You Can Order “Work-Life Balance” on Amazon

By Jelisha Gatling

No, you cannot actually purchase “work-life balance”.  Logically, you knew that upon reading the title, but yet here you are!  

The idea is certainly appealing but no more realistic than the ability to buy “trust” or “true love”.  Apparently, those kinds of orders are out of stock, even on Amazon Prime.  Go figure.  

In a world where nearly every desire is at our fingertips, it’s not so far fetched to fantasize of online shopping for quick fixes to reignite passion into our relationships.  Imagine a world where we could restock an online cart full of effective communication, sexual desire, and novelty to more easily nurture our relationships.

There are some things that we have to work really hard for and dare I say…. take a lot of effort, time, and discomfort.  What do you have a hard time waiting for or sustaining that nourishes your relationships?

This question leads us to explore how the ease of instant-gratification can lead us to having unreasonable expectations within our relationships. Our decreased attention spans combined with the quick fixes that modern technology affords us fuels our ever-growing impatience for…..well…..everything.  

The day-to-day instant-gratification that we have with the touch of a screen has made a wait-time of any kind almost abhorrent.  People gasp in disbelief upon discovering that the nearest Uber is 7 minutes away as if they have just been informed that their toes would be cut off and sold on EBay.  

It is my belief that such reactions are induced by what I call the invisible “Fix-It-NOW-Fairy”.  My theory is that it is a direct result of Amazon Prime and Snap chat filters.  I can order light bulbs tonight and have them tomorrow while simultaneously turning into a sexy rabbit.  The possibilities are endless or are they?

As a couples therapist, I have discovered that modern day instant-fulfillment impacts the process of therapy and relationship recovery.

"How long will this take? How many sessions before things get better?"

It’s a common question that couples ask in the first session, if not on our initial phone consultation.  Sometimes, it’s asked before even revealing their concerns for coming in.

Of course, the answer depends on a multitude of factors including the issue and most importantly on the willingness and effort of both partners.  This includes both in and outside of sessions.

The question of “How long…?” is a reasonable question when waiting for a table at a restaurant.  But your relationship is not a sit-down-dinner or an Uber!  Ponder the willingness to wait in line for an hour for shake shack and coincidentally expecting to repair longstanding toxicity in a relationship in the same amount of time.

It’s useful to reflect on how long the issue has been going on.  If disconnection in your relationship has manifested for over 6 months, is it reasonable to expect to rebuild connection in 3 weeks?  We have to clean the wounds of your relationship so that we can gain insight.  We then are in a position to move forward, heal, and rejuvenate and reinvent new healthier ways of interacting.  Quick fixes only put a Band-Aid over the injury.

So how do we get away from fixating on how long the process could take?  For starters, let’s get away from focusing on what is not working and shift to articulating what will.    We can start with getting clear about how we would like things to be.  What would it look like when things are better?  What would be happening that isn’t right now?  What do we miss that used to nourish us? I encourage you to ask yourself these questions with any relationship dilemma.

It might help to quiet the “fix-it-NOW-fairy” if you reflect on the most meaningful moments of your life.  Recall memories, people and places that bring a smile to your face at just the mere thought of them.  What past photos do you look at that instantly give your heart a boost?  Maybe it was a show.  Maybe it was helping an elderly lady with her groceries that caused you to remember your great health with gratitude.  Maybe it was the boss that gave you a chance at your dream job with no experience.  Maybe it was arriving home to your dog running up to you with unconditional love at the simple sight of you.  

The majority of experiences that evoke such emotion and significance are things that you cannot acquire at the click of a mouse or within one conversation.  They likely weren’t ordered or requested.  In fact, you might discover that what you think you are missing has been there all along.  You just need to open your eyes and look through a different lens.