One of my favorite quotes from Albert Einstein is that you shouldn’t “judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree.” I often start my work day with a reminder of this quote, and it ends this way as well. People often complain that typical male behavior is for them to want to have their cake and eat it too– well, let me just say that plenty of women seem to suffer from similar delusions.

Most GenXers grew up with mothers still spending a lot of time at home, maybe working part-time jobs, but generally speaking the fathers were the ones primarily responsible for financially supporting the household. Until quite recently, therefore, men were primarily judged based on their ability to provide for their families, and generally speaking, the best providers won bragging rights for getting the prettiest brides and producing beautiful families. It was so simple back then, and my male peers sadly grew up with this as their model for what makes a good marriage.

For better or worse the fact is that the traditional family model is rapidly dying out, and now that women have fully entered the workforce at all levels in masses, so we place much less of an emphasis on a man’s ability to provide, and instead give much more weight now to a man’s ability to be a good companion– one who comes home at a reasonable time, shares in the household responsiblities, and communicates with us in an effective, loving way.

Here is the deal- some may still just want a good provider, and if that is your primary criteria in a mate, then you have to accept that in order to be a great provider, that person will probably have to work his/her butt off, and will NOT be readily available to spend quality time or be emotionally available. Those that value spending quality time and sharing more of their emotions, are probably going to make certain sacrifices financially in order to enjoy more of life. The key take-away point here is that we cannot all operate at 100% in all areas of life– it is just not humanly possible. If I am giving 100% of myself to work and being a mom, then I am not going to have much time left for much else– other friends, family, time alone, or quality time with a significant other.

There is only so much time in a day, and we are not machines, much to the chagrin of some employers out there. Finding work-life balance is a never-ending quest, and you have to accept that you will never be able to make everyone happy, this is why it is important to have your priorities straight. So many people throw away their relationships because they are unhappy, and they blame those around them for their unhappiness. But maybe, just maybe before tossing aside their partners or friends, they should ask themselves whether their expectations are actually realistic. Taking a good look within is not easy, and we are typically reluctant to see ourselves in a bad light. It is indeed so much easier to fault others than to find fault in ourselves, but here is another favorite saying that I have heard quite often, yet only quite recently embraced as a fundamental truth: true happiness is not based on any external factors, you will only find it within your own heart.

Once you find your own internal joy, you will find it so much easier to love a fish simply because he is a good fish.  One person cannot be your everything– nor can you be that for someone else.  We all have our limitations, and the key is actually accepting the love someone is capable of giving.  If you want more, then you need to hold out for more, don’t blame someone for his/her inability to be something that you want.  It is a guaranteed recipe for disaster if you expect a fish to climb a tree, and to be blunt the fault there lies entirely with you for setting someone up to fail.