Trending Topics

Rise in Dual-Income Couples Managing Marriage and Careers

It’s more important than ever to know how to balance a marriage and a career. Between 1996 and 2006, the percentage of two-income married couples rose 31% in the US. Now, 47.5% of all American married couples are dual-career couples. In Canada, the percentage of husband-wife families that were dual earners is roughly 70%, and approximately two thirds of two-adult families have two incomes in the UK.

Many marriages fail for work-related reasons. And prominent articles like Anne-Marie Slaughter’s recent contribution in The Atlantic, “Why Women Still Can’t Have It All,” and rejoinders like Froma Harrop’s “News Flash: No One Can Have It All” have spurred critical conversations about what it means to practice work/life balance and how married people (or those in other long-term, committed relationships) can make their personal and professional lives work.

We’re part of that dual-career cohort, and we’ve had many discussions about what it means to manage a marriage and a career. As a former marriage counselor, Jackie has seen the problems couples face, and we’ve had challenges of our own, from living in different cities to managing trying travel schedules. But we think that with intentionality, it is possible to manage marriage and a career. While we’re still trying to figure things out, we wanted to offer a few thoughts based on research and our own experience.

Actively manage expectations. Unspoken expectations often lead to disappointment and miscommunication in a relationship. And the first step toward navigating a healthy marriage and an active two-career schedule can be managing expectations — everything from daily routines to ways of working. Do you need time to decompress after a long day at the office or do you need to debrief the day’s events with someone? Do you prefer frequent, short touch points (e.g., phone calls, emails) throughout the day, or do you prefer longer personal time together in the evenings? What are your expectations about travel, meals together, child care, and money? Clarifying these things up front can help you make conscious trade-offs and decisions, rather than running afoul of each other’s unspoken beliefs.

Schedule your spouse. The average person spends 7.6 hours per workday on the job, and for many professionals, that number can double. During your time in the office, you schedule meetings, reviews, and time to…

Source: Harvard Business Review



Back to top