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If Your Work Eats The Lion’s Share of Your Energy, Your Marriage Will Starve

Matt’s parents divorced when he was four. His mother and two sisters raised him. His mother never remarried and the family struggled financially throughout Matt’s childhood. While growing up he continually vowed that he would never be poor again, and that his children would never lack any material thing they ever wanted. He married Deborah, who recognized in Matt, not only a man of great ambition, but also of kindness and compassion.

However she also saw that his childhood experience had left him with unhealed emotional wounds. She loved him deeply and felt certain that her love would mend the insecurity that drove Matt to strive so relentlessly to succeed.

When her efforts failed to neutralize Matt’s hyper-ambition, Deborah became resentful and frustrated, often accusing him of caring more about his business than their family. “That’s not true,” he would insist, “I’m committed to the family and I’m determined to see to it that you don’t go through what I went through growing up. You just don’t appreciate what I’m doing for you. You’re ungrateful.”

Matt’s defensiveness and Deborah’s frustration created a stalemate that seemed unbreakable. But the real problem was that they had polarized one another, taking opposing positions that made it seem as though the choice between favoring work over family, or vice versa, had to be made. This impasse made it impossible for either of  them to hear the other’s perspective.

On the advice of a friend who suggested to Deborah stop calling Matt an “uncaring workaholic”  Deborah initiated a conversation that shifted the mood of the conversation in a way that re-established the connection that years of arguing had broken. She told Matt how much she missed him and how sad she was that the children were growing up without the presence of a loving dad, just as he had. She reassured him that she didn’t want him to give up his work, only to open up more time in his life to include the family. The sting of her anger was replaced by the softness of her care. As a result, Matt gradually became more able to hear the truth of Deborah’s words and her feelings of love that lay beneath them without becoming defensive or angry. For the first time, he was able to see the possibility that he could have both his work and his family.

From that point on, Deborah and Matt worked as partners in co-creating a life together that worked for all of the family. They were no longer on opposite sides of the fence. Like all couples, they still experienced occasional difficulties and setbacks but they never reverted back to the antagonistic pattern that nearly destroyed their marriage. Matt kept his job, modified his hours then found another job that didn’t require him to work 70 hours a week. Deborah got back into the workplace herself when the kids got a little older and together they created the balance and harmony in their family that they both had craved and envisioned from the beginning. “We both had thought that there were only two possibilities and neither of us wanted to be the loser in the game. We found out that there can be more than two possible outcomes in a polarizing situation. Sometimes it’s good to be wrong about what you think is right.”


If Your Work Eats The Lion’s Share of Your Energy, Your Marriage Will Starve


Linda Bloom LCSW and Charlie Bloom MSW are considered experts in the field of relationships. They have been married since 1972. They have both been trained as seminar leaders, therapists and relationship counselors and have been working with individuals, couples, and groups since 1975. They have been featured presenters at numerous conferences, universities, and institutions of learning throughout the country and overseas as well. They have appeared on over two hundred radio and TV programs. Linda and Charlie are co-authors of the widely acclaimed books: 101 Things I Wish I Knew When I Got Married: Simple Lessons to Make Love Last (over 100,000 copies sold) Secrets of Great Marriages: Real Truth from Real Couples about Lasting Love, and Happily Ever After...and 39 Other Myths about Love: Breaking Through to the Relationship of Your Dreams. The Blooms are excited to announce the release of their fourth book, That Which Doesn't Kill Us: How One Couple Became Stronger at the Broken Places. They live in Santa Cruz, California, near their two children and three grandchildren. To view our upcoming events and to sign up for our free newsletter, visit our website at:

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APA Reference
Bloom, L. (2019). If Your Work Eats The Lion’s Share of Your Energy, Your Marriage Will Starve. Psych Central. Retrieved on August 4, 2020, from


Last updated: 10 Jul 2019
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