3 Keys to Work-Life Balance for a Happy Marriage

advice: relationship john gray

If you’re wondering how to be a good husband and find work-life balance so you can stay productive in your career and have a great relationship, this article is for you.

The fact is that life can be stressful when you’re juggling work, family, and time for yourself too. So how can you ensure that you’re doing all you can to maintain a happy marriage? I’ll tell you.

In this post, you’ll learn the common myth about what it takes to find work-life balance as a family man, three simple steps you can take to be a good husband even when you’re busy, and the true story of how these steps both changed my family and skyrocketed my career.

Hi John,

How do you balance all the responsibilities of a family and work life, on top of a relationship? 

This gives us less time together and time to coordinate and really listen to each other. 

– Eric


A Common Myth About “Work-Life Balance”


I want to start by addressing a common misunderstanding of what it takes to have a successful career, relationship, and family.

The misunderstanding is that having a relationship and family will take away from your career or vice versa.

Maybe you think that because you have more responsibilities that require your time for work or as a father, that it’s simply impossible to also meet your wife or girlfriend’s needs as well.

But a few simple shifts can help you nurture your relationship without taking away from your children or career.

So what’s the first thing you can do differently?


How to Be a Good Husband Step 1:
Make This One Small Shift to Create More Balance


I remember, when I used to come home from work, all of my children would run to me and yell "Daddy, daddy, daddy!" They were all filled with such unconditional love for me, so all of my attention went to them and not my wife.

At one point, my wife Bonnie said to me, "You know, John, the kids just don't listen to me. They always listen to you, but they don't listen to me."

And I thought about that and wondered: "What could I do to help?" So I made a decision to begin prioritizing her and demonstrating to our children that Bonnie was number one. This was a key step in becoming a better husband to her and creating more work-life balance for me.

What that looked like in practice was this:

I began coming home and first asking “Where’s your mom?”

All it took was a few weeks of this.


After that, when I would come home, the first thing my kids would say is:

  • “Mom's upstairs!”
  • “Mom's in the garden!”
  • “Mom's in the kitchen!”


They would still run and jump into my arms to say hello, but we’d head towards Bonnie together. Even my dog would take me to where Bonnie was. And, when the kids saw that, they started listening to their mother more too.

This helped Bonnie feel loved and supported and set a beautiful example for the children.

In addition to this, I also made one other change to create more work-life balance...


How to Be a Good Husband Step 2:
You Lead the Way for Your Kids


In addition to changing how I behaved when I came home, I changed my behavior around dinner time.

See, when Bonnie would say: "Dinner's ready," I'd usually say, "Okay, everybody, go to dinner." But... I wouldn’t get up, leave my office, and go to dinner right away myself. So, what did the kids see? They saw dad doing what he wanted to do and not respecting mom.

But you lead the way for your kids, so you have to lead by example.

So here, I made a subtle change. When Bonnie said, "Dinner's ready." Boom. I got up and said, "Let's get in there." I stopped work right away and ran right in there with the kids.

When the kids saw my responsiveness to Bonnie’s requests, they also started respecting her more. As a result, she experienced more ease and felt more loved and supported by me.


So, the first lesson you need to remember is this: put her first. 

Often we think our children need us the most, but actually, our spouses need us the most. 

When children see mom and dad respecting, caring, and loving each other, then they feel more loved.

A little boy grows up knowing how to respect a woman.

A little girl grows up knowing that she can trust men to be there for her.


So, by prioritizing your wife, you're setting the best example for your children, and you're going to nurture your wife at the same time.

There’s one more simple ritual that can make finding work-life balance simple and make all the difference in your relationship too.



How to Be a Good Husband Step 3:
Create the Space to Hear Her Needs


Because I was often busy in my career and would counsel and travel a lot, time together felt scarce. This was one of the biggest work-life balance challenges for us until we sat down and talked about it.

In this conversation, I said:

"Look, my job is counseling, I travel, and…

...I want to make sure you're getting your needs met so that we're together as much time as required by you, for what you would like."

Then, we talked about our preferences.

And I asked this very important question:

"Just tell me, knowing that this is my job, what's the ideal situation for you?"

Then, we discussed it and put the time she needed: On. The. Calendar.

It was really important to put it down because there'd be some months where she would feel like, "Oh, you're never here. I never see you."

So I’d hear that and, without getting defensive, I’d ask: “Okay, help me understand that better, tell me more?"

And I'd listen.

Sometimes she would just feel that way — that I was never home — and when we would go to the calendar, she would see that her needs were actually being met.

But it was only after I first heard her feelings that we could have that conversation.

Because often when our feelings are there, until they're heard, they're not always in balance or as logical as we’d like them to be. 

We had even more work-life balance in place than we realized, but hearing her and having the conversation helped us both see and feel it.

Taking a little time to hear her needs taught me something too.

Here’s what I learned and the truth of how that impacted my work life...


How Does This Impact Your Work Life?


What I had to learn was that by taking time for my wife and children, my work was better.

Work-life balance was not only an option, it was support and fuel to become successful in all areas.

When I made a decision inside myself to take more time for my wife and children, I became more effective in my career endeavors.

But it is a decision.

I said to myself:

"If I stand by my values of relationship, love, and family and prioritize that, that will create a foundation inside of myself to be more successful in my work.”

That was (and is) my work-life balance philosophy. I knew that as a result, I would feel more balanced, so I would feel more creative, and then people would trust me more easily because I was leading as an example of a good human being.

When I made that decision, I had my responsibilities and commitments, and I was fulfilling them.

The truth is that when you have those foundations for your family in place, your work will be more effective in whatever endeavor you choose.

So, that's some great insights for balancing work life, home life, and family life with your relationship.

Put your partner first, create space to hear her feelings and needs, and put that time together on the calendar.

Setting this example will create a positive impact on your children and your peace of mind, and will allow you to succeed even more in your career while enjoying work-life balance.


Grow in love,


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