Friday, May 21, 2010

Work/Life Balance

Our marriage has had a tough couple of weeks. Jason has been on the road with his job, and even when he's been in town, he's had dinner meetings and has hardly been home. I have to remind myself that it's not always this bad, that he's usually home more than he isn't, and that this was an unusual set of circumstances. But my mind generally goes to the worst-case scenario, and I panic a little about how our marriage is changing, and not in a good way.

I'm a very routined person. I like to know what's going to happen as much as possible. When Jason comes home at 5:30 and we eat dinner together every night, it's a good routine for our family, and I enjoy it. When he was gone for 7 days, the longest he's ever been away in 12 years of marriage, I missed him, but it wasn't difficult for me to settle into that routine, and then it was a rocky adjustment when he came home.

We had a discussion about how fine the line is between relying on him and needing him, and just managing on my own. I don't want to push him away, but that becomes my defense mechanism, and I have to work very hard to override it. His job provides well for our family, and it gives him a lot of satisfaction, but I don't want to see our health as a family be the thing that gives under the strain. I know we have to fight against that happening, but the travel demands of his position don't make it very easy.

Blackberries and iPhones are amazing pieces of technology which have revolutionized business. I get that as an idea, but in reality I hate those tiny damn electronic masters with a passion. They rule your evenings and your weekends, when you used to be able to shut off from work and have a little fun, and now work and life are one in the same. I believe our world is worse off because of it. When the burn-out rate becomes astronomical, I wonder if things will change. Probably not, as technology will continue to advance and find more ways to create workaholics and damage the simple joys of people in real, human relationships.

At a certain point, it's up to us to say no. We have to stand up to the steamroller of more and more work, and take time for ourselves and those who we love. Without a balance, life doesn't function very well. The pillars that hold up our lives become lopsided, and eventually the whole house of cards comes down. It's important to be aware of our own limitations, and not promise the moon to our employers, because sometimes we need the freedom to say no. Examining our priorities from time to time is a good idea, and it's better to do it early on, before the stress kicks in and clouds our judgement.


  1. I will pray for you guys as you adjust to his new job and the different demands.

    You sound like you might be a lot like me in this way. As soon as Chris and I have a bad week or two I start to panic that things are going downhill, but then things return back to a balance. It is important that we protect our marriages but I am also having to learn that just like all things there are seasons and just because everything isn't bliss for a period does not mean its doomed to always be that way or we will end up divorced or something.

    With Chris working Night Shift for the last three years (and me always working a normal day job) we have had to learn over and over again how to make that work. Whenever time is limited it is hard to make time fee as though its quality.

    I also relate to the feeling of having to adjust back and forth. For a week at a time I am basically a single mom and then he is around constantly for 7 days.

    The important thing (I think) is to just stay open, which you obviously are, about your feelings and constantly try to see each other's point of view. Once he is at the job longer things will change. It is always harder to put boundaries or push back when you are the new guy in my experience.

    Your comment about blackberries is so true though. I sat in on a video conference yesterday about Employee motivation and they said the biggest gift a manager can give their employee is protecting their work/life balance and that those companies that do this are actually 4 times more productive than those who have a 24/7 mentality.

  2. Thanks, Cortney, for your prayers. Much appreciated. I know we will adjust, but this is a new challenge to face 12 years into marriage, and it's good to find new ways of communicating and handling difficult issues like being far apart and resentful.

    You are so right when you talk about seasons in a marriage, and I am way better than I used to be about riding out the rough times and knowing that feeling close again is just around the corner. It's just hard when you are in the thick of working out problems and difficulties.

    You are also right about being new in the position. That makes a difference, too, and I'm glad Jason is so serious with his career...I think "adjusting" is the key concept and it's not easy, but we'll get there. Thanks so much for your comment!