One woman said, “My husband was the single biggest reason my career is back on track. He has always believed in me.”
Another shared, “I don’t know how women do it if they don’t have husbands who pick up the slack. We’re a team and that’s made all of the difference.”
Sounds like a fairy tale, but it doesn’t have to be. Your career depends on having a partner who supports it. Find him and then take Sheryl Sandberg’s good advice: “If you want an equal partnership, you should start now.”236
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When we were first married, I was surprised to discover Bill assumed I would be buying, writing, and sending birthday cards to his family members. Huh? He was in graduate school and I was working full-time to support us. I barely had enough time to stay connected with my own family.
So I suggested the following: “Since you expect me to send the cards to your family, how about you send the cards to mine?” “What?” he said, incredulously. “That doesn’t make any sense!” Really?
I explained to Bill that if I took this added responsibility on not only was he adding extra burden on me, he was also missing the chance to truly connect with his own relatives. A card from him would mean so much more than a card from me for him (or for us).
He saw the light. In the twenty-nine years we’ve been married, Bill has always been the one to send the cards, the flowers, and the gifts to his extended family. The funny thing is, all these years and his mom still thinks I’m the one doing it. Bill laughs when his mother calls to thank me. He jokes that I tricked him Of course, that was not the goal, but I do appreciate his good humor about it (and am happy to get the bonus daughter-in-law points!).
Once you have the right partner, talk about how you both envision integrating kids and careers.
Once you have kids, check in and make sure you are both comfortable with your roles. Keep the communication lines between you open or you might get blindsided by unintentionally falling into traditional gender roles. He might become primary breadwinner without wanting to, and you might end up bearing the burden of all of the home duties. Splitting responsibilities that way is not a good or bad choice, but it is an important one to be conscious about.
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