“I Do” or Not to “I Do” – Is That the Question for your Career?

Posted August 28, 2012 by Marcy Twete in Life After Five

Forbes contributor Selena Rezvani recently asked the question “Marriage: Hazardous to Your Career?” And among her questions and thoughts about marriage as it relates to a woman’s career comes an interesting thought and statistic:

As women, many of us prepare ourselves for the give and take of marriage.  We might drop our names and agree to slap on someone else’s.   We may capitulate to the geographic move that deep down we’re not happy about, something it turns out, women are far more likely to do than men.  In the end, perhaps we ready ourselves to compromise too much, a trend which drives some women to opt out of the “dream” of marriage completely.

So….we’re willing (as a gender) to change our names, change our locations, and compromise to have the dream of a husband and a white dress? Maybe. Maybe not. Having been in two marriages, one unsuccessful and one successful, I can comment openly about marriage being a help or a hindrance to my own career in a few different ways:

  • Bad marriage=workaholic. For me, being in an unsuccessful first marriage actually helped my career. To escape being at home and miserable, I spent long hours at the office and threw myself wholeheartedly into my career at a very young age. Pro. Con, obviously being the bad marriage.
  • Moving=not so bad. I fall into the camp listed above of women who moved for a spouse’s job. My husband and I weren’t married when I left my job in Minneapolis to come with him to Chicago to pursue an opportunity for him. And while some might say that a 6+ month job search and inevitably a job I hated for less than a year hurt my resume, I disagree. Moving put me in a position to really examine where my career was headed and adjust my sails…successfully, I think.
  • Good marriage=supportive and encouraging. Having a supportive partner can be an incredible addition to your career. It’s someone to talk through issues and ideas with on a daily basis. My husband is always 10 steps ahead of me when it comes to my career and my business. He pushes me to jump out the plane, if that makes sense. I’m more cautious and risk averse and he makes me more adventurous.
  • Bring on the balance. When you want your marriage to succeed, you inevitably will have to find balance. You can’t ignore your spouse for your career and expect your relationship to work, and vice versa. Having a relationship can build your success in both areas.

So whether you’re single or taken, married or coupled, I think the answer to the question of whether or not marriage hurts your career is all about how you approach it. If you want to be successful in marriage and in your professional life, it takes hard work and dedication. That’s the long and short of it.

About the Author

Marcy Twete

Marcy Twete is a career fundraiser turned corporate responsibility executive, a career and networking expert and the author of the book "You Know Everybody! A Career Girl’s Guide to Building a Network That Works."