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???????????????????????????????????????????????????????So many business owners or just people in general stress b/c of the many hats they must wear in order to succeed. This is especially true for those with families.  It’s difficult to balance family life with a career or even just a “get by for now” 9 to 5 that so many have to endure in order to pull through the economic downfall. And let’s not even talk about those who are married! You not only have to balance work and/or children, but also a spouse (which is a job in itself that we’ll discuss in a later blog).

Whether single, married, or divorced, at some point we all say or anticipate saying those well known vows that include some rendition of the phrases, “for richer or poor”, “better or worse”, and “til death do us part!”

Last year I wrote a blog on an African American couple, Herbert and Zelmyra Fisher, who at that time maintained the Guinness World Record for the longest marriage. The Fishers have been married for 86 years swearing no secret to the longevity of marriage; through the ups and downs, neither has even considered divorce. This concept of marriage is common to the“veterans” in the game who married over 25 years ago.  In fact, in the past divorce was almost unheard of.  Yet, with marriages beginning and ending nowadays at the drop of a dime, one can’t help but wonder what is so different in this day and age that leads to divorce.

Many studies have revealed different reasons for the steadily increasing divorce rates; addiction, stress, depression, problems child-rearing, and debt are just a few.  Some studies credit the economic downfall and the need for dual-earner households as opposed to traditional single-earner homes which in turn leads to couples growing apart because of lack of time, communication, and disagreements regarding finances; the most commonly cited reasons for divorce.

While all of these reasons may be legitimate, I still wonder about the difference between now and back when divorce was rare; decades ago couples faced problems similar to, if not worse than those we face today.  In the early years of the Fisher marriage (mentioned above), Mr. Fisher sometimes worked for as little as a nickel per day. The couple also raised their own food and rationed it for their five children.  However, despite the good and bad times, the couple stuck it out, cherishing each other and  their family.

Everyday I speak with individuals about divorce.   Although every couple cites different problems, the ultimate problem is Balance.

With bills and personal goals, we have careers for both survival and self-gratification.  In addition,  family, friends, and other obligations require a significant amount of dedication, which, if not properly balanced, causes couples to part because of debt or stress rather than death. With so much going on in our lives, how do we balance it all?  Below are solutions I suggest to help maintain balance.

Get Organized

Prioritize. Work smarter, not harder.  Create to-do lists, grocery lists,weekly meal plans, a chore schedule and set reminders. Keep a main calendar centrally located to post everyone’s activities in the home. Create back-up/emergency plans just in case.

Find what works for you

Figure out how to personally balance work, family,friends, and self. Ask questions of yourself as well as get input from loved ones on their needs.

Build a Support Network

Delegate.  Ask friends, family, neighbors, and colleagues for help and allow yourself to be helped. -Work as a team.

Find Reliable Child Care

Take time to find a reliable caretaker for your children.  The less you have to worry about when you are at work, on a date, or having “me time”, the better life will be.

Set Boundaries Around Quality Time

Think of a boundary as an imaginary line that you draw around yourself to set limits.  Establishing boundaries is one of the hardest tasks to accomplish, however, they are critical for balancing family, profession, and self.

Develop rituals you and your family can look forward to and give them your full attention.  During this time, exclude all calls and work.

Plan monthly date nights with your partner. Go out and enjoy each other without the children.

Being a good parent, partner, and professional means being good to yourself first. Find ways to relax, relieve tension and minimize stress daily. This will benefit you, your work and family.

Be Flexible, Not a Perfectionist

Balancing family, profession, and self requires flexibility and compromise.  Forgive yourself when things don’t get done as expected and understand that sometimes things change at a moment’s notice.

The ultimate message is to evaluate your life and those who are important and take strategic, calculated steps to ensure that it is all balanced.