Striking the Right Balance between Work and Family Life
- 2008 2 May
According to national studies, the majority of America’s employees believe they don’t have enough time with their children, their spouses or for themselves. Yet each year, Americans spend more time working.[i]
How about you? Are you and your family having a hard time finding the right balance? Has life become so hectic that it just seems like you see your spouse coming and going? Do you have any real family time anymore? Not to mention alone time with your mate! If you’re struggling to balance work, family, and all the other activities in your life – you’re not alone. Listen to this:
- In 2004, 81% of respondents in a Monster.com Work/Life Survey reported unhappiness with their work/life balance.
- In June 2006, 80% of married couples in the U.S. were dual income earners.
- 40% of employees work overtime or bring work home with them at least once a week.
- 88% of employees say they have a hard time juggling work and life.[ii]
Research shows that marriage takes a hit when you have kids. According to an analysis of 90 studies involving 31,000 married people, the drop in marital satisfaction after the first baby’s birth is a staggering 42% larger among the current generation of parents than their predecessors. Satisfaction dips even lower – though only slightly – with each successive child. Studies also suggest that one-third to one-half of new-parent couples experience as much marital distress as couples already in therapy for marital difficulties.[iii]
One of the major components of strengthening your marriage team is to make sure you spend enough time together. Now, we know that many of you already are coming up with a list of excuses as to why you can’t find the time to spend with each other. We’re here to tell you—you can. Healthy couples do not find the time to be together, they make time to be together. You may have convinced yourself that you simply don’t have enough time to schedule each other into your day, but that’s not accurate. You have the time to do whatever you want to do. And if you don’t spend the time with your spouse, you will fill the time with something less important.
Parents need private time to continue to feel as though they are not only parents but also partners. If you are always pushing your spouse aside for time with the kids, time to finish that last load of laundry, or time to check on the progress of that work project from home – you may want to consider what you’re teaching your children. By the way you treat your spouse, are you modeling for your children how you hope they will treat their future spouses? Probably not. Spending time with your spouse not only draws the two of you closer together, but it also teaches your children that marriage has to be our number one human relationship.
God’s plan for you is not exhaustion and frustration over hectic schedules and time lost with your family. God’s plan for you is abundant life! John 10:10 says, “The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.”
We often hear from couples about the stress of their busy lives. They work full time, go to school, raise kids, serve at church, and even more – and they wonder why their marriages are having difficulty.
If both of you are working full time or going to school full time, then it should be no surprise you’re having a hard time connecting. Think about it: How many waking hours do you and your spouse have together each day? If you cannot carve out even a few minutes each day to talk and connect, then you’ll be headed for trouble.
The ultimate question is: What is most important at this stage? It should be of primary importance to connect with your spouse and give your kids the security of their parents’ strong marriage. If you have the option, don’t have regrets over your family. You only get one chance with them. Perhaps putting off school for a season or cutting back on outside work hours will give you the time and energy you need for each other and for your family. We live with the lie that we can have it all, we can do it all, and we deserve it all. And when we try to do that, ultimately the piper must be paid, and many times it’s the kids and the marriage relationship that suffer.
Maybe having one of you quit work or cut back on hours is not possible. Maybe the second income is needed. Maybe that degree is one semester away. In those cases, cutting back may end up causing more stress instead of less. In such cases, you need to make a concerted effort to have a few minutes a day just for you and your spouse. You absolutely must have at least a few minutes of alone time where you can connect. This makes your marriage a priority and gives it the preventive maintenance it needs.
You see, during this busy season of life, you need to set priorities, and your top priorities must be God, your spouse, and your kids. In that order. What you can fit in after that is up to you and your spouse. There will be plenty of time for some of those other activities in your other seasons of life. You can go to school later, but your child won’t be a toddler bouncing on your knee for very long. Remember: “For everything there is a season, a time for every activity under heaven.” (Ecclesiastes 3:1)
Portions of this article were adapted from "The Great Marriage Q&A Book," Copyright 2006 by Dr. Gary and Barbara Rosberg, all rights reserved. Published by Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., www.tyndale.com. To order this resource or to find our more about Dr. Gary and Barb – Your Marriage Coaches, visit www.drgaryandbarb.com or call 1-888-608-COACH.
Married over 30 years, the parents of two adult daughters and five grandchildren, Dr. Gary and Barb Rosberg, your marriage coaches, have a unique blend of insight and wisdom that touch people of all ages. Together with Gary's 25,000 hours of counseling experience and Barbara's gift of encouragement and biblical teaching, they are equipping thousands of families across the nation through their interactive daily radio program, conferences, and marriage and family.
[i] Silene Gordon, “Finding the balance between work and home: Seminar in Sandwich,” The Upper Cape Codder (23 Jan 2007): http://www.townonline.com/bourne/homepage/8998984216989401087
[ii] I’LL DO IT! LLC Corporate & Personal Concierge Services “Work/Life Balance Statistics,” http://www.illdoit.biz/index.html
[iii] Lauren Picker, “And Now, The Hard Part,” Newsweek (25 April 2005): 46-48