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Marriage Counseling
Balancing Life as a Dual-Career Couple

The number of dual-career couples is growing at a phenomenal rate in the U.S. Half of the American work force is women, and an increasing number of these women are mothers of young children. Additionally, as more women enter the work force, they are becoming better educated and taking professional and executive positions. Many women work today, not because they have to, but because they want to, especially among career women.

“Career” is distinguished from “job” in that a career requires a high level of commitment to a career direction that has a developmental sequence. Men and women in careers expect to advance in their companies over a long period of time. They are dedicated to their professions and even personally identify with their work.

When both a husband and wife have careers, they are known as a “Dual-Career Couple.” And the issues that face a dual-career couple are different and more complex than those of traditional married couples. Dual-career couples must wrestle with the dilemmas of how to support each other’s career development, while juggling childcare, housekeeping, and their personal relationship. If one member is offered a promotion that requires moving out of state, the dual-career couple faces the conflict of whose career comes first. If they met each other while working at the same company, they must often challenge “anti-nepotism” policies within the company, which are policies forbidding married people to work together.

With regard to childcare and housekeeping, a dual-career couple may struggle with dividing chores equally. Even though both husband and wife work full time, studies have shown that the wife still carries the burden of childcare and housekeeping. It may be difficult for a dual-career couple to change social standards that they have lived with all of their lives. However, an unequal division of labor at home, often leads to fatigue on the part of the wife, and conflict for the couple.

On the positive side, many dual-career couples report that two careers enhance their personal relationship. Both husbands and wives report that it is very rewarding to be married to someone who is interesting, intelligent and powerful. Yet the time commitment to career and family is heavy, and often the marriage relationship is the last attended to, after work, children and housekeeping. Therefore many dual-career couples have a high level of conflict that goes unresolved due to fatigue and lack of time to talk.

There are rewards and challenges in the dual-career lifestyle. In order to make your marriage the best it can be you must be willing to take the time to talk, to get away for an evening, or take a weekend holiday. After all, your marriage is the center of your family. A strong loving friendship between husband and wife builds a strong healthy family. And if professional help is needed, don’t hesitate to see a marriage and family therapist. Often a professional can help you reorganize some priorities and teach you tools of communication that will cut through the conflicts.

Dr. Kathy Marshack can help you. She is accepting new clients and has two office locations for your convenience. If you live in the Portland, Oregon or Vancouver, Washington area (or can drive to these locations) please call to set up your first appointment. See Therapy FAQs for more information. Please give us a call at (360) 256-0448 or (503) 222-6678 or email us at info@kmarshack.com.