Q- Since we purchased a business two years ago, it has consumed more and more of my husband's time. Six days a week he is gone by seven a.m. and doesn't return home until midnight or later. Our kids are growing up without him, and I am desperately lonely. Should I urge him to sell the business?
A- Before you suggest selling the business, consider some alternatives. For starters, realize that your husband is working hard to support his family and make the business succeed. Not all men take those responsibilities seriously. So as you discuss a solution, I hope you'll focus on the business—not your husband—as the problem.
To help reduce the number of hours he is away from home, perhaps you and your children could help out with the business. That would reduce your husband's work stress and also would give you more time together.
At the same time, your husband should seek advice from a fellow professional. Something's wrong if he is working 17 hours a day. Perhaps another businessman could offer insights that would increase efficiency and reduce your husband's workload. When I was a pastor, our staff helped match businessmen with others who were willing to review their organizations. On two occasions this saved the businessmen's marriages, mental health and livelihood.
Meanwhile, even though you're lonely, try to support your husband. Several years ago, an Air Force study determined why some military kids go bad while others do so well. The essential factor turned out to be how supportive the military spouse, usually a wife, was. When a mother was routinely positive, saying things like, "Well, Daddy's protecting the free world. Without Daddy poor people would be run over by irresponsible or evil people," her children, despite the regular absence of their father, were much more likely to turn out well.1