Balancing career and family is one of the greatest challenges facing newly married couples. Just when you thought marriage was going to simplify your life, you start to realize that there are decisions ahead, such as:
- Whose career takes priority?
- Will both of us continue to work outside the home once we have children?
- Is it fair for me to be stuck in a dead-end job in order to put you through school?
- Will the spouse with the higher income have more say in how our money is spent?
- If you work and I work, who does the housework?
Don’t lock yourselves into a house or car payment that requires two incomes.
All of a sudden, wedding planning looks minor by comparison. And it should, because these are big decisions that affect your future lives together. But you don’t have to make them alone and you don’t have to make them in a vacuum.
This website cannot give you personalized career advice, but we can pass on the wisdom of many practitioners in the field of marriage enrichment. One frequent question that comes up in marriage preparation programs is:
Should one spouse quit work when children are born?
Answer: Maybe yes, maybe no.
It certainly helps to have one parent at home nurture and raise the child according to the values you hold. It makes life a lot easier and less stressful.
On the other hand, this is not always financially or professionally possible. A lot depends on your income and job. Also, some parents don’t have the temperament to spend many hours with young children. It can be draining and exhausting.
Like many couples, you may want to keep your options open. To do this, family life educators often recommend that if both spouses are employed when you get married, try to live on one spouse’s income. Use the second income for one-time purchases such as a down payment on a house or furniture, savings, or optional recreation. Don’t lock yourselves into a house or car payment that requires two incomes. This way, when you have your first child you are free to choose. You may have always expected that both of you would continue working outside the home once you had a child. BUT…you may feel differently once parental instincts kick in. You may not change your minds, but at least you have a choice.