Like any good IT person, I have many technical newsletters delivered to my inbox each day. Newsletters – I always intent to read, but may never do.
Today, before simply deleting the last weeks worth, I actually glanced through them. And one article caught my eye:
“IT People Are From Mars: Why Your Marriages Are from Hell Or Are Headed That Way”
Relationship advice from a technical magazine. Must be a slow news day.
Curiosity got the better of me, so I clicked the link so I could read the article. I was a bit annoyed by it really. The author had posted a question to the magazine’s LinkedIn forum asking “What do you wish your spouse understood about your job?”
What she found was that communication issues were the issues most encountered by IT management types and their spouses. So, she tackled the issues one-by-one.
Her responses to how to handle situations better was very lopsided. While IT management is still, in many areas, male dominated, I struggled with using her advice with my husband.
For example, people complained that they don’t always have time to return phone calls home which leads to hurt feelings as well as assumptions that something must be wrong with the relationship – or if you aren’t returning my call, you must be mad.
The author’s comment was to say something like “I just called to say I love you.” That will, in the author’s words, “get you a weeks’ worth of whatever you want.” To be fair, she does go on to say that you are showing consideration and thoughtfulness which is a gesture that can go a long ways.
Fist off, I wouldn’t have this issue with my husband. Why? Because he understands what is going on. I explain what is happening. And, I explain why I cannot always answer the phone if he calls. So, in many cases he will use email or text to let me know a piece of info I need. And, if I don’t call back, he knows I’m busy. Why? I’ve communicated with him about that part of my job. He gets it.
Second, if he did need to get a hold of me and I wasn’t returning emails or text messages or calls – simply saying “I love you” isn’t going to get me out of the doghouse. I’m sorry, but to imply love is a universal get out of trouble card in a relationship is simply false. As much as the idealist in me wants to believe love with conquer all, I know that it isn’t always the case. How about being considerate and making 5 minutes to make a call once in a while? As an IT person, I know there is always time to do that. And people around you will understand; we all have home lives of some sort. Treat people as you would want to be treated. Simple idea.
Lastly, I don’t care what job you are in – you must have balance between work and home. Do you want to be known as the IT person who solved problems well? Or the person who was a great parent, raised fabulous kids, and was a great spouse and friend? I chose the non-work one. I’m all for being career-driven, but we are living in a day and age where companies care more about their balance sheets than they do their employees. The public sector is having to downsize due to budget short falls as well. Jobs come and go – so why not make sure your family does not follow the same pattern.
Overall, I am amazed at the fact there was enough to do this article. IT people are successful due to their ability to analyze a situation and solve the problem. Many times, it is the simple act of communication that solves that problem or at least sets expectations. Ironic that at the heart of this article is communicating and problem solving – two things that IT managers should be good at. Maybe that’s why I never assume in my personal life, that I error on the side of over-communication as a way to set expectations among those I care about. Why should I be giving more at the office than I am at home?