Having uncomfortable conversations in a comfortable relationship is a part of life. The topics may range from love to family to emotions but are ‘performance reviews’ a theme that could enter the spectrum? Maybe it’s finally time to have that conversation, especially if both partners have successful careers to deal with.
Personal lives have an effect on professional lives if there isn’t a balance between the partners. Sharing your entire life with someone means having a support system, as they take each other’s needs and wants into account when it comes to career decisions.
In spite of the growing significance of gender equality and breaking the ‘glass ceiling,’ couples continue to struggle with managing career and relationships. With kids, gender stereotypes, less family-friendly policies at work, and uneven distribution of domestic work, it’s impossible to keep your head above water.
To prevent your relationship from falling apart, couples can make one simple change; Plan your partnership the same way they would plan for a long-term career. A couple needs to be able to have such discussions, instead of letting circumstances and assumptions order you around. Here are a few pointers to get you started:
What do you want out of life and the relationship?
One of the greatest mistakes that couples make is to assume that things will fall into place by themselves. When career-oriented couples choose to default into something, they also tend to default into the competition unless they’re very cooperative by nature. Usually, it’s helpful to know your partner’s ideologies and values regarding their career, family, and life early in the relationship.
There are different career models that couples adopt:
- Single career is when a partner’s career determines the decisions in the relationship while the other supports.
- Lead career is similar to a single career but it requires a big compromise.
- Alternators mean the couple takes a turn in the ‘lead career’ position, whether it’s years, life stages or weeks.
- In Parallelograms, the couple strategizes with each other to advance their careers together using each other’s networks.
- The Complements arrangement often applies to couples with very different career streams where the peak period differs in time.
The models are ever changing; therefore couples need to integrate ‘performance reviews’ and ‘strategic planning for each other just like how we have one at work. The more often these meetings are scheduled, the more built up thoughts are processed, making your relationship better.
What is your attitude towards working and domestic duties?
With younger couples having a more unrestrictive view towards relationships, many still keep unconscious beliefs based on their parent’s belief. A person who grew up with a stay-at-home mother has a different outlook than the person who grew up with both the parents working. Even if they assume that they are supporting each other enough, they’re not aware of the impact some things might have on each other’s careers. Sometimes, women are expected to take on more emotional labor than men at home, owing to the disproportionate amount of domestic responsibilities. Our culture has shaped these gender norms that are completely unfair.
What are the mechanical, communal, and cultural barriers you could face?
Couples are advised to examine the cultural and societal pressures that might influence their view toward relationships and careers. It helps to understand the value and the priorities of the partners in a relationship which are subject to change when children come in the picture. Certain cultures dictate a tense relationship between a wife and the mother-in-law. It’s imperative that a partner understand that their other partners might get an earful or the troubles they could face. If the partner is clueless, it can lead to negotiations followed by resentment. Similarly, some cultures look down on men who choose to stay at home. A simple discussion about the pros and cons of the sticky stigma can put things into perspective.
Career oriented couples might seem like the norm, it is still a new concept that needs a lot of work to do well. The best way to succeed as a couple is to have these conversations early. It’s exactly like starting a company. You have to ask the necessary questions to know what both of you want together as a unit. People want to be past all the complicated stuff but the work has just begun.