Get a Life

By Judith Welles

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Get a Life!: Marley and life

Just out on DVD and more about dogs than people, “Marley & Me” tells a rather unhappy story of work life.

I was surprised that no previous commentary on the film noted what happened to the careers of the husband and wife who raised Marley, the yellow Lab. 

As many Labrador retrievers can be, Marley was incorrigible and a character.  But he also had Lab strength of character, protective and caring of children, and great for exercising the adults in his family. With a 100-pound dog, forget the treadmill.

Marley’s “mom” (Jennifer Aniston) was a prominent feature writer for a daily newspaper and his “dad” (Owen Wilson) was initially an investigative reporter.  When mom and dad had babies of their own (three to be exact), their careers took drastic right turns. 

Aniston gave up her career totally for the mommy track, and Wilson (portraying John Grogan) gave up his job as a reporter because it required travel. He became a columnist filing articles just twice a week. Of course, in real life, Grogan wrote the book on Marley that became a best-seller.

In the movie, it wasn’t clear how they managed to afford their lifestyle on one, almost part-time, income. More importantly, it wasn’t clear why they didn’t try to bring some work life balance into play rather than give up work.

Kids and dogs make life challenging and sometimes stressful, but also fun and meaningful.  Private companies striving to retain and recruit valuable employees recognize the need for work life balance. The key benefits are flexible hours and flexible workplaces such as telework. 

Government is catching on. Legislative proposals being considered by the Congress this week would provide paid parental leave for birth or adoption of babies. Another would expand telework, a benefit that the Office of Personnel Management is also promoting. 

I’m waiting for a movie that shows some work life heroes – families with kids and dogs and jobs. But then, life as a fed is a balancing act every day. 

Posted by Judith Welles on Jun 02, 2009 at 12:12 PM


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