There are many types of addiction that people can experience in a lifetime. Most of them are somewhat easy to identify as a problem. And they become something although not simple, easier to approach and face in our own lives or the life of a loved one. However, there are addictions, which can be subtle. A few people involved will notice and this will mean it will pass through the door without a hint of doubt. An addiction to work is one of these addictions. When we (or someone we know) become workaholic, we rarely think there is something wrong. There are no visible symptoms or consequences such as the ones we see with alcohol or drug addiction. Therefore, we don’t spot it easily. Even though we usually joke that a person is addicted to work, it is something we don’t really mean or believe. It is easier to believe that a person is rather a hard worker. And, we can easily fall into the false assumption that questioning their behavior is something wrong since they are just working towards a better future or a better life. Once we start to deal with one of these addictions, things can get out of hand without anyone noticing. Families can crumble down unexpectedly and the blame-game becomes a regular activity in the afternoons, which will not help to fix the situation at all. When dealing with a workaholic, there are quite a few things we can do to improve and maintain our relationship, while also bringing support and the necessary help. These ensure that things don’t get out of hand in the future. Here are 5 tips for helping a person with work addiction.
1. Understand the Difference Between a Workaholic and a Hard Worker
The difference between someone who’s addicted to work and an average hard worker is rather easy to understand in theory. But, it might not be as easy in the practice. A hard worker, like most, is a person, who dedicates a big portion of their time to make ends meet. The need to cover all expenses, and in many cases, to guarantee a good life-quality standard for the family is their top priority and they will not rest until such thing is achieved. We can all be hard workers because we know we have great responsibilities, and our common sense tells us we need to push further in order to reach our goals. In this scenario, we can fit those people, who on top of responsibilities like their work so much, that they go a little over what they should. A workaholic, just like any other addict, feels and believes that no matter what they do or how much they “consume” it is not enough. He or she, start to divert from the household in order to be able to work longer hours and avoid spending time anywhere else, except their workplace or somewhere, where they can proceed to work. Being able to recognize the differences between these types of person is the first step to identify someone who may be addicted to work and proceed to walk the path towards professional help and recovery. It will be a hard process. But, it will definitely be worth it
2. Be Easy on Him/Her
Similar to every personal issue and problem we might have with someone, there’s always a good way to vent it out and a bad way. If we start to complain in an unhealthy way, where there is no room for tolerance or understanding; the overall feeling we’ll be projecting towards the addict will be frustration. And, this will only serve to push that person further away to their work. Being able to talk things through in a positive atmosphere is of great importance. This is not only because a peaceful and respectful environment sets the mood for a productive discussion, but also because without it, the chances for anger, frustration and ultimately rejection will eventually lead to a fall-out.
3. Learn How to Manage Your Time and Get Involved in Your Partner’s Calendar
A workaholic most likely has a very tight schedule for the whole year. This is why, it is important to discuss in a calm and tolerant way when to organize events that benefit the relationship, or simply important dates during the year. Giving notice in advance will work better with their way of thinking and will encourage a sense of commitment to social events and other activities that can benefit both partners. It will also take them away from work. This way, future arguments can be avoided. We’ll not leave much room for misunderstandings. Making plans to take their minds off work will be difficult. But with healthy and well-planned ideas, you’ll create a supportive environment for the workaholic to feel good. So, you can start to lead them towards recovery.
4. Act Tactfully and Use Positive Reinforcement
In the event that your spouse might be neglecting his or her responsibilities as a parent or a partner, it is important to mention it in a positive, helpful way. An individual with work addiction just as any other addict, doesn’t really have control over his or her behavior. And, it is very likely to be unaware of what’s going on outside of work. Trying to express our feelings in a thoughtful and respectful manner is key to having a fruitful conversation. It will eventually lead to a better understanding of each other’s roles in the relationship. Acknowledging the hard work they are doing is a great way to praise their behavior. And, at the same time, try suggesting and encouraging breaks or some time off, while mentioning the importance of the relationship, or the family or their own health. These will not only show him or her that we know how tough his or her job might be, but it also shows compassion, love and empathy, which are key elements to maintaining a strong bond in any relationship.
5. Get Help and Advice, if Needed
Recognizing that sometimes we are not the best person to handle a specific situation is the first step in the right direction. Talking with friends, family, and experts when we think the situation is getting out of hand can prove to be worth it in the end by learning how to handle the issue in a productive and positive way. Sometimes it can be very useful to have an insight from someone outside of our perspective and this can help us to focus on bigger issues and leave aside things that can be causing unnecessary stress or frustration in the relationship. Just like with any personal issue we might have, approaching the person involved in a polite, accepting and thoughtful way, will always be the right call. When we are dealing with a possible workaholic at home, it is very important to exercise a thoughtful discussion so that both sides are understood. We need to understand that work is a very important part of every person’s life, but we also need to recognize when our professional responsibilities are overshadowing our personal ones. When this happens, it is extremely helpful to pinpoint them out at an early stage so that they can be discussed and treated in a timely matter. With love, respect and dedication, a relationship going through a tough time because of a workaholic partner, can evolve and improve within time. Do not be afraid of seeking professional help, it will be the right call towards a healthy future life. We just have to remember, that all good things take time, patience and ironically enough: Hard work.
If you would like to ask a question or would like to suggest another tip on how to help someone with a work addiction leave a comment below.