5 Tips for Getting Your Husband Home from Work

How do you balance everything?  I get that question a lot.

Interestingly enough, the question comes just as often from wives looking for hints to give their husbands as it does from friends.

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Unfortunately, many of them don’t like my answer.  I don’t balance everything.  I strive for integration.

Here are a few tips for you wives and mothers out there with husbands who are passionate about their work. How do you get him home?

1. Understand the importance of his work to him.

A common misconception from wives is that your husband loves work more than he loves you. While this may be the case, and I’ve definitely been guilty of this form of adultery myself, the reality is that we’ve been made to work (see Genesis).  I have a vocation of providing for my family.

I need to work to be fulfilled.  I was made to do it and my Creator instructed me to do it.  While I sometimes get my priorities out of whack, the reality is that I take great pride in being productive, in what I accomplish, and how well I take care of my family.  Work is integral to who I am.  By understanding this, you can understand his natural inclination and his flaws instead of just getting angry.  The less angry and more understanding you are, the more he will want to be home.

2. Understand your role in fueling his drive.

Your husband loves you and wants to give you your heart’s desire.  That new car that you’ve asked for, the home with the white picket fence you dream about, and the budget that you want to get rid of all fuel him.  Until he gives you your heart’s desire there is a piece of him that will feel like he’s letting you down (and in some unhealthy cases, inadequate).  He wants to be your knight in shining armor.

My wife grew up on 68 acres in Texas.  From before we were engaged, I knew that she loved having “space” and wasn’t too fond of living in a neighborhood.  That’s who she is.  Despite living in a neighborhood my entire life, I took this on as my own passion.  I HAD to give her what her heart desired.  No matter how much she loved our first and second home and regardless of the fact that she picked them out almost exclusively, I knew that I would not fulfill her dreams until we had acreage.  The day we closed on our home (5 acres, with a creek!), our marriage got better. Seriously.  Not because she did anything different, but because I knew that I was able to give her something special.  Something that was close to her heart.  In my mind, I was able to provide for her as she always wanted to be provided for.

I know that the home we bought is not perfect.  She wanted the laundry room of her dreams and a front porch (after months of searching, I can assure you that there is no perfect home for a family of 8 that is not custom built for that family).  While we love the home, I won’t be totally off the hook until our new laundry room is complete (construction started two days ago!  Yay!).

Trust me, these desires motivate me and are in the front of my mind.

Realize how you fuel your husband’s commitment to work without even trying. Understand how you motivate him with your desires.

3. Understand your need to be engaged.

This is a tricky one because sometimes you need to be involved and sometimes you need to back away. Either way, you need to learn how to read your husband.

I’m an analytical thinker.  I collect information, connect dots, process, and then make decisions. Sometimes I need to talk things out or collect more data points in order to process things so that I can let them go for the night.  Every once in a while I find myself staying at the office in order to talk a decision through with one of my executives.

What can be even more refreshing is talking these things out with my wife.  She has a unique outside perspective that I respect and she knows me well enough to be able to read between the lines and point out things that I may not have otherwise noticed.  At the same time, if I feel the topic is one that she’s not interested in or doesn’t know anything about, it’s hard for me to break away from processing mode and have a discussion with her.

We’re still not perfect, but Teresa is learning when and how to engage.  When she does we have some of the best moments of our marriage together.  She feels important and part of my life, and I feel as though she cares about one of the most important parts of my life.

I also love it when Teresa comes to the office, bakes cookies for my teammates, and joins me for events that I have to attend.  There are plenty of ways for her to be involved.  Once a year we host a company picnic and she works with our HR department to pull it together.  To kick off the planning effort she has the team over to our house and prepares us lunch.  I love that.

Her engagement in my work life is important to me and makes me want to come home.

4.  Understand that you can’t have it both ways.

I know SO many wives that want a husband to work 40 hours a week.  A full-time job is not a 40 hours a week commitment.  Forty hours is a standard that labor unions that have their roots in the industrial revolution have tried to maintain.

