Too Tired to Love

November 20 2023 | by

Dear Mr. Pfister, I struggle with managing my work/life balance. I’ve been working at the same job for approximately eleven years. I’m compensated fairly, but I am constantly being asked to work more and more, which leaves less and less time for my family. It’s gotten to the point where I don’t feel as if I am giving my family the love and attention they need and deserve. My efforts to find balance have been hit-and-miss for the last six months. I find myself making more time for my wife and children, but more often than not my son’s request to play catch with me in the yard is followed by, “Daddy would love to but he’s got more work he needs to do. How about tomorrow?” I feel God calling me to make a more impactful and sustainable change. How do I strike a balance between my work and home life?


Maintaining a proper work/life balance, particularly in modern society, has become more of an exception to the rule as opposed to the rule. And while we know how important it is for our physical, mental, and emotional well-being to find this balance – not to mention to follow God’s commandment to keep holy the Lord’s Day – it remains a relatively rare phenomenon.

Many of us are unaware that engaging in proper rest and relaxation is actually virtuous, and assists us in our mental and spiritual growth. Saint Thomas Aquinas, following Aristotle, assigns to this rightly-ordered recreation the name eutrapelia, from the Greek word for ‘wittiness’. Saint Thomas states the following as to the necessity of recreation:

“… Just as man needs bodily rest for the body’s refreshment, because he cannot always be at work, since his power is finite and equal to a certain fixed amount of labor, so too is it with his soul, whose power is also finite and equal to a fixed amount of work. Consequently when he goes beyond his measure in a certain work, he is oppressed and becomes weary… Now just as weariness of the body is dispelled by resting the body, so weariness of the soul must needs be remedied by resting the soul: and the soul’s rest is pleasure… Consequently, the remedy for weariness of soul must needs consist in the application of some pleasure… Now such like words or deeds wherein nothing further is sought than the soul’s delight, are called playful or humorous. Hence it is necessary at times to make use of them, in order to give rest, as it were, to the soul” (ST II-II q. 168 a. 2, sed contra).

Recognizing that recreation – such as our time playing catch with our son – is not only virtuous, but that it glorifies God when done well and is also necessary for our spiritual good, gives us the focus we must maintain if we are going to make the impactful and sustainable change we desire to make. But where do we start?

Firstly, we must begin with prayer, asking God for the grace to build this virtue and employ it regularly in our life. Secondly, we need to prioritize our time from God’s perspective rather than our own. Our days should be structured based on the following priorities: 1) God; 2) Spouse; 3) Children; 4) Everything else.

After determining the amount of time that should be given to the first three areas of priority, we can then divide the remaining time we have in our day among our other priorities, including work. Implementing this list of priorities will allow you to be the exception as opposed to the rule in maintaining a proper work/life balance.

Updated on November 20 2023