Work Boundaries

My husband can't set work boundaries.

Question

My husband is a workaholic and has trouble setting work-related boundaries. He’s also sensitive to criticism. I know he’s deeply committed to our marriage and family, yet he tends to get distracted by work. How can I help him set aside more time for me and our children?

Answer

An occupational hazard of being male is our tendency to receive our value and worth from what we do. We’ve been taught that real men work hard, provide for their families, keep up with their neighbors, and are successful. Anything less affects our definition of masculinity. I know that many men struggle with thoughts that “enough is never enough” and so well-meaning expressions of concern by our spouses are interpreted as condemnation for, once again, not doing it quite right.

Words of affirmation for the times he “gets it right” will go a long way toward helping your husband move in a healthier direction. Praise him when his commitment of time matches the strength of his commitment to your marriage and family. Applaud when he says no to competing demands. Notice when he’s more successful at setting boundaries and cheer him in those victories. Encourage your husband to spend time with men in your church who are learning how to put first things first.

When he seems overwhelmed, offer to pray with him. If you know criticism generates walls between you, then let him know you’re on his side. Most men will respond in a positive way when they are reassured they’re heading in the right direction.

Finally, make sure you’re setting healthy boundaries and balancing your own time. Your example can provide hope, a model, and motivation to grow.

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