What if your marriage map is wrong? (Read Time: 3 min.)

couple 4I’m a collector of books, a lover of Barnes and Noble and what I found, in the last few years, is that I was much better at buying books than reading them.  So… I decided, in this new year of 2013, to read 1 book a week.  Up first is “The Road Less Traveled” by M. Scott Peck.  As I read this book, its truth speaks to me on so many different levels.  One passage (so far) really struck me as being pivotal to the work I do coaching women breadwinners:

“What happens when one has striven long and hard to develop a working view of the world, a seemingly useful, workable map, and then is confronted with new information suggesting that the view is wrong and the map needs to be largely redrawn?  The painful effort required seems frightening, almost overwhelming.  What we do more often than not, and usually unconsciously, is to ignore the new information.  Often this act of ignoring is much more than passive.  We may denounce the new information as false, dangerous, heretical, the work of the devil.  We may actually crusade against it, and even attempt to manipulate the world so as to make it conform to our view of reality.  Rather than try to change the map, an individual may try to destroy the new reality.  Sadly, such a person may expend much more energy ultimately in defending an outmoded view of the world than would have been required to revise and correct it in the first place.” 

When was the last time, as a woman breadwinner, you evaluated your marriage map (the paradigms, rules, beliefs, and perceptions you and your spouse have about what it means to be in partnership with each other)?

The marriage maps couples create on their honeymoon are DRASTICALLY  different from the marriage maps that exist in Year 10.

So… as a woman breadwinner, when was the last time you evaluated whether your marriage map is working for the BOTH of you? 

In other words, when was the last time you sat down with your spouse and asked and answered the following questions:

  1. What’s working in our marriage?
  2. What’s NOT working in our marriage?
  3. How do we define partnership?
  4. What does each person need?
  5. What does each person bring to the table (strengths, gifts, preferences)?
  6. Where are we struggling?
  7. Where do we need more help?
  8. What would make this relationship stronger?
  9. How are we doing when it comes to building a strong foundation for our family?
  10. Where is there unresolved resentment, bitterness, anger, or hurt and how we can openly and compassionately address it?
  11. What do we think is unfair in the relationship and how can we handle it?
  12. Where do we see our marriage in 5 years?
  13. What steps will we need to take in order to get there?
  14. What are the stumbling blocks or obstacles that could hinder our marriage map?
  15. How will we embrace change when “life happens” and unexpected obstacles get thrown our way?
  16. What is the one thing we both need to remember when we don’t see eye-to-eye?
  17. What do we do on a daily basis to stay in a place of love (rather than fear or judgment)?
  18. Where do we need to get real and how can we do that without offending each other?
  19. Are we truly willing to be partners or are we pretending to be something that we are not?
  20. Is this REALLY working?  If it isn’t, what are we going to do about that NOW?

Sometimes, these questions can be asked in the privacy of a late night snack at the dinner table.  Sometimes, it requires the intervention and mediation of a therapist.  Only you know to what extent you and your partner can compassionately and truthfully respond to the above questions but make no mistake.  At some point, every woman breadwinner has to confront her marriage map.  She has to look at whether or not what she signed up for at the altar is really what she wants forever.  Hopefully, the answer is yes.  Sometimes, the answer is no.  There is no right or wrong answer.  There simply is the truth.  Confront your marriage map and be very clear, in 2013, whether it’s working or not…

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Women Breadwinners: 2 Powerful Ways to Get Rid of Mommy Guilt in 2013 (Read Time: 3 min.)

mother 1Women breadwinners do A LOT.  They work hard at work and they work hard at home.  No matter how the roles and responsibilities are split, there’s always some level of guilt that comes along with being away from your spouse and children for extended hours due to work.  But guilt is a useless and wasted emotion because A) You can’t undo the past, B) It is what it is and C) Feeling worse about the situation will never make it better.  Although some would say that mommy guilt comes part and parcel with labor and delivery, you don’t have to go into 2013 feeling guilty for being the financial provider of your family.

There are two things that can help you get rid of the mommy guilt:

1) Reframe how you’re looking at your role as breadwinner.  How you see your role has everything to do with how you feel in that role.  Are you the one doing all the work?  That’s a perception?  Are you the one missing out on all the key moments?  Guess what?  That’s a perception.  Is this a take-take relationship and you’re the only one giving?  That’s a perception.  At the end of the day, when you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change.  Until you are willing to see the blessing of your role and the gift of your spouse’s role, there will always be a back-and-forth game of “What have you done for me lately?” and that spells disaster for a marriage.

2) Redesign how you create quality time with your family.  Redesigning your time is easier than you think.  Pull out a calendar.  What BIG days are coming up for your spouse and children (recitals, soccer games, sports to join, graduations, sporting events, ceremonies, cub scout/girl scout camping trips)?  Mark those on your 2013 calendar (or type them into your Google calendar or your smart phone) and, right now, request the amount of time or flex time you need so you can ensure that you’re at those events.  If you’ve got at least 2 weeks of vacation time a year, you have time to factor in a recital here and a game there.  It might not be the soccer mom schedule but your child will forever remember that you took out the time to attend… and it’s something you’ll never forget… or get back if you miss it.  Another way to redesign your life would be to change your work hours.  Do four ten hour days so you have one day a week off and designate that one day off as  family time.  Work when your kids are sleeping if you can.  Create a family game night and consistently participate in it EVERY week.

There are so many ways to play a major role in family time without being a stay-at-home-mom that there’s no reason for you to feel as if your job is costing you your family.  You can choose differently.  If, at the end of the day, you’re in a work situation that truly is a my-job-or-my-family choice and you aren’t willing to lose your family over a job, then you need to plan an exit strategy and work your exit plan.  No job is worth the precious moments with your family.