The Perfect Balance: Being a
Career Man and a Family Man
By Dr. Gary Smalley
Smalley Relationship Center
After ten years of marriage, I felt I was finally becoming
a success at my work. I was privileged to speak regularly at various
organizations in our city and throughout the country. My wife
and I had a beautiful home and two children. What more could a
man want? Then from my point of view, a tragedy occurred in my
marriage. Norma became pregnant with our third child. I was not
enthusiastic. If anything, I was depressed, realizing our youngest
had only been out of diapers two years. I was just starting to
enjoy my children, and the thought of another little baby around
the house was almost overwhelming, particularly when the doctor
had told us specifically that we couldn't have any more children.
Although I tried to be nice to Norma, I couldn't hide my disappointment.
I was afraid I might not be able to travel as much and would be
forced to take a less prestigious position in the company. My
work load increased as the months passed, and I warned my wife
I would not be able to help her with the children because of job
demands. Even on the day our son was born, I worried about the
added hardship he would add to my vocational dreams.
Norma's health suffered after the first year of our son's birth
because of the long night hours and the responsibility of taking
care of two other small children. Our baby had to have surgery
and was often sick, adding to her burden. How insensitive I was
during that year! Whenever the baby would cry at night or need
special attention. I would quickly remind Norma he was her child.
She had wanted another baby, not I.
A year passed in this way before Norma finally said to me, "I
can't take it any more. I wish I had the emotional and physical
strength to take care for the kids, discipline and train them,
but I just can't do it with an absentee father."
She wasn't demanding. She wasn't angry. She was simply stating
the facts. She had had it. I could see the urgency and calmness
in her facial expressions and realized that she desperately needed
my help. I faced a major decision. Should I go to my boss and
ask for a different job in the company? Ask for a job that would
allow me more time at home? It was a struggle because I knew I
could get a less prestigious and less lucrative job. I felt resentment
toward my son and my wife for being weak. But I gave in. In nervousness
and embarrassment, I approached my boss to explain I needed more
time at home because of the children. "Is there any possibility
that I could have a different job that allowed me to stay at home
My boss graciously cooperated by giving me another job. But to
me the new job was a demotion. I was asked to do some things that
only a few weeks earlier I'd been training my subordinates to
do. What a blow, which did nothing but fuel my resentment!
I was devastated for a while, but soon I became interested in
home life. I actually looked forward to five o'clock. My family
and I began doing more things together, like camping and other
special activities. Before long, a deeper love blossomed within
both Norma and me. Norma began to feel more physically alert,
which, in turn, made her more cheerful and outgoing. She changed
some habits I disliked without any pressure from me. My "big"
career sacrifice seemed smaller every day in comparison to the
richer relationship we were developing.
Within a few months, my boss gave me a new position in the company
that I like much better than the one I had given up. By this time,
Norma was so secure with me that she had no resentment toward
my new job or any necessary travel that went with it. I gave in
and gave up at first, but I won in the long run. That's almost
exactly how Christ explains the principle of exchange in Mark
"Then Jesus called the crowd, along with his disciples,
and said to them, "If anyone wants to become my follower,
he must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me. For whoever
wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life
for my sake and for the gospel will save it. For what benefit
is it for a person to gain the whole world, yet forfeit his life?
What can a person give in exchange for his life?"
© Copyright 2005 Smalley
Relationship Center. Used by permission.
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