N@50: I need boundaries!

When I started doing these Newlywed at 50 posts, I thought I’d end up with some cute stories about my new husband. Instead, I’m gaining a bit of insight into my own quirks.

When you’re single, your schedule is pretty much your own. For me, there were few boundaries between work and personal life. When I worked in industry, I remember sending e-mail to my boss at 2am in the morning and getting a quick reply! You could say we were workaholics. Or you could say we had jobs with a lot of flexibility. Sure I worked in the evenings, but if I had a personal matter to attend to during the day, I would take the time away to do it and nobody blinked. They didn’t blink because they knew that I (and everybody else) put in more than a 40-hour workweek anyway.

Even now, it’s nothing for me to work in the evenings or on the weekends. I sat on a panel for new faculty at my school recently, and one of the things that I told them was to consider that they had a 24-hour clock each day and not an 8-hour clock. We don’t punch in at 8 and punch out at 5. We meet with students when they can meet. We conduct research and write articles. Some of us do these things better during the day while others of us do them better in the evenings. Some of us do them better in our offices while some of us do them better at home.

Well, things are a bit different when you have spouse. I learned this lesson on a recent trip that hubby and I took. Well, I needed to check my e-mail so we had to find an Internet Cafe so I could do so. Well, by the time we found the Cafe and I conducted my business, we had missed our scheduled tour. He didn’t say anything but the look he gave me spoke volumes.

I’ve got to establish some boundaries, y’all. I can’t plan to spend every weekend or every evening working, whether on my school work or my writing. There have to be “no work” times. I think this is going to be a challenge for me. It’s going to require me to be more structured than I am now. The term “balance” must have meaning for me.

I have a colleague (only one, I think) who has no home office and only works in his school office. He doesn’t send or respond to email from home. He basically has an 8-to-5 job.
I don’t think I’ll ever be that strict in my time allotment but I’m going to try to adopt some of his structure.

How do you all maintain balance in your lives?

6 thoughts on “N@50: I need boundaries!

  1. When you are single you can come and go as you please but once you get involved with someone it’s different. I am running into this problem now in the boyfriend/girlfriend stage. It is an adjustment and takes time to restructure yourself.

  2. Talib and I balance ourselves by speaking up. If he needs time with me he tells me and vice versa. We are both busy doing our own thing in our house together, he is upstairs I am downstairs, we try to stop to eat together in the evenings. He usually brings me coffee at 7am when I am about to go to bed, since I’ve been up all night. But if I’m up and he’s feeling loney….. I go upstairs and then come back down when he’s sleep. I don’t need a lot of sleep; so that helps me. We have been together 20 years this year we think, neither of us have the capacity to keep strict count, but we stop to smell roses, we stop to look at the night sky together and we both talk about how we feel about one another regularly. This keeps us balanced and connected. Balance is different for everyone, I need less time with him than he needs with me…. but we both try to respect the people we are – without permanent damage. We never, ever say hurtful things to one another and we always stop in the midst of a disagreement to remind ourselves that, (and one of us says it out loud) “Remember, we are not enemies we are partners and we both want the same thing, to be loved) We honor time and space…. naturally I need more space, he needs more time…. balance is never easy but it is doable. We are living proof.

  3. Think about what’s important to you. Or, at least what the order of importance needs to be in order for you to achieve that balance of which you speak. It might vary from day to day as emergencies arise, but the overall order really shouldn’t change much.

    You may find that your goals change as you reorder your priorities. You may remove yourself from certain activities and insert yourself into others.

    All of these adjustments that rise up in the early days of wedded bliss won’t be resolved in the early days. You’ll try some things that will work and others that won’t. Some will evaporate and you’ll later laugh that they were ever an issue; others may become nagging, recurring problems. Some you’ll address and they’ll go away only to resurface years later in a slightly different form or under different circumstances.

    Don’t beat yourself up or stress yourself too much. Learn from each incident. Talk through them. And make the adjustments that make the most sense for the two of you.

    Now, for something more concrete, agree how you two will handle “downtime”, i.e. evenings, weekends, and non-business trips, making sure you two have some time for you as a couple that is “untouchable”. Once you two have agreement, should something arise, talk about it and come to a new agreement, considering first whether it’s really critical to break your original pact.

    If that same situation comes up again, maybe hubby can give you a half hour, and you agree that when he signifies your time is up, you quit, or you’re allowed one five-minute extension. No more. Something like that. 🙂

  4. Lanyka, seems we’re in the same place.

    Evelyn, I really appreciate the part about never saying hurtful things. George and I are kind to each other and that means a lot. Harsh words spoken can’t be taken back. You and Talib are wonderful role models. George is like him in temperament, I think. Oh, yeah, Talib’s ditto is not surprising since you two have really learned to make it work. Give him my best with his brilliant self.

    Patricia, I do take things to heart and sometimes blow them out of proportion so your comment to not beat myself up is well taken. George is of the same opinion, by the way.

    Thanks for all supportive comments, ladies. I will take your words of wisdom to heart.

    Happy Holidays!

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