The one secret to a dual-career relationship is much easier than you think.
Kim Kardashian-West turned 39 and celebrated with a tweet thanking her husband Kanye for donating $1 million to her favorite charities.
Across the globe, millions of women sat back and thought, “Now, that’s a man.”
While our current culture tends to portray men — husbands in particular — as dead weight, Kardashian-West emphasizes how much can be accomplished within our career when curating a supportive relationship.
Achieving Support in Our Relationships
“Support” is a broad and somewhat physically incomprehensible subject, often leaving us wondering if we are doing enough to sustain our relationships, or worse — finding out the hard way that we're not. However, according to research, the secret seems almost obvious: Communication.
Professor Jennifer Petriglieri studied more than 100 different couples to discover how dual-career partners remain successful in their work and love. What she found is that early and open communication seems to be the key.
“Couples that work don’t wait, I found, to discuss openly and deliberately what they want their life together, their couple, to be like,” Professor Petriglieri writes for the Wall Street Journal.
Couples that work don’t wait to discuss openly and deliberately what they want their life together, their couple, to be like.
Having difficult conversations we tend to avoid in fear of being embarrassed or uncomfortable early and frequently, instead of avoiding them and relying on implicit assumptions, is what creates the bedrock of any stable relationship. Especially a relationship where two people work to support their own dreams along with their partners. These conversations help curate an environment of support within our relationships.
What Is Support?
In terms of relationships, support often has the unwarranted synonym of “agreeing.” When our partner makes a decision and informs us of that decision, proper support sometimes means saying no, even though the common misconception includes pushing our partner to pursue any idea or whim that crosses their mind.
For example, Professor Petriglieri recalls a story when her husband told her, “no.”
“I woke up at 3 a.m. one March morning in 2010 and decided to quit my career,” she writes. She recalls telling him, “I cannot carry on,” over breakfast, explaining her reasoning as to how the shift would assist their family.
Instead of agreeing, her husband replied, “There is no way I am letting you give your career up, not now. It is your dream.” Petriglieri recalls sitting in stunned silence. “I had been looking for tea and sympathy. What I got was a… kick.”
When our partner makes a decision and informs us of that decision, proper support sometimes means saying no.
The only way to know when to give our partner the metaphorical kick is if we maintain open communication. “I had asked to be loved and held as an ambitious professional woman, even when my ambition might fail me,” Petriglieri said. “He kept the deal when I needed it most.”
How Do We Know What Support Our Partner Needs?
The only way to know how to support your partner is to talk about it! To structure a conversation gearing our relationships towards success, start with questions and end with a brainstorm.
Early in a relationship, ask how to merge two parallel lives into one working unit. While it may seem silly and scary to address twenty, thirty, or even fifty years into the future, it's a mistake to talk in the present tense only. Look towards the long term. Outline your goals, passions, fear, boundaries, and needs; see where you and your partner overlap or diverge, and discuss how to handle those differences.
Every relationship reaches a point where doubts arise, not necessarily about our partner, but about ourselves. This is the time to ask, what do we really want? Use it as a time for growth and exploration, and test the abilities of your support system. Remember to trust your partner as they explore their own unique interests as well.
Outline your goals, passions, fear, boundaries, and needs; see where you and your partner overlap or diverge, and discuss how to handle those differences.
These conversations do not necessarily have to be long, drawn-out, night-long processes every time. Remember to check in with your partner, compliment them, ask for advice, and express what is on your mind.
Too often, relationships are shrouded in flowery phrases like “grow together” or “open communication,” and challenges arise when we struggle to implement abstract concepts into more tangible and attainable life goals.
When we actually practice what we preach, it's possible to reach the power-couple goals of Kim and Kanye.