I wake up most days alone. Not because I am single. I am in fact married. And not because I sleep in another room. I wake up alone because my workaholic husband has gone to work long before the sun is up.
When he gets home, he says hello to the refrigerator before he greets me. Most likely he didn’t eat breakfast or lunch.
He says has to leave early to prep for the day. On the weekends, he has to prep for the next day or the week. He writes and then rewrites the same notes over and over. Yes, he is a little OCD.
His reasoning runs along the lines that as a business owner, no one will care as much as he does. If he doesn’t make the sacrifices, and work early to late six days per week and sometimes seven, then the business might fail.
What he doesn’t get is that what is failing is his health in more ways than one.
His legs ache and he often wakes up with leg cramps. His back aches and he never quite stands up straight. His mind aches because he doesn’t have an off button. He will talk about work at any given moment he is awake. Sometimes I wonder when the business is finally gone, will we have anything to talk about.
He has a nervous cough that surfaces when he is worried about a job. I always know when he is nearby because of that darn cough. I can hide from him in the grocery store, but he can’t hide from me! He doesn’t go to the doctor unless it is an emergency. That would mean taking time off from the JOB. Eating right is not on his radar either
One night a week he does take a break. It’s his bowling night. I am excited for him because he gets to do something fun. “Good luck and good bowling” I cheer as he drags his tired body out the door.
How do I get Mr. Workaholic to work a little less? The funny thing is he tried once. He retired his parents and tried to walk away from the business. But eight months later, he opened up again and he was off and running.
The only way he gets a break is if I book us to go somewhere. He protests. He even backs out on occasion. He calls the business everyday, several times a day to talk to the staff. He can’t unhook for long.
The worst part is when he gets back. Actually on the way back. He kicks right back into work mode and is incredibly stressed about catching up. He doesn’t sleep well that first night home and is up reviewing the job, and heading in (of course early) to get started.
My biggest fear is that when he finally does retire, he will be too physically worn down to enjoy the rest of his life. I hear stories all the time about men like him who reach that pinnacle and don’t have a lot of time left. I don’t want to put that out to the Universe – so I try not to let his stress become my stress.
The good news is he doesn’t drink or smoke. His work is physical, so he gets exercise in his own way, but many men who are workaholics with office jobs don’t.
His employees leave their jobs behind when they clock out, but for this entrepreneur who is driven to provide for his family, (put food on the table, mortgage payment, car payment, children’s college tuition, etc). it is slowly but surely wearing him down.
I’m booking a 5-day cruise for us. I know he will be stressed on the way back. But at least he won’t be able to call the business for a few days!
Previously published on Talking About Men’s Health