How much do you respect your partner's career?

How much do you respect your partner’s career?

Traditionally men have been the 'breadwinners' in heterosexual relationships, they have focused on work - gaining power, money and prestige though their progression. Women's careers were subservient to their partners and this allowed the man to be "all in" for work.

Times are changing... by the time they marry, 'settle down' and have children more and more women have careers that are at least the equal of their partners. Expectations within relationships have changed. Men are expected to share more of the home and child rearing activities.


Research published in the Harvard Business Journal has looked at how men within a global strategy consulting firm responded to the tension between work and family commitments.

Men at the firm believed that to be successful they had to be fully committed to work at the expense of their wives' work, the reality of their lives was that most had wives in full or part time work - this created a clear tension between how men thought they should be acting and the reality of their lives. Creating "career angst and marital conflict".

So how to did these high performing career men reconcile their careers with those of their spouses?


  • 60% of the sample conceived of themselves as 'breadsharers'

"Valuing their wives’ work so highly, these men positioned themselves in sharing terms: placing importance on both partners being able to pursue their work and family-related desires, hopes, and dreams. They supported their wives’ work alongside — and sometimes ahead of — their own."


  • 40% of the sample 'positioned themselves in terms consistent with the traditional male 'breadwinner' identity.'

"These men accorded low social status to their wives’ work, which seemed to prime them to view this work as having little financial importance to the family. This happened even when wives seemed — to an external observer — to be quite financially successful."

We can see from the article that identifying yourself as a Breadsharer or Breadwinner had nothing to do with any intrinsic financial value the wives' careers had. The perceived social status was entirely at the discretion of the man involved. However, devaluing the status of their wives' career did allow some men to claim the identify of primary breadwinner and make his personal success at work become the most important aspect of the family life.

How to be a Great Dad AND Have a Great Career

At Inspiring Dads we believe that long term commitments whether marriage or not required a balanced outlook, with both partners' career needs and desires requiring equal focus.

We don't say that Breadwinner = bad and Breadsharer = good but...

  • Are you that guy who's wife puts the kids to bed and then sits up at home every night waiting for you to make it home? Wondering why she made all the sacrifices...

  • Maybe your wife is pissed off with you because you won't ask to work from home, you know it would make such a big difference for her career but you don't want to be seen as uncommitted?

  • Be honest... how do you see your wife’s work - greater, equal or less important than yours?

Working together towards shared goals is what Inspiring Dads is all about. Great men work together with their partners to establish shared goals. It's so important we devote the first 3 Steps of our programme towards it

As one respondent in the HBR article says

“OK, wait. Our life is not going to be the one where I get to do whatever the [expletive] I want job-wise, just because my life is not the center.”

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