Generally, we men can’t juggle.
Oh…unless you count throwing one ball up and down as juggling?
As a man I am masterful at doing one thing at a time, but I am not the best at multi-tasking.
If you are a woman you already know this (stop smiling). If you are a man, be honest with yourself.
I taught myself to juggle a while back. It took about an hour to master 3 balls.
The key was to start with one ball and perfect the throw.
That was easy. Add in the second and success came when I got the flow of the throw and catch. Add the third. Not as easy as it looks. That took the longest.
It took focus, concentration, practice and determination to finally get it. Now I can juggle without even trying – on automatic.
But men struggle to juggle their lives. Women don’t.
Women can multi-task. Women today increasingly carry an uneven load at work and home. They carry their careers, their marriages and their families and still manage to keep it all flowing…like those balls. Men (like me for many years) can juggle just one thing well – work.
I used to juggle work for 100 hours per week. I never dropped this ball. As a man I can compartmentalize work into a series of tasks and projects. Tasks and projects have clear boundaries. Relationships don’t.
Enter the second ball.
I call it marriage. This is should be a relationship of primary importance to a man. Once the honeymoon is over and the routine of work and life kicked in, me and so many other men drop this ball frequently.
Relationships are like programs. Women handle these better than men. Programs have no clearly defined end. No end means the perception of a loss of control. That makes us men uncomfortable.
Generally, we men struggle in relationships. Relationships require communication. Eons ago we men hunted in silence; women gathered in groups. Men drew the short straw on this. My wife has taught me a lot about communication. First, I was unwilling but my happiness required I learn…fast.
What about that third ball?
This is family. Just when I was managing the first two! Kids added complexity. Things got complicated. Kids, like marriage, equate to a scary program. I started to drop this ball and the second. But hey…I kept work going. “Big deal,” I hear the ladies say.
To most men the first ball – work – is made of rubber. If we drop it bounces back. The other two balls are made of glass. Men drop these. They crack or shatter. The evidence is the many broken or strained marriages and families. Mom picks up the pieces and starts juggling.
My marriage and family are my top priorities. I practiced. It has paid off. The quality of your lives is not determined by your work but by the quality of your relationships. Men stop struggling and start juggling.
Richard Norris is a contributing blogger for JenningsWire.