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  • Transcriber: Erin Gregory Reviewer: Camille Martínez

  • It may sound strange to bring up work,

  • but when we fall in love,

  • we often consider what that love will do to our life,

  • and our work and careers are a big part of that.

  • [The Way We Work]

  • [Made possible with the support of Dropbox]

  • All working couples face hard choices,

  • and these can feel like a zero-sum game.

  • One partner gets offered a job in another city,

  • so the other needs to leave their job and start over.

  • One partner takes on more childcare and puts their career on hold

  • so the other can pursue an exciting promotion.

  • One gains and one loses.

  • And while some couples who make these choices are satisfied,

  • others regret them bitterly.

  • What makes the difference?

  • I've spent the last seven years studying working couples,

  • and I've found that it's not what couples choose,

  • it's how they choose.

  • Of course, we can't control our circumstances,

  • nor do we have limitless choices.

  • But for those we do,

  • how can couples choose well?

  • First: start early, long before you have something to decide.

  • The moment you're faced with a hard choice,

  • say, whether one of you should go back to school

  • or take a risky job offer,

  • it's too late.

  • Choosing well begins with understanding each other's aspirations early on --

  • aspirations like wanting to start a small business,

  • live close to extended family,

  • save enough money to buy a house of our own

  • or have another child.

  • Many of us measure our lives by comparing what we're doing

  • with our aspirations.

  • When the gap is small,

  • we feel content.

  • When it's large,

  • we feel unhappy.

  • And if we're part of a couple,

  • we place at least some of that blame with our partner.

  • Set aside time at least twice a year

  • to discuss your aspirations.

  • I'm a big fan of keeping a written record of these conversations.

  • Putting pen to paper with our partners

  • helps us remember each other's aspirations

  • and that we're writing the story of our lives together.

  • Next: eliminate options

  • that don't support the life you want to live together.

  • You can do this agreeing on boundaries that make hard choices easier.

  • Boundaries like geography: Where would you like to live and work?

  • Time: How many working hours a week will make family life possible?

  • Travel: How much work travel can you really stand?

  • Once you've agreed to your boundaries, the choice becomes easy

  • when faced with an opportunity that falls outside of them.

  • "I'm not going to interview for that job,

  • because we've agreed we don't want to move across country."

  • Or, "I'm going to cut back on my overtime

  • because we've agreed it's essential we spend more time together as a family."

  • Couples who understand each other's aspirations

  • and commit to strong boundaries

  • can let go of seemingly attractive opportunities without regret.

  • If you're faced with an opportunity that falls within your boundaries,

  • then what matters is that the choices you make

  • keep your couple in balance over time,

  • even if they don't perfectly align with both partners' aspirations

  • at the same time.

  • If your choices are mainly driven by one partner

  • or support one partner's aspirations more than the other,

  • an imbalance of power will develop.

  • That imbalance, I've found,

  • is the reason most working couples who fail do so.

  • Eventually, one gets fed up with being a prop

  • rather than a partner.

  • To avoid this,

  • track your decisions over time.

  • Unlike your aspirations and boundaries,

  • there's no need to keep a detailed record of every decision you make.

  • Just keep an open conversation going about how able each of you feel

  • to shape decisions that affect you both.

  • How will you know you've chosen well?

  • One common misunderstanding

  • is that you can only know what choice is right in hindsight.

  • And maybe it's true we judge life backwards,

  • but we must live it forwards.

  • I've found that couples who look back on a choice as a good one

  • did so not just because of the outcome eventually;

  • they did it because that choice empowered them individually and as a couple

  • as they made it.

  • It wasn't what they chose,

  • it was that they were choosing deliberately,

  • and that made them feel closer and freer together.

Transcriber: Erin Gregory Reviewer: Camille Martínez

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A2 partner choice faced working support imbalance

How working couples can best support each other | The Way We Work, a TED series

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    林宜悉 posted on 2020/11/29
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