Dear Rabbi and Shira ,
I’m engaged to an awesome girl but I am not sure what to do about her work habits . She has a challenging job that keeps her busy 24/7. Her boss doesn’t mind if she comes to the office or does her work from home as long as the job gets done. Unfortunately, the job gets done when we are on dates or just in the middle of a discussion. One minute I’m having a conversation with her and the next minute she’s talking, voice noting, or texting on her phone completely oblivious to me and our conversation. This is obviously very hurtful. Although she wants to have better phone habits, she is having trouble breaking this vicious cycle and I am not sure how to help her.
Distracted in Ditmas
Thanks for writing! Welcome to the year 2020! The challenges you are experiencing are the obstacles many face as the work force has become more mobile and as the world can be accessed instantly in the palm of our hands. While it is great that your kallah’s job is flexible and that she can work from home, you are learning that this flexibility comes with its own set of challenges.
In terms of your Kallah’s work habits, are her sudden entrances into “Work mode” because she remembers to do something, because her job comes with a lot of crises, or a little of both? Have a conversation with her about which messages/emails are considered urgent, which are important, and which are neither. Agree on a signal, or method of communicating that she has entered “work mode,” to help manage the transitions. We think you should discuss with her how her spontaneous work is affecting your relationship. Explain how it feels to you when you are in the middle of a conversation and she chooses the phone instead.
Although you say her job is consuming her 24 hours a day, does she need to be on call for that long? Even doctors have work hours. Is she fully aware of the amount of time she is spending on the phone? There is a feature called Screen Time on the iphone which reports how many hours a day a person spends on the phone. By monitoring herself, she can analyze her usage and begin to plan how to better use her time.
What other boundaries can she put into place to limit her hours a day that she is working? Perhaps she can put her phone on airplane mode a few hours each day. What rules can you both set up to maximize your time together with the minimum amount of distraction?
Think about yourself as well, are you doing this as well and not noticing?
Come up with an action plan on how the two of will make time for each other each day with limited distraction. With the proper planning, you’ll be able to make that job’s flexibility work for the both you.
Rabbi Reuven and Shira Boshnack