“Work-life balance is a concept that has us simply lashing ourselves on the back and working too hard in each of the three commitments. In the ensuing exhaustion we ultimately give up on one or more of them to gain an easier life.”
Few books I’ve read contain more marked passages and pages than David Whyte’s passionate and thought-provoking book, The Three Marriages: Reimagining Work, Self and Relationship, which argues we should stop thinking in terms of work-life balance.
Whyte argues that we come to a sense of meaning and belonging “only through long periods of exile and loneliness.”
These three lifelong pursuits, Whyte believes, “involve vows made either consciously or unconsciously.” Neglecting any one of these “impoverishes them all” because they are not mutually distinct but rather “different expressions of the way each individual belongs to the world.” Our flirtation with each differs and yet we are left to inter-weave the vows into a cohesive person, consciously or unconsciously.
Whyte’s premise is also his conclusion:
Perhaps this resonates with me more than most because I’ve always found the argument that we should live a balanced life lacking. At its heart this implies we should trade one aspect for another, compromising as we go. To me this trimming of excess in one area to prop up another serves to remove, not create, meaning.
The other argument that Whyte surfaces penetrates the fabric of our human needs: the constant tug of war between our social desires and our need for space. This is another area where we naturally try to find balance and in so doing compromise part of ourselves.
The Three Marriages: Reimagining Work, Self and Relationship “dispels the myth that we are predominately thinking creatures, who can, if we put our feet in all the right places, develop strategies that will make us the paragons of perfection we want to be, and instead, looks to a deeper, almost poetic perspective.”
This piece originally appeared on Farnam Street.
Join over 60,000 readers and get a free weekly update via email here.
- The Real Reason Florida Wants to Ban AP African-American Studies, According to an Architect of the Course
- Column: Tyre Nichols' Killing Is The Result of a Diseased Culture
- Without Evusheld, Immunocompromised People Are on Their Own Against COVID-19
- Here Are All the Movies and TV Shows That Make Up the New DCU
- TikTok's 'De-Influencing' Trend Is Here to Tell You What Stuff You Don't Need to Buy
- Column: America Goes About Juvenile Crime Sentencing All Wrong
- Why Your Tax Refund May Be Lower This Year
- Brazil Wants to Abandon a 34,000-Ton Ship at Sea. It Would be an Environmental Disaster
- The 5 Best New TV Shows Our Critic Watched in January 2023