Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Have I Told You About Penelope Trunk?

I really like her blog. She writes about important career-type things from a very interesting perspective. Her most recent post, Your Biggest Career Decision Is Who You Marry, struck me. I agree with her statement "I think it’s mostly that people are happier when they put the requirements of being in a committed relationship ahead of the other aspects of their life. And a career would be the first thing I’d tell you to give up. You can get a lot more from loving and being loved."

That isn't necessarily a popular thing to say. But I agree with it. I think that may be part of why it's so hard to sustain a marriage if you get married young (stats say you're less likely to divorce if you get married over the age of 25) - your expectations for your career path are likely to change in your early to mid twenties. And you made an agreement with someone about how you'd live your lives together, changing career expectations can be a deal breaker. Whereas if you've over 25, you're more likely to have settled into your path, and can make decisions that are more likely to stick.

I had a conversation with a friend recently about how her husband (a grad student) is getting a lot of pressure from his parents to finish his degree (or quit) and make a professional name for himself. But that's not a priority for him, for her, or for them as a couple. It's more important to them for both partners to pursue their interests & passions - and for her her husband, that doesn't include making a professional name for himself in his field (at this point). I'm glad that they're self-aware enough to realize this - that their happiness is a priority, and won't be achieved through his career. Because since we've been told since we were little that "YOU CAN BE OR DO ANYTHING YOU WANT TO!", the expectation is that we will want to - to be the best cupcake-baker-in-space or whatever. And that we'll derive happiness from our career, rather than our relationships. But I don't think that's how it works. The balance between what you need from your career and what you need from your relationship is going to be different for everyone, clearly - but we need to stop saying that careers = happiness. They don't.

And let me be clear: I don't think you need to be married to be loved. Relationships with friends and family count.

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