Balancing Work And Marriage
Real Relationship Advice
Before shrugging off the shackles of working for ‘the man’, we worked out in the real world. Since both of us have a tendency to be workaholics, when we did work, there were many long nights. Paul was completing budgets, financial statements, writing grants, attending meetings or lobbying in the state or federal government. Whereas my nights were spent doing therapy under sinks, taking calls in the middle of the night because I was always on-call or writing grants as well. There were a few years where we were working 80-100 hours a week. This time was stressful not only because of the exhaustion and long hours but also because our priorities were perverted by our work addiction.
Work is a large part of our life. If we are to split the day in thirds, we spend 1/3 in bed, 1/3 working and 1/3 at home and family. The problem we have in this country is that we do not sleep 8 hours a night nor do we only allot 8 hours to work a day. When we actually look at the time we spend in each activity we will see that we spend perhaps 3-5 hours with family, 6-7 hours in bed and the rest at work. On the weekends we try to make up for the loss of sleep and lack the energy to focus on the family. Sure, we will try. We will do our best impressions of good parents and take them to karate, soccer, 3 birthday parties and have a slumber party at home.
This is how we forget about our marriage. We play a constant game of catch up between sleep and work and parenting that we neglect to nurture the one relationship that would make all of the other things easier. We make things harder for ourselves by our lack of attention to our marriage. Work and careers do not ruin marriages. Lack of attention and priorities ruin marriages.
In our case, we could have easily fallen into the very common pattern of other couples. Once you acknowledge the chasm between you and your spouse you have a choice. To right this problem you must take responsibility and work it out. This could constitute some argument, some painful apologies and forgiveness. Many couples choose to avoid these things and ignore the rift, pretending that all is well. We chose to go through the ugly stuff. We cried. We argued. We apologized and offered forgiveness; ultimately letting that lesson sink into our still sensitive skin.
10 years later, we are here and better than ever. That crisis tested our foundation and commitment. During that time I went through a very traumatic experience where one of my clients died. I was under investigation and I had little support of the organization I worked with. Instead of sharing this with my husband, partner and best friend, I tried to keep it at work since we had such a space between us due to working too much. Eventually, I had no choice but to lean on him but to do this we had to work out our priorities. It was amazing how sharing that burden and grief made me feel a million times better.
At this point you need a crow bar to separate us. As individuals we are amazing but together we are unstoppable. I have a vision of my husband at his highest possibility and he has a vision of me like that as well. Our job is not only to work on our marriage but we must also work at becoming the individuals that reflect our spouse’s visions of us. Work isn’t worth losing what we have.