The vast majority of husbands will not be successful in their work in 40 hours a week. It won’t happen.  The careers of those who try typically stall.  Those who move up the ranks are committed and driven.  They go over and above.  They understand that results, not effort, is what it’s all about.

This isn’t just about working from 9-5.  This means understanding that things happen. There will be urgent things to attend to that creep up just as your husband is walking out of the door to head home.

5. Understand that your emotional response has an effect.

Do you know what I dread the most?  I hate coming home when I’m late for dinner or missed an event.  I mean it.  I dread it to the point that sometimes I stay even later than I need to because I don’t want to face Teresa. I exacerbate the problem to delay the ramifications.  I know I’ve disappointed her and I just don’t want to face the music.

When Teresa is understanding (of course, the vast majority of the time!) she alleviates this stress. When she is angry it reinforces the fear and drives me further away.

If you are able to understand the importance of work to your husband, know that you can’t have it both ways, and try to be engaged in what he does, hopefully you will be able to control your emotions when you get that call — he still hasn’t left yet and dinner is already on the table.

[callout]Ladies, what other techniques have you found for getting your husband home? Gentlemen, what other things help motivate you to get home?[/callout]

22 Comments Add yours

  1. Diane Eberle says:

    I understand that it is important that my husband not be afraid of my reaction when he comes home late. However, I do not understand why it feels like his feelings are supposed to take precedence over mine. It seems to me that the only way for me to make him feel understood and to approach him in a calm way is to ignore my own feelings. My inclination is to be angry when he is late especially because he does not tell me what to expect. I understand that things come up and he may not always know what time he will be home but I do not feel that I am given the courtesy of knowing what to expect. I am not asking for a lot of notice just some idea. I never know whether I should save him dinner, and it seems like I need to drop everything when he does come home. I have learned to stop being angry with him and to try and step back and not have such emotion but I do not know what to do. He will tell me that he does not want to be so late or that he needs to start preparing for the next day sooner but at works it makes me angry even if I am calm when he gets home and at best I make him feel everything is fine and when I am by myself I feel saddened.

    1. David DeWolf says:

      Hi Diane,

      I feel your pain. . .(my wife does at least, and I can certainly assume your pain is as deep as hers can be on this subject).

      There’s no doubt that this is a two way street and as working husbands we have an obligation to keep you in the loop (at the very least). I fail, often, at this as well and I know that it can be really hard on Teresa.

      There’s no excuse for it, but, understanding that as men we are single track minded and not the multi-taskers that you are, can help a little bit. I can’t tell you how many times I will literally be walking out the door of my office (on time) when I get pulled into a conversation that ends up lasting 45 minutes (or longer!) and I don’t even realize it. It’s not that I don’t want to tell Teresa it’s happening, it’s just that my mind simply doesn’t go there until it’s waaay too late.

      Of course, it sounds like this may be a more habitual problem and your husband may be in a place that I have been historically as well – where I simply can’t get out of the cycle of always having something else to do. There’s a lot of advice I could probably give him on the subject, but, from your perspective, I’d suggest two things.

      First is obvious – sit down in a non-emotional moment and discuss all of this in depth. Make sure he knows how you feel and why. Try to brainstorm, together, ways that you can meet both of your needs. The key here is understanding. The more you understand about each others feelings and their root cause, the better off you will be.

      Secondly, see if there’s a way he can commit to being home for dinner 4 out of 5 nights a week. In return, commit to him that after you spend a bit of time together, that you will support him going back to work. This is the first step Teresa and I took in helping to get passed this place, it is taught me several tough lessons.

