Getting to 50/50

 

How many women and men in their 30s and 40s thought they were going to have an “equal partnership” marriage and then found that it was not as easy as they thought, especially once kids entered the picture? Finding balance in your marriage can be tricky, especially given the many subtle and not-so-subtle pressures on women to carry most of the burden on the home front and the concomitant pressure on their partners to provide.

Getting to 50/50 How Working Couples Can Have It All by Sharing It All is a great resource for couples grappling with the daily reality of caring for children and managing two careers. Authors Sharon Meers and Joanna Strober make a persuasive case for the benefits to both partners and to their children of having couples share the responsibilities of the family — not literally splitting every task 50/50, nor at every moment in time, but over time sharing both in the domestic realm and the economic arena. Data shows that children don’t suffer from marginally less time with mom, and they benefit from increased time with dad. And although the workplace is not as supportive of two-career families as it should be, many women and men are asking for and getting more family friendly policies.

As you know if you read my earlier posts, I support a couple’s right to choose their family structure. Choosing to stay home with kids is no less valid or valuable than choosing to pursue a career. I stayed home full-time until my second daughter entered kindergarten and my son entered pre-school (I was either pregnant or lactating for basically six years straight!), and I am immensely grateful that I could. At the same time, I am really enjoying the expansion of my world and my impact that my career has granted me. The important element here is choice. And given the many forces on the job and in our culture that push women toward staying home and discourage returning to the workplace, I welcome this book that encourages women not to give up on a career they care about too easily and gives lots of practical advice on how to “have it all.”

Meers and Strober identify one key to making it work — a supportive spouse. How true! My husband Reece is my biggest cheerleader, and he has unfailingly and remarkably cheerfully accommodated the additional demands on him that my coaching career has made. He does this largely because he loves me and wants me to be happy. But it also serves his self-interest. Both he and I are thrilled to have me step up and begin contributing financially to our family. As my earnings rise, the pressure on him diminishes and his flexibility and prospects expand. Sharing benefits us both.

I still am having trouble letting go of the feeling of ultimate responsibility for things like running out of vital household supplies, like toilet paper … but I’m working on sharing that one, too!

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