One person I know only takes jobs that keep him near home and don’t require away meetings that require more than a few days. Such is his commitment to raising a family. When his kids are grown, he plans to make different decisions and get “back on the track.” Of course he will possibly find people who made different decisions ahead on the track, but his most important criteria was his relationship with his kids. This does not guarantee a long marriage or a better relationship with his kids; just that he is there and will not miss as much. His spouse gets to continue a career important to her as well.
The important thing is that he is making a conscious decision, not just letting things happen. Work-life balance can still seem like a myth to him, but he is doing what he values so it balances out in the long run. He will have moments of conflicting emotions, but many more where he feels “in the groove.” Discussion and planning with his partner is the key to making things work. They have to compare calendars and have plans for “problem” days and times when the other person is conflicted. Often people make decisions feeling they can make it work only to find resentment building up. Time to renegotiate, because resentment leads to problems and distancing from ones partner.
Another San Jose man has taken time off from work to be raise his children with his wife being the primary bread winner. There are still times he feels overwhelmed and other times he feels left out of his chosen career path. Most times he is settled in pretty solidly and has friends who are doing the same thing. When he is out of sorts or feels put down by people who don’t make the same choices, he likes the words to a Tom Hunter folk song:
When we started out I felt just like a pioneer, but when the ladies get together for coffee this morning,
I think I’ll have a beer.
It is a change and some people react to change negatively choosing to tease or otherwise put down someone who has made this choice. I am aware of people who earned enough money so both could stay home and raise their children. Most people do not find themselves in this situation, and others would never make this decision no matter how much money they have, but once again we have people making choices with consequences. Resolved to the choice, they ignore people who think they should be making different choices. They are balanced in a different ways. Easy, no. Resolute and challenged, yes.