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Partner has workoholic anxiety

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Guest Anonymous

I’m just wondering if anyone here has experience and advice on how to handle a partner who is a workoholic with anxiety around it. My situation is a bit unique in the sense that he doesn’t work anyone, he’s working for himself. So it’s not a leave work at work and do home at home situation. And some things I totally understand the anxiety as a struggling entrepreneur and how hard it is. Especially being one myself. But sometimes I just don’t know how to cope with myself. This has been going on for years and I’m at a point where I’m very understanding with him, and I know it’s not me it’s him. I’m secure with that now. But it doesn’t change the fact that I’m always doing all the chores, always thinking about what we need around the apartment, and we don’t have fun experiences together. He’s always too tired and often says his brain is too scrambled that he can’t even think of anything else. Valentine’s Day was me booking a reservation and making him breakfast in bed. I got nothing from him, because he can’t even think about it. In the past it would upset me, but I now just understand that it has nothing to do with me. The thing is…I’m not having fun with my partner at all. And even though I know I don’t get what I need from a relationship because of his anxiety, there’s still that emptiness of what I need to feel more fulfilled. And it’s steering me away from him to have a better life. But it’s so hard to leave after 8 years. He’s trying…I’ve booked us a trip to Mexico for 12 days. But as the date grew closer he’s having panic attacks being away from his work worried he won’t hit deadlines before our trip. I’m worried he’s just gonna be off in his head our entire trip.

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1 hour ago, Guest Anonymous said:

I’m always doing all the chores, always thinking about what we need around the apartment. Valentine’s Day I got nothing from him…I’m not having fun with my partner at all.  I need to feel more fulfilled. And it’s steering me away from him to have a better life. But it’s so hard to leave after 8 years. 

This has nothing to do with workaholism. It has to do with your dissatisfaction at home and losing interest. Are you married? Are there children?

Are you having and affair? What exactly do you mean by "steering me away from him to a better life"? Do either of you work from home?

 You are addressing the wrong issues. It's not his work, it's his lack of presence in the relationship and interest in you.

 Are both your businesses providing roughly an equal amount of income? You're in a rut. He's simply using work as an excuse to "be busy" forget everything and basically check out. 

Is he having affairs?

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It sounds like you've spent the past 8 years of your life settling for nothing much and growing used to accepting that while making excuses for the guy for being a lousy partner.

OP, it doesn't matter why your partner is being lousy. The issue is that he is a lousy partner and you don't need to live like that and keep catering to his needs while tossing yours aside.

You are saying even now that he is trying. I am also going to echo the above poster - trying how? What is he actually doing? Did he book the trip? Plan out the details of what you will do? Did chores around the home so you can rest? None of that? You did the work and now you are worried he won't even be present for it? Then he is not trying at all. He is, however, enjoying everything you do for him while giving nothing back in return. 

There is a term called weaponized incompetence - where one partner will fail to do things for a variety of plausible seeming reasons to such an extent that the other partner gives up and takes over the chores/duties/responsibilities because it's just easier that way. What's insidious is that those reasons are intentional and designed to avoid doing the work while being very difficult to call out - too anxious, too stressed, can't remember, don't know how, etc, etc, etc. Sound familiar?

Don't waste another 8 years on this. Dump him and go be happy. Even being single, you'll feel nothing but relief at no longer having to take care of a grown man while putting your own needs aside. You might surprise yourself at how refreshing that sense of freedom is and what happens when you can invest the energy you are wasting on him, into yourself and your own life.

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If you won the lottery tomorrow would you stay or would you go? 

My sensible advice. If you choose to stay with a person with this disability which is impeding your daily life to a significant extent then you have to self-talk as much as it takes that you have chosen the downsides of being there.  You see the benefits of staying, and you're extremely defensive - I'd never tell someone to "dump" someone -separating from someone because the relationship doesn't work often is a favor to the other person - I mean does he know/sense that you are with him partly for financial reasons? 

He is married to his work.  He is fine with the benefits he gets from being married to his work - if he wasn't he'd choose differently.  He accepts the stress or anxiety or he'd do something -he'd seek out free counseling, telehealth, talk to a religious advisor at his place of worship for example.  You're the one with the main problem.

What I would do? I would work on being financially independent so that money never ever was a reason to stay.  I would do activities on my own outside the house.  Go on trips by myself.  Meet people on my own other than romantically, maybe volunteer as well.  I would take space from him and limit the interactions.  If you insist on staying. 

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Sensible advice on how to live with someone like this? Well, obviously it is affecting you and you are BOTH struggling.

So, yes, if you come to a forum with issue's like this, people will only gather so much of your problems and go from there.. We don't know, as we're not living it....

Typical type Q's is that - Is he medicated?  Obviously anxiety is debilitating.. been there 😕 .

Can he not have some therapy online somehow?  Is he reaching out at all, by communicating to your family dr?

How about some online research on anxiety?  In therapy, I was taught 'grounding techniques' and how to progress slowly & with meds... over time, I did improve.

