Bestselling author and Harvard MBA SAMANTHA ETTUS’s upcoming book, The Pie Life, contains valuable lessons for couples on how to happily divvy up the “pie” that is their lives, so that each partner is supporting the other to the fullest.
What if I told you that you are the reason your husband is not doing his fair share with the kids and your home? Would you believe me? Well, I bet you have a lot to do with it.
After working with thousands of women on how to get more out of their professional and personal lives, I can tell you that the ones who reach their potential are those that are either single or they have spouses who support their dreams. It is impossible to reach your own goals if you don’t have a partner who is willing to do what it takes to help you get there. But how can this happen?
When people see my husband taking our kids to school or talking about the lunchboxes he makes each morning, women will say “What a great dad. You are so lucky.” And while my husband is a great dad and deserves accolades, luck had zero to do with it. I knew what to look for in a partner and it wasn’t tall, dark and handsome. It was a loving, open-minded, ambitious, and kind-hearted man. (It certainly helped that he was cute too!)
If there was any luck involved at all, it was being born into a family with parents who shared childrearing and a business together. My mom and dad ran their home and their business as partners. It was always my expectation that I would marry someone who helped out at home just like my own dad did. My dad was the button sewer and chief chef in our home growing up. He would return home from running his business and cook us a delicious meal each night. So it is no surprise that I chose a husband who would be a full partner.
Of course, 50:50 doesn’t mean split down the middle. Some days are going to be 90:10 or even 40:60 at times. Sometimes you will be doing more than half the load at home, other times he will. If he has a big presentation or a surgery to perform the next day, you will step up. If you’re on a business trip, it will be his turn.
An uneven balance of labor at home and with the kids will not just make you tired; it also impacts your children. Girls who are raised in homes with an egalitarian split earn more money as adults and boys end up being bigger contributors to their home lives. So how can you create a PartnerShift? Over a glass of Chardonnay or a cup of tea, sit down with your partner with two pens and two notepads. Each of you writes down what you do for your household in a given week. No detail is too small. Now compare sheets of paper and what you will likely fnd is that the “unhelpful” partner is a whole lot more helpful than you realized. Your partner will likely be surprised too – at just how long your list is in comparison. Now it is time to see what items from the long list can be added to your partner’s short list. You have now created a PartnerShift.
The most motivated-to-help partners and the teams that work best are the ones that nurture their marriages too. Add those weekly date nights, go to sleep at the same time together, and tend to your sex life. Happier partners are more helpful partners and with a happy union, you’ll reach your full potential.
By Samantha Ettus
Photos courtesy of Samantha Ettus