Work-Family Balance Was Never Easy. Then the Pandemic Hit.


Christian husband-wife duo share their research on how couples approach love and work.

The pandemic-induced shutdown has showed us, among other lessons, how hard it really is to juggle work and family.

For example, one married couple, both academics, tracked a workday at home during quarantine. They recorded an average of 15 interruptions by their two children each hour; the typical uninterrupted stretch of work was a mere three minutes, 24 seconds. During this season, the idea of having a successful career and a flourishing family can seem impossible.

Another couple, Christians Jeff and André Shinabarger, started wondering about this tension long before the pandemic. They were living out these big questions under their own roof.

“We say oftentimes that if we change the world and lose our family, we lose,” Jeff said. “And that starts with my relationship with André, our individual relationship, and how that impacts the rest of our family.”

Over two years ago, the Shinabargers—husband Jeff, the founder of startup network Plywood People and wife André, a physician’s assistant—launched a podcast called Love or Work, interviewing couples and relationship experts about marriage, family, and purpose.

They road-tripped in an Airstream to hear from families prioritizing their vocations and their marriages. And they partnered with Christian research organization Barna Group to survey 1,500 couples about work-life balance.

Now Jeff and André have co-authored Love or Work: Is It Possible to Change the World, Stay in Love & Raise a Healthy Family? The book seeks to answer this question through personal anecdotes, lively debates between Jeff and André, and their research. (A detailed report of their survey findings can be downloaded here.)

The couple …

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