by Dr. Dwayne L. Buckingham
Work is notable and demonstrates faith in God. We serve a God that cares about our relationships as well as financial needs. Our relational and financial needs are met in part by the work we do. Anything in life worth having is gained through diligence and work. To have a job that you love is a blessing. However, a large percentage of individuals are failing in their relationships because they are more committed to their work and/or profession than they are to their personal relationships.
During a recent conversation with a female friend, I was accused of being married to my work. Initially, I became defensive and attempted to explain why I am so committed to my work. I told her that I am very passionate about my work and spend so much time working because God has blessed me with a skill to help others. After I finished speaking, she looked at me with a “give-me-a-break” look on her face and said, “I know that you are committed to your work and God will definitely continue to bless you for helping others. However, can you honestly tell me that you invest just as much time in your personal relationships as you do in your work. Don’t answer me now, just think about it”.
After several weeks of deep deliberation and self-reflection, I concluded that the accusations made against me were correct. As I began to closely examine my day-to-day actions, observe others’ behavior and have conversations with passionate individuals who are committed to their work, I learned that many individuals do not live balanced lifestyles. Individuals frequently say that they are committed to their relationships and express a desire to be happy, but their words are not consistent with their actions. Making money, living comfortable lifestyles and acquiring financial stability has taken precedence over individuals’ desires to be happy in their relationships.
Are you as equally committed to your relationship as you are to your work? I hope that you are. However, if you are not sure and would like to determine if you are married to your work, please review the five behavioral indicators listed below.
1. Repeatedly absent due to commitment to fulfill work requirements.
Do you frequently miss sporting activities, family outings and/or fail to meet your spouse’s emotional, physical or spiritual needs because you are committed to fulfilling work requirements? Do you frequently reschedule “relationship time” in order to get work done? Do you regularly sacrifice your personal downtime to do work? If you answered, “Yes” to either of the aforementioned questions, you might be married to your work.
2. Experience recurrent emotional or physical distress due to work responsibilities.
Do you frequently complain about feeling stressed or fatigued because you dedicate a lot of time to work? Do you often feel guilty or question your level of relationship commitment because you are obsessed with your work? If you answered, “Yes” to either of the aforementioned questions, you might be married to your work.
3. Cause or contribute to social, interpersonal or relationship problems because of your work commitment.
Do you frequently argue with or have “intense conversations” with your significant other, spouse, children, family members and/or friends because you constantly work long hours? Are you often accused of being more committed to your work than your loved-ones? Do you give-up or reduce important social or recreational activities because you feel compelled to work? If you answered, “Yes” to either question of the aforementioned questions, you might be married to your work.
4. Express difficulty with separating your personal worth from your professional worth.
Do you have a tendency to link your self-worth to your professional status or work task completion? Do you feel good about yourself and appear to be full of life at home or in social situations when things are going well at work? Does your self-esteem or self-concept diminish when you are not at work or when work is not going well? Do you have difficulty enjoying evenings out on the town because you are too preoccupied with or thinking about things you must accomplish at work? Does your significant other often tell you that you are ruining the “moment” because your mind appears to be somewhere else – not on him or her? If you answered, “Yes” to either of the aforementioned questions, you might be married to your work.
5. Spend a great deal of your time completing work-related task at home.
Do you have a home office and spend a great deal of time working on work-related tasks? Do you get annoyed when your significant other asks you to stop bringing work home? If you answered, “Yes” to either of the aforementioned questions, you might be married to your work.
After reviewing the behavioral indicators listed above, I hope that you are capable of determining if you are married to your work. Also, I hope that you realize that “excessive” work commitment typically contributes to relationship unhappiness and/or singleness. According to the U.S. Census Bureau “America’s Families and Living Arrangements” there are 99.6 million unmarried people over the age 18 in the United States, representing nearly 44% of the adult population. Researchers posit that the reason for the rise in these alarming statistics regarding the decline of the marriage institute can be linked to individuals’ excessive commitment to their work. Both women and men are constantly reevaluating the need to get married, especially during their mid twenties and thirties because they are focusing on trying to accomplish their professional goals.
Remember that God created us to work, but He also created us to have prosperous relationships. The ability to develop and maintain healthy relationships requires individuals to be committed to balancing in their personal and professional lifestyles. No matter how successful you are professionally, your accomplishments cannot comfort you at night.
If you desire to have a prosperous relationship, remember that you have to invest time into your relationship and strive to develop a balanced lifestyle. During my coaching sessions and seminars, I often remind individuals to never forget that happiness on the outside does not matter, if it is not felt on the inside.
You can gain additional insight about relationship commitment and learn how to develop a balanced lifestyle by securing a copy of my best selling relationship book, “Unconditional Love: What Every Woman and Man Desires in a Relationship”.
Dr. Dwayne L. Buckingham is a renowned psychotherapist, motivational speaker, author and activist who provide individual and marital therapy to military soldiers and their families assigned to Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda, Maryland. He is also the founder and Chief Executive Officer of R.E.A.L. Horizons Consulting Service, LLC located in Silver Spring, Maryland. To learn more about Dr. Dwayne Buckingham visit his website at www.DrBuckingham.com. You can follow Dr. Buckingham on Twitter @DrDBuckingham.