      I’ll be praying for you both

  2. rose says:

    this is my story of my love life, i am rose I met a man more than 22yrs ago and fell in love with him. We started a relationship and after a while I had a baby girl for him. We began to have Issues between us because the man was dragging his feet about performing the marriage rites. A few months later, the relationship broke up and we went our separate ways. Last year a friend directed me to Prophet Osula the spell caster for marriage spell. I went to Prophet Osula temple on the 2nd of june at the ayelala shrine After the spell, the great spirit of Prophet Osula mysteriously reconnected me with the father of my daughter. Our love was rekindled and he proposed marriage to me. I accepted and by the great power of Prophet Osula we were together. Prophet Osula the great spell caster!email ayelalashrine@gmail.com for your help.

  3. Sad wife says:

    David, your wife is a very blessed woman! My husband is a great provider, but work is far, far, far more important to him than we are. He will do anything for his job. I know that if I fell down the stairs and cracked my head open, he would not help me until he was done working. I’d have to lay there and wait. He gets so upset when I say these things, but they are true and sometimes the truth hurts. When each of our children was born, he would come for the birth and the minute I was settled in my room, go back to work. Both of my kids were born on Friday, but Saturday he was back out there working overtime! Glad to know where we rank. Far, far, far below work. On family vacations (which we could never take for the first 12 years of our marriage because he couldn’t miss work) the cell phone rings and rings and rings. Many a time I’ve been left sitting on a bench outside a restaurant waiting while he finishes “just this quick call”. Date night? Forget that. How can you have date night when you’re asleep on the couch after an exhausting 12 hour day? My dream home? Not even a concern. Too expensive, taxes too high, too far of a drive from work. It just causes a fight. I sacrificed my hometown, being near family, friends, and my job to move up here because he had the better job (and let’s face it, he couldn’t move too far from his mommy). But he doesn’t ever acknowledge that. He just thinks this is a much better place to live. His hometown. Like your wife, I moved from a very rural area to the suburbs – but unlike your wife, my husband doesn’t care. He thinks this is better. He thinks it would be awful to live somewhere without city sewerage. And adding 10 miles to his commute would be unacceptable. Through my own very difficult (I’m stubborn) personal growth I have learned to just keep my mouth shut and plaster on a fake smile so he doesn’t get his feelings hurt. Guess I gotta do my best to bloom where I’m planted, although my dreams are unimportant and have all been trashed long ago. They’re just gone, so I no longer waste time in dreaming. He will put on this stupid puppy dog face once in a while and act like I matter to him, like my feelings matter, but they don’t. His priorities are God, work, work, work, people from work, our kids, his mom, work, then me. Frankly, sometimes it sucks. Pardon my language but that’s how much it hurts. He’s a good man, provides well, says he loves me, is faithful, but work is his mistress. I’m nor perfect either, not by a long shot. But yes, I definitely understand wives who feel second to work. And integration? He always said he felt work and home life should be kept completely separate. I always figured he was just embarrassed of me in some way. He claims that is not the case, but he has never wanted me or the kids around his work in any way. For the past two years he has taken me to his work holiday party, but that’s only because everyone else brings their spouse and I guess he feels obligated. I am normally a very sociable, friendly person, but I just sit there quietly and smile because I know he doesn’t want me there. He claims he does but I know he feels forced into it. No one keeps their wife out of their work life for 18 years and then all of a sudden decides to bring her to a party, unless they feel forced, or peer pressured. He’s not fooling me. And the kicker is, I’m not even 40 (married young) and I’m not horribly ugly, so I have no real clue why he’s been embarrassed for me to have any part of his work for so long. And our teenage sons are growing up and will soon be in college, so I feel sad that he’s still too busy to get to know them very well. It makes them sad, too. It’s how he grew up, and I think to him, this is normal. His dad travelled A lot and missed everything, so I think my husband thinks by being home for dinner most nights and attending a concert or two, he’s doing a great job. Thanks for listening to me vent. And for the article. Although I’m still angry and upset, it helps a little to see a little male perspective, although I do not know how such obviously intelligent males can forget all about their wives and families when getting “pulled into a conversation” nor do I see how they can claim they still love us when they forget about us all the time but they never forget work.

