FOR THE LOVE OF RELATIONSHIPS – Work life balance and connection

Many of us are stressed, frustrated and overwhelmed by work, tasks, supply chain interruptions, inflation, health issues, and interruptions. Answering e mails at the breakfast table and hosting webinars in the evening when your spouse wants to talk or binge watch a series on TV can create havoc in a relationship. When both of you are not in rotating in the same hectic rhythm, conflicts are inevitable. Resentment ensues causing each partner to find their perspective corner and stay put. 

Recently, the Center for Relationship Education leadership team hosted a national author and speaker to provide some insights into work-life balance. Her stories were our stories. She went right to the heart of staying connected through rituals and habits, to meaning and memories that are simple, but profound.  The question she asked was, “What are some of things you do to stay connected to those you love. Answers were affirmations, expressing gratitude, cooking together, traveling together, shared tasks, short texts to check in, praying for one another, creating traditions, etc. Rather than focusing on differences or competing for each other’s time and attention, we should create spaces that build connections, memories and legacy. 

These sentiments are good, but how do we operationalize this? Suggestions included creating a Venn diagram with two circles that overlap creating a middle circle. Outline what each partner’s goals, tasks, priorities, values, schedules are in the outer circles. In the inner circle highlight shared goals, tasks, priorities values and schedules. Once we take the time to describe how we overlap, we can then work towards expanding the inner shared circle. The larger the inner circle, the more connected we become. 

Individuals treat goals and pursuits as a solitary endeavor. What we know from research is that our relationships can either help or hinder our progress. For example, my husband is a fabulous cook. He finds peace and creativity in the kitchen. God bless him!! I, on the other hand, am bone tired when I get home wanting to eat light and go to bed. When I finally asked him to assist me on a keto regime to reduce sugar and maybe even drop a few pounds, he decided to learn how to keto cook. He is doing his thing getting jazzed about cooking, and I am getting the support I need. I helped him help me. 

Another suggestion for building connection is to acknowledge and accept each other’s help. By doing so, partners feel valued and more satisfied with their relationship. Sometimes it can feel self-serving to see your partner as a tool for what you would like to accomplish. However, that is what we do to support one another. It is kind and compassionate.  Feeling important to one another creates a sense of accomplishment and caring. 

The speaker ended the workshop with a memory jar. Building heartfelt memories and recounting them to those you love creates connection and legacy. What does this have to do with work-life balance? In a word, everything. When we are connected and supported, we are energized and can tackle the world.