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Leaving Work at Work: Making your Marriage and Family a priority
By Jennine E. Estes   View more articles by this author
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May 05

It’s another long week at work and you still can’t seem to get caught up.  The work follows you home and no matter what you try to do, the work consumes your mind.  You like to work and enjoy your success, yet you can’t seem to stay focused on your family.  Your mind quickly kicks into the work “to-do” list.  Next thing you know, you are up late hours of the night working, waking up earlier to get back to work, and you might even work on the weekends.  No matter how much you try to stop working, you gravitate back to work or you think about the never-ending “to-do” list.   As your family and friends ask for time to spend together, you find that time and energy to invest in them is lacking, non-existent.   Does this sound familiar? 

Your hard working comes with a bitter-sweet taste in your mouth.  The sweet side is that you are bringing home the bacon, striving for success at work, and establishing a strong career for yourself.  The bitter side is that your personal life is getting neglected, your family is starving for your attention and emotional availability, and you are exhausted non-stop.  This bitter-sweet can not only hurt your relationships, but it can also hurt your personal satisfaction.  Trust me, I come from a “work-aholic” family and I understand the drive to succeed….and I also work with couples where this work-aholic behavior can quickly change from a bitter-sweet to devastation with divorce or empty relationships. 

As you know, there will always be more work to be accomplished; “to-do” lists, deadlines, meetings, goals, etc.   It is time to learn how to leave work at work, and make your family a priority.  Here are a few simple steps you can do to make a shift:

Know your Limit
If you like to succeed, you probably like to bite off more than you can chew.   Know your limit of how much work you can realistically take on and accomplish.  Evaluate the amount of work you have and consider if you are unrealistic with your deadlines and work expectations.   Practice saying “no” and set limits.  Instead of taking everything on like a superhero, delegate tasks to others when possible or ask for help. 

Turn Off the Electronics
Our society has made it easy to be connected to the world at all times.  Internet, emails, phone calls, and text messages are some of the various way that keep us connected at the hip and we are simply a click away.  Turn off your cell phone and computer when you get home from work.  Keep yourself away from any bad habits or temptations of simply clicking a button to “take a quick peak.”  Put your cell phone away when you get home and remind yourself that this is now “family” time. 

Retrain your Work-aholic Brain
Let’s face it, work-aholics have the name for a reason; work is addicting.  We tend to get a type of thrill or drive for business that can get drastically in the way of life and relationships.  The brain gets trained to think solely of work.  Retrain your brain.  Every time you think about work, tell your brain “no, it isn’t time to think of work now” and instead think of connecting with your family.  Shifting your focus from work to family can be challenging and may require you to do it minute by minute.  Practice makes perfect, so start catching your work brain when you are at home and “off the clock.” 

Set a time limit
If you must work at home in the evenings or on the weekends, set a time limit.  Give yourself a timer and keep to the time frame.  Be realistic with the time frame and keep yourself accountable by including your partner in the process. 

Create Family/Marriage Time
Create family and marriage time that has your complete focus.  Show your family how important they are by stopping work at a decent hour and spending time focused on them.  Turn off the television and interact by either creating a date night with your partner or having a game night with the entire family.  Make this part of your routine and do it weekly. 

What has helped you leave work at work?  Comment to this post and share what things have worked for you!

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