You may feel lonely and frustrated when it seems like your husband’s job takes priority over your marriage, family, and children. If your husband’s work goals seem more important than your marriage, check out these tips – they’re inspired by a reader’s comment.
“I am 27 and have been with my husband for 9 years, married for 3,” says A. on How to Save Your Marriage. “We both work for the same organization.. We earn fairly well and have recently bought a beautiful house on a joint loan. It’s been a great time together. But for the last six months, I don’t feel loved or understood any more.”
She shares more below – but right off the bat, it sounds like communication is a stumbling block in their marriage. He’s not communicating how important she is to him; she’s not hearing how much he loves her.
One of the best books I’ve read on marriage communication is The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work: A Practical Guide from the Country’s Foremost Relationship Expert.
Another great book for couples is We Can Work It Out: How to Solve Conflicts, Save Your Marriage.
And, here are a few tips for when your relationship seems to come second to your partner’s goals…
When Your Husband’s Job Takes Priority Over Your Marriage
Here’s the rest of A’s story:
”Around 6 months back my husband got an offer to work abroad for a year in another country 6,000 kilometres away! I didn’t have the option to leave my job to be with him, as I had started working after my Masters degree. I didn’t want him to take up the offer as I couldn’t imagine a life apart from each other. Also, our current salaries leave us with a sufficient surplus every month.. But, he decided to take the job to meet his financial goals.”
She’s having a hard time making the transition from being together all the time to not seeing him for the next year.
“It’s been more than a month since he left, but I still wake up crying and miserable,” she says. “I know I have to cope with the cards that have been dealt me, but sometimes the pain is unbearable.”
His financial and career goals seem more important to him than his own wife. “I sometimes wonder if all love is lost,” says A. “How could he make the decision to leave me and go away for a whole year? He calls regularly, he says he misses me, but I am not able to accept it at face value. Please help me. I need guidance on how to make my marriage work.”
Remember, you’re not alone – it’s not unusual for spouses to work in different countries
My neighbors have been married for 23 years; the husband just left for a two year work stint in Thailand. His partner is fine with it, and plans to visit every couple of months. I guess when you’ve been together for two decades, two years seems like nothing!
I’m married to a geologist, and most of his colleagues leave the country for work reasons. Sometimes they go for weeks; other times they leave for years. Sometimes their wives and families follow; other times, the loved ones stay home. My husband only leaves for six to eight weeks every summer — I’m one of the lucky ones!
So, though I’d absolutely hate to live apart from my husband for a year, I know his leaving isn’t a sign that he doesn’t understand or care for me. Sometimes men are more achievement and work-oriented than their wives, who are more relationship-oriented.
I can’t tell A. how to make her marriage work. I’m not a marriage counselor. But, I can offer a few tips for when a husband’s work goals seem more important than their marriage…
Understand your husband’s “Love Language”
In The 5 Love Languages: The Secret to Love That Lasts, Gary Chapman describes how different people give and receive love. I summarize it in Examples of the Five Love Languages – Different Ways to Love.
A’s husband’s decision to take the job far away – and his desire to achieve his financial goals – may be because he loves her so much, not because she and his marriage aren’t important to him! It’s possible that his love language is security and material possessions (“Acts of Service”).
Perhaps he’s more focused on his long-term goal of financial security – that’s what he’s working towards. He feels his marriage is loving and secure, so he’s confident enough to leave for a year.
Remember that people make decisions for specific reasons
Since I don’t know the whole story – and A’s husband isn’t sharing his perspective – I have no idea if he really is putting his work ahead of their relationship. I don’t know why he accepted a job thousands of miles away without considering how it would affect his wife and their marriage.
But, I do know that every story has two sides. Every marriage has two perspectives. And, I believe that if they had a good marriage before he decided to leave, then he left to work in another country for a reason he believed to be good.
Maybe it wasn’t the best decision for their marriage…and maybe it won’t be the best decision for his career or financial goals! Maybe it’ll turn out to be the worst decision he ever made. But, I think A. has to have faith that though it feels she and their marriage is less important than his career, he thought he was doing the right thing at the time.
Find ways to be heard in your marriage
I also don’t know if A’s husband is hearing how lonely, rejected, isolated, and disrespected she feels. Does he feel bad that he decided to leave for a year? Does he regret it, or how he handled it?
One of the best ways to reconnect with your spouse is to really hear and accept his perspective – and hope that he really hears and accepts yours! If you’re not being heard, read When You Feel Alone in Your Marriage – Emotional Disconnection.
When you’re separated by work (such as in military marriages), you should…
Build an interesting, fulfilling, fun life! I know life is dreary without your husband – especially if you don’t feel important to him – but the absolute best thing you could do is create an exciting life for yourself. Not only will this make your time apart fly by, it’ll keep you happy and busy. The happier and busier you are, the more attractive you’ll be to your husband.
Also – if you’re not happy or emotionally healthy, get counseling. Find a support group. Do whatever you can to become a strong, healthy, happy, vibrant, attractive woman. Do it for yourself first, and for your husband second.
The more attractive you are to your hubby, the more he’ll yearn to be reunited with you…and the less likely he’ll be to pull a stunt like this again!
For tips on setting and achieving your own goals, read How Do I Make Life Better? 7 Tips for an Interesting Life.
Does your husband’s job take priority over your marriage? Comments welcome below…
I'm glad you're here! My name is Laurie Pawlik-Kienlen; my husband Bruce and I live in Vancouver, BC with our critters. We can't have kids, and are learning to accept whatever life brings - both good and bad. I have an MSW (Master of Social Work) from UBC, and degrees in Education and Psychology. I hope you say hello below - I can't give relationship advice, but writing can bring you clarity and insight.