Spouses shouldn’t base roles on income
In the US, working couples make up the majority of households. In India, too, the number of double-income families is increasing. Research shows while managing a family with two jobs is challenging, such spouses lead more fulfilling lives. However, major life events, such as the birth of a child, or a posting in another city, can upset this equilibrium. How the couple decide what to do can affect their future happiness.
Usually, they make such decisions on financial considerations. For instance, if the husband earns more, the wife gives up her job on the birth of their child. But Jennifer Petriglieri, who has written the forthcoming book ‘Couples That Work’, says it’s a wrong approach. While money is important, and often is the main reason for working, “few people live for financial gain alone. In their careers they are also moti
vated by continual learning and being given greater responsibilities.”
Petriglieri says a decision based on money will lead to discontent. A couple who have family in Pune and are active in the social scene there will likely be dissatisfied relocating to Ludhiana, even if their income doubles. Instead of focusing on money, she says, they should discuss their “core values, boundaries and fears.”
Is living together important? Is the extended family important? Are Pune’s hiking trails important? Are good schools and the arts scene important? There’s also the question of prioritising career, and there are three ways to do it. Most couples decide one of them has the primary career, and the other’s is secondary. A small number take turns — first, one pursues career goals and the other supports; later, they reverse roles. In the third model, both careers are primary. It can mean living in different cities, and is the most challenging, but Petriglieri says couples who make it work with each other’s support are the happiest.
DON’T MISS THE BIG PICTURE: Basing life decisions entirely on money forces you to compromise with your true priorities