    1. David DeWolf says:

      Sad Wife,

      Having been on the other side of this equation and seeing how hurt Teresa was (and still is) when I get consumed by work, I can feel the pain.

      That said, don’t give up. Your duty is not to put on a fake smile. But don’t be counter productive either. If you want him to be around, don’t make it miserable for him to be around. Be honest. Be vulnerable. But be kind and do it in love. Don’t nag. Praise him for what he does right as opposed to nagging him for what he does wrong. If he’s home for dinner almost every night, rejoice in that. That’s more than I could say at a point in my life.

      Like any other addiction, the first step of recovering from workaholism is admitting there’s a problem. That’s very hard. Don’t underestimate it, even if it’s not something you understand. Help him discover that.

      There’s a phenomenal book, called Leadership and Self Deception (http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/B0035ZDP0Y/davdewhumcon-20), that has transformed the way I deal with situations like this. I’ve shared it with friends, family, and even employees and almost every one has also found it to be life changing. I think it’d be a great read for you — and for your husband.

      Keep hope and fight for a great marriage. It’s worth it.


      1. Sad wife says:

        Thank you for your reply. I’ll look into the book.

      2. Kari says:

        Sorry but to me the blame seems to be on the wife, there is only so long you can keep on trying. I’ve cried, I’ve cooked, I’ve looked after the kids, I’ve tried to be low maintenance in bed and at home and realistically it will always be that I am emotional, not that actually it would be nice if your husband wanted to spend time with you( or not even me the kids). Sick of making excuses that I am the one who should bother, either take the benefits and emotionally die (again I
        If I had food poisoning the issue would be how long would it take to recover, or get your mum over so I can go to work) or move on. Feeling very sad but every deserves to be left bed and if that means BA smaller house surely it’s worth it! Not surecwhat to do but don’t want kids to leave home and find that nothing in common. Men provide by all accounts but you don’t need av3rd car. Just remember who will be at your death bed!

      3. 41progress41 says:

        and make some cookies for his office mates.

  4. Av says:

    This is the most patronizing bullshit I have ever read. Talk about celebrating a status quo. You have said nothing new, interesting or helpful.

  5. Rose says:

    It seems that we ladies often measure love with time & attention. Knowing that we can count on our loved ones and feel safe with them fills us more than anything else in our lives!

    However, I’ve come to realize that wanting a Prince Charming/Hero-to-the-Rescue husband may have become a form of idolatry for me. Is it right to expect any fallible human to be 100% reliable, heroic, gentle, loving, romantic, understanding, forgiving, etc.? Maybe this is a role which only God can fulfill, liberating my heart so that I can give more freely and be more kind to my loved ones?

    When I need to feel loved and connected with my husband and loved ones:

    1. I make sure they know that being with me is a fun, positive experience. They do not need to give up their sense of self or their independence. This helps me be less bitter, distant, or resentful — all of which have the potential of worsening my sleep and making me a lonely, angry old lady.

    2. I make sure that other parts of my life are more of a focal point. This allows me to stop brooding over my resentments, and instead deal with what is in a courageous and kind way.

    3. I understand that focusing on my feelings is the fastest path to depression and will only delay progress.

    4. I remind myself that the winner in an argument is the person who understands the other’s viewpoint first.

    5. I remind myself that people spend more time in places where they feel successful, appreciated, admired, and adored. Sadly, there are times when I have diminished a loved one by interrupting them or acting like my opinions and ways of doing things are superior to theirs 🙁 When I am tempted to act superior or dismissive of their needs, it helps for me to touch gently and listen warmly. It softens my heart MORE than if I try to make myself heard.

    6. I learned that humans and animals usually show they are overwhelmed by becoming hostile. Therefore, I reduce my level of hostility toward my loved ones by slowing down, simplifying, doing less, and exercising more.

