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  • Johanna Lynn

How Success at Work Almost Cost Me My Marriage

'You wouldn't believe it, Lily began, her voice buzzing with excitement, my work day couldn't have gone better. We welcomed in this amazing new client, a perfect fit for the work I love to do, and the ideas just kept sparking. We even ran a bit late because our time together was so engaging.

Once I checked the phone and saw the time, its as if all the good from the day faded away, replaced with the reality of the post-work call with Chris that will probably turn into the same old fight – 'late nights' and 'neglect' accusations.'

She slumped slightly in her chair, a familiar weariness settling over her.

'It's this exhausting cycle that's been plaguing our marriage for months.'

I asked Lily some direct questions about her relationship with her Dad. 

Lily made the connection right away as she answered the questions.

'All this tension between Chris and me, it feels like a ghost from another battle entirely, an echo of the unresolved issues I have with my Dad.'

Lily's voice softened. 'I haven't spoken to my Dad in years. He was all about work, never really present. I barely remember him listening to anything that mattered to me. It's like he was physically there, but emotionally completely unreachable.'

A hint of anger flashed in her eyes. 'Looking back, I think that fueled this fierce independence in me, as if I just had to prove to myself that I could do it on my own terms.'

'It's like some kind of crazy twist in a movie plot.' she said, a bitter laugh escaping her lips.

'Chris, a wonderful man in so many ways, seems to misunderstand my ambition. He makes it sound like my business is more important to me than he is. He interprets my late nights as a lack of commitment to us. It doesn't matter how I try to explain myself. Or even how much I earn for us and the lifestyle we enjoy from all of my hard work'

Lily sighed, frustration in her voice. 'Every fight leaves us both hurt and misunderstood. The truth is, I don't want to be a workaholic. I don't want to avoid spending time at home. 

I love Chris and I do want a deeper connection, a partnership based on trust and understanding, not one that's in a constant state of tension.

I guess Chris ends up feeling like I did all those years ago, wanting more time, love and attention from my Dad but he always picked work'.

She looked up and held my gaze. Lily then shared 'all these old hurts with my Dad, I just want to be able to let them go.'

I smiled and we started with our first exercise by setting up a long overdue conversation with her Dad, in her minds-eye. As we completed this, with tears in her eyes and a big exhale, she shared aloud 'I wonder how that might lighten things with Chris.'

At our next appointment a few weeks later, Lily was happy to share how our work together had resolved so much of what she had been carrying around missing her Dad's time, love and attention as a young girl. 

She was doing really well with her new practice to giving to herself what she wanted more of from her Dad, all those years ago.

She was really able to understand Chris' needs in their marriage from a non-reactive perspective, ending the cycle of fighting that was tearing their marriage apart at the stems. 

Lily's story is a powerful reminder that unresolved issues from the past can often leak into our present relationships. By confronting her childhood hurt and fostering self-compassion, Lily not only began to heal from her Dad's emotional neglect, but also discovered a path towards deeper connection with Chris. 

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