Monthly Survey: Would you like to participate in Relationships Australia’s quick, two-minute survey? Yes No thanks

Family business a recipe for stress

A reader worries that her overworked husband is missing out on the kids growing up. 


A couple of years ago my husband left a long-term, well-paid job for a position in his family’s business.

He wanted to escape his stressful job of 20 years. Now he is much more stressed, but won’t admit it.

He works longer hours, including most weekends. He is unable to attend our children’s sporting events and activities. He used to be very involved in their lives but barely has time for them now.

I’ve tried talking. Our children have even tried to tell him what is happening.

We had to give up some things we enjoyed as his wage almost halved.

Other family members take long holidays. He holds the fort, but they don’t cover for him. If we do go away he’s still on his phone and laptop, reading emails and writing reports.

Maybe he’s looking for recognition or acceptance, but I don’t think it’s going to happen.


This is disappointing for all of you. The job is not what had been hoped for, and your method of addressing the problem is not bringing results.

Blame and criticism will put your husband on the defensive. He is as unhappy as you are, and is trying to overcome the situation by doing more of it, which is not proving successful.

You and your husband are on the same side. Convince him of this. Ask him how you can better support him. Encourage the children to support their father and help them to see he is working for the family not against it. This will reduce his “home stress”.

Avoid inquisitions, but try and help him explain why he allows this to happen. You may be right in your assumption, so why does he need to achieve this?

Have a look at options. The first may be an approach to the senior family member who may not be aware of the seriousness of the situation.

It is not uncommon for families working together to exploit each other, deliberately or not. It calls for a skilful approach to assert one’s rights. Counselling would help each of you with support and guidance.

Submit Your Questions

Have you got a question you’d like us to tackle?

Fill out the form below or send questions to Family Forum, The Advertiser, 31 Waymouth St, Adelaide 5000.

We treat communications in strict confidence except when the law demands otherwise, as in child abuse.

Relationships Australia (SA) appoints panels of general practitioners, medical specialists, lawyers, therapeutic and financial counsellors to discuss each letter before the appropriate professional answers it.

  • Our CEO Claire Ralfs wishes everyone a happy Neighbour Day this Sunday. Remember it takes a neighbourhood to raise…