I have been struck by how many men use their work or careers to avoid certain problems in their life, or, more specifically, in their marriage. Does this characterize you? Do you find yourself investing too much in your work, and have others close to you told you that this is a problem for them?
It makes sense: in our culture, work is prized over all else. We ask strangers when we meet them, “So, what do you do?” Men are especially guilty of this. We overidentify ourselves with what we do for a living, so it becomes that much easier to escape our everyday problems when we have the safety of our careers to fall into.
So what are we avoiding? Stress at home, marital tension, financial distress, conflicts with wives, girlfriends, or partners, our own anger, guilt, dissatisfaction with family life, boredom, our own fears about connecting with others, and the list goes on.
I work with a lot of men that look back on their lives and regret the time that they spent at work, and regret that they didn’t spend that time getting to know themselves (outside of their careers) or the ones that they love. It’s sad and disheartening to me to see that, and one of the reasons that I enjoy working with guys in their 20’s through 40’s is that I enjoy seeing that process of avoidance get easier, before it’s too late.