You and Your Partner

The chances are good that you and your partner need to discuss roles at home. Work-life balance remains an area of inner conflict for many working women according to research I conducted.The message was clear: a woman cannot be good in all the roles i.e. be an equal income generator, perfect spouse and mother. This is a myth. So in practice the women prioritise what is truly important to them even if it means they make sacrifices.

Most of the husbands’ lives have continued as normal despite their wife’s work situation. It was evident that the traditional roles for men and women are still very much alive in many households today.

It is easy to fall into the pattern of coping without actually sitting down with our partner and talking about our needs. Based on my experience I have observed certain trends. It seems unlikely that both a husband and wife will have high powered jobs. Therefore it is important for you and your partner to talk about your own career ambitions. Come to some agreement on how your needs can be met.

Two couples found a solution that worked for them: for years the husband’s career took priority. Then the time came when the husband agreed to pull back and allow his wife to actively pursue her career. In both cases the women expressed their needs.

Once children arrive it is more critical to talk about roles and responsibilities. The reality is that women are often still primarily responsible for raising the children and running the household. This creates quite a bit of inner conflict for career orientated women.

Formal studies have shown that women are less stressed in cases where they have good support systems at home and at work. If one of these is lacking her well-being is negatively affected.

So it is important to have a conversation between you and your partner as to how he can support you. Can he drop and collect the children at day care or school? Will he be able to take a child to the doctor if you are unavailable? Will he help feed and bath the children or put them to bed at night?

Weekends women often taxi their children to school events or to friends to play. If children come over to their home to play she needs to keep a watchful eye. These are activities that our spouse could also fulfill.

You may want to negotiate some alone time over a weekend where your husband does something with the children. This will allow you some time of your own even if it is just for a few hours.

It is evident that women remain responsible for taking care of both sets of parents e.g. Organising appointments, finding alternative accommodation, day to day needs, etc. This can become an issue in your relationship. So you and your partner need to discuss the role you are willing to play and what you expect of him concerning your parents or in-laws.

Unless we express our need to share this responsibility it will most likely become ours by default! Except if you are fortunate to have a very supportive and mindful partner. The younger generations seem to better at sharing roles these days.

What you earn can potentially be an area of conflict. My research highlights that in certain cases some of the men felt emasculated when their wife earned more than they did. One of the women said it was a definite cultural issue among Black Africans. I have also heard in some African cultures it is seen with great pride if a man has a wife who earns very well. Either way broach the subject with your spouse long before you find yourself in this situation.

Any many households these days pre-made meals come to the rescue of women who do not enjoy the daily routine of cooking. Preparing daily meals is a challenge for those working women who feel their family deserves healthy meals. In none of the cases that I interviewed did the husband ever cook.

One woman specifically commented that the men she dates still have the expectation that she needs to have a meal on the table for them at the end of the day. This creates stress for her as she has no support structures at home.

What I observed in cases where the husband and wife are in business together, is that the wife largely plays the supportive role. This means she picks up the responsibility for the children, household and any odd jobs leaving the husband to run the business.

Therefore when it comes to your career and the impact of children on our life, we need to have conversations with our spouse. Share your dreams and ask for help so that you can also live the life you dream of for yourself.

Finally, we need to prioritise our relationship with our spouse if we want to maintain the connection and love. Otherwise before we realise it all our attention goes into the children and little into our marriage. Contact me if you need some coaching on how to renegotiate roles at home.

To learn more about the impact of physical and emotional well-being of women in the working environment, download my free guide to Balancing Work, Your Family and Your Career.


Posted in Relationships, Women.