There are many parts of your marriage to figure out, negotiate, and navigate. One of the most important, and often taken for granted part, is your career. As a career coach, it is powerful to work with individuals and couples who are intentional about creating a vision and setting goals for their careers.
Here are 6 key things you can do to support one another in your careers as part of a healthy, loving marriage.
1. Communicate, communicate, and communicate
A dear coaching mentor, Brandon Smith, says that in the absence of communication, people will make it up and when they make it up, it’s usually not good. So if you don’t want your spouse making it up, you have to be willing to communicate about all matters of the heart, including your career. What are your short and long-term career goals? If you don’t know them yourself, work with a career coach to figure them out and then let your partner know what they are so they can support you in having career success.
Share the joys and challenges of your career with your spouse. We often spend more time at work than anywhere else. Make sure that your partner has a clear sense of what you are doing when you are apart for all of that time.
2. Know the deal breakers
You need to know where to draw the proverbial line in the sand on several work-related areas. Think through these before they present themselves and potentially create a rift in your relationship. Here are some questions to ponder to help you determine your deal breakers. How much travel can you live with, for yourself and for your partner? Do either of you have to be away for an extended period of time? If a promotion or new job required moving, are you willing and can your career be compatible with that kind of move? If not, are you open to living in separate places for a time for the sake of your career goals? Are you clear on how much time spent at work is too much? Do you care if your spouse makes more money or has better perks at work? You must get clear on these answers as a couple!
If you haven’t already, go ahead and make peace with the need to break traditional gender roles and determine who does what best. If he’s great in the kitchen and she loves doing the lawn, be comfortable in breaking the norms of who does what. While we can have it all, it is usually the case that we can’t have it all at once. What practices will you put in place to support the household tasks getting done without any resentment building up over that pile of dishes in the sink or the back lawn that is out of control? Consider creating a realistic division of labor and outsourcing for help as much as needed. There is no shame in getting professional help in this area in order to support having a healthy marriage that honors the demands of the career.
4. Family planning
For those with children or who would like to have children, be intentional about how you will support one another with children added to the picture. Will one or both of you take family leave or stop working all together for a while? If not, do your careers dictate that you hire help to deal with all the things that come with family life?
5. Be nimble
Things out of your control will surely change at work. Be flexible enough that your partnership at home can withstand handling whatever changes come. There may be times when one of you needs to give more attention to work. Be able to handle this and not take it personally while supporting your spouse in handling the changes. There will be an ebb and flow for each of you in your careers and you must be nimble to support one another through the waves as they come.
Celebrate the small and BIG successes in your careers. Your spouse got a raise or promotion? You solved a challenge at work or have figured out how to deal with that difficult boss or co-worker? Great! Celebrate! Find ways to make one another feel special and appreciated for your successes. Maybe that’s a fun date night. Maybe it’s a thoughtful handwritten note showering praise upon your spouse. Do something that shows you see how they are showing up and succeeding in their career.
Don’t be another one of the divorce statistics! With intentionality, flexibility, and communication, you can have a healthy marriage and successful careers that allow both of you to be joyful people living out your dreams together.