Not long ago, I was speaking with one of my coaching clients who was sharing his struggle with workaholism. The issue got to a point where his wife and kids sat him down to tell him it was out of control and things needed to change because his work had become his top priority and they were all missing out on their relationship. 

I asked him what changes he planned to make and what impact that act of love from his family had on him? His first response was not what I expected but at the same time did not take me by surprise. He said, “yeah it is tough right now, but I do not have much of a choice because I have to provide for my family.” 

This is an all too familiar refrain I hear from many, which I myself used when I was working non-stop and put my family in the back seat. While I understand and respect the need to provide for our families and ensure they have what they need; to only think of provision in the material sense is short-sighted given our families need so much more. 

The Great Disconnect 

As embarrassing as it is for me to say this, 2016 was the first time in my career that I went on a family vacation without my laptop. I was not alone as 56% of Americns work on vacation, but if I could go back and do it again, it would have stayed at home. 

About two-days into the trip my then 17 year old daughter thanked me for not bringing my laptop with me. I thanked her for the compliment and then defended myself by telling her that in the past I always made sure to work before she and her brothers were awake. Her reply was a gut punch – “I know dad, but you would then spend the rest of the day thinking about what you were working on.” 

With this one line, my daughter told me she needed me to be present and available emotionally and mentally and my work distractions were taking a toll. And this was not the first time that my family had talked to me about this; it was the first time that I listened.

Work Is Not The Only Culprit

Workaholism is unfortunately common in western cultures, despite the fact that it may very well be killing us. However, it is by far not the only thing that we choose over those things which are more life giving. 

Our addiction to our phones, screens and social media are robbing us of what we as humans have been wired for; deep meaningful connection. Below are a few stats as published on DIYGenius on the impact our devices are having on our relationships:

  • Of the 75,000 married couples surveyed, 79% admitted technology distracts them from connecting with each other. On top of that, just 22 percent reported being satisfied with how much intentional “couple time” they spend together 
  • 85% of smartphone users will check their device while speaking with friends and family.
  • 34% admitted to answering their cell phone during intimacy with their partner.

Technology can be used for great benefit but when we allow it to replace and take away from our human relationships, it is no longer a benefit and can quickly become destructive. 

Our need and desire to provide for our families will never change and it is something that we should be devoted to. However, if you believe that the financial aspect is the most important provision you are sorely mistaken. 

The need to provide emotionally and mentally is vital to the health and well-being of our relationships and will enable us to live wholeheartedly, far beyond what money could ever provide. It is time to rethink what we mean when we say “I need to provide for my family” and not let our work, devices or other distractions rob us of the joy of deep meaningful connection. 

Photo by Paul Hanaoka on Unsplash