Question: My husband is a workaholic. Work comes before me and the kids. Your first point in CHAIRS is to admire and respect his desire to work. If I compliment him on his work, won't I just be encouraging him to work more?
Answer: First, I caution that I cannot guarantee that what I have to say will automatically get a husband to quit working so many hours and be at home a lot more. However, in counseling many couples in this situation, I have made three observations that usually help a wife deal with the situation in a more positive way.
First, to influence him directly, respectfully say, “Your children (daughter, son) need you at home more. You have a unique influence on them. In certain areas, nobody matters to them as much as you do. It may not appear that way to you, but your positive presence has the power to mold them. I know you are swamped and have little time, but I also know that you want to give them that part of you that no one else can give to them. Thanks.” If you do not have children, reiterate how important he is to you, and you miss having time with him. However, keep this friendly and not whiny!
Second, you need not praise him for all the work he is doing away from home. In other words, don’t feel that you must respect what may be a negative obsession. Instead, look for non-work areas in which to express respect. Remember, you cannot devalue what he is doing at work in order to get him to value the family more. Do not say or imply, “I am not going to respect you until you start helping me and the children.” That is equal to having him say or imply, “I am not going to show you and the family any love until you start honoring me for what I do at work.” Disrespect never motivates love, and lack of love never motivates respect.
Finally, some husbands work because it is the place they feel respected. If a wife is negative, complaining, and disrespectful, what man wants to come home? A man does not hear the deeper cry of his wife’s heart when she makes a personal attack on him and his work. He does not hear, “Rescue me.” Instead he hears, “I despise you.” So he asks for (or chooses) overtime at work.
As hard as this is to hear, you will need to be patient and see this as a 6 month project. Give your husband time to bring some things at work to completion and to introduce “no” into his vocabulary on the job. Give him time to taste what it’s like to be an influence in his own home with his own children (not to mention you). Have confidence in God’s Word and allow time for the Holy Spirit to work.