And no, I don’t mean sleeping with the boss to get ahead. Let’s get that out of the way, okay?
Pop quiz! What’s the one trait both spouses should have to make a successful marriage?
Kindness? Loyalty? Devotion? Good looks? Sex appeal? Wrong.
It’s actually good old reliability.
Take it from Sheryl Sandberg, the woman who runs Facebook herself: who you marry is the most important career choice you will make. Specifically, whether or not you can rely on your partner to hold up their end, be it their share of the budget or the household chores, has a huge effect on how far you’ll go in your chosen career.
If you yourself have a top job and are married to someone who is also such, you need to find a rare mate who can understand that and treat you as an equal, even, heck especially when you might need to put your career first. Such marriages are tough to manage for sure, since they require an endless re-balancing of priorities and power, but it’s certainly more fulfilling if you know you can always rely on your spouse to pick up the slack and vice versa.
To illustrate, let’s think of two scenarios. Imagine that you’re stuck at work because a big-time client just arrived and you have one shot to close the deal with them. Scenario 1 has you calling up your spouse and asking for back-up. Ever the reliable sort, your spouse offers to pick up dinner on the way home for themselves and the kids and to clean up afterwards too. You breathe a sigh of relief, knowing that you can always rely on your partner to do what s/he has promised, and vow to do the same for them if the situation is reversed in the future.
Scenario 2 has you calling up your spouse and asking for back-up, except in this case, the said partner whines about how you’re always at work and reluctantly promises to hold down the fort while you’re at work. Your heart sinks, knowing that after clocking in well past ten tonight, you’re bound to come home to a messy kitchen, an empty fridge, and hungry kids because the person you married seldom comes through for you.
Now, which scenario do you think is more conducive to a fulfilling and successful career (and marriage, for that matter)?
Oh, and just to be clear, this applies to BOTH men and women. (As Nadine Lustre likes to say, it’s 2017. Women want to pursue their careers just as much as men do, and men want happy families just as much as women do too. Get on with it.)
Also, there’s another benefit to having a conscientious partner. In the same way that bad habits and poor tendencies rub off, so too do excellent habits and excellent behavioral tendencies. Because reliable partners tend to be more prompt and thorough about their responsibilities whether at work or at home, they can influence you to be the same too.
So, if you find yourself married to a reliable husband or wife, chances are you’ll do chores and tasks without being told, and that kind of initiative is always valued in any workplace the world over. Talk about wanting to be a better man or woman, right?
But what do you do if your current partner isn’t like that?
Well, you can break up with them right away.
I’m kidding, of course. Don’t. (Not yet anyway.) What you can try is to lead by example. See what you can do lighten their burden or support them, and then step up. Can you do the washing up after they cooked dinner? Perhaps you can go over the household bills every month to spare them the trouble?
Once you manage that, observe your partner’s response. Have they shown signs of mirroring you? Did s/he offer to take on chores or tasks at home so you can focus on what you need to do at work? Are they at least more patient or understanding now whenever you need to put in overtime hours?
If the answer is “no,” then you can start considering other options. Otherwise, congratulations! Provided that you remain united in achieving each other’s goals and dreams, you two are in for a highly satisfying partnership. Both your blossoming careers will just be the cherry on top of the cake, so to speak.