Good things to do, is eat sensibly, get proper rest, have a routine, get some air ( take small walks), etc... how about music?  It does a good thing on the brain ( takes you elsewhere for a while).  I also journal to 'get it out of my head'. and coloured a lot, as I had no interest in much at all... even had trouble focussing on my tv shows.

So, some ideas as he struggles.. but do look into some meds first of all - if he isn't already.  And remember your own 'self care'.

If he doesn't like going out, don't let it stop you.. hang with friends etc.

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I agree...how exactly is he "trying"? 

If he just says he's trying but he isn't doing anything proactively to make changes, he isn't "trying", he's appeasing.

Does he have ADHD? Has he been diagnosed by a doctor with anxiety or any other mental or emotional disorder? Is he under the current care of a medical professional? If not, is he willing to book and KEEP an appointment with a doctor to evaluate his condition?

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You've had 8 years to figure out that he's not going to change.

So you get to decide whether this is enough for you, or not.

If so, here you are. If not, then the question becomes, what do you want to do about it--and when?

We never get any time back to re-live over again.

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Hey Anon,


Sorry I’m a bit late too your dilemma here. I’m also sorry you are both struggling. I really hope you guys can work through this.


My ten pence piece is maybe coming from a slightly different angle as I feel like I might be living this situation with you here!


My husband has tan his own business for nearly 20 years now. He employs a few people but he is mostly a one man band. I can attest how stressful having everything in your shoulders and running the show for not only yourself, but other people, can be. I also understand or, as near as I can without having a business myself, how much pressure it can put on someone, how all consuming it is and yes, how anxious it can make someone, to not know where the next payment is coming from, chasing deals, pushing yourself? No fall back. It can make even the most even keeled, easy going, strict and self regulating person quite mad and very pressed. 

I am putting aside other reasons why your husband may be distant and not doing his part in your marriage - I will give him the benefit of the doubt and presume this is solely a work issue, that work is taking over and he is finding it hard to manage the burden on his own.


I see this in myself, I see this in other women married to men who are entrepreneurs. People who start abs have their own businesses have certain characteristics. I find they are natural risk takers, they are normally exceptionally driven and ambitious, to some extent. A lot of them are also very creative, they come up with ideas first and foremost but then have the work ethic to put it all into motion. This, to the women married too them, is wildly attractive at the start. The work ethic and ambition, and yes, normally the apparent “workaholic” tendencies are, well, hot. It’s hot to see a guy risking it, going at it, pushing himself. Plenty of women state ambition and drive as something they look for in a partner. This is all really fun and sexy in the start, maybe even after a few years, but then you see the cons that come with the pros. Everything in life is a bit of a trade off. So you have a guy who has those traits, but those traits are normally teamed with negatives. High stress, maybe volatile emotions that come with dealing and juggling, maybe distant behaviour - this is very common, wrapped up in work, shutting themselves off, not talking about any of it, wanting to sleep, and just turn off their brain which is always having to tick over the next couple of things on their minds. It is exhausting.


Now! Not making an excuse for your husband not giving you the time of day! I am just trying to reassure you in a way that, a lot of people with or married to people who run companies or whatever, they will all tell you the same things and you will see the same behaviour patterns. 

You need to sit down and talk to your husband. He is dealing with something that he can’t handle by himself. He needs your help, but you need his help too, you both need to support each other and be each other’s leaning post and rock. Behind every good man is a good woman. Vice versa. It is not acceptable for him to abandon you, but I don’t agree with throwing in the towel on 8 years if you love him still and he just needs help and support.


Please have a real honest conversation without anger. He might open up too you and he might tell you some things he’s been struggling with, or not have realised your struggles either. Covid has been hard on the economy, I think you both need to give each other a space to vent and talk.


All the best,


Lo x

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PS - Anon,


I am in no way excusing bad behaviour or dismissing you or neglecting you as his wife and best friend, but I am saying that sometimes you both will need unique ways in which you need to be supported.


For example, for years, my husband would work away (still does) but, when he would come back; we had missed each other so much. I would be there, house cleaned, fresh flowers, lipstick on, maybe some nice lingerie under my dress or whatever, a nice cooked meal… all this expectation. And there we go, exhausted face enters through the door, eyes like a zombie just staring into space, mentally drained look on his face, a polite kiss and then eating and then, Y’know, any conversation started up seemed like a burden. After a few years of arguments about this, I realised that he just needs to de-compress, almost no talking, just chill out, sit and do something mindless, even go play pool by himself at our local pub or take a walk along the beach, and then the next day he is bursting with love for me and usually a gift! But it took me ages, ages to realise this was the drill and his way of dealing with extremely long hours and bags of stress and financial pressure. 

When people work extremely stressful and long hours, I think people who run their own business never “switch off” - normal weeks can be 70, 80 hours or more - you can see how that can build up into a lack of energy or presence in other areas of their lives.

Again, I am not excusing bad behaviour, but if you guys can have a frank but loving conversation it may explain both your feelings and behaviour to the other which before made no sense and was hurting the other or offending them.



Edited by mylolita
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