We all know that marriage is hard work. Marriage with kids? Even harder. Add in jobs, various social obligations and endless piles of laundry and, yeah, I’m exhausted just thinking about it.
The way to cope with all these responsibilities and commitments, we’re told, is to share the burden with your partner. You can’t do it alone! And on paper, this makes sense.
I’ll drop the kids off in the morning while you clean up the kitchen and start work, then you pick them up in the afternoon so that I can wrap up my meeting and get dinner started. Except…you also have a meeting at 5 p.m. with that new client. Oh, and I told our son that I would pick him up today because he was nervous about going to school this morning and I promised I would take him to the library to cheer him up, plus we don’t have any food at home to make dinner anyway. OK fine, I’ll reschedule my meeting, get the kids, take them to the library and then the store and make dinner when I get home. Then it’s my turn to give them baths and put them down so yeah, I’ll do that too, before catching up on work when they’re in bed. The final thing on my to-do list? Simmer in resentment.
The idea that there is no such thing as work-life balance isn’t new. But lately, I’ve had the niggling feeling that you can’t achieve true equilibrium in a marriage, either. And when I say equilibrium, I’m not talking about having an equal level of respect or commitment to one another. What I mean is that when you’re married with kids, it’s damn near impossible for you to both focus on your professional goals, your personal goals, your friendships, your self-care and everything else to the same degree. Something—or someone—has to give. And that sucks.