When it comes to work, what qualities are you looking for in a future spouse? Does it matter to you if he or she has a job that works the mind more than the body? Do have a preference? It is often easier in a marriage when both people have a similar level of education; however, the level of education doesn’t matter as much as the eagerness and drive to learn. If both people are interested in learning new skills or studying various topics, then there will be harmony in this area; yet, if one person wants to continually learn and improve and the other person is content with staying at the level of knowledge he or she has attained to that point – there will be some tension. The problem comes when one partner wants to learn and grow and the other is happy with what they know and see little need to keep studying.
To backtrack, what’s the first thought that enters your mind when you hear the words ‘hard’ and ‘work?’ Perhaps your first thought is to flee hard work. Maybe you think of satisfaction and the accomplishment hard work can bring. Some other words that might come to mind are exhausting, necessary, unnecessary, or respectable. How you feel about hard work probably has a lot to do with how you were trained to view work, how you observed others’ approaches to work, and the experiences you’ve had with work.
There are different kinds of hard work. Some work requires a great deal of brawn: lifting, pushing, digging… all of these jobs wear the body out and, at the same time, strengthen the body. Other jobs work the brain more than the rest of the body providing more of a mental tiredness at the end of a work-filled day.
Both jobs cause exhaustion, but one is a mental (and sometimes emotional) exhaustion; whereas, the other is linked to physical exhaustion. Regardless of the type of work you do, if you do a good job and put your best efforts forth, you will find rest to be sweet (Ecclesiastes 5:12a).
Sometimes society praises mental hard work above physical hard work because such jobs often require more education and notoriety; however, working hard towards something useful is also respectable regardless of what social status is attached to it. Before I went to college, I thought that after I graduated, everything would fall into place and I would know all I needed to know. In my mind, the day I graduated I’d be able to tackle jobs in my field like a pro. Much to my surprise and chagrin, I realized that college did not answer all of the questions in my life. When I graduated, I had some more knowledge, but very little added life experience. Life experience (applied knowledge) is something that takes effort – you simply cannot wait for it to come to you.
Since college did not magically open the entire universe to me, I began seeing white collar jobs differently than I had in the past. The passion and care a man (or woman) put into his or her work began to seem more important to me than how much education it took to do the job. To give you an insight onto some of my background in this area, I know a lot of clueless and/or lazy college graduates and a lot of hard working, respectable people with little or no college education – this has influenced my view of work. These days, I am much more impressed with those who put their hearts into their work, regardless of the kind of work they do, than those who simply coast under the shadow of a framed degree (or those without a degree who wait for another entity to provide their sustenance).
A strong work ethic is something worthwhile and necessary to look for in a spouse, but one trait people can neglect to observe in a future spouse is workaholism. Especially if you have dated your share of lazy people, it can seem so refreshing to encounter a hard worker that you throw your hands in the air and say “He’s the one!” or “She’s the one!” Before getting too excited… notice how, when, and with what intensity he or she works. Can he be separated from his Blackberry or iPhone? Can she concentrate on you during dinner or is she constantly distracted by all the projects she has on her plate? Workaholics are not simply people who have tough jobs that require a lot of focus and overtime. Workaholics are those who enjoy work, feel compelled to constantly work, talk about work incessantly, and often feel guilty if they are not accomplishing something. Just as some of us use smoking, food, or shopping as our way of coping, there are some who turn to work. This issue is not a deal-breaker toward marriage (after all, it is better to have someone who works harder than he or she probably should than someone who works much less than he or she should); however, just realize that this issue will take time to resolve and work through for the one prone to workaholism.
So, what is your view of work? Do you air on the side of working too little or working too much? What are you looking for in a future spouse? Would you rather have a spouse that works less and has more fun or works more and has less fun? What do you respect more? Less work and more play or more work and less play? Different people have different views. What matters is that you and the one you marry are on the same wavelength.
If you value large amounts of family time and you marry someone who cannot be torn away from his or her work, there will be conflict – hot and lots of it. If you crave a sense of accomplishment and love the feeling you get from working hard and you marry someone who is free as a bird, flittering from one pleasant activity to another, you are going to struggle to respect his or her decisions. Conflict is never far from a couple who cannot see eye to eye on where work ends and where everything else begins. It will require more than simply talking to your potential spouse about this topic. You will need to observe it in his or her life. If he does not work hard now, don’t expect him to start working hard later. And if she works like a beaver now, there is little chance that she will chill out and grow a lazy bone later.
Spend some time thinking about your views/practices when it comes to work and play. What kind of partner do you want/need? Someone who will enjoy working hard beside you, someone who will enjoy all the freedom and fun life has to offer, or someone who is almost perfectly in the middle between accomplishment and reward? The more you know about yourself, the more you will know what you need in a spouse.
What have you observed about your boyfriend’s/girlfriend’s or fiancé’s/fiancée’s approach to work? Does the type of work he or she does matter to you?