Through her training and life experience - 3 families, 3 continents, 3 careers (law, marketing, psychology) - Pip has come to believe we all write our own life story. Pip is a Transactional Analysis psychotherapist creating our product and service design.
When Emma Jacobs, journalist at the Financial Times, asked me for my views on spouse support for our career and what she called "over-identification" with your job, it opened up a minefield...
Emma underlines what she describes as "a significant professional issue: a partner’s support."
A key book on the topic, Money and Love: an Intelligent Road Map for Life’s Biggest Decisions, holds that “The most important career decision you’ll make is about whom to marry and what kind of relationship you will have.”
Anyone who has ever fallen in love or gone through a divorce will know that our relationships impact our work. From a distraction to a rocket-boost, our love life matters to our career.
And what about in day-to-day life? Do you discuss your work with your partner? Are you interested, do they want you to show it? Or does their career clash with your values, or the life you want, or is it outside your knowledge or experience so you just don’t get it and don’t know how to support?
We can seek to understand our partner's work itself, that’s one thing, and/or we can seek to understand how they’re feeling about their work. I’d say the latter at least is important as part of the mix of keeping connected day to day.
To understand and support, listening is crucial . And that takes practice. Discussions are most constructive when they include a healthy balance of support and challenge to help us reach new heights. I say challenge rather than criticism, as criticism usually just triggers our defences, which doesn't often lead to an open conversation. “I loved the opening chapter. Why did you include the second chapter? I find it harder to follow than the others” is very different feedback to “Your second chapter is terrible.”… or worse “You’re a terrible writer.”….
Emma comments on her conversation with Blake Dustin Mathias, professor of entrepreneurship at Indiana University’s Kelley School of Business. His research showed the impact of spouses on entrepreneurs, finding that “emotional support [was] critical”, more so than tangible assets — including money.
And then there's the issue of whether our partner respects what we do, and how much of our own self-respect hangs on our job. Our work might be incredibly important to us - but it's not all we are.
Read the full article in the Financial Times here.