Let’s start with the big question that seems to bounce around in the mind of many working couples… Is work life balance for couples even possible?
Sure, it is! Work life balance for couples while a little more challenging, is just as attainable as it is for anyone. Although, it does take a tad more diligence, finesse, and… detective work?
Being part of a “we” instead of just a “me” can be glorious. Knowing there is someone in your life who is cheering for you – standing beside you – to share the highs of your life is a fabulous feeling. Of course, it’s also comforting to know you have someone to lean on when the waters sometimes get rough, as they inevitably do on occasion
Yet, some singles (and even some people who are part of a couple!) seem to have the idea that this partnership comes with a trade-off too. Work life balance, they feel, is hard enough when you’re just trying to find harmony in your own life. Add someone else to that equation and it becomes even more elusive, right? Wrong. Work-life balance for couples isn’t more difficult than it is for someone on their own, if both partners are committed to the cause!
Speaking of “commitment”—that is step 1 to work-life balance for couples: making it a commitment
Often, whether single or part of a couple, we find our life happening to us—usually without us realizing we have passed off the reigns of control to someone or something else. Before we even understand what is happening, we are at the mercy of someone else’s needs and demands. This is truly what is at the heart of the work-life balance enigma—when we becoming so busy fulfilling the needs and desires of others, our own needs and desires suffer.
Therefore, as with anything you want to accomplish but that seems too large to tame, the first step to achieving harmony between all aspects of your life is making the commitment to do so. Then, it’s making the conscious decision to figure out where you are falling short and what options are available to you to remedy those situations.
Sometimes, that’s all it takes. Especially if you work for yourself, or if you work for a company that emphasizes the importance of work life balance. In either case, if you aren’t enjoying a work life balance between yourself and your partner, the only bottleneck is likely you (or your partner). Thus, simply realizing you have an issue and making the decision to fix it, is the biggest factor in achieving the balance you’re seeking and desire.
But if you need a little more help with work life balance for couples, step 2 is identifying where your time is going and then you must create a plan. This helps ensure enough of your time is spent on your relationship so that “harmony” becomes a possibility.
You might notice, we keep using “harmony” in relation to work-life balance. Well, that’s intentional. See, even in the best of circumstances and situations, work-life balance is somewhat of a misnomer. At least, it’s a bit of a fallacy in terms of the true definition of the word “balance.”
Very seldom does anything stay in true “balance”. There is always some give and take—balance is just the goal. This is definitely true when couples are seeking work life balance.
Think about “work” and “life” as two sides of a teeter-totter. You know, the kind that kids play on and that you likely played on at one time? Stuff gets piled on to the work side and the teeter totter slams to that side. So you take some of that off by delegating it, knocking out of the way what can be done quickly, etc. The balance begins to be restored.
But then stuff gets piled on to the family side. You can’t let work suffer completely so you try to resolve some of those family obligations to get you back to center. Maybe, you even ask for help here too. The level begins to move back to certain. Until it all starts again. That’s enough to really make you crazy! Feeling like you must balance everything, all the time, until that becomes another job in and of itself is mega-stressful! Who has the time for that?!
Consequently, it’s exactly that perception that drives people away from attempting to balance their personal and professional lives at all. It’s just one more thing “to do” when you look at it that way.
On the other hand, what if that wasn’t the way it was supposed to be? What if work life balance was a total misnomer after all?
Harmony, on the other hand, is when nothing suffers but each side gives and takes in a dance of mutual appreciation and respect. Your work respects your family and your family respects your work. Each “knows” it’s necessary to leave a little slack in the line for the other. And even though one side sometimes pulls a little more than the other, with harmony, it still works and both feel attended to properly.
Do you need to ask for flexible hours or create them for yourself if you’re the boss? Do you need to leave your work phone at home on date night? Perhaps you need to schedule date night? Again, the answers are likely out there – even in your current situation – it just might require some imagination and innovation. However, if you begin to look for ways to achieve “harmony” – instead of balance – finding the answers will likely become much easier and less overwhelming.
Yet, what if you just can’t make it work in your current situation? Then, if work-life balance in your relationship is really important, step 3 is to take a cue from companies that DO provide the right environment. You can then use their model in your own company or send your resume over and see if there’s a fit for you there!
Below is a chart from Fast Company on the top companies for work-life balance. If you need inspiration, check out these companies and see what they are doing to promote this harmony in the lives of their workforce: