In 2019, more men and women are entering the workforce than before, pushing many of society’s antiquated norms. Just a few decades ago, men were often the only ones to venture into the workforce, leaving women to tend growing families and other household responsibilities. Now that many couples are pursuing simultaneous careers, the dynamics of their relationship have begun to shift in a major way.
There are many ways that two individual career paths can affect and ultimately harm a relationship if issues are not identified head-on. If you find yourself recently exhausted with both your career and your relationship, here’s how you can balance the scales.
Discuss the expected “division of labor” in the home.
It’s easy to slip into society’s pre-set roles where somehow the woman feels responsible for cleaning the house and making dinner, even after working her own shift in the field. In order to avoid the frustration that the infamous “second shift” can bring, sit down with your partner and have an honest conversation about what needs to be expected of both of you. By setting expectations, it will be easier to know what you need to accomplish at the end of the day and will ward off those exhausting fights that pop up when you’re both hungry!
Invest in one another’s goals and dreams in the workplace
While you’re each on a different path in your careers, it’s important to take time to support the other’s career and interests as often as possible. This could include going to a networking event with them that may be outside of your comfort zone, or giving them an online class that touches on something they’ve said they want to get better at. By just showing your partner that you support their career—and vice versa—your relationship will naturally grow stronger.
Use one another as a sounding board for career advice
Not too long ago, my significant other and I sat down with a glass of wine and discussed my upcoming performance review. I was going to ask for a title and pay increase, and I was so nervous. After going through scenarios and explaining lessons we’ve each learned in the past, I felt much more confident about my meeting. While it doesn’t always need to be a sit-down discussion, asking one another's opinions about issues that are coming up at work really helps to draw a team mentality that is very healthy for your relationship.
Find ways to include your partner at work when they physically can’t be present
There’s nothing I find shadier than not knowing when a coworker I am close with has a significant other that they never discuss. It’s important to introduce your partner to your coworkers, even before they can physically meet. By sharing tidbits of your life outside of work, you are not only solidifying your relationship with your coworkers, but also making sure that your partner feels welcome when they come to your work functions.
Schedule time to invest in your relationship without work distractions
Whether or not you have conflicting schedules, make a point to set aside time where the two of you are able to reconnect without the distractions of a work phone or even “shop talk.” Spend these moments completely present with one another. Use this opportunity to bring up things that may need to be fixed in the relationship, or discuss ways you appreciate one another’s efforts during especially hectic times. These designated dates will be the crucial part to being 100% on board with your partner’s career while still feeling as though they are also putting the effort into your relationship.
Implementing even just one of these ideas on a regular basis can begin to reshape not only your individual relationship and career, but also push against what was once the “status-quo.” As the years roll by, generational change is inevitable—and so are the tactics we need to employ against having to choose between our love lives and a fulfilling career.
Samantha Rosenfeld spends 40-some hours a week working to promote the study of surface science as the head of North American Marketing for a German-based manufacturing company. Outside of that (and any time in between) she creates content and marketing campaigns for her freelance clientele and professional development website, Samantha Rosenfeld Marketing. Follow her at @FormativeStory on Twitter or @FormativeStoryteller on Instagram.