The Balancing Act: Can You Have It All?

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career marriage
Janet Hanson provides insight on how to balance work and love.

In 1987, I resigned from a blockbuster 11-year career at the premier investment banking firm of Goldman Sachs. I had gotten married in 1980 to a wonderful guy I worked with. We sat directly across from each other on the trading floor. We had been secretly dating for three years and so our engagement announcement was a tremendous shock to our colleagues. Unfortunately, we got divorced four years later when we figured out that while we loved being business colleagues, we were not in love. We continued to sit across from each other on the sales desk as we truly enjoyed working with each other. We even had "joint custody" of our teddy bear, Joe.

But then an interesting thing happened. My ex-husband immediately started dating lots of nice gals and I had no dates. But this allowed me to work longer hours. A year later, I became the comanager of the Money Market Sales Group in New York, which was the first time in Goldman’s history that a woman had been promoted to sales management. I was ecstatic. And since I didn’t have a social life, I started working on the weekends as well. My ex thought I was crazy to take on more responsibility on top of a full client load, and he thought it was amusing that I was now his boss.

For the next year while he dated, I worked. About six months after we split up, we decided to go out to dinner for old time's sake. I looked at my ex and said, "Gee, we seem to be having so much fun, do you think we'll ever get back together?" I might as well have hit him in the face with a bucket of ice water; he looked at me and said, "No way!" Although hurt, I had the courage to ask him why; he looked at me and said, "Because you're too old." At the time, I was 32 and he was 36. No one I've ever told this story to has understood why at that moment I thanked him. I thanked him because even though the message was brutal, it was the absolute truth. At that moment I knew there was a very low probability that I would ever get remarried as long as I worked all day and entertained clients most nights.

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