Helping the Chronically Overworked Find Life Balance

If There Isn’t Love At Home, Is It Easier To Love Your Work?

Chapter 5: The Pivotal Role Of Circumstance Part 5

In the previous post, we met Alan who loved his work and enjoyed the long hours because he felt aligned with the company and was making a difference.  Then, Alan described his family life. “I would go home, have dinner, and then the CEO would call me to re-hash strategy.”  (This was in the pre-internet dark ages of the mid-90s.)  “The CEO later asked if my divorce was from job stress.  It wasn’t.  I was working hard, but that is not what caused marriage to crumble.”

I pressed a bit, because I was skeptical when he said “no.”  Here it was, the “work ruined my marriage” story.  But life is a bit more complicated; it was other things

And after interviewing several people who also worked long hours and then got divorced, I actually think the opposite was true.  In my opinion, he was working long hours because he was in an unhappy marriage.

Let me be clear – I am not saying that everyone who is putting long hours in at work is doing so because they are in a troubled relationship.  I used to work very long hours, and while it put a strain on my family, I don’t think it ever jeopardized the marriage.  But what I am saying is that it is worth some reflection as to why one would choose to work over spending time with your family.  Sometimes in times of stress, work can be a haven, especially when things are going well.

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  1. I do see this some. People want to spend to spend time in the places that make them feel most affirmed and energized. The out of balance thing can be a cycle though… and it may be difficult to isolate the variables.

    • Greg Marcus says

      Thanks Karin, you make a good point. I think it is easier to point to what out of balance looks like than it is to understand why it is happening. This is especially true when we are out of balance. Self reflection is hard under the best of circumstances. And when we are stressed and overwhelmed, being objective about what is going on inside is even tougher.

      I guess for me, what I look at is how much time am I spending with my family, and am I fully present when I’m spending time with them. If I am not spending enough time with them, I become mindful, looking for more ways to be there.


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