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How Selecting a Life Partner is the Most Important Career Decision You Ever Make

Updated: Feb 17, 2023

“The most important decision many of you will make, not all of you, will be the spouse you choose since you will move in the direction of the people that you associate with.” — Warren Buffet

If I ask this question to a married person: Who do you think influences your personal and professional choices and day-to-day decision? The person whose suggestions and opinions matter to you? With whom do you discuss and share all the small or big happenings of your life? In all probability, the person would say it is your life partner.

Research says that after some time of getting married, one starts behaving like his/her life partner. You start emulating or picking up each other's traits, attitudes, skills, behavior, thoughts, habits, hobbies, etc. For example, if your partner is optimistic and enthusiastic, you too start becoming like one and vice versa. A life partner can cause your mood, reactions, and attitude to change instantly in any given situation. Every relationship commands importance and respect, especially this one. If you value your marriage, you will respect and consider the opinion, suggestions, and points of view of your partner.

The relationship that you share with your life partner is the one meant to last forever, a relationship that is permanent in your life (at least that is what most people want it to be like at the time of getting married). Even though one might say that you spend the maximum part of your day with your colleagues or business partners, they do not have as much of an influence on your personal life, decisions, and career choices.

Having a supportive life partner becomes all the most important today because the market is more volatile today than ever before, mergers and acquisitions are rampant, job types change frequently, etc. You never know when your boss might change, your organization might experience a cultural drift, your projects might change, and you get laid off because of cost-cutting, and so on. It might also happen at some point that you might think of moving your job, trying some management roles, changing your career path, or even pursuing higher studies. Amidst all these challenging and crucial milestones in your career trajectory, if you get a life partner who doesn't support you and understands your career challenges, dreams, aspirations, and priorities, your life partner will become an added burden instead of becoming a support system.

Sheryl Sandberg said at the 2011 IGNITION Conference in New York that selecting a good life partner is the most important career choice anybody makes in his/her life. She added that a supportive spouse can be a make or break for your career and plays a big role in shaping the same. She also added that she credits her success to the support that she always received from her husband.

As per a study conducted by researchers at Washington University in St. Louis, people who have reliable and supportive partners have higher chances of receiving appraisals with improved performance feedback, better salaries, and greater promotions. An interesting thing that came up here was that the above factor was equally effective in the case of both men and women.

I will put across one another important point here and for that, I will present before you one scenario with 3 different options:

Imagine yourself at your home after coming from the office in the evening. Let's assume you are the husband. After some time, your wife comes from her office and tells you that she is thinking of quitting her job. She says that she is not getting the satisfaction and happiness that she is looking for from her job. She says that she wants to quit her job and take up Painting which is her hobby right now, as a full-time career. She says she feels that her happiness and destiny lie in that profession. Here you have 3 options:

Option 1: Tell your wife that you believe in her dreams, passion, and interests. You say that you always want her to be happy and satisfied in her life and you ask her to quit her job the next day and start her painting career.

Option 2: You tell the same supportive and encouraging words to your wife. However, after 2 hours or so, when you see that there is a peaceful atmosphere at your place and when the emotional turmoil of your wife has come down, you tell her politely that you feel it's a big step for both of them. There are risks attached to the decision and they both should take the transition slowly and smoothly. You say that once they see a steady source of income from the business, once she has created a reputation in the market and built contact, then it will be the best time to quit her job.

Option 3: You tell your wife that she is not a good painter, above all paintings don't sell, and that she is just wasting her energy and resources pondering over other career options and ways in life.

I am sure most of you would have negated option 3 by now and would be thinking of selecting between options 1 and 2. I am also negating option 3 first because a marriage commands that you respect the relationship and most importantly you respect the suggestions and words of your partner. Only then your partner feels valued. If your partner wants the relationship to work she will listen to you. Maybe she doesn't agree with you in the end, but she will at least think about what you said. Saying to somebody that you shouldn't even try something, especially to your partner is the worst thing you can do to anybody. It's similar to telling the person to commit suicide. Maybe she was destined to be the best painter in the world, but she couldn't even try or think much about it or experiment with her limits because of your negative advice and disbelief in her.

I would not consider option 1 because there is a high probability that after 1 or 2 months or so, one person might start thinking that the other has become selfish. That the husband's emotions were not taken care of, the complete responsibilities of the house are upon him and the future of his wife's career option is so uncertain. This might create frustration, and anxiety in his mind leading to turfs and conflicts between the two. However, if your income is sufficient to hold the family and you feel it doesn't matter to you even if your wife doesn't work, then this option might be better suited to you.

Now, just give a small thought to understand the mindset of your wife after she has returned from office and is sharing her feelings with you. Obviously, she is not in a happy state of mind. Rather she is experiencing confusion, and insecurity and needs your comfort and support much more than usual. At this time, it becomes very important for you to say that everything will be good and that you are there to believe in her abilities and desires. After she has come to a normal state of mind, you can share with her that you both need to be practical here and take things to step by step. It is only when both persons feel that their emotions and point of view are valued, will the marriage sail smoothly.

A marriage runs successfully on 2 wheels, through the consistent efforts and understanding of 2 people. It sails smoothly when both of them are stable, happy, stress-free, and in a position to understand each other's situations. Relationship will run smoothly when both the person's point of view is kept in mind and considered.

To all those married people, make sure you are as supportive and considerate of your partner's choices. Value and support your partner unconditionally, but also make sure that you don't lose out on yourself in the process. Offer unconditional support and love to your life partner but make sure that you are also not leaving yourself behind. Only if you have something in abundance can you radiate that to your environment. When you are happy and satisfied, you will make others and your environment happier. Even if one person is unhappy and dissatisfied, the relationship can topple.

Lastly, I would want to suggest that if you are unmarried, give 10 times thought to understand how much your to-be life partner will understand your career choices, challenges attached to it, future decisions, commitments, priorities, dreams, and aspirations. Go for a life partner who considers your dreams and choices as his own, pushes you to achieve more, and lifts you up in case of failures.

Your marriage as well as your career can go hand in hand if you back your partner and at the same time back yourself too to keep the wheels of marriage healthy, strong, and stable.

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