Q&A: How To Get Some Lovin’ From an Overworked Spouse

We recently received two questions from spouses who are stuggling with a similar problem. One wife wrote:

Here is my situation: I am a full time student, work part time, and raise my 16 month old son.  My husband is a coach, so right know i am a football widow, because all of his concentration is on football.

And then a husband wrote us sharing this concern:

My wife is a teacher and is very busy all the time. She leaves by 7am every morning and gets home around 7pm each night. Then she works on papers until she can’t stay awake (usually 11-12 sometime), then she’s too exhausted to do anything. I understand her struggle and I want her to do well,  but she also has to work on stuff all weekend in order to be ready for the next week.

So here’s my question: Knowing that’s her schedule and that she can’t do anything really about that, is there anything I can do to get some of that attention and energy that she’s pouring into those kids without coming across as selfish. I already help her grade papers, work on her projects with her, take care of housework, and come to her school a couple times  a week to help her out. I just don’t like most of our time to be focused on her job when we haven’t had a date in over two months and (if she’s not totally exhausted) we’re down to making love once on the weekend. Help me not be selfish, but how do I talk to her about this so we can work through it together? I don’t want to wait till summer.

These are just two of the many husbands and wives who are stuck in a pattern like this where one or both of the spouses are working far too much. The problem is that when we start talking about how to fix it, the solutions can involve a hit to a family’s income and in times like these it isn’t always a practical way to solve the problem. I have many people in my life who are teachers and athletic coaches, so I know how amazingly time consuming these two jobs are, especially in certain seasons. I will say that I have seen some who balance it very well and some who do not. I think it is unhealthy to sacrifice everything to the service of a demanding job so my first recommendation is to see if there is a realistic way to reduce the work load. Job sharing? Fewer courses? Saying no to more things? Look at your schedule and see if anything can be taken out. This requires both people to be on board and aware that the current system isn’t working.

I also recommend sitting down with your spouse and discussing how to carve some sacred time out of each week which is dedicated to activities which build up your marriage relationship. One day mid-week that you have lunch together (brown bag it or go to a restaurant). A certain night of the week when the TV stays off, the school work gets set aside after 9 PM and the tea pot is pulled out as you sit together and relate to each other. It will feel like a huge sacrifice, but what is the sacrifice if you don’t do it. This husband is right that he can not wait until next summer to have a meaningful relationship with his wife.

I want to confirm that it is not selfish to desire a more fulfilling relationship with an overworked spouse. I can appreciate the battle of not wanting to add pressure your spouse by sharing that you need more from them when they are already feeling maxed out, but I also can’t see the situation improving unless you talk about it.

Don’t you find that the longer we stay in a bad situation, the harder it becomes to think that there is any way out of it? I do. It seems like the less time I spend connected to my husband, the less I see the need for it. And then when I do get the chance to spend a meaningful evening with him, I realize how much I have missed it. I would recommend setting a date on the calendar soon that will be date night and then spend the time doing something your overworked spouse loves to do. Then at the end of the evening begin a conversation about how much you have missed these times and try to work together for a better solution. Remember that it is not you against them, but the two of you together against the problem.

Now, if your spouse does not see the heavy schedule as a problem even after a break from it, or if they see the problem, but have no desire to change it because they think it is required, then you are in a much harder place. Prayer will effect this more than any verbal convincing on its own will. The bottom line is that the marriage relationship is always more important than work so if the demands of a person’s job are effecting the quality of the marriage, the overworked spouse needs to see this.

I wish I could give a formula that would work in solving it, but when we are dealing with two different personalities of which I don’t even know the people it is hard to do that, but I do pray that the Lord will give you a strategy that will work in getting you to a healthier place.

3 Comments

  1. From my perspective, it comes down to God-given priorities and responsibilities. It’s been helpful for me to think about the things that only *I* can do. Only I can maintain my relationship with the Lord…. only I can/should be my husband’s emotional support… only I can/should be my husband’s sexual partner. There are a few other things that only I can do, but the vast majority of things that actually end up on the to-do list do not have to be done by me personally. There’s nothing wrong with delegating the cooking or cleaning, but neglecting my husband’s needs *IS* wrong. The only reason in Scripture for refusal is if both parties agree and it’s for a certain period of time to devote to prayer. If anything besides that gets in the way, it’s time for those things to go. Sure, changing jobs might be a sacrifice… but if it’s getting in the way of what God has given *YOU* to do, it’s time to hand that job off to someone else.

  2. This is a tough one in my house. DH would probably like more skin-to-skin time, but with the kids, their activities and our careers and activities, there are times that the four letter word B-U-S-Y becomes too prevalent. Prayer helps, connecting with church helps, family dinners help, and making a determination to have time together helps. That and an understanding that sometimes a hot five minutes in the shower is all you’re going to get some days!

  3. I just feel like venting tonight. My husband is going through significant stress at work right now, and it is affecting our sex life big time. Prior to my sexual awakening, he used to wake me up with an erection every morning, and he was always after me for sex. And I just wanted to get it over with; I used to think that if I never had sex again, that would be okay with me. Well, the tables are turned now! Now I desire sex and my DH is preoccupied. This evening while he was relaxing on the couch, I stripped buck naked and straddled him and started french kissing him. And — nothing. He tried to get into it, and seemed to appreciate that I desired him, but I couldn’t excite him enough. I know I need to pray and be patient. After all, he’s been patient with me. It’s just so discouraging not to be able to arouse your husband.


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