    7. Finally, my pet peeve about people who profess to be religious is that they show piety through suffering and sadness. I wish religious people would instead show the world that their spirituality allows them to be fun, kind, and playful sometimes. I wonder if we women carry the same negative view of spiritual piety in to our relationships? Do we think we are only superior if we are suffering and sad? Is this the way we try get attention and love? I hear of many women who do this to their husbands in their sexual relationship; physical intimacy becomes drudgery instead of becoming fun and playful. In general, we know that the more we do something, the more we enjoy it and the easier it becomes. Therefore, I believe we can enjoy physical intimacy by talking about it less and doing it more. Our bodies become better at responding and it becomes MUCH more fun! Therefore, my motto has become, “A little less talk and a lot more action”

    1. David DeWolf says:

      Awesome thoughts, Rose. Thanks for sharing. Very powerful. We can all learn from this – husbands and wives alike.

  6. Laura says:

    Wow. Baking cookies and preparing lunches is your idea of engaging your wife? “Hopefully you will be able to control your emotions when you get that call — he still hasn’t left yet and dinner is already on the table” ? This article is so narrow-minded and condescending. I know people who have fathers and husbands who work 100 hours a week and ones who work 40 hours a week. Guess which children grew up to be happier? Guess which relationships lasted? The ones who had happy, loving, PRESENT parents. Not the ones who had the materialistic stuff that you mention in this article. Things do not buy happiness. Memories and quality time do. I would bet you that your wife would trade all of her things to have a loving, respectful husband who is present and not always living in the future or the past.

    1. 41progress41 says:

      lol…whenever I search for marriage help, I always find bible loving folks essentially telling me some version of this “bake him some cookies” bs…and genesis always pops in. Good to see this one didn’t disappoint. How low is the bar for his poor wife?

  7. almost perfect says:

    I am struggling with the decision to break up with my boyfriend. When he is around our relationship is perfect; making dinner together,dates,movies, helps me with chores,presents, compliments etc. He is a really nice person and I know he genuinely loves me, However he admits that work comes first. He works 7 days a week around the clock (until the project is finished…sometimes goes 3 days without sleep) and travels around the country sporadically. He loves his job and admits he is a workaholic. He used to be in the military, so he expects me to be grateful I see him once a week when military wives sometimes see their husbands once a year. I don’t want to marry a workaholic but I love him. My family adores him but agree he has to want to change by Himself. I have voiced these concerns every month for the past 6 months and he Continues to say he will change. He obviously isnt going to change and I dont know how I can change. Should we break up?

    1. David DeWolf says:

      Almost Perfect,

      I can’t tell you whether to break up with your boyfriend or not. All I can do I share my own story.

      I, at one point, was very much like your boyfriend. In fact, in many ways, I probably still am. I love my job. I travel more than sporadically, and, I will work around the clock when there’s a pressing deadline. I was once a certified workaholic and my father was career military, so, I get definitely get that way of life.

      What’s changed is two things. First, I realized, after several years of marriage, that while there’s nothing wrong with loving work, it must be loved in the proper order – behind God, my marriage, and my family. I became deliberate about making sure that I fulfilled all of my duties and loved all of my loves to the fullest.

      Through that process, I learned that I am actually more productive when I find time for other things. One of my goals this year, for example, is to improve my golf game. Whereas I used to golf 2 or 3 times a year, I’m now taking lessons every other week (though, I will probably only play 4-6 full rounds – it’s just too costly). This extra hour gives me perspective on life and allows my mind to be free from distractions. I’m a better executive because of it.

      Of course, there are also many family oriented things I’m doing as well, and, this is where the second change has come in. Teresa and I are continuously learning how integrate our lives. We are deliberately looking for ways to pursue what we are both passionate about. For example, over the years I’ve had many men come to me ask for mentorship. So many that I’ve had to say no. We recently discovered that while I have been saying no, Teresa has had a desire to work with their wives and help them learn to support their husbands in their pursuit of both family and processional success. Yes, you can thrive in both.

