and dual diagnosis addiction treatment may be the best solutions to help your loved one recover and find work life balance again. If your love one has turned to alcohol or drugs to cope with their workaholism, addiction treatment experts will know how to help them work through their substance abuse and develop healthier habits that can prevent future workaholic tendencies.
Get Addiction and Mental Health Treatment for Your Spouse at The Raleigh House
Work life balance is necessary to live a life filled with purpose, happiness and success. Unfortunately, workaholism prevents people from finding balance in their lives and oftentimes drives them to drink or abuse drugs.
If your spouse is suffering from an alcohol or drug addiction, The Raleigh House can help. We offer dual diagnosis treatment that can help your loved one beat addiction and get to the bottom of their workaholic habits and predispositions.