Balancing work and relationship

Q: While I do not like to use labels, I think it is fair to describe my husband as a “workaholic”. He works constantly, spending minimal time with me and our children. When I approach him about it, he responds with, “things will be better soon”. Please suggest how to address this?

Focus on the Family Malaysia: Men often have a natural inclination to fulfil the roles of protectors and providers. Nonetheless, some of them tend to define their self-worth and identity primarily through their professional achievements and performance, rather than focusing on who they are and their connections with their families, loved ones and friends.

Here is a suggestion you can consider. Plan a dinner date with your husband on the weekend. If needed, arrange for a baby-sitter to take care of your children. Choose a nice restaurant for this outing. During the dinner, try to set aside any resentment or frustration you may have, and express your love and appreciation for him. Let him know that you value his hard work, strong work ethic and his dedication as a provider for the family.

At the same time, be honest with him about how his job appears to be taking precedence and overshadowing his family. Tell him you value his input and involvement as a father. Ask him if he is willing to review his schedule and make some adjustments.

If you can convey this message with love and concern rather than bitterness and anger, you may be pleasantly surprised by your husband’s response. However, if he reacts defensively and denies there is a problem, it could be time to contemplate seeking professional assistance.

Q: I have heard relationship experts stress the importance of “healthy communication for a strong marriage”. It seems quite complex. My wife and I talk frequently; why is this such a significant factor?

Focus on the Family Malaysia: Communication is important because it is the primary pathway to intimacy, which is the cornerstone of a healthy marriage.

There are five basic levels of communication, each playing a crucial role:

Level 1: Cliches

These are polite exchanges. For example: “How are you doing?” This common courtesy can help maintain a positive interactive tone.

Level 2: Exchanging facts and information

This level is essential for the practical functioning of everyday family life.

Level 3: Sharing opinions

This is where we start to discover what another person thinks, and where conflicts can occur. When we share our thoughts, we become more vulnerable.

Level 4: Sharing feelings

This level creates opportunities for us to be heard and allows for a deeper understanding of one another. It offers a glimpse into our true identities. In a healthy marriage, feelings are respected and can be openly expressed based on an established foundation of trust and security.

Level 5: Sharing needs

This is the most profound level of communication, requiring vulnerability and trust. An example would be: “I had a terrible day at work and need some encouragement.” At this level, we feel secure, accepted and confident that our spouse will reassure us rather than reject us.

These five levels contribute to a deeper and more meaningful connection in your marriage.

Unfortunately, the fast pace of life often keeps many of us stuck in the first two or three communication levels. If you find this true for your marriage, make a commitment to take steps toward growth in this area.

Set aside a specific time and place when both of you are available and open to deeper conversations. It may take some time to adjust to this new routine, but with persistence, you will foster a sense of security and comfort in your marriage. This will deepen the trust within your relationship.

The article is contributed by Focus on the Family Malaysia, a non-profit organisation dedicated to supporting and strengthening the family unit. For more information, visit Unlock the secrets to building a resilient and enduring marriage by joining the Journey to Us Marriage Conference on Nov 25, featuring Dr Greg and Erin Smalley from Focus on the Family US. Register at Comments:

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