We’re one, but we’re not the same
We get to carry each other…
Over the years, I weight-lifted alone, but when I needed a spotter, there were people at my gym who helped me. Spotters are essential when the weight becomes too heavy. This year, I hurt my shoulder lifting weights even though I had someone to help. The injury wasn’t serious, but it could have been worse without help.
I learned to cope with it and the occasional throbbing, and it hasn’t stopped me. I can do other workouts and avoid that body part, which is what most people would do. Or I can do a different exercise requiring me to recruit other muscles to help that muscle.
If my body were my marriage and my shoulder were my job search, I would need my spouse to compensate for encouragement and strength when my job search was difficult. When I exert more with my weaker shoulder, I experience discomfort and more pain. So I need her to give me her version of a deep tissue massage on demand (asking oh so nicely). I do it for her when she needs it. At least that’s the way it should be. Right?
We’re taught in school, Sunday school, and marriage counseling that two are better than one in school, fitness, and business. Then how is it weirdly practiced when it comes to marriage? Studies show a two-person leadership team thrives, so why can’t marriage? It’s almost like we have this limiting belief that marriage cannot possibly benefit the careers of both spouses. When it comes to marriage and the careers of spouses, it gets weird, but it shouldn’t be.
I agree with experts: Constant communication is key. I found eight ways your marriage empowers your career when communication is a priority:
1. Your spouse knows how your strengths and weaknesses manifest
After the first six months, spouses discover how each other’s strengths and weaknesses affect their relationship. They will tell you honestly (although not always in the best way) what it looks like to them. Don’t take years to trust their judgment about what it looks like to others. It’s possible to look one way to employers and another to your network. Just as in weight-lifting, you need the spotter for the rep you can’t finish.
2. Access the power of your spouse’s network
You never know who your spouse is connected to in their network. You double your network and maybe your “net worth” in opportunities. And remember both sets of parents in having an immediate reach of contacts. For your in-laws to say they would like to refer their son-in-law or daughter-in-law carries weight.
3. Tell the truth
It’s always best to surround yourself with people who will be direct and truthful with you. In so many words, the times when I said the load was too heavy, like a spotter she shouted, “You can do it!” Everyone needs a spotter like her. This “spurring on” works best when more time is spent building each other up. Tearing down your spouse is easy because you know where the weaknesses are — but build each other up quickly with the truth, so those weaknesses are stronger than before. The process hurts but mostly needed to help your spouse’s career goals.
4. Bring out the best
Through competitive agitation or spurring one on to do their best, a spouse has a way of pressing the right buttons. It doesn’t always take someone understanding the full scope of the other’s profession.
5. Sustain positivity
Your home is your refuge from work and frankly from the rest of the world, due to a unique but powerful character trait stemming from both people. When the home environment is fun, inspiring, and peaceful, it is a powerful tool to help during a long and discouraging job search.
6. Carry each other
Marriage requires 100% out of each, not 50–50. There are times when you’ll need to carry each other in your job search and workplace trials. The strongest marriages thrive by both spouses carrying a load physically, financially, and spiritually at some point. One may have a more responsive network than the other. “Your network is my network” should be the attitude.
7. Be a cheerleader/coach/encourager
My wife is the greatest source of encouragement I have. My mom is an excellent source, but no one energizes me like my wife. Conversely, no one can crush my feelings like my wife. When I had times of unemployment, I stayed on her good side as much as possible, which meant more than spending much of my time looking for a job.
8. Buffer the blows
When a job seeker senses things are terrible, the working spouse can help put things in perspective. All of us need a listening ear to make sense of nonsense and help defuse bombs before they go off. There is no such thing as a smooth job search.
When one spouse is going through a job search, then both are experiencing the effects. It can consume both spouses if it becomes a slow process. That is why it’s better for both to work as a team to shorten the search. Most people think about their contributions in one way, but there are many ways to lessen the stress and anxiety of uncertainty. One thing for sure: It’s helpful for the job-seeking spouse not to go it alone.