When we get married I plan to work part-time to help with the bills, but really want to be a traditional stay-at-home wife. However, my husband, who is just beginning his career, seems to think his work shouldn’t concern me and as a result I feel left out. I’m not a control freak, but I’d like to be included in his career plans. Do you think that’s wrong?
“What do you want to be when you grow up?” is a challenging question to answer when you are three years old. At age eighteen, or sometimes earlier, there comes another one: “Have you decided what you are going to do with your life?” Then comes the inquiry heard over and over before retirement: “What do you do for a living?” It sometimes seems our society is obsessed with occupations and careers. In turn, our identity is linked to a our career choice. And, in a very real sense, so is our marriage.
The decisions you or your new husband will be making during your work life hold the potential to dramatically influence your marriage. Career decisions are not isolated in a compartment totally separate from your home life. Your husband may leave work at the office, but work won’t leave him (remember, it’s part of our identity). Since work plays such a dominant role in our lives, it cannot help but to impact our marriage. That’s why charting a career path together is critically important to the health of your marriage.
Just as you couldn’t plan a trip without knowing the desired destination, you and your spouse are unwise to map out a career track unless you know your objective. This decision doesn’t have to be made immediately, but chances are that you and your spouse are already on a trajectory that is taking you someplace. The question remains, however, is it the place that you and your partner want to go together?
Talking about where each of you will be ten, twenty, thirty years from now can help you gain control and chart the course each of you feels good about. Many overlook the need to integrate career with marriage, but since work lives hold the potential to interfere with marriage on the negative side or augment one’s married life on the positive side, we feel strongly that it is time well spent.
So we encourage you to set aside some serious time to establish career goals together. Consider everything from relocation possibilities, business travel, promotions, income and flexibility. Ask yourselves how each aspect could impact your marriage. Also, consider the kinds of work-related issues that you would expect to have influence on together. The more you talk about these matters, the closer you will come to building a career path that is in sync with your marriage.