Counselling Work-Life Balance

Relationship Matters:
Torn Between Love & Work

Torn between love and work

Our professional family counsellors answer your questions on relationships, marriage and family.

My son who is three years old has been behaving strangely when I leave for my regular trips from office. He keeps crying and does not want me to leave. My job has been so demanding and I need to travel and be away from home. This is the dream job that I always wanted but I also want to give time for my son who I think is missing me. I’m confused. What’s the way out?

It is indeed a tough choice to make when we are torn between what we have to do and the needs of our growing children. Looking at your query I wonder if you are raising your child alone. If this has been the way your child has been responding from the beginning then he certainly wants more time with you. He is not ready with the social skills required to interact outside your care, but if it is a more recent phenomenon then consider seriously that something is not right.

His strange behavior may be a way of getting your attention and there is a void the child is feeling. You need to intentionally take time off and focus on your little one, maybe take him out and spend a day with him and in the process communicate why you have to work. Do take time whenever you are at home to fix an appointment for your family and spend quality time together. Make this part of your weekly schedule.

Often we have time for the world outside but very little time for the ones who mean the most to us. We need not regret later if we make the necessary changes now and make an effort to do it. The child needs to feel connected to you. Think of innovative ways to be in touch with your child. The bonding has to occur for the child to feel secure and then he may be able to cope better with your absence from home.

When you are away at work your little one is either with a maid, in your parents care or at a Daycare facility. Because of the change in the environment of the child, there may be different styles or patterns of upbringing that may cause confusion for him. Your way of dealing with him may be very different with the way others take care of him. Just the inconsistency of parenting styles can cause this strange behavior in your child.

Be sure to train the care-takers to do things similar to your style of raising your child. There should be consistency in the parenting styles. This will be good for the child to develop a healthy pattern for everyday life. You seem to go out of your way for your work. Do your best but do not work at the expense of your family. You certainly need to put your family in your agenda and communicate to your superiors the importance of your family. Remember, love is being there for your loved one in the hour of need.

My marriage was good until I got into this job a year ago. My job requires me to spend more time at the office and I have a very demanding boss. My wife doesn’t seem to understand the pressure at work and she adds to it by continuously nagging me for not spending time at home. She thinks I don’t love her and our daughter and our communication has totally broken down. I don’t think we connect to each other and honestly I feel like quitting on my marriage as I can’t handle the pressure. What do I need to do to get back to our good old times?

High expectations at the workplace can be a deterrent not only to your performance at work but can be the cause of you striving hard to reach the goal set for you. You need to first analyze how you want to prioritize your life. If a good boundary is set early in life of what is important to you and how you are going to strike a healthy balance between your work and home, the pressure will not get to you. The expectations of your spouse and work should be considered along with what you want from life.

Write down some of your own goals for life and put down how you are going to accomplish it. Review how much time you spend at work and how much at home. Gary Chapman in his book ‘The Five Love Languages’ says, that all of us have a language by which we show love to others and they are

  1. Words of Appreciation,
  2. Quality Time,
  3. Receiving Gifts,
  4. Acts of service and
  5. Physical Touch.

You and your spouse may express love in difffering languages. A small test will help – both of you individually choose from the five love languages mentioned above in order of priority of what really makes you feel loved. Then put down one thing you will do to fulfill your spouse’s primary language of love. In doing so you will be able to help fill your spouse’s love tank, her feeling that you do not love her can be taken care of and you will be able to return to the “good old days”.

You also seem to be stressed out at work. How much of the real pressure you face has been shared with your spouse? Some people feel that they should leave work related things at work. But I feel there should be a certain amount of sharing with the spouse so there is a more realistic understanding of what you are going through. Remember, listening to how each one feels is a good way to also develop communication.

You do not have to solve or fix immediately what the other is going through. It just helps to know that you care enough to listen. This will enhance trust, communication and encourage interdependence between you both. Marriage is not only about the good times we share but also sticking together when the going gets tough. To reestablish the connection, you could also do something creative. Maybe plan a special evening together with a candle light dinner or a picnic away from the regular routine…no family or friends please!

Talk about what is most memorable time in your marriage or about what you appreciate about your spouse. Remembering the past is a good way to bring focus back to how important each one is to the other. When you put things in priority you will begin to see a change in every aspect of life. Your work is important but so is your marriage. Always remember, your marriage may outlast your work so striking a healthy balance is the key.

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