I’ve counseled many couples who are suffering due to a distracted husband. His attention is dominated by his job, a hobby, recreation, or entertainment—and this leads to frustration in his wife and a contentious marriage.
A marriage marked by distraction will never be healthy. For a husband to turn his heart back toward home, he must first deal with the root issues of his distraction.
One of these is performance motivation. As children, many men learn from their parents that they are not accepted unless they perform. These parents tend to communicate love and approval only when a child excels at something.
In many cases, performance-driven parents are operating out of good intentions, but their emphasis on achievement can damage a child’s self-esteem. Parents should communicate their love to a child at all times—not just when he or she does something great.
Children who perform to win approval from their parents end up performing for societal acceptance as adults. This is a problem because our culture only offers conditional acceptance—it’s ours only if we drive the right car, look a certain way, or meet a popular standard of success.
When I counsel men who are driven and distracted, these men often share how they never felt accepted by their fathers. Whether they realize it or not, their lives are constant quests for fatherly approval.
They are driven toward achievement and career success, but they are pursuing it at the expense of their marriage and family.
The good news is that God, our heavenly Father, accepts us regardless of how we perform. He wants us to do our best and keep His commandments, but He loves us as His children before we even start that process.
When you have God’s approval, the approval of man matters less. You can stop performing to gain man’s approval.
Greed is another factor that may cause distracted husbands. Many men who work too much feel they are doing it for their families.
But although men should be good providers, the first thing every man should give his wife and children is himself.
If work keeps you from doing that, money or the things it buys will not solve your marriage problems. You may tell your wife, “I’m doing it for you.” But let’s face it—you derive emotional gratification or material reward from your job, and that keeps you going. Could you be motivated more by greed?
Some men are greedy for money and possessions. Other men are greedy for personal pleasure. They golf, fish, hunt, or play to excess at their family’s expense. I once counseled a couple on the verge of divorce because the husband played softball six nights a week!
Repentance is the only answer to greed of any kind—whether it’s greed for money or greedy for self-satisfaction. Repentance must then lead to contentment.
If you are a husband distracted by these things, turn your heart toward God and your family and give them their rightful places in your life.