Work is a necessary part of life, and it’s a huge blessing when we love our work and our workplace. Naturally, we spend a lot of time there, and how we conduct ourselves and the boundaries we have—or don’t have—in place will either protect or end up hurting our spouse and marriage. So, we need to be aware of the pitfalls, so we can avoid them. Here are 5 common workplace habits that could harm your marriage (in no particular order):
1.We never reference our spouse when talking to colleagues and/or fail to wear our wedding ring at work.
There are certainly parts of our marriage that should be kept private, but the fact that we are a married person is not one of them. This should be very public. One easy way to make this known is by wearing a wedding ring and referencing our spouse in conversations. This probably seems like a no-brainer, right? However, I hear from too many couples where this is not the case. Some spouses may feel like they can have more of an edge at work by presenting themselves as unmarried. Whether or not this is true in the workplace, this is unethical and detrimental to a marriage. When we fail to let our co-workers know that we are married, we blur the communication boundary lines. This opens us up to some compromising conversations and situations. So, it’s always best to be honest and honor our spouse by making it crystal clear that we are married and completely committed to our spouse in every way.
2. We consistently choose to stay at work well beyond working hours.
In certain jobs, overtime is a periodic requirement and also provides a lot of financial gain. I am not talking about this. I am referring to a spouse on salary who constantly chooses to stay a couple of hours later for various reasons. Our time with our families is often so limited, so let’s do everything we can to spend as much time as possible with them and make them a priority, especially one-on-one time with our spouse. Whether it means shortening a lunch break or saving some work for the next day, leaving work on time and going home at a reasonable time is always good for our marriage and family.
3. We often spend time alone with someone of the opposite sex.
I understand that there are times that a person must have a work meeting with someone of the opposite sex, but when these must happen, we need to conduct the meeting in a certain way that is respectful to our marriage and our colleague’s marriage. I would suggest you meet in an open area with others around. If the nature of your professional discussion must be confidential, try finding a meeting room that has multiple windows. I know some of you may think this is a bit over the top, but I promise that I have seen too many marriages fail due to inappropriate work relationships that became full blown affairs.
None of us want this for our marriages, so we need to guard our hearts and limit one-on-one interactions with our fellow workers of the opposite sex. I would also encourage you to turn down lunches with those of the opposite sex at work, unless you are in a larger group of colleagues. We need to avoid the flirtations and inappropriate conversations that can happen when we continue to spend time with a colleague of the opposite sex in private.
If you are currently doing any of these things, please put an end to this immediately. Go home and spend time with your spouse. Flirt with him/her. Share your heart with him/her. Sleep with him/her. Please don’t seek to fulfill these needs outside of your marriage. When we play with fire, we will be burned. We must protect and fight for our marriages daily.
4. We let negative, anti-marriage colleagues influence how we view our own marriages.
When we spend as many hours as we do at work, we are bound to make some pretty good friends of the same gender. In fact, I hope all of us do. It makes the work day go by so much faster when you feel as though you are working with friends. Depending on the nature of our job, we may have long periods in our day when we can have conversations with our work friends. As with any of the relationships in our lives, we need to make sure that our work friends are people who encourage us in our marriages and family life. If we find that we often end up in a spouse-bashing session with our work friends, we need to find better “friends” and spend our work time around others who share our family values. We are affected by the company we keep, so let’s have positive and encouraging company, and let’s be positive and encouraging company. It’s uncanny how we can become more like the people we are around the most. If your friends constantly talk about their husbands/wives in a negative light, you will start viewing your spouse in the same way. When we come home after a long day at work, we don’t need that negativity ringing in our ears. We need to see our spouse in the most positive light possible and greet them with a genuine smile.
5. We share too much information about our marriages with the people at work.
Before I jump into this subject, I want to address a particular group of readers. If you are in a verbally, mentally, or physically abusive marriage, I know you are desperate to talk to someone you can trust. I encourage you to seek safety first and foremost, and then please find a professional Christian counselor, pastor, or social worker you can talk to. They will be able to help you navigate your situation without bringing it into your work place. I would hate to see you be put through the ringer or the rumor mill at your work place, so please take these steps to get the help you need. You are not alone, and there is hope for you and your family.
Sometimes, we are just worn out with the daily grind of our marriages or just angry with our spouses, and we so desperately want to talk with someone about it. Unfortunately, the work place is probably the worst place where we should do this. First of all, when you air out your dirty laundry, you are asking for all kinds of opinions to come your way—some who offer terrible advice. Secondly, it undermines your credibility as a professional. Even though all of us go through difficulties at home from time to time, it is unprofessional for us to bring our marital troubles up at work. I encourage you to find a Christian counselor or pastor that both you and your spouse can meet with together. There is absolutely no shame in getting help, but we must be willing to do whatever it takes to save our marriages.
Bottom line, you can have a thriving work life and family life. It just takes intentionality. When you are intentional about making your marriage a priority by avoiding these pitfalls, you will cultivate and sustain a healthier and happier marriage.