Hey, Workaholic: Are You Destroying Your Relationships?


Are you like me and feel as if work sometimes consumes your life?

Whether you’re replying to e-mails at midnight after working 15 hours that day, taking and making work phone calls on weekends, or checking in with co-workers on sick or vacation days, sometimes it feels as though we’re married to our job.

The average American works 1,880 a year; meaning that half of us work more than 22 percent of the year. And that only accounts for paid hours.

As much as we love — and are addicted to — our work, spending all of that time focusing on our job means that less time is spent on creating, maintaining and building relationships.

Marriages suffer, friendships grow apart and suddenly your life is nothing more than a version of the movie “Groundhog Day.

I know this firsthand as someone who is extremely passionate about my work. I rarely work a seven- or eight- hour day. Over the last two months, I feel as though I’ve spent more time working than anything else. So much so that I rarely have seen friends, and when I do get home, I fall asleep only to do it all over again the next day.

Some take working to the extreme by having multiple jobs or moving away from family and friends just for a job. But in these tough economic times, can you really blame them? Still, talk about making work a priority over family and friends!

Even if we love our jobs and are passionate about what we do, we owe it to ourselves to have a work/life balance that involves more than just a weekend home every now and then or a once-in-a-blue-moon night out with friends.

In an AOL Jobs story earlier this year, an Australian nurse said almost everyone on their deathbed regretted working too much.

“This came from every male patient that I nursed,” nurse Bronnie Ware wrote in a blog post.

“They missed their children’s youth and their partner’s companionship. All of the men I nursed deeply regretted spending so much of their lives on the treadmill of a work existence.”

As much as I dedicate myself to work, regretting working too much at the end of my life is one thing I do not want to do. Having a job you love no doubt is important, but does that outweigh wasting your life away from family and friends?

Growing up, I remember my father arriving late to various events — baseball games, school projects — I was involved with. Sometimes, he didn’t make it at all.

At a young age, I always took it personal — that he was putting work in front of his family. While I still do not agree with his decision, I understand that, in his mind, he was doing the right thing by providing for his family.

But him choosing work over family is something I’ll never forget.

He has even missed or been late for holiday gatherings. And work always is to blame.

While I’m not (yet, at least) a father, I have constantly reminded myself that I will do better than my father did at scheduling work around my child’s events.

As if missing out on time spent with family and friends is enough to make one rethink their work life, a study found that working too much can double the risk of depression.

There already have been studies detailing how too much work increases the risk for heart attacks and how our diets and sleep schedules are thrown off because of work.

There no doubt are economic reasons why people choose to work more often than not. While that might be a great plan in the short term to help pay bills, provide for the family, etc., it can have a devastating effect on relationships as life moves on.

And at the end of your work day, you must ask yourself, “Is overworking really worth missing out on family, friends and life?”

If you care about a truly quality life, you know the right answer to that question. Find that work/life balance and turn off the work phone and e-mail when you’re not working.

Work always will be there. Quality moments with family and friends won’t.

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Alex Wise served over 5 years as relationship expert helping women from around the world figure out the men in their love lives from an honest, male perspective. Alex is one of the contributors and editors for Loveawake.com dating website. He is passionate about thought leadership writing, and regularly contributes to various career, social media, public relations, branding, and online dating communities.