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HELP FOR THE FAMILY | MARRIAGE

How to Leave Work “at Work”

In this age of technology, your employer, workmates, or clients might expect you to be available 24-7, making it difficult to achieve what is known as work-life balance—a reasonable separation and prioritizing between your job and other aspects of life, including your marriage.

 What you should know

  • Technology can blur the line between your job and your marriage. As a result, each off-hours call, e-mail, or text you receive can lead to what seems like a fire that needs to be put out immediately.

    “The simple life of coming home after work and spending time with your family seems impossible now, as work e-mails and phone calls come in and marriage gets put on the back burner.”—Jeanette.

  • To balance your work with your home life, you need to take the initiative. If you do not create a plan, your job is more likely to intrude on your marriage.

    “Your mate is usually the first one you neglect because you think, ‘Oh, he’ll understand. He’ll forgive me. I’ll spend time with him later.’”—Holly.

 Tips on work-life balance

  • Give your marriage priority. The Bible says: “What God has joined together, no human being must separate.” (Matthew 19:6, New American Bible, Revised New Testament) If you would not let a human “separate” you from your marriage mate, why allow your job to do so?

    “Some clients feel that because they pay you, they should be able to reach you whenever they need you. Recognizing that my marriage takes priority, I tell them that I’m not available on my days off, but I will contact them soon.”—Mark.

    Ask yourself, ‘Do my actions indicate that I view my marriage as more important than my job?’

  • Say no to work when necessary. The Bible says: “Wisdom is with the modest ones.” (Proverbs 11:2) Modesty may dictate that it would be wise for you to decline or delegate some of your work.

    “I am a plumber, so if someone needs my help in an emergency, he gets stressed out. If I can’t get to it in the time frame he wants, I refer him to someone else.”—Christopher.

    Ask yourself: ‘Am I willing to turn down extra work if accepting it would cause my spouse to feel neglected? What would my spouse say?’

  • Create time together. The Bible says: “There is an appointed time for everything.” (Ecclesiastes 3:1) When your workload is heavy, that is the time when you need to create or appoint time for your marriage.

    “Usually when everything hits at once, we agree on a time—even if it’s just dinner or a walk on the beach—when we can have some uninterrupted time together.”—Deborah.

    Ask yourself: ‘Do I schedule appointed times when I can give undistracted attention to my marriage mate? How would my spouse answer?’

  • Unplug. The Bible says: “Make sure of the more important things.” (Philippians 1:10) Could you occasionally turn off your devices so that you are not distracted by the demands of work?

    “I’ve made a real effort to stop work at a set time. At that point, I turn off notifications on my phone.”—Jeremy.

    Ask yourself: ‘Do I feel obligated to stay connected just in case my boss or a client needs me? How would my spouse answer?’

  •  Allow for exceptions. The Bible says: “Let your reasonableness become known.” (Philippians 4:5) Realistically, work may occasionally intrude on your marriage. For example, perhaps the nature of your spouse’s work requires that he or she be reachable after hours. Do not demand more of your spouse than is reasonable.

    “My husband runs a small business, and there are often after-hours emergencies he has to deal with. Occasionally, it annoys me, but with the amount of time we still spend together, it works out well.”—Beverly.

    Ask yourself: ‘Am I considerate of my spouse’s workload, not being overly demanding of him or her? How would my spouse answer?’

 Discussion guide

First, each of you can consider the following questions separately. Then, discuss your answers with each other.

  • Has your spouse ever complained that you bring work home with you? If so, do you agree?

  • In what specific areas do you think you could improve when it comes to work-life balance?

  • Have you ever thought that your spouse cannot seem to keep work “at work”? If so, what instances can you recall?

  • What changes, if any, would you like to see in your spouse when it comes to work-life balance?