Many couples struggle to maintain a healthy balance between work and personal life. A recent study done at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign found that couples who attended a two-hour workshop focusing on strategies to assist couples in prioritizing shared responsibilities and improving communication were more successful at managing stress and conflict (Marriage and Family Review, February). The researchers concluded that developing a relationship work ethic similar to one’s professional work ethic helped couples reduce physical and emotional stress. The researchers also found that women reported the greatest gains from the workshop.
Some individuals define themselves through work and have no other identity. For many, work creates a sense of purpose, builds esteem, and gives meaning to their lives. Personally, I get great satisfaction from work and have a strong work ethic as well. Witnessing significant change in people’s lives can be very rewarding. Not to mention helping to save a marriage that is close to dead. Although not everyone has a positive outcome with counseling, some of the greatest aspects of my job are helping people realize their strengths, providing comfort along with strategies to help people manage their emotional pain, and providing insight about themselves that will change their approach to relationships. It truly is a great privilege for me to have patients share personal and intimate experiences about their lives so I can offer strategies to heal their pain.
Relying exclusively on one aspect of life (work) to fulfill all of our needs is short-sighted. We need to diversify our opportunities to experience joy. In spite of the fact that I love my job, I also love my wife, children, family, friends, faith, and life. I work at maintaining a healthy balance between my work and personal life which includes carving out time for other aspects of life that give me joy. Nurturing relationships, exercising regularly, and having downtime are all part of balance. Balance also requires boundaries and being able to say no. We all lead busy lives so we need to be intentional about taking time to play and enjoy our relationships. We will be more productive, effective, and happier when we balance work and life.