Monday, February 8, 2010

Husband's Thoughts...On Work/Life Balance

Part two in our series when Husband answers reader's questions. Read his first post here.
How does husband balance work with being a good family man?
In short, I would naturally work as much as I possibly could so long as I didn’t feel that it was, in any way, negatively impacting the people that I care for. As a result, I consistently search and, more often than not, accomplish a balance. But this is a difficult question to answer because I am in constant doubt as to whether I am succeeding in balancing work against what’s ultimately my most rewarding priority: family. Both Laura and I grew up in families where our fathers were-to put it fairly, and without allowing our perspectives to blur it-extremely dedicated to their work. Our mothers were also extremely dedicated to their work BUT they also shouldered the lion’s share of the familial responsibilities. If you look back to this blog post, it’s clear that I struggled with leaving the house and returning to work after Bella was born but I felt so fortunate knowing she’d be able to be home with Laura. I still struggle from time to time BUT there’s honestly nothing in my entire 36 years of life’s experiences that fulfills me the way coming home to Laura and Bella does after a busy day at work. Also, I have an incredible work environment, where the culture is determinedly focused-from top to bottom-on having people genuinely enjoy their work and they know that means taking the time they need to pay attention to their families. When I was searching for positions, almost a year ago, anything that required more than 10% travel was eliminated because I knew that I wouldn’t be happy in a job that kept me away from my family. Now, when I come home from work, it’s hard because Bella usually goes to sleep around seven and I’m usually getting home around five and I get to see very little of her in the morning. So, when I get home, I put my cell phone down, leave my computer off, resist turning the television on and spend two hours just observing her and the new things she’s doing. She slows me right down. Usually I play with her and her toys, read to her (which she really seems to love), and just appreciate the time I have with her. On the weekends, I get to appreciate what Laura experiences every day and that keeps me motivated to get back to work on Monday ;) I think I know my strengths and have a decent handle on my weaknesses. I couldn’t do what Laura does for Bella on a daily basis and what she does makes her an incredible person and an even more incredible Mom. Right now my mind and my competitive drive is in my job but my heart is always home with Laura and Bella and I love being able to leave work completely and come home to my heart at the end of the day. Having Laura and Bella in my life, there’s rarely a moment where I forget how much I have to be thankful for and this subtle and persistent appreciation keeps me from getting consumed by work or other distractions. I feel like I have my cake, and it’s the best damned cake I’ve ever had, and everything else…is just icing.
Does he feel extra pressure to work more to support a family on one income?
So, as in the answer above, I sought out a job where family was part of the job description. I feel very fortunate to have that kind of employer and I know they aren’t easy to find. I wouldn’t say there’s any added pressure because we’re on one income. I am a goal-oriented person and drive myself pretty hard so most of the pressure I feel day-to-day is derived from within. Knowing this, I can often turn the pressure on and off. When I’m at work, it’s 110% pressure. When I’m at home, it’s -10%. The other thing is this: my father is east Indian and my mother is Irish/Norwegian. While I spent the vast majority of my life in the states, I was raised by an Indian father (for those readers who are Indian or for those with Indian friends, you’ll be able to relate) and that meant that it was the man’s job to provide for his family financially and my Dad took this very seriously and, in some way, some of that culture and sense of responsibility got handed down to me. So, in some way I just feel like I’m doing what I’m supposed to be doing. I’m fulfilling my role. Our family has a collaborative, give-and-take model but, for now, we have a very traditional work/life model that we are working within and we’re each doing our very best to approach it in a way that keeps our family as strong as it possibly can be by appreciating that we’re both working our asses off to make Bella’s life the best it can be. I don’t think there are ever any delusions that both of us are hard at work. Had Laura been the one with the highest income potential when Bella was born, I would have gladly stayed home with Bella. I don’t think I would have been as good as it as Laura is but I would have done it because that’s what Laura and I want and it is what we are both fully prepared to sacrifice for to have.
You both are very blessed to be in a position where you can be a full time mom. Can you share some tips on how you guys manage it (savings tips, ways to supplement income, etc)?
I talked to Laura about this and it seems that she is planning on writing a post to cover this very subject in the near future so I won’t steal her thunder. Let me just say this: as far back as I can remember, my family talked about having a good relationship with money. They constantly emphasized how to invest money, how to spend money, how to keep track of money, how to save money, etc. So, as far as money goes Laura and I spend a decent amount of time reviewing our status and checking in. We have monthly financial meetings where we talk about the month’s bills, etc. and we have quarterly financial meetings where we talk about plans for the future, etc. I will be sure to edit and contribute to her post on this subject, as I have a lot to say about it and what works for us. I know a lot of couples struggle with and fight over money and it can be a real stressor but I don’t think it has to be that way if you can agree to communicate openly and often about it and set mutual goals and expectations about spending, travel, saving, etc. and we’ll try to convey that in that post.

1 comment:

  1. So smart to split it up into topics. Thinking that I should have done that with my q&a... hmm.

    This comment is pointless, but I saw zero comments and wanted to say I read it. Looking forward to the other posts!