How to save your marriage from your job

  • by Ross McCall
CC Image courtesy of Flickr/The U.S. Army

In the tiny country of Panama, a fatal helicopter crash sent ripples through the military. One officer had been killed and 8 others injured. Everyone knew that having a spouse in the military wasn’t safe, but this accident brought marriage into sharper focus for one group of couples.

Among the wounded was an Air Force General, who one month later limped into a room full of officers, for an event hosted by LeaderImpact, a ministry of Cru. The officers watched his every move.

The General and his colleagues came to listen to Cam McBride, a Canadian police officer, and his wife Candy, a partner in a hotel chain. The group thought they were just going to hear some thoughts on leadership.

But as the McBrides spoke with the officers and their wives, they sensed God wanting them to go deeper. Marriage and divorce became the center of the conversation. The Canadian couple talked about their firsthand experience of the effects high-pressure careers place on their marriage. The shadow of the helicopter crash hung heavy.

Candy remembers telling the group, “The choices you make today are going to determine where you’re going to be when you hang up your uniform for the last time. Are you going to have your partner beside you, or are you going to be standing by yourself?”

What makes married life a battle?

Marriage struggles are not unique to military couples. You don’t have to work in those environments to struggle with balancing your marriage and career. Husbands and wives around the world struggle with miscommunication, mistrust and stressful lifestyles.

Are our jobs to blame?

The McBride’s opened up to the officers about the challenges they faced balancing their careers and their marriage. As a couple that spend most of their time taking the initiative and directing others, they had to remind themselves to make time for each other. Remembering to continue taking the initiative when they came home at the end of the day was a lesson that resonated with the Panamanian officers.

Both the workplace and the home can be stressful environments and stress needs an outlet. It’s not uncommon for people to use the workplace as a sanctuary from tensions in the home. And if you’re bringing work issues home without the time and space to process them with your spouse, resentment can quickly grow. Whether you’re in the office all day or a stay at home mom, you have a full-time job, and you’ll feel the need to be heard, understood and appreciated.

Does your marriage feel like a battlefield right now? You don’t have to read a 300-page book on marriage to start getting help. Here are a few simple steps you can begin with.

Lessons from an anniversary

Having just celebrated our 10th anniversary, my wife and I have been thinking about how God helped us reach this point.

We needed other people in the fight with us. People who were safe places during difficult times. I remember the relief I felt six months into our marriage, when a friend confided in me how hard the first year of his own marriage had been. If you think you can make it by yourselves, beware.

To avoid stepping on some of the landmines that previously damaged my relationship with my wife, I try to ask myself questions like:

  • Am I using my work to hide from my home life?
  • What am I getting from my working life that I feel is missing at home?
  • Do I see my partner as my friend or my foe?
  • Is there something I feel entitled to that is causing me to resent my spouse?
  • Am I only interested in being understood rather than understanding her?
  • Who else knows how my wife and I are doing right now?
  • What is God trying to teach me through my marriage?

I frequently spend more than half my waking hours focused on work, and I love my job. But I know at times I’ve allowed it to become a higher priority than my home. The telltale sign is when I feel resentment towards my wife or my children because their needs are competing with my ability to focus on work. But my job will never love me back the way they do.

Revealing our wounds helps others find healing

In Panama, the McBrides chose to be vulnerable with a room full of strangers. Their words resonated with an audience taking stock of their lives. The injured General welcomed their message, and his colleagues followed his lead.

Through this and similar events that week in Panama, 100 military personnel prayed to receive Christ.

Cam and Candy set an example of being open and honest about their marriage and the lessons they’ve learned. Take some time today to connect with your spouse, and consider sharing your journey with others.

If you’re struggling to make your marriage work think about attending one of the range of events organized by FamilyLife, designed to help you invest in your marriage:

Is God encouraging you to think about supporting other married couples?
Sign up for e-mentoring or start a small group.

Learn more about Cru's ministry to the military.