March 11, 2015

The Life/Work Balance Conundrum For Men

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Written by: Jerri Hemsworth
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Life / Work Balance For Men

The more I interact with established business men, the more I have come to know that they struggle just as much, if not more, than us women with the whole “Life / Work Balance” issue.

Women are far more forthcoming about their stress load with trying to “keep all the balls in the air” when it comes to work, kids, marriage, aging parents, social calendar, social media, etc. But men are much more reticent talk to a woman about their “balance” being in danger, let alone being completely off kilter. Why?

According to an article late last year by Caroline Fairchild that was posted on Fortune, “Men just don’t bring it up. That’s the finding of a recent survey out by Citi of more than 1,000 male and female LinkedIn members. Nearly 80% of women surveyed said they have never heard a successful man talk about balancing work with home. Still, over half of men said they have heard other men engage in conversation about work-life balance. The survey shows that while men may not be open to discussing these challenges with women, they are struggling nonetheless.”

I had lunch the other day with a colleague whom I admire and respect. He was struggling with the concept of having a conversation with his girlfriend about the recent challenges he was having with running his IT business. “I don’t want to put added stress on her. If she thinks that I’m having issues with my business, she may think less of me. She has enough to deal with already….”

My response was this, “If you expect her to be open with you with all of the things going on in her life, you have to share with her all the things going on with you in yours. That’s what a relationship is about. S-H-A-R-I-N-G. She will be there to support you and you’ll feel better.”

I think that men are basically hard-wired to be a “provider” and to suck-it-up when things get rough in the business world. Perhaps they feel that their partner won’t understand the stresses that go hand-in-hand with running a business. WRONG! If your partner loves you, SHARE with them. They will probably surprise you.

With regard to spending time with one’s children, do it. You truly don’t get this time back. I recently was sharing with another colleague that my husband and I must take a family vacation with our daughter this year. “She’s about to turn 15. We’ve only got her for another 3 years, at best, before she won’t want to spend any time with us or she’ll be too busy with college.” My colleague (a young man in his 60s) turned to me and said, “Do it. I did it with my 3 kids before they were too old and too busy. It was the best thing I could have done. I took the time away from my business and guess what? It survived and I was a better person for taking the time away with my kids.”

In the article, Fairchild quotes Linda Descano, head of content and social and North America marketing at Citi, and president and CEO of Women & Co., Citi’s personal finance resource for women, ” ‘It’s clear from the findings that men need to be a bigger part of the work-life balance conversation – and that we could all benefit from more communication about a variety of career issues, from the way we promote our work to how much we think we’re worth.’ ”

We need to encourage all business women and men to talk about their balance, especially men, since they tend to feel more isolated in their thoughts and ideas. Play, laugh, talk, cry and talk some more… it’s all helpful. Ideas and solutions to balancing out come from remarkable sources. Try it.

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About the Author

Jerri Hemsworth
Jerri Hemsworth
Jerri Hemsworth is Founder/CEO and Creative Director of Newman Grace Inc. Established in 1996, Newman Grace demystifies and simplifies marketing by providing great strategies, great creative materials, and doing so in a friendly way that makes clients feel comfortable and cared for. Jerri is an Editor of Southern California Professional. She is an adjunct faculty member of Woodbury University where she teaches Graphic Design. She also sits on the advisory board of directors for Shane's Inspiration (, a non-profit organization committed to designing inclusive playgrounds and programs that unite children of all abilities.


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