As a women's divorce coach, the top complaints I hear from women who are considering divorce are:
"He is never home because he is always working. And when he is home, he never pays attention to me."
"He has it so easy. I take care of everything while he is away working. Why would he divorce me when I do everything for him?"
"I feel so terribly alone."
Men, listen up, and ask yourself this question: How happy is my wife?
I coach women all over the world who are still married, but they are lonely and unhappy because their husband is more married to his job. If you are working long hours or traveling half the week while your wife maintains the home front, your career may be all that you have left if you don't do the following:
1. Say these three important words: How are you? While 'I love you' is always important, 'How are you' has a larger impact. It implies that you care about her well-being, and it engages dialogue. So often we get sucked into what's going on in our work day that we forget to ask this simple question.
2. When you are home, be home. This means turn off your phone, shut down your computer, and avoid business calls after business hours. Your work does not define you, no matter how successful you may be. Ask your wife if she needs help with something or take something off her plate. Be present at the dinner table, even if your mind is racing about the deal you must close tomorrow.
3. Be the planner for just one night. When you were courting your wife, you asked her out to dinner. You made the dinner plans. You swept her away on a surprise vacation. Now that you are married, why should this ever stop? Women do most of the planning in the household and sometimes they just want a break. There is nothing sexier than a husband saying, "I've got a babysitter tonight and I'm taking you out to dinner."
4. How much do you really have to travel? Our fast-paced economy puts more demand on travel schedules than ever before, but do you have to attend every meeting in person? Are you able to attend it via video conference? If you can pull back your travel schedule by just one to two days a month to allow for more family time, it will go a long way.
5. Always be intimate, even when you are away. If you are gone for more than five days, reengaging in intimacy when you are home can feel awkward for both of you. But you can still be intimate by sending her sexy text messages, leaving a note on her pillow before you leave, or sending her a loving email. It doesn't have to be raunchy -- telling her she looked beautiful before you left creates a warm feeling of love and appreciation.
6. Listen to her cries for help. Has she complained about how much you are working? Has she told you she is unhappy? Do you find that she would rather be with her friends than with you when you are home? These could be major warning signs that she is unfulfilled and quietly considering divorce. Just because you are a good provider and you work hard doesn't mean you should ignore these signs. Women can be miserable for years before they suddenly one day have had enough, and pull the divorce trigger.
7. Support her dreams. While early on in your marriage you may have agreed to work while she stayed home with the children, she still has dreams for herself. She may love her mommy work, but deep down she is inventing that new product, outlining her big-idea business plan, or wanting to change the world using her unique talents. If you are empty nesters, this is even more important. Talk to her about her dreams. How can you help her achieve them?
Remember, no matter how successful you are or how much money you make, divorce costs a lot more than investing in your marriage. Don't let your marriage be a victim of your success.
(And ladies, before you forward this to your husband with a note, "See, you don't pay attention to me!" it is your responsibility to nurture the marriage as well. Appreciate him. Thank him for his hard work. Remind him that you value all that he provides. Spending long hours in a hotel and airport can be a lonely life, and it isn't a vacation.)
Now go. Stop reading this and call your wife. Ask her how she is. And then plan an awesome date night.
Lindsey Ellison is founder of The Inspired Divorce, a coaching practice that helps women cope with divorce and their post-divorced life. For more info, go to www.LindseyEllison.com