Married to Your Job?

Last Friday morning, we received a phone call on our answering machine from a woman who was signed up to come that evening, with her partner, to our Winter Couples Retreat. She apologized that she was canceling, described their current stressful self-employment deadlines, understood she would be losing $225 in nonrefundable deposits, and then added with an audible sigh, “I guess we’re married to our job right now.” The sad quality in her voice particularly struck me so much that I shared it with the group of couples that evening, congratulating them for taking time out from their busy lives to give a whole weekend to renewing their relationships.

Five years ago, Joyce and I were hired by Cell Tech (the Super-Green Algae company), to lead a series of trainings across the country, entitled “Successful Relationships, Successful Business.” In those trainings we showed participants that if they took extra time cultivating the relationships in their lives, especially the closest ones, their businesses, even their financial situations, would improve.

Their have been many times in our own lives when we have been worried about our financial situation. One such time was after buying our 16 acres here in the Santa Cruz Mountains, and building our home in 1991. For the first time in our lives, we owed money, BIG money. It’s amazing to us that, prior to this, we lived our lives very frugally, without loans, without credit cards, and of course without owning our own home. Suddenly we found ourselves with a huge mortgage, which seemed to loom over our heads like a huge, dark cloud, blocking the sun. We took less time to nurture our relationship, and spent more time in the office. It seemed to us the logical thing to do, to work harder to earn more money. But our relationship suffered. We bickered more. We even started blaming one another for not working hard enough. We were not happy campers.

Then we had an epiphany. We remembered the basic spiritual law: With love, all things are possible. If we focused most of our attention and energy on our lack, that’s what we enabled. If we focused on our love, we would open the doors to more abundance. Like Jesus said, “Seek ye first the kingdom of heaven, and all things shall be added unto you.” Many great teachers have said the same thing.

We made a radical change in our schedule. Even though we felt stressed and overwhelmed, we took more time than ever for prayer, meditation, and closeness as a couple. We focused on the abundance of love rather than only on a huge mortgage. Although we had less time in the office, the time became more focused, and therefore more productive. What an important lesson in faith! Although our financial situation didn’t change significantly, we found that each month we had just enough to cover our expenses. Most importantly, we were loving one another again.

To this day, regardless of how busy we are, we take time every morning for ourselves, for spirituality and connection, for stretching our spiritual as well as our physical muscles. Then, once a week since we often work weekends, we take a whole day to cultivate our closeness as a couple. A friend once noticed a line crossing out a day in our weekly planner, a day dedicated to love, and commented, “It’s amazing how you simply draw a line through a whole day!” Even crossing out an hour could be a powerful step for many people. For Joyce and me, that crossed out day is an investment in the highest account, our love account. Our workshops, counseling and writing depends on these spiritual/relationship investments.

This past Sunday morning, all the couples at the Winter Couples Retreat were commenting on how important the weekend had been for them, and how glad they were to have taken the time from their busy lives. We remembered the couple who didn’t come because they were “married to their job” and we felt how good it would have been for them.

When we arrive at the end of our lives, I doubt that we’ll wish we spent more time in the office. We’ll always wish we spent more time with those we love.

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