Continuing with this series of columns, let’s examine the ongoing and increasingly big struggle we all face when trying to balance our lives, ubiquitously now known as work-life balance. Work is now a 24/7 option. I suppose “Life” is, too. But, work has intruded in our lives in ways never before imagined. The life of the advertising guys in “Mad Men” ended, to a degree, at the end of their proscribed workday or depending on how drunk they were on any given occasion. The end of our work-lives today is completely random. And, I’ll assert that men and women approach this work-life balancing act in different ways.
As always with the Men vs. Women series, I will make generalities that invariably have exceptions. If they didn’t, they wouldn’t be generalities. I will also make observations that Women’s Studies professors would declare, “Sexist!” Thank you for those declarations because I prefer truth to political correctness.
So, how do men and women approach this tough task of achieving balance, even tougher when married with children, I assert at the onset? Let’s go:
~~ Using my wife as a reflective sample, women say how overwhelmed and tired they are a lot more than men.
It doesn’t matter whether my wife is working or not working, her favorite three words are “I’m so tired.” She actually stopped her regular job about a year ago, but being the achiever and do-er she is, that didn’t stop her non-stop schedule. It’s just directed elsewhere. I don’t know if this is a real difference between men and women, but I think it is. When men are tired, we simply nod off – WHEREVER we are – we don’t tend to announce it.
~~ Men have a harder time leaving work behind and “turning it off.”
The flip side of the tired equation is how often men struggle to not work. While it’s NOT politically correct to acknowledge this, men work longer and harder “on average” than women. NOT because men are better, but because men are stupider! Women doctors average far less hours than their male counterparts. Why? Because they choose to take time off, choose to have babies, choose to take their maternity leave, etc.
I will leave the equity of this, vis-à-vis equal pay and such, to others to debate but suffice it to say, I believe we guys work too long, too hard, and too much.
~~ Women are better at compartmentalizing tasks and organizing their lives, though women struggle just as much as men with the whole work-life balance thing.
Work-Life Balance seems to be one of our current catch phrases. On this aspect of managing our lives, I suspect women may be better but I am far from sure. I do know that my wife is good at compartmentalizing tasks while I am often scattershot. I would love feedback on this one from readers. Do you think there is a difference in how men and women achieve or don’t achieve work-life balance?
~~ In contrast to women’s ability to organize, as stated above, men don’t mind chaos or mess, in general.
Heck, some of us guys even like a disorderly setting. My office is a perfect example. I know where everything is, even though I can’t remember the last time I dusted my desk or put away anything laying on the floor. My wife and I think most women prefer an orderly environment and life. Again, I wonder if this is true for the most part or just in my world?
~~ Men do like to play and I think will make time for play more readily than women.
Even if it’s fitting in nine holes of golf, men will find/make the time for play. They won’t make the time for gabbing with their buddies, which women tend to do better and more often, but we guys will do our sports or watch them, at the very least.
~~ Women find solace with other women.
How is this work-life balance related? Simple. We all need to rant, express, and otherwise deal with the emotional side of our lives. Women usually have their regular outlets for this with other women. Men tend to have drinking, sports, or poker buddies, but when the game is over, the talk stops. Plus, when there’s alcohol around, the talk will be less likely to go into anything deep or personal.
Speaking of alcohol, I wonder if this is true? Do women drink alone more than men? What do you think?
Finding our work-life balance is not gender-biased because we all seek it. Perhaps men get more obsessed with their work because men tend to get their internal satisfaction far too much from their work and work identity. Perhaps women, being more family-oriented (many, but not all), do tend to at least work at achieving a better work-life balance than men. I don’t know. But, I do know that men and women are different and with most everything, we bring our genetic bias to play in all things we do.
Please read and/or comment on any of the other columns in the Men vs. Women series.
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