What can marriage advice do for your career?

Over at BNET, I posted a Q&A with Alisa Bowman, author of Project: Happily Ever After. A few years ago, Bowman (a Pennsylvania-based journalist) was convinced her marriage was over. She was not only fantasizing about divorce, she was fantasizing about her husband’s death, which seemed like a bad sign. But, in part because she had a young daughter, she decided to make a last-ditch effort to save her marriage. She worked her way through several of the best marriage self-help books, test-driving their strategies. After 4 months, her marriage had gotten so much better that she and her husband renewed their vows. Her book is out this coming week, and I thought BNET readers might be interested in seeing how the advice she used to save her marriage could also help salvage a career.

Basically, any relationship improvement project comes down to two things. First, no one can read our minds. Instead of ruminating that your co-workers (or partner) are treating you badly because they are horrible people, you can ask to be treated differently. You can calmly say what you would like the other person to do. Direct requests can still be ignored, but they’re a lot harder to ignore than sighs and insinuations.

And second, we have to be responsible for our own happiness. Rather than lamenting how unfair it is that our jobs (or our partners) aren’t making us happy, we have to learn what, exactly, makes us happy, and engineer this into our own lives. Or as Bowman puts it, “It’s not your spouse’s job to take care of you. It’s your job to take care of yourself. Your spouse is here to support you in that quest… It’s the knowledge that you can stand on your own two feet that will give you the courage you need to face and solve your marital problems.” Likewise, you can acknowledge that you chose your job, and could choose differently. Secure in that knowledge, you can start taking baby steps toward adding more of the stuff you like and are good at, and subtracting the things you’d like to get off your plate. It’s a fascinating read (and, of course, I’m happy that Bowman suggests 168 Hours in the appendix as an additional resource!)

In other 168 Hours news:

  • Remember the 168 Hours Challenges? I finally went through and made it easier to navigate through the whole week. You can read the threads about the June challenge here, and the September challenge here.
  • Sometimes I feel like book promotion (while writing another one) is such a slog. Then I read blog posts like “The Hard Work of Having Fun” (from Learning Mommy) and I remember why I wrote 168 Hours.

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4 thoughts on “What can marriage advice do for your career?

  1. I would really like to read this.. one issue — this title, “Happily Ever After” is actually the title of many, many books, so when you look it up at barnes & noble, which I guess is the Wal Mart of books now — you cannot find it that easily, a lot of other books come up!

    I just read an article in Redbook where a woman goes on sites that are for cheaters and how this improves her marriage — the article is so-so,but the idea I thought was great, and the voyeuristic idea of looking into someone else’s life to better your own it is quite interesting and effective…

    I have done really well just telling my husband over and over what I want… actually in Happiness Project she backs away from this in that it can be nagging– but it can also open up communication — like if you say I want I want, and the spouse says, I want this and this and you are both hearing each other sometimes it is easier to get to compromise than if the other person is just bitching to her girlfriends (though I find that quite therapeutic too!)

  2. .. “fantasizing about her husband’s death, which seemed like a bad sign …”

    Yikes.

    Take it from a widow who is now blissfully and unspeakably gratefully re-married: “bad sign” is an understatement.

    Whenever the thought of life w/o my present husband crosses my mind (because, after all, one of us has to go first), I try to do something extra nice for him — now, while I have the chance. As Carly Simon observed, these are the good old days.

    (I stumbled on your blog via a BNET link — good stuff here!)

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