Balancing Home Life and Career(s)
Jenny and Tim had been married double-digit years when they had their first child. Before this time she was a dispatcher and he an officer. They worked out their shifts together, and it was relatively easy, considering it was just the two of them. But when their daughter came, things changed. Jenny quit her job to stay home. Tim was still working long hours, and there were other demands that had to be taken care of as well.
In response they set up an agreement. They decided that when he had his days off, he was to give them one full day. The other days were up for grabs, but one day was to be spent with his girls. This worked as they scheduled several days a month to be together.
Kathy and Jerry did something similar. Jerry would come home from long hours on the job and retreat to the computer. He was really good at Farmville, an easy game on Facebook that he used as his down time. But it was creating resentment in Kathy. He’d already been gone for many hours; why would he want to spend more time without her and their son? She came to understand that he, in fact, craved that down time; he needed to think through the demands he felt during his shift. But this understanding didn’t entirely solve their problem. What did work was scheduling time to sit together and talk without other distractions. Sometimes they’d talk about their days, other times they got into deep issues, and other times they planned special trips. And occasionally these nice little talks led to intimacy in the bedroom.
Seasons: Recreating Normal
As the years progress, seasons come and go. Seasons of long hours. Seasons of illness. Seasons with children. Seasons with inadequate leadership within the department. Some of these seasons are amazing and some are excruciating. But they come and they go. When we live day to day, it’s very easy to forget this.
I took a walk with a physical trainer several years ago. Kate was bemoaning the fact that she was to have surgery on her knee within the week. She was weary of her injury. She was worried about gaining weight and possibly losing her job. She was sure that life would crumble around her and never be the same.
I suggested that she was in a winter season. I explained that there are seasons of life that seem bleak. Colorless. Like there’s no hope. She perked up when I told her that winter seasons eventually move into spring seasons. Seasons that show promise of beauty and color. There’s newness everywhere, and we get excited in our anticipation. Spring seasons move into summer seasons, and so on. Kate told me she’d never heard that before but seemed hopeful. Two months later she led our water aerobics class in a full-hour workout. Spring had come.
It’s all about attitude.
If your husband is working really long hours because of a case he’s on, it will end at some point. Some seasons are longer than others, but they do change. Your attitude makes the difference. Understand that you have to create a new normal for each season. Adjust expectations. Hold onto hope. Hunker down and persevere during the winter, knowing that spring is on it’s way.