Getting Priorities Right

Chapter 1

“I don’t seem to have enough time for anything these days!”

Sue glanced at Tom as she spread jam thinly on her warm toast. It was the usual boring breakfast. Tom studied the finance pages with a frown on his face, occasionally swallowing a spoonful of cereal and grunting with displeasure. The markets were down again!

If Tom had heard his wife, he’d have nodded his head in agreement, but he’d tuned her out from the time he first read the headlines on retrieving the newspaper from their footpath at 6 am. It was Thursday.

Tom had arrived home at 9.30 pm the evening before after attending a Rotary Club meeting. Sue had been waiting for him with a report on her search for a home in the northern suburbs. When you live in a city apartment you get little rest from traffic noise at night. She’d narrowed the search down to three possibilities. It sure helped that Sue worked in the office of a real estate agency, as house searching was time intensive. They’d both pored over the handouts and spreadsheets until 1 am, and each looked the worse for wear this morning.

“Hello! Thomas, are you in there?” Sue tapped her husband on the head with a spoon to get his attention, but it was the word Thomas that broke the trance. Thomas was the word Sue used when she was an unhappy camper. Tom eyed her apprehensively over the top of the finance report.

“You were talking to me?”

“I ‘m always talking to you, and you’re never listening!”

Tom put the paper down with a sigh and pushed the half finished bowl of cereal out of the way.

“Sorry!”

“And you’re always saying sorry, but things never change afterwards!”

“You’re tired and we both had an unsettled night, so let’s start over. What were you saying?”

“I said I never have time for anything these days.”

“But you do! I think you’re clever to work all day, be involved in charity work, teach art classes of an evening twice a week, and visit your invalid mother every day into the bargain. You were the one who did all the research on our proposed house move. Sounds like you’re well organized to me.”

“I don’t have time to read a book, go for a walk or just drive around and appreciate the scenery. I feel like I’m not in control of my own life.”

Now this was something that resonated with Tom. He did an instant mental inventory of his own program. He was off to work at 7.30 am, and returned home on an average at 8 pm in the evening. He was an active member of Rotary, and that took care of many week ends and evenings. Then he’d been talked into joining the golf club, as his boss had strongly hinted this was the place to make good business contacts if he was looking for advancement. With both their active programs there were few opportunities for quality time together. Their brief contacts were largely when preparing to sleep, and when they were waking up.

They were using up much of the twenty four hours each day, and had worked more holidays than they’d taken off over the past year. The little time they spent together at home was taken up with household chores, which they completed with either the TV or radio going full throttle, and there was the ever present homework from their respective offices. An infernal racket from the traffic during the night interrupted what little sleep they were able to budget time for in their busy programs.

Experience suggested this family was at grave risk of a relationship breakdown. Sue had read an article on the topic while waiting in the studio for her hair appointment this past week. She realized something had to be done, and making necessary changes would be a very painful process. Both of them would have to want to make changes in routine if they were to save their marriage. People do not normally welcome change.

“Can you come home early tonight Tom? We need to have a serious talk, and I’d prefer to do that when we are both wide awake.”

Tom was about to protest, but looking at Sue’s troubled determined face he thought better of it. Maybe she was right after all; their lives seemed to have spun out of control since they married two years ago.

“I’ll cancel my appointments for the evening and give you my undivided attention at home. On second thoughts, let’s start this evening right. Can you meet me at the Harbour Light Restaurant at 6 pm? We can have our talk in pleasant surroundings.”

Sue smiled and nodded. Tom certainly knew how to press all the right buttons with her; the Harbour Light was where he had proposed to her three years earlier.

“On your way or you’ll be late,” she said giving him a final playful tap with the spoon.

To be continued:

“© Copyright Ian Grice 2011 All rights reserved”

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