Ask Arlene: The Over-Employed Husband


Hi Arlene!

How do I encourage my husband when he is having to work many, many extra hours. We’re grateful that he has a job but the pressure wears on all of us. How do I encourage/support/appreciate him when what I really want to do is tell him to come home?! Thanks!


Dear Ellen,

When a husband is underemployed, it’s problematic. Yet when he’s “overemployed,” that has a set of problems too as you are experiencing!

I think it’s a great idea to set aside a special time to talk about your husband’s workload and ask three questions:

  1. Is there an end in sight to all the extra hours?
  2. Go to the dark side of the moon. If he didn’t put in the extra hours at work, what would be the worst case scenario consequence? Would he be fired? Demoted? Blocked from promotion? Paid less?
  3. Now go to the opposite side. What would he gain in terms of family time, relationships with you and your kids if he worked less?

I recently heard an excellent broadcast on Focus on the Family about this common challenge of balancing time between work and family. I think you and your husband would benefit greatly from listening to Andy Stanley — you can find the program online here at Focus on the Family. The program is titled, “Setting Your Family as Your Highest Priority.”

In one part, Andy talked about the guilt associated with not doing enough at work and home. He realized it was right to feel guilty about not doing enough at home. That guilt was used to persuade him to make positive changes for his family. But he concluded it wasn’t right to feel guilty about work. He would take responsibility, but he would not allow himself to walk around feeling guilty about what hadn’t been accomplished. After all, there is always something more to do at work.

It’s a small tweak in thinking, but it has helped me when the lines between work and family get blurry. Don’t sweat it if every “T” doesn’t get crossed at work. But do sweat it if your family is starting to fray because you’re not spending enough time together.

You can support your husband by talking honestly about how to best handle time between work and family. Then praise him often for the hard work he is doing, and praise him again when he’s able to spend time with the family. Do your best to make your home a calm, joy-filled environment so he will be able to call his home a haven. That’s a wonderful thing you can do for your husband during this busy time in his career.


In her monthly column, “Ask Arlene,” author and speaker Arlene Pellicane answers readers’ questions. If you have a question you’d like her to consider for this column, submit a question here.
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Arlene Pellicane is a speaker and author of 31 Days to Becoming a Happy Mom and 31 Days to a Happy Husband. She is also the co-author of Growing Up Social: Raising Relational Kids in a Screen-Driven World (with Gary Chapman). She has been a featured guest on The Today Show, Fox & Friends, Focus on the Family, FamilyLife Today, The 700 Club, and Turning Point with Dr. David Jeremiah. Arlene lives in the San Diego area with her husband James and their three children. To learn more and for free family resources such as a monthly Happy Home podcast, visit

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Ask Arlene: The Over-Employed Husband

by Arlene Pellicane time to read: 2 min