Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Work/Family Spillover

Work/Family spillover is a concept I talk about in my courses. Basically it is the stress that 'spills over' from your work into your family, or visa versa, whereas problems in one area leads to problems in another. For instance, if you have a sick child and can't finish something at work before a deadline: That's work/family spillover. Conversely, if you are working long hours at your job trying to finish some deadline and miss your child's 3rd grade play, that's also work/family spillover.

I talk about it in class, but I don't think i've ever actually experienced it before this semester. Well, maybe that's because until around 5 months I didn't have a "family" living with me, since I was living by myself.

But now that the semester has started, it is really kicking in. I have been working crazy hours trying to finish research for two papers, so that I can start writing said papers and finish them before their deadlines- one is due September 22nd and one is due October 6th. Both of these are due to conferences- one I am trying to get a presentation at, and one in which I've already accepted the offer to present (which was based on an extended abstract), in which I have to submit a completed paper to the conference organizers. My life has been: waking up to an alarm, going in to school within an hour, coming home around 7ish, and falling asleep around 9 or 10 because I'm so tired from working an 11 hour day.

Meanwhile, B went back to work a week or two ago. He's a writing tutor at a local college, and has also been working late hours- he doesn't get out of work until 8pm, doesn't get home till 8:30ish. I generally work late hours anyway, but I'm usually home by 7 or 7:30 at the latest. In the past we would have dinner together at that point, giving us at least 2 or 3 hours of quality time before I pass out.

Now B is getting home an hour after I am, and passing out almost immediately. We have been eating dinner separately because he's too hungry to wait until after work to eat, and I'm too hungry to wait for him to get home to eat. And as a result, we really only see each other (awake) on weekends now.

This isn't leading to stress or breakups or anything, but I'm kind of sad about the whole situation. We live together, and yet we are barely spending any waking time together. I can't even imagine what it would be like if we had kids. Or if we didn't live together.

Of course there's the weekends. Which we spend together entirely (this past weekend we went on a 6 hour-each-way road trip!). But then my work is trying to take over my weekends as well...this weekend my department is having a 'semester kick off' party for grad students. Which I would never subject B to, cause it sucks enough for me, and I know what the heck these geeky people are talking about. So at this point I'm just cutting out all social activity which doesn't involve B, so I'm going to skip this party. But I have so much work that that's "spilling over" into the weekends as well, since no matter how hard I work during the week I always seem to have more work that I have to make up weekends. And I feel bad about skipping these social events, since I seem to have no friends in my town now that my two best friends moved away this summer, and having no social life apart from my partner is also lame.

So tell me oh relationship internet guru's...how do you manage to spend time with your partners while working 60+ hours a week and dealing with exhaustion? Or do people who work that many hours just only see their partners on weekends? Any tips for balancing a crazy work schedule with having a life? This whole situation is super lame.


  1. I'm a senior in college and working 25 hours a week. Because I live on campus, there is almost no separation between my work and personal lives. My boyfriend is as busy as I am.

    I've given up on balance. When I'm not in class or at work, I'm usually with my boyfriend. We don't hand out or chat, instead we sit across from each other at a table in the library and study. We spend our weekends like this too. Some days, it seems like the only time I spend with my boyfriend when we're not studying is when we're asleep.

    C'est la vie.

  2. I've been married for 8+ years. Our work schedules have fluctuated a lot over that time. For 3 years, we worked together. Right now, I work M-F and he works F-Sunday (12 hrs a day) so it kinda sucks right now but it's just right now and I know it will change again. It IS hard and we work it out. I know you will too.

  3. I don't know what to tell you. My future-ex was a workaholic who used 60 hour work weeks as an excuse to avoid the kids, when they were little, and stick me with all of the child rearing, car-pooling, discipline, etc.
    This should be the last year you have to do this - once you get a cushy job, teaching at some university, you won't have to: a) put in so many hours; b) write a disertation; and c) plan a wedding all at once.

  4. oh jebus, I haven't done anything at all for the wedding since we booked a place. :) I'm going to get on that after these deadlines.

    Sadly, even once I get a cushy job, i'm probably going to have to keep working like a maniac to get tenure.

  5. Ok. Happily married here for 12 years now. First bunch of years included juggling grad school and work for both of us, and then a baby in year three of grad school! I know exactly what you are saying.

    Not that you probably haven't heard this before - but you HAVE to schedule in time for the relationship - it is just as important as any other responsibility - even if it is to email a couple of short emails to each other during the day to check in, have breakfast together for 15 minutes or a glass of tea together for 10 minutes before you collapse at night. It is the regularity of staying connected that is important. And always keep in mind that this is not forever, you have a goal right now. Hopefully if and when you have a child to juggle as well, some of these other juggling acts will calm down.

  6. I don't get nearly enough time with hubs anymore. It really sucks. That's with a 40 hour job, though with commute time, 50? It does suck, and the only good thing is it's good to experience this before marriage since these are all the lovely little challenges that make marriage an effort and not just the relationship it began as. But you know if the academy won't let you rest, you can at least fall back on the 40/50 hour week I have here. It does suck ass doesn't it? How the hell am I also gonna finish my dissertation this year? Painfully :S

  7. What does the bee do?

    Bring home honey.

    And what does Father do?

    Bring home money.

    And what does Mother do?

    Lay out the money.

    And what does baby do?

    Eat up the honey.

    --------- by Age Of Conan gold


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