I switch between them as the situation dictates occasionally operating out of two compartments at the same time. This probably doesn't happen too often but I know it can.
Sometimes though, in fact all too frequently, I get caught between closing one box and being forced to open another. This wreaks havoc with my mental wiring. I feel like I am being metaphorically pulled in two directions, like I am on one of those medieval torture devices, and about to rip in half.
This is what it feels like when I get stuck between compartments and it causes a lot of emotional strain and depletes my reserves of patience. A lack of patience, as we both know, often leads to misunderstandings and contention with others.
Late last week I become engrossed in a project that I have been trying to complete off and on for about a year at work. I have made considerable headway in the last month and am hoping to wrap it up, tie a bow on it, and deliver it to my boss any day now. The problem was that I had a mental breakthrough on how to solve the last issue with the project...just before five o'clock.
That same night our family had committed to attend an award ceremony where a family friend was being recognized. The ceremony started at six.
Cami called me about 5:30pm and asked how my afternoon had gone. I gave her a brief reply and asked about hers. She shared a little bit and then sensed that I wasn't giving her my full attention so she inquired when I would be home.
"In a little bit" I answered. "I'm trying to finish this project I'm working on and I'm finally making some headway."
"That's wonderful," was her reply. "You do remember that we need to be at the ceremony by six, right?" "Yeah, I know" was my response.
"Okay..." she said drawing out the "ay" for a few seconds.
We quickly expressed our love for one another and then hung up the phone. Not ten seconds later it dawned on me that I had sensed in her tone that she wasn't very happy that I was still at work and was very sweetly and indirectly telling me to come home right away.
Always trying to be the obedient and loving husband I stopped what I was doing, put my coat on, and headed home.
On the walk home (we live within walking distance of my office. It's great!) I realized I was feeling really irritated with the situation. Not with Cami specifically but that I had all of these priorities and obligations constantly tugging at me and I was sick of it. I nearly yelled in frustration.
When I walked in the door the kids cheered and then they all chastised me for being so late. I bet them that I would still be ready before they would be and next thing you knew the greatest race was on (I did win in case you were wondering).
As I unwound later that evening I realized that my irritability and extreme frustration as I walked home was in large part due to the fact that at the time I felt trapped between two open compartments: work and home. Because I chose to drop everything at work and rush home I didn't fully close that compartment. So as I walked home and tried to open my home compartment the two mixed. That's bad.
The moral of the story: make sure to close your compartments. It will prevent frustrations in one part of your life from negatively affecting relationships in another. Specifically, I am talking about your marriage. Don't let work, church, community service, or friends negatively impact your marriage. Adhere to the adage "leave work at work."
Now, I'm going to close this compartment and go eat breakfast.