What does science say?
To adjust, partners must negotiate how to prioritize their careers and share family obligations. This requires a shift from parallel, independent careers to interdependent careers.
This is accompanied by some common pitfalls (Petriglieri, 2019):
- The couple focuses exclusively on the practical issues. One looks for logistical solutions, such as additional childcare, for example. This focus is understandable, but it prolongs the struggle because tensions remain unresolved.
- Decisions are based primarily on money. People focus on economic gain when making decisions about career and child care. However, this often means that decisions are at odds with other values and desires of the couple.
Whatever decisions are made, as long as they are consistent with the couple's values and they openly discuss and explicitly agree to their options, they can indeed feel fulfilled in both their career and their relationship at the same time. There is also a spillover effect between work and family. For example, negative experiences at work during the day are associated with poorer interactions within the family at night. Both conflicts and positive experiences regarding work and family, affect the emotional experiences of individuals. Thereby, it appears that positive aspects related to the workplace contribute more to a sense of balance between work and family, while negative aspects create an imbalance (Lo Presti et al., 2020).