Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Striking a work-life balance

From my paper, 03 Mar 2008 edition



Striking a work-life balance

By Jill Alphonso


     Up until the mid-20th century, a double-income family

was almost unthinkable. Traditionally, the man was the

breadwinner while the woman stayed at home to care for

the kids.

     Today, given the rising cost of living, as well as better

opportunities for women at the workplace, dual-career families

are increasingly becoming the norm.

     About 44 per cent of married couples in Singapore comprise

two working spouses, a rise from 27 per cent in 1980,

according to a study by the Ministry of Community

Development, Youth and Sports.

     However, many dual-income couples face an imbalance

in work and home life. Marriage counselors say couples fight

most frequently about not spending enough time with each other.

     Ms Jennifer Chee, counselor and manage at aLife, which

provides counseling and marriage preparation courses, says

that about half of her clients have work-life balance issues.

     Many find that they bring stress home. Others are caught

in a vicious cycle: To maintain a certain standard of living

they have to work long hours, thus having less time at home.

     Counselling director Karen Gosling at Gosling International

adds that as a result, people would rather stay at work –

where they are respected and recognized – than go home to a

spouse who nags for not spending time at home.

     Marriage counselors share these tips to resolve the issues:


@ Set a time to talk about what’s working in your relationship

and what’s not. This creates a safer space in which both parties

can feel respected and listened to.


@ Don’t complain about that your spouse is doing wrong.

That often leaves them feeling attached, and solves nothing.

Instead, say “I” instead of “you.” Say “I feel neglected when

you don’t come home for dinner” rather than “You don’t care

about me since you never come home for dinner.”


@ Identify what you need from your spouse. Some people may

need physical touch or gifts to fee connected; other may want

more time together. In the latter case, make agreements to spend

one day a week together, or come home early two nights a week

just to be with each other. Alternatively, set up time during the

work day to call each other. Whatever makes you tick, tell your

spouse. Sometimes that can take trial and error, so be patient.


@ Don’t bring home stress from work. Take a long bath or sit

in the car or house listening to music before talking about your

day to your spouse. Relaxing and restoring yourself will have you

actually conversing with your spouse, instead of dumping

your complaints about your day on him or her.

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