Take a moment to remember those days before children. When you could make choices about your day, weekend, career totally independently and without much forethought. What joy those days were!
When we transition to parenthood, it might feel like you’re suddenly making a lot of compromises or bartering with your partner when it comes to careers, social events, exercise and quite frankly just some time alone. For many couples, this is because you’re still living independently. Transitioning to parenthood also requires a transition to interdependence – moving from your focus from the daily grind (I did bedtime last night!), to deeper discussions where your decisions about career prioritisation, life structures and values start to align. Some tips for forging this deeper partnership include:
Putting your relationship first.
This might sound controversial, stay with me.
Children quickly become the centre of our universe and can fill every space of our heart and priorities. However, consider your relationship as the foundation of your family. We can easily start to feel like we’re leading parallel lives, intersecting only at mealtimes and weekends. This can quickly lead to feelings of isolation, loneliness and resentment. Prioritising time together creates a stronger connection and alignment that not only deepens your relationship but also helps your children.
Talk about your career goals.
Do you know what your ideal career path looks like for the next few years? Do you know your partners goals? It can be easy to prioritise one persons career because they earn more, they travel more, they have more expectations from their organisation. But have you both actively spoken about what you want from your careers over the short, medium and longer term? What decisions might you need to make now to support those longer term visions? What assumptions might you be making?
Decide which type of career framework applies best to your family.
Once you have a sense of what you both want from your careers, it’s time to think about what dual-career approach will best fit your family dynamics and values. Thanks to research by Jennifer Petriglieri, in her book Couples that Work, there are three simple frameworks to consider:
- Primary-Secondary – the traditional model of one primary career at a time and one stay at home parent
- Turn taking – Shifting the primary career every 3-5 years, so each partner has the opportunity to have an invested focus on the family and their career
- Double primary – The egalitarian model where there are two primary careers with equal share of family roles
Take some time to consider which model you’re aligned to now, and what your ideal pathway would be.
Once you’re clear on the career framework for you, define the boundaries that will make it work for you both. What does it mean for the roles you both need to play? What red lines do you have between the working day and home life? How will you keep open two-way communication, and check in with each other? Remember to make time for the moments of appreciation and affection too – whether its a hug, or a simple thank you, moments of gratitude go a long way.
This weekend, put some time aside just for the two of you. Order a takeaway and open a deeper conversation about what interdependence means for you.
This article was written by Rachel Childs. Rachel is a couples coach who helps working parents navigate their transition through parenthood as a dual-career couple. She has a four-week group couples coaching programme launching January 15th 2024. Please get in touch via her profile page or book a free discovery call to learn more.
December 1, 2023