We loved this post in the Wall street Journal Blog, "the Juggle". Author, Rachel Emma Silverman makes some very valid points about successful career people often having a stay at home or "flex" spouse. Have you and your partner made a strategic choice as to who's career is the primary working focus of the family and who takes on more responsibility at home? Has it made your family unit more successful? Do both partners feel successful in their roles?
What Careers Require Stay-at-Home Spouses?
By Rachel Emma Silverman
In Monday’s post on how many top female CEOs are also moms, we noted that many of these executives had husbands who had scaled back their careers in order to take on more responsibility at home.
The post got me thinking about a provocative email from a reader who noted that many careers or companies still unofficially “require” that top achievers have a stay-at-home partner (usually a wife) to get ahead.
The reader and her husband, an engineer, both work full time and have children, but her husband, who wants to be a hands-on dad, can’t put in the 70-hour weeks necessary to move up to the next level in his career. (His colleagues all have stay-at-home wives, she added.)
“I’m wondering if you start to have more men like my husband who want to be very different dads than their fathers and aren’t willing to completely sacrifice family in order to get ahead, if the corporate world will slowly change,” the reader wrote. She notes, however, that in some fields, such as financial services, the “financial rewards are so great that you’ll always find people willing to give up most of their home-life for the financial pay-off.”
Even jobs that don’t pay as well as financial services or big law, simply might be so demanding—like being a politician on the campaign trail– that it makes sense for one spouse to scale back (like Michelle Obama and many political wives before her.) In other cases, if both spouses work full-time, very time-intensive jobs, it sure helps if at least one makes enough money to pay for lots of help and child care.
But what about, well, the rest of us, who can’t necessarily afford to pay a staff of helpers to keep our families running smoothly? A journalist friend, a mother of two young children whose husband also worked full time, was considering a big promotion that would require her to work longer hours. She queried some colleagues and acquaintances who worked really long days to find out how they managed.
All of them, she said, “had husbands in lesser jobs, working from home sometimes, not working at all, or if he is also in a demanding role, the family has lots of child care” (and presumably lots of money). She found this really disheartening. “I didn’t find anyone quite like [my husband and I]–both of us mid-career on the edge of moving up to the ‘big time’ job.”
Even in this day and age, are some jobs just so demanding that they unofficially require a stay-at-home spouse, or one with a less-taxing or more flexible job? To advance in your career, would it require that your spouse scale back his or her work, or vice versa? Or would just having more money to pay for more help be the key?