Two careers cause some adjustments

She says: I enjoy my job. I feel better as a person when I receive recognition for my accomplishments outside the home.

He says: I'm proud of my wife's accomplishments. Her income helps, too.

The question: If this is so great, why are we fighting all the time?

The answers aren't easy. Dual career couples are faced with pressures their parents never dreamed of. The Beaver Cleaver generation has few role models to follow when it comes to splitting family responsibilities and roles.

In the '80s, a new element is entering the picture, as women are not only in the work force but gaining in stature. Many men respond to their partner's success with delight. But statistics show us another perspective. Consensus Bureau figures show that the divorce rate for women in the $25,000 salary range is more than twice the average of all women and soars to four times the national average among women executives earning $50,000 or more. As the demands on time and energy increase, so, apparently, does the stress on the relationship.

But what about those men and women who are making it work? Who's picking up the kids and making dinner? How do they find time to achieve at work and still have energy left for their families and each other? I asked some working couples how they do it:

Female accountant: "I used to expect my husband to anticipate my needs and pitch in with the house and the kids. When he didn't I'd get angry and resentful. Now, I've learned to ask for what I want."

Female manager: "I leave my job at work. When I get in my car to drive home, I use the time to decompress so I'm not preoccupied all night or talking endlessly about a work problem. That helps me to shift gears and listen to my family."

Male professional: "I just had to change some of my opinions about what I thought were the traditional male and female roles. I think it was harder for me than my wife because she had already changed her role, since she was already working."

Working Father: "At first I was worried because the children were young and were in day care and not with their mother. Now, 13 years later, I see my kids as far better adjusted, more independent and self-confident than some of the children of my friends whose wives didn't work."

Male doctor: "On sharing the household duties, we shoot for 50/50, but we take whatever we can get. A certain percentage of our money stays our own to spend as we want."

Male stockbroker: "We got tired of arguing about the day-to-day cleaning around the house and finally broke down and hired a cleaning lady to help out every other week. We figured paying for a cleaning lady was cheaper than a marriage counselor."

Female secretary: "I'm a perfectionist by nature so I wound up exhausted every night. I finally had to accept that my house wasn't going to be perfect. I make more time for my family - the house will always be there, but they won't."

While significant changes are occurring in women's lives, men are changing, too. Up to now, there has been little societal support for these changes. Although government and corporations are finally paying attention to things such as flextime and day care, the burden for coping with the day-to-day tasks still rests with the individuals themselves.

Couples are breaking new ground and their children are seeing new role models. Just as women are learning to cope with attitudinal and societal change, men are evolving ways to respond - not only to women's evolution but to their own.


Joan Lloyd is a Milwaukee based executive coach and organizational & leadership development strategist. She is known for her ability to help leaders and their teams achieve measurable, lasting improvements. Joan Lloyd & Associates, specializes in leadership development, organizational change and teambuilding, providing: executive coaching, CEO coaching & leader team coaching, 360-degree feedback processes, retreat facilitation and presentation skill coaching and small group labs. Contact Joan Lloyd & Associates at (414) 573-1616, mailto:info@joanlloyd.com, or www.JoanLloyd.com 
 
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