Chris: Finding Balance

Dear Ron,

How do you best balance personal life and work?
My future wife needs more attention and I want to give that to her but I work so much and want to provide but I don’t do a great job balancing.
I know I can do better.



Balance is the operative word, you must create and maintain balance.  A caution though, don't listen only to your own judgment to decide if things are properly balanced.  My big tip, ask your (future) wife; a bigger tip, listen to her.  If she says she's feeling neglected, she is right, she believes she is being neglected; don't make the mistake of thinking that she should believe what you believe.  If she feels neglected then she feels neglected, don't ignore that or resent her for having those feelings.  

Balance you must!  Being 'proactive' (or even responsive) is preferable to being reactive. I think you'll appreciate that, right?  When we feel cared about, there is room for less than perfect effort.  If hurt feelings have progressed too far then sometimes even better than perfect performance will still not seem to be enough.  Why?  Because we've broken the invisible but critical bond of attachment, which can only be repaired over time, with good effort and lots of TLC.  Think about it like this; when we are happy with our partner, even those little imperfections are OK (cute! right?) but if we aren't happy with them, those 'little' imperfections grate on us.  Here are some tips:

1) Make her important; don't miss her birthday, Christmas, Easter, your child's birth, your anniversary, or ... you get the idea.  If it's important to her, make it important to you.

2) Make her important; think about her throughout the day, send a text (multiple), call her, open her car door, plan dates make her special and she will make you special.

3) Make her important.

Every marriage, EVERY MARRIAGE, will fail in all or part unless we do the things DAILY which make it grow. There are just too many distractions in life which work to undermine your attachment; a partial list: cars, careers, children, catastrophic conversations, cyber-challenges, currency woes and many other challenges. I've got some thoughts on those daily activities to make it grow (click here) but first a few thoughts on how to think about it.

Many of us act and/or react when we are moved to do so. We do something nice for our partner when we are feeling good about them or we give them a hard time when we don't.  We get up in the morning and we pleasantly say hello when our partner has been good to us; we snap to show our displeasure when our partner has been 'bad' to us.  We go out of our way to do something nice when we want something or sometimes if our partner has shown displeasure.  We might call a system like that an 'emotionally-based' system; we essentially react to either our own or our partner's emotions.

What if, instead, we decided to base our marriage on principle?  I.e., what if we did something nice for our partner today because we want them to know that, every day, despite the pressures of the world, we want them to know they are special to us?  What if we did that even when our partner has not been on their best behavior?  When we do that, when we act on principle rather than emotion; when we check our bearings by asking our spouse and when we believe their experience we can find that balance is attainable.

Thanks Chris, God bless your marriage.

Ron Kaufmann, MA, CO LPC #11336, EMDR Clinician
National Certified Counselor #267299
AASAT Certified Sexual Recovery Therapist

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