I know I am not alone when it comes to being a workaholic. I, as well as millions of other people, am a part of W.A.A., the Workaholic Association of America, even though we do not like to admit it.
We have important roles and a long to do list which we must revise every half an hour. We wear a proud badge that says I get the job done at all cost.
We will sacrifice spending time with our family, our social life, and even our marriage, chasing work and checking off our to do list.
The concept of a balanced lifestyle is almost unrealistic for those enrolled in W.A.A. However, that does not mean a balanced life cannot be achieved but it will take some flexibility and patience on your part.
My husband and I met back in high school on the train and have been together for almost 23 years. Of those 23 years, we have endured four years of a long distance relationship, 17 years of marriage, and nine years waiting for a child.
Add to the mix that I have a career that sometimes requires travel, long nights, weekends and 2 a.m. emergency phone calls.
I know you must be thinking, how could you handle all of that and still stay happily married for 17 years. Well, I am glad you brought it up. Let me share with you what has worked for my marriage from one workaholic to another:
Be considerate. when I first started traveling it was exciting and wonderful but it also took a toll on my marriage. In the beginning I was gone for two weeks straight and then almost every other week throughout the summer.
My husband and I would have arguments because I never had time to stay connected when I was on the road. Work always came first before everything else. I had to learn to be considerate; therefore, every time I traveled I brought something back my husband would enjoy, just to let him know I was thinking of him.
I would call him throughout the day to say I love you and I am thinking about you. You would be surprised how the little things can keep a marriage fresh and exciting.
Prioritize your schedule. you have to focus on what is important for you and your happiness and build your schedule around that. Work will always be there, but spending that precious time with loved ones and friends is not guaranteed.
For me, if I had to work in the evenings, it would take place after dinner, which afforded me the opportunity to spend some quality time with my husband just to reconnect.
This concept is even more relevant to me today, as I just had my first child and I do not want to miss those precious moments because “mommy is always working.” I want to be fully available to see her first smile; therefore, my to do list can wait until the morning.
Continue growing. Not only do you need to continue growing as an individual, but you have to take the time to help your partner grow as well. As you know, a relationship involves two people giving and taking, sharing life experiences, pouring into each other, and developing one another.
Somewhere along the way, workaholics place all the focus on their development and not the collective. As you help your partner grow to achieve their dreams, not only do they become inspired but they pour back into you as well, which in turn, allows you to grow even more. I constantly encouraged my husband to go back to school to accomplish his dream.
When he shares his thoughts with me about his vision, I participate by listening, interjecting suggestions, and showing my excitement. In return, he pushed me beyond my fears to birth my vision that I wanted to see materialized.
There is nothing more fulfilling than a partner who believes in you, who will push you beyond your limits and will challenge you to become a better person.
Keep the marriage fresh. In life, as well as marriage, it is really easy to become bogged down in a routine. You have to keep things fresh and exciting or others will start to wonder what else is out there.
Every week, you must date to stay connected; therefore, date night is not only essential, but also a priority. But where in a recession you say and money is really tight. I understand, that’s why you have to be creative when planning date night, even if it means staying in.
This may sound simple to do but you would be surprised how challenging it really is. Take turns planning date night and select places both parties would enjoy.
If you are staying in, plan a romantic dinner and spend time together in the kitchen preparing the meal. Light some candles, throw on some Luther, feed each other, break out the massage oil and watch the sparks fly.
Know yourself. As a workaholic, I am defined by what I do and not who I am. I build my world around schedules, budgets, conference calls and client meetings. I become engrossed in my job, my church, marriage and everything else on my checklist.
Yet, if you stripped away all of my titles, who am I really? As you discover who you are and what you enjoy to do, you will become more fulfilled as an individual. In marriage, it is easy to become lost and sacrifice who you are without even realizing it.
It is vital that you have hobbies that you enjoy. When you are doing something you love, not only will it bring peace to your marriage because you are being fulfilled, versus waiting to be filled, all the hard work that you put in will feel justified.
At some point, you look up and realize that there is more to life than work. I realized that I needed hobbies so I can enjoy myself and discover who I am without my partner.
This opens the door for new conversations and opportunities to support each other, which only produces balanced individuals. So go dancing, pick up that paintbrush, write that story, participate in karaoke or an open mic but most of all, enjoy yourself.
I had to learn these life lessons and I am still learning them as I continue to grow as an individual, however, I know they work. I have seen these keys work in my life and
I can truly say, at the age of 39 and after 17 years of marriage that I am happy. I go home to my best friend knowing that I am growing and working to make our marriage a success.
From one workaholic to another, let me ask you; is that on your checklist?
Janna B is a wife, an entrepreneur, a giver, philanthropist and a mother of two little ones who are firecrackers. She enjoys talking with people and understanding their heart, their dreams and their passions.