According to the Department of Labor, 61.1% of married-couple families in 2016 had both parents working.
In my counseling work, and in my role as husband to a working wife, I bear witness daily to the power spouses have to support or undermine their partners.
As I enter my 50th year of marriage, still working and still married to a working wife, I continue to be impressed by the paramount importance of marriage to health and well-being and fascinated by its ebbs and flows. I posted my first blog on this subject 6 years ago.
Recently I came across a new periodic feature in the New York Times, It’s No Secret, which asks couples from various backgrounds to reflect on the challenges and joys of marriage and to share their “secrets” for success.
The participants in the It’s No Secret series are an incredibly diverse and interesting group and I have selected 5 of their best tips for a successful dual career marriage as a companion piece to my original article.
“In a healthy relationship, at the core of longevity is mutual respect and a sense of equality. Biting your tongue is often the right reaction to a moment of passing anger. Candor is overrated. I don’t mean deception or secrets. I mean real mutual respect, which leads to being gentle, loving, cautious and careful at times. It leads to being silent and having self-restraint, which really helps get you through difficult moments. There’s understanding that if you say everything that comes to your mind, at every moment, in the name of being honest, is often self-indulgent and hurtful.” Steven Roberts, journalist, and professor (married 51 years).
What a brilliant and concise working definition for romance! Finding ways to communicate feelings of special affection and appreciation, in the midst of the endless obligations of work and family life, is the true north of marital navigation. As Michael Symon, chef (married 19 years) put it: “If you don’t look at your wife as the most special person in the world why be with her?”
“The one principle I learned early on……….is being able to compromise for the greater good for both of us……….If one person’s desire is stronger than the other person’s desire for something different, then you should be willing to compromise. If you’re able to do this, than you can take happiness from the other person being happy, and the relationship builds on itself.”John Lydecker, security broker (married 40 years).
“I’m a control freak, and my husband has a military precision to him. Sharing space is challenging. I had to learn to let go on the small details. If he throws his jeans on the back of a chair, who cares. At the end of the day none of it matters. The thing that does is being on the same page when you parent children. There’s no book on how to grow these people.” Debi Mazar, actress (married 15 years).
“In our conflict-averse culture we don’t necessarily think of these skills as part of romance. But I’ve seen how the best marriages involve people who can deal with strong negative emotions — and who are clear-eyed about how hard it can be. They don’t avoid anger, but they don’t indulge it. They tackle hard issues without shutting down. They apologize for their own bad behavior.” Daphne de Marneffe, couples therapist.
If you have a tip for a successful two career marriage please send it to firstname.lastname@example.org. I would love to add a Part 3 to this series based on your responses.