      Finally, there is most likely no decision that you will make that is greater than whether or not you will marry your future husband, whether or not that’s this boyfriend. Take your time. There’s not reason to do it until you’re confident. If you truly love him, and he you, marry him. Just realize that love is not a feeling. It is a decision. It is a commitment that both of you will help each other become the best version of yourselves, recognizing that neither of you are there already.

      To help you discern whether it’s truly love, let me leave you wit this, from, 1 Corinthians Chapter 13.

      Love is patient, love is kind.
      It is not jealous, is not pompous, it is not inflated,
      it is not rude, it does not seek its own interests, it is not quick-tempered,
      it does not brood over injury,
      it does not rejoice over wrongdoing but rejoices with the truth.
      It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
      Love never fails.

      1. almost perfect says:

        Thank you for your quick response. I appreciate it more than you’ll ever know. I am grateful you found time!
        According to 1 corinthians we definitely love eachother, he tells me I make him a better man….Iam still unsure if I am a better woman. I wish I could find a mentor-everyone that finds your wife is so lucky!
        I find great comfort in knowing others have worked through such similar lifestyles.
        Thank you!

      2. Feeling Lied too says:

        So how did your change in view point come around? I am just curious. I have a great DH but he is a workaholic and I don’t even mind that because he is great at what he does and I get to stay home with our son so I never care that he works so much and I am proud of him. My concern is that he doesn’t act like he is even part of our family or in a marriage. He has never made plans to hang out with us on weekends (except when his mother is in town then I am suppose to put on a show for her) and he could care less to spend time with me. He spends all of his time doing his things which is a time consuming hobby which does not involve us ever. He will work 60 hours a week and then spend another 40 + on a hobby. I feel like the worst failure as a wife. I am not fat or ugly, I am a great cook and always have dinner available. Why do men get married when they are not ready to BE married.

      3. David DeWolf says:

        For me it was all about admitting that I was a workaholic. It came through my wife’s gentle prodding and a specific instance that finally made me realize that I was choosing a single good, that I loved very much, over my marriage, my kids and a fulfilling life that I could potentially love even more.

        I decided that I could, in fact, have it all and I was determined to figure out how.

        It sounds as though the hobby your husband is obsessed with may be your real problem. You may want to start there. Have you tried engaging in the activities he loves? http://daviddewolf.com/finding-joy-in-what-others-love/

  8. samed says:

    Well, I sure don’t have the answer to this one. The only time he doesn’t work is that hour at church on Sunday. Got to rush home to work all weekend on research papers, got to stay at the hospital 14 hours a day during the week. Works on conference calls during dinner, I better not talk if the phone is not on mute. And why don’t I drive myself to the hospital to give birth, since he had to go in earlier and is too busy to come back, page him when baby gets here. (still mad about that one, 18 years later). I have a good suggestion, though. How about the church stops demanding his time? How about they ask me before they ask him to do something? They wanted him to go on a mission trip for a week, and I called and asked them to just stop, but they basically ignored my request. They wanted him to personally do work at the church as though that was somehow better than hiring someone. We have plenty of money to hire someone to do church work, he doesn’t do his own work at home. The church cares more about putting on some programs than it does about teaching fathers to spend that time with their own children and then they wonder why kids leave the church. Dumbasses.

  9. um wow what? he comes home because he wants to be with his family. if he doesn’t want to be with his family, he needs to figure out why and work on changing that. it’s not the wife’s problem, and it’s not hers to solve.

  10. um wow what? he comes home because he wants to be with his family. if he doesn’t want to be with his family, he needs to figure out why and work on changing that. it’s not the wife’s problem, and it’s not hers to solve.

  11. Chirag Chandani says:

    oh nice thoughts and well written (as always), one thing i know, the more Priyanka (my wife) engages in my work activities discussions, I feel – she wants me more and shares feelings to relax me more!!

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