by Jenna Kutcher
Marriage as a #girlboss can look a little different than the storybook we’ve been told, but that doesn’t mean there’s anything wrong with it! That said, a topic we’ve never really touched on is what to do when your partner isn’t necessarily supportive of your career move. I’m thankful that I’ve never had to deal with this because Drew has always been SO supportive of my career, but that doesn’t mean that I haven’t learned a LOT about this topic along the way in my circles of other female entrepreneurs.
It isn’t wrong to want more for your career, even if others don’t necessarily agree. However, it is a LOT easier to get people on board with the five steps I’m digging into with today’s discussion. It’ll take a little work and a lot of communication, but the results will be real. I want you to be able to make the most of your relationships as a strong, independent BUSINESS woman!
Throughout this episode I’m going to use the word spouse since I’ll be sharing some stories from my life as a married woman, but replace that word with whatever makes the most sense in your life right now. Whether it be: partner, parents, best friend, boyfriend… Make it fit for you.
Common Objections to Your Career Change
Your career change could alter the family system and its way of operating.
This could bring on feelings of gender role reversal.
Your spouse could be worried about finance and money changes.
Your spouse is scared of this transition and isn’t confident it will work.
Your spouse is worried you are a workaholic and missing quality time.
Do any of these stick out to you? Multiple? Chances are, while chasing your dreams at least one of these conversations have happened. Here are my steps to ensure that these roadblocks are not the *end* of your career growth.
Changing the Family System
Altering the family system is a valid concern. When you are in a family or a relationship you have to be aware of how your decisions affect everyone around you. How can you prepare to answer questions before they are asked and how can you propose a plan that will ease concerns before they arise? While this may sound like a very intense topic, this can usually be solved by getting really concrete in what *exactly* your spouse is worried about in you pursuing this career change.
When you try and anticipate their concerns or questions, really put yourself in their shoes and be fair. Is it a big thing? Are they worried about taking care of the kids, paying the mortgage, funding retirement or tackling debts? Or is it small things like they are worried about missing going to the gym with you, who’s gonna share household chores, who will walk the dogs? Let them spill what they are concerned about and discuss it. It is important to dissect each of these concerns and make a plan for going forward. Are you going to hire a nanny? Are you going to wake up early to help out? Work late? Have a concrete plan of what your life is going to look like with this career change, and make a game plan with your partner for how you will proceed.
At the end of this conversation, you want a generalized game plan that both you and your partner feel comfortable moving forward with. It’s amazing how useful addressing these “lifestyle” concerns AHEAD OF TIME will make this whole transition easier because you’ll both go into it sharing the same vision, and you can adjust if needed.
Gender Role Reversal
A classic case of role reversal can be very hard for your spouse. By societal standards, men are the breadwinner. But what happens when YOU, the woman, are more career-focused? What does it look like for their ego when you’re the one bringing home the bacon? How will they be affected as a man when they are married to a strong, powerful woman? At some point you have to face it: being driven is a GIFT. You are ambitious and always thinking, you care deeply about your career, you are driven by success and think strategically, and you always go the extra mile. And that is AWESOME. But it does take sensitivity and communication with your spouse. This could be a hard conversation, but I urge you to ask the difficult questions.
Discuss it: How does it make you feel that I am moving forward in my career? How do the dynamics feel in our relationship? What are some insecurities you have about this? In no way should his answers hold you back from you career, but they might open your eyes to how he’s feeling and any resistance he may be feeling. Remember, it’s not him, necessarily — it’s how society views the female/male dynamic.
For Drew and I, it has taken time, tons of communication, and patience to evolve into roles that best suit us as individuals AND as a couple. I encourage you to write down a list of the things in life that you feel drawn to, gifted at, etc. And the tasks that DRAIN YOU. Just writing this you may find where your skills and passions overlap and where you can help each other accomplish it.
Worried about Finances
Money… it’s hard to talk about isn’t it? It’s awkward and I am always shocked at how a lot of couples don’t have conversations about money: spending, earning, saving, debt… It’s like this skeleton in the closet that everyone’s afraid to let out. When it comes to winning someone over with your plan, you have to consider finances and really look at the numbers. Are you thinking of leaving a stable job? Sacrificing benefits and retirement package? Or investing in the start-up phase of your business? That is a major topic and your spouse deserves the chance to weigh in on it.
You need a plan surrounding money if you want to take the leap into your business full-time. My plan before quitting my corporate job was to match my salary with photography. The plan was clear, simple and easy to communicate because it came down to measurable numbers.
You do not have to risk everything to find your dream career. Don’t be afraid to bootstrap, have a side hustle, get scrappy, and penny pinch when you are getting started. I think so many people jump feet first into a business venture without doing any sort of realistic financial planning. To avoid conflict with your spouse about this topic make sure you do your part. Tell them where the extra money will come from, how the financial situation will change, etc. Having a concrete plan about this will avoid so many problems down the road.
Will it work?
I’ll make this solution simple: have your ducks in a row. While you can never GUARANTEE anything will be successful, you have to be willing to put in the leg work and be organized. Doing this alone will prove how committed you are to this career change to your spouse. Look at every facet of your career change: finances, client outlook, workflow, seasonal money shifts, market research, competition, you name it. It is YOUR responsibility to do your research and communicate along the way.
It’s hard to get your spouse on board with something that you aren’t even invested in. By showing that you have done your research, it can open conversation, convey your mission, and clarify what you are after. By doing your part to be ahead of the game, it makes it easier for both you and your spouse to “bet” on this career change working. Use this time to really dig into your WHY: What exactly are you looking for in a career? Does this fulfill it? Can I shadow someone? Can I invest in education? Certifications? Business mentors? Whatever it is that proves this idea is concrete, do it. This will help you and your spouse decide if it is the best idea and if it will add value to your life and work.
The Workaholic Title
Oh, I can relate to this one. What if your spouse IS supportive of your actual career change, but worried about how it will impact your relationship? Do you have type A, workaholic tendencies (like me)? This can be HARD on a spouse. If you are busy chasing the next thing, your spouse could be worried that this new career change will distract from the marriage, time with family, and more.
This is a very valid concern. Nearly every career change comes with time demands, and you want to ensure that you have a solid grasp on the how/when/what of your new role. Will you be traveling? Working at night? On Weekends? Working as a side-hustle in addition to your full-time? Whatever the option is, ask yourself how it fits in with your LIFE. While there are undoubtedly busy seasons of life and slow ones, it is imperative to look at your new role, map out a general timeline, and discuss this with your spouse. How will you make time for each other? What will your new schedule look like? Discussing this and having open conversation will help you both transition into this role and avoid conflict down the line. (… and let’s be real, some of us girl bosses need the occasional reminder to shut the laptop and cuddle instead, am I right?!)
The Bottom Line
You can be strong and successful AND still be fulfilling in your marriage. In the end please remind yourself that you don’t necessarily NEED permission from anyone to chase your dreams, but having a spouse rooting for you makes the whole process a lot easier and a lot more joyful. There will be difficulties and push backs in creating your dream life, but you just may need to work on the balance of work and play. Because it’s not always easy, but you’re definitely not alone.