Biglaw bee here (but not in DC). I’ll offer just a brief perspective from my POV: my Darling Husband is the most incredible, patient, understanding human on earth to deal with me when I have to work all kinds of random hours / when I’m waiting around for docs or a call and unable to leave the house / etc. It’s difficult for *me* to come to grips with how understanding and patient he is when he’s the one making much more than me and I often feel like I’m the worst life partner in the world, but he’s a total champ about it and doesn’t think twice. He knows this is the career I’ve chosen and has been supportive every step of the way since we were little baby freshmen in undergrad. That doesn’t mean it doesn’t get to him sometimes — this past NYE weekend, I was working on and off pretty much right up until the ball dropped, and even though we had no formal plans and were just hanging out at home, he had basically spent the whole weekend with our kitty keeping him company and with me holed up in our home office on calls. Once the deal signed, he admitted that he really missed me and was sad, so I showered him with attention and we spent all of New Year’s Day doing whatever he wanted.
What helps us get through the roughest times with my work is him being flexible (with plans, with meals, etc.) whenever it’s possible, but also me being cognizant at all times about what’s really important to him and about things that we just can’t be flexible about. For example, if we have tickets to a play or a game, I’ll make it 10000% clear to my bosses that I’m unavailable then. I won’t let us miss that. I might have to check and respond to emails during intermissions/timeouts/etc., but I will not cancel on him.
What also helps is that when I don’t have anything work-related going on, we take full advantage. We’ll go to places we’ve had on our list for awhile, go on little trips out of town, or just cuddle in front of the TV and catch up on our favorite shows. And during that time, my attention is completely focused on him and what we’re doing. My phone goes away.
tl;dr: Flexibility, but the ability to prioritize the things that really matter, is key for us.
Oh and as for hours, mine overall aren’t bad at all (we have no minimum billables and are just encouraged to shoot for ~40 hours per week), the problem is that they are completely unpredictable. Before the NYE weekend I mentioned above, I was barely billing 10 hours a week for several weeks. As for perks, I can work from home whenever I want and come into the office / leave the office whenever I want. So that means I can maximize time at home with Darling Husband and get home to him in the evenings, even if I have to do some work later at night from home.
(I guess this wasn’t brief lol. Sorry!)