My husband has been working long hours for years - the company requires this of ALL their employees.

Question: My question was prompted by reading Clare Mann's article in your magazine about work-life balance or integration as she calls it. My husband has been working long hours for years - the company requires this of ALL their employees. I've read that it is the same for most people particularly those working in managerial positions. He likes his job but agrees that life would be better if he had time for other things, such as visiting friends and family holidays. For my part, I have tried very hard to be understanding and carry the load on the homefront but I can feel myself growing resentful. We've attempted to talk about our options but he gets very defensive which only makes things worse. It hurts that he doesn't want to find a solution to the situation. I 'm afraid that if things continue as they are, I will eventually fall out of love and want to leave the marriage. I don't believe in using scare tactics, in my experience they backfire. Does this mean we are doomed as a couple? Julie

Answer: This sounds so depressingly familiar. We are all encouraged and expected to work, work and then, work some more. To chase the dollar, which buys the delusion of security, social status and material possessions. Triumphant narcissism has become the contemporary measure of success. But at what price? Poor health, emotional disorders, family breakdown, estranged relationships and a lack of necessary social involvement. Men in particular, can get hideously trapped in the work achievement snare. A snare from which many are loath to disentangle themselves and let go, because they've lost all sense of proportion and their priorities have become so distorted. Leaving the rat race is equivalent for some to failure, being a loser and not having what it takes to get to the top, where there are apparently all sorts of imaginary rewards.

You say you don't want to use shock tactics, by which I presume you mean idle threats. I believe that if anyone outlines their concerns and what they think needs to change and their projections of what will happen if they don't, then this is an honest communication and the other is then well forewarned. You must be very clear in what you say, mean every word and be prepared to act unilaterally, when and if, necessary. Shock tactics may very well be just what is needed, to at least jog some meaningful discussion into the situation.

Answer provided by David White, Psychotherapist

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