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Reality Check: Married to His Job

Q. It ticks me off that my husband is always on his BlackBerry. How do I get him to leave work at work?

A. A pox on PDAs, cell phones, and any other gadget that allows the world to attach itself, quite literally, to our collective right hip. I recently had dinner with an executive friend of mine who kept interrupting our catching up by answering her e-mail.

She thought we had a nice meal; I left feeling that she just wasn't "there" most of the evening. This is what you'll have to make your husband understand. Most likely he simply doesn't realize how much time he spends on his gadgets or how it's affecting family time. He may even think that by hanging with you and the kids while working, he's striking a perfect balance. So before you blow your stack, sit him down and explain to him that it's not enough for him to be physically in the room. He has to be emotionally present, too.

Ask him to lay out his job demands -- and what his boss expects of him outside the office -- so you can better understand his pressures. Then decide together which trade-offs are acceptable and set ground rules. Maybe he can answer e-mail and phone calls up to an hour after he gets home but shut down in time for dinner. Or maybe they go off when he walks in the door, and he can boot back up after the kids go to sleep. Whatever you decide, a plan will help you both be clear on when the buzzing needs to buzz off.

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