Airplane Mode Strengthened My Marriage
How Disconnecting After Work Can Help Your Most Important Relationships
A few weeks ago, my wife was feeling down and didn’t know what to do about it. Things with her work were not going according to plans, she wasn’t being challenged enough, and overall felt like she wasn’t spending her time the best way she could.
I was at work when she messaged me about how she felt. I strongly suggested her to try journaling. The idea was just to write down anything that came to mind, with an emphasis on gratitude, realizing the important things and important people in her life.
Though it was a great suggestion, I probably should have called her instead. But I digress.
I came back a bit early from work that day. She had listened to my suggestion and journaled.
She came crying in my arms, thanking me and apologizing to me. I wasn’t expecting that. When I had mentioned it, I certainly didn’t think about her being grateful to me. If anything, I had been a terrible husband. But I didn’t realize it then.
We thought her problems were related to work. We were wrong. I was wrong.
Her crying and being grateful to me made me realize that I didn’t deserve it. She works for Doctors Without Borders. She does six-month missions where I cannot be with her. We are apart for at least half the year, yet ever since we had reunited in February, all I’ve done was work.
I pride myself in being involved in seven different projects, having impeccable routines, working 14 hours a day — including on weekends, and achieving many of my goals. When we finished work for the day, I would tell her about all my achievements with intense enthusiasm, completely ignoring the fact that things were not going as well for her.
When I came back to her that day and she told me she was grateful for the things I did for her, I couldn’t help but realize I didn’t deserve it.
I apologized to her a few hours after that realization. I was a most negligent husband. A classic workaholic who only thought about my work.
I told her I’d change things around:
- I decided we’d leave work earlier. We used to finish at 7 pm. Now we’re aiming for any time between 5–6 pm. That extra time we have together is used to talk about other things than work, and do more than just watch another episode of Suits on Netflix.
- I decided I’d put my phone in airplane mode after work, helping me disconnect from any work distraction. Our 4G is currently our only internet at home, so that means completely disconnecting for us.
Here’s the realization I came to:
She is the most important person in my life, yet I was neglecting her for something I most certainly didn’t need to get done right away: my work.
Now she’s going to leave again for six months in about a month.
It doesn’t matter all the accomplishments I’ve made in the past 4 months. I now wished I had put my phone in airplane mode earlier. We communicate more. We communicate better. We spend more quality time together and have more mutual respect for each other.
Think about your most important relationships. Ask yourself these questions:
- Who are your most important relationships with?
- How do you cherish them?
- What do you do to keep these relationships healthy?
- What boundaries do you set to disconnect from work and nurture these relationships?
- Are you doing the best you can?
- Have you considered that maybe it’s your fault that the relationship isn’t perfect?
- What can you do about it?
Something as mundane cutting yourself from technology after work can have major impacts in your life and your relationships. But that’s not the only way, and only you know what works for you. Reflect on that. Experiment. Implement.
You can do this!
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