Monday, 5 December 2005

Life-work balance

There are probably some people who consciously plan to put career ahead of everything else in their life. Or their parents decide that for them when they're about three months old by sending them to a Japanese language nursery.

However, most people probably don't grow up and think their job will ever come ahead of their loved one.

Or maybe, like me, they didn't give the issue much thought at all as it never occurred to them that they'd ever be in a job important or demanding enough to invade their life outside the eight daily hours spent in the office.

I started my active working life behind a burger counter, and was excellent at remembering who wanted extra cucumbers and who wanted no dressing. Sounds simple, but it wasn't.

This set the precedent for a string of the kind of jobs which strangely require a certain level of intelligence and organisation, yet are mindnumbingly dull.

I didn't really plan for being in a job I actually enjoyed, where I wouldn't run out of the office at two minutes to five every day. I guess I passively hoped for this, but the nature of my jobs has changed so gradually that I just now realised I am in one of those jobs.

And at the same time, I have really begun to notice how working long hours and always being stressed really does have an impact on my relationship.

It is so obvious. Clearly if you never have quality time with your partner and all you do is wolf down some dinner, shag and pass out in bed for six hours of beauty sleep, this will be to the detriment of any bond between you. I don't even dare to think of what might happen if you don't even have the energy for cooking and sex.

It is obvious, yet I didn't ever think it was something I would have to deal with. I've always been competent, but never particularily ambitious. Money doesn't drive me, although that might change as I've also come to realise I'll never own a flat in London unless I sell my own mother on Ebay.

Still, we woke up yesterday morning and realised we couldn't remember the last day we actually spent a whole day together.

So we made the most of it, spending ages in bed before getting up and having an all you can eat Chinese buffet for breakfast/lunch. We sat there for ages and really ate all we could and some more, I swear the staff was starting to look worried after my first four plates of food.

Then we just strolled around, looking in shops and holding hands and chatting, before going home, watching a film, eating some more and going to bed early to share 'embarrassing moments from our sexual past'.

J said he has realised that the less time we spend together, the more pessimistic he feels about our relationship and vice versa.

I used to think this indicated something about his insecurity re. his feelings for me, but I've started to think this is actually a universal thing. I might even feel the same way myself.

My friend H and her boyfriend. for instance, commute for 3 hours each every day in opposite directions, and hardly ever actually see each other.

He has been saying lately he doesn't feel she appreciates their relationship enough, and thinks she wants out, which is not the case.

And we don't even have children yet.

I remember when I was about 18, a couple of the same age that I knew had officially reserved every second Wednesday for 'quality time' with each other. We all used to laugh at them for it.

But now it seems they were ahead of their time and actually quite clever. I think I might try to arrange something similar with J. As long as it doesn't clash with Match of the Day, obviously...

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1 comment:

  1. I think it's quite clever too. Some very good friends of mine do a once-a-month thing, where they just go somewhere really cool and stay overnight before going to collect their kids from whoever's having them.

    They swear by it.


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