As a freelance writer, I get the opportunity to talk with lots of different businesses and consider plenty of varied job opportunities. I have the freedom to consider a job or a writing assignment before I sign on and agree to it. It’s one of the positives of being my own boss, which I like to remind myself of when I’m dealing with managing my own 401k. Recently, I shocked a potential employer when I said that I would need to get back to them about some work. “I need to go over this with my husband first,” I told the woman on the phone.
Immediately, her tone changed. “Oh,” she managed to squeak out, “well I guess you can just get back to me.” I knew that my statement had upset her. In fact, it might have even costed me a little money. But it was the truth, I couldn’t make a decision right there on the phone because I needed time to speak with my husband.
When I was telling the story later to a friend, she too was incensed that I would consider asking my husband before I agreed to something. “It’s your career,” she reminded me. “Yes, and my career affects him,” I responded, a little confused as to why this was so shocking.
Maybe I should be ashamed, but I’m not. I consult my husband before I make any and every major decision, and career choices are pretty major.
Any job choice I make can impact our family’s finances, which is something that both my husband and I should be talking about. This particularly business decision involved travel, which is why I didn’t think twice about admitting on the phone that I needed to talk to my spouse. Of course I did, I would away from home for a week. I would be away from our daughter for a week. My employment affects our entire family, so my husband has every right to weigh in on the decision making process.
I consider myself to be a feminist. I believe that my husband and I are equals. I believe that we deserve to get the same pay when we do the same work. I believe that we should share everything in our marriage, including the responsibilities of raising our children.
But I also consider myself to be a partner in my marriage. Partners communicate. Partners care about each other’s opinions. And partners don’t make unilateral decisions that impact both parties.
In today’s career culture, women work very hard to show that they are strong and capable. I do that too. Consulting with my husband before agreeing to travel or even agreeing to a large project that would take up the majority of my time doesn’t mean that I’m not capable of doing those things. It means that I respect my marriage and my commitment to thinking about us as a unit.
Even more, my husband does the same thing when things happen with his career, but since he works for a single employer, it doesn’t happen very often. And normally, he has plenty of time to come home and talk to me about any changes. It just so happens that the nature of my job makes these conversations more frequently about me than him.
Is it my career? Of course it is. But my career is a part of my life, and my life is joined to someone else’s in matrimony. Am I more committed to my marriage than I am to my job? Of course I am. That doesn’t make me bad at my job, it just means that it isn’t my top priority, and I don’t think that’s a bad thing.