You've probably heard somebody, at some point, use the example about life being a series of balls -- some are rubber and bounce back if you drop them, some are glass and they shatter and break if you don't give them enough attention and accidentally drop one. School, social clubs, community commitments, work (usually) are all rubber balls. Meaning that if you get too overwhelmed and one of them gets away from you, the worst case scenario is that you have to chase that sucker like one of those little crazy balls until you get life back under control.
Your health, your family, your spouse/marriage, your friends and a few other things are glass balls. Because life is unfair, you also have to keep balancing all of these balls in the air at the same time that you keep everything else aloft. And these are far more important balls because they are made of glass... some maybe even of the finest crystal. And if you look away for too long, you will drop AT LEAST one and it will shatter and break. Irreparably. These are things you can never replace if you destroy them, however accidentally.
So what's a modern woman to do? Lately I haven't been blogging much about marriage because I don't feel like I'm very good at it, and I definitely shouldn't be claiming any expertise. Don't get me wrong -- we're happily married (to the best of my knowledge), but I feel like I'm not keeping that particular ball terribly well supported. And I blame it on life. I'm expected to run my business, keep my commitments to my community, spend time talking to friends I live too far away from and miss terribly, keep my house clean, keep in touch with a somewhat extended family AND be a good wife. Is that even possible? And it's not Bill who is being hard on me about this -- my husband is 100 percent supportive 99 percent of the time. It's me who sees my shortcomings and doesn't like it.
I was talking with a groom this week who was hanging out while his new bride shopped in our boutique, and we were laughing about the one requirement they'd had for their destination wedding -- absolute, 100 percent privacy. They wanted us to be witnesses at the wedding, they wanted a photographer and a chef for dinner... they just absolutely positively didn't want anything or anyone to interfere in the slightest way in what was clearly the most important and intimate moment they will ever share in their lifetimes. And they wanted a fab villa with no visible neighbors. We were able to execute all of their requests and they were happy.
Why was it so important to be alone on their big day? Both have busy jobs and don't ever feel like they have enough time together, so they made their wedding week an extended vacation all about themselves. They spent time daydreaming about their next 50 years together and they made plans for the future. Nothing was allowed to interfere. It was their week. I was so jealous by the end of the conversation.
Marriage is a hard job in its own right. It's about learning when to speak up, and when to shut up. You pick your battles, and sometimes you start wars you never meant to finish. Sometimes the best laid plans go awry, and sometimes you can't fix the things you mess up. It's a little bit scary when you think about it like that. It's very easy after a long, hard day at the office to go home and forget that your partner might have had the same day, and that he or she might need whatever you need back from them as badly as they do. But you're both too darned tired to see the forest for the trees. Or rather, to see what each other needs and be there for each other.
So what's the solution to this one? In this world where most of us work full time and all of us are worried about money and the future? Obviously, nobody can juggle all those balls successfully all of the time. Family and work are the trickiest ones because your family is always willing to forgive you for ignoring them... or are they? Work is sneaky because it masquerades as Baccarat crystal when really it's a recycled giant ball of rubber bands that will probably dry rot on you eventually anyway, no matter how much attention you give it. And yet, how many of us find ourselves using work commitments as an excuse when we should really be doing something with one of those legitimately fragile globes? How many times have you postponed plans with someone you love to fulfill the wishes of someone who pays you?
Alright, enough with the bad metaphors. Do you spend enough time with your husband or wife? Does he or she complain that you don't? In this day and age, if you're hearing complaints, it's probably legit. Face it, aren't almost all families double job, double income nowadays? So we're all like ships passing in the night because nobody has the exact same schedule, nobody has the same deadlines, and nobody has the same sorts of worries that keep them up all night long. A very famous and brilliant political consultant name Bob Goodman once told me that if I ever owned my own company, I'd never sleep another solid night again. Damn, I hate that Bob is always right. What I didn't ask him about when he was explaining how to grow my career and build success was how to make sure I had time to spend with my husband and other people I love at the same time. Is it even possible? I see other people doing it. Why is it so hard for me? Is it easy for everybody else? Or does it just look that way.
It doesn't matter how everybody else is doing it. What matters is that we (you, me and all the other married couples out there) have to figure out a way to make it work. We have to make time for our life partners. We have to make time for our health (if you think you don't like the dentist, you'll like him even less if you skip your appointments for a few years). It's not okay to forgo visits to your elderly relatives when you finally have a moment to yourself that you'd rather spend doing anything else -- reality check, they aren't going to live forever. Everything I've just mentioned is a glass ball. And there are so many, many more of them depending on who you are as an individual. The list is pretty scary when you really start to think about it. It seems insurmountable. But it's not. Partially because, in the scenarios I'm referring to, you are not alone. You are fortunate enough to have a husband or wife who loves you and is there to share the burden... or to help you juggle. If you let them.
The moral of the story -- put your spouse and marriage first. It's the ball that's really made of fragile, irreplaceable crystal and it's the one that needs the most love, attention and diligence. If you keep your relationship happy and healthy, you will automatically have a stronger foundation for everything else you're trying to juggle. Remember, four hands are far more effective than two.
Follow Sandy Malone on Twitter: www.twitter.com/SandyMalone_