Family works: Speaking on dual-career marriages
by Rob Coombs ID. Min. Ph.D
Aug 10, 2014 | 403 views | 0 0 comments | 18 18 recommendations | email to a friend | print
The rising trend in the number of dual-career families has created many new challenges for modern families. The problems of role strain, time management, division of household labor, childcare and managing guilt are major issues in many homes. This was certainly true in my home where my wife and I learned early in our marriage just how overwhelming the challenges of achieving personal and familial dreams can be.

As I completed a doctorate in ministry while working full-time as an associate pastor, I naturally felt overwhelming appreciation for my wife, Janet, who had supported me both emotionally (by consistently providing encouragement) and cognitively (by proofing countless pages of research and theory draft).

One evening, while sharing my appreciation for her, I asked if there was anything I might do for her. She studied my eyes for a few moments, and then believing that the question had been sincere, she softly, but determinedly, said, “I would like to go to medical school.”

The next August as I prepared for the final oral defense of my dissertation, our daughter entered first grade, our son began preschool, and Janet started medical school. Her dream of becoming a surgeon would encompass the next nine years — half our children’s childhood.

By the time Janet was ready to begin her practice, Amy had completed her freshman year of high school and Drew was ready to begin middle school as a sixth grader. As if this was not enough of a challenge, during Janet’s surgery residency, I decided to return to school and complete a second doctorate, a doctorate in family studies. School for all four of us had become an accepted way of life.

Was life challenging for us? Yes. Absolutely. Without a doubt.

There were so many successes. Janet finished first in her medical school class. I had completed not only my second doctorate, but also had published a few new books. Amy and Drew were happy and both held high expectations of what they could do with their lives.

Does all of this sound too good to be true? It is. There were also some failures. The strain on our family a few times sent us near the edge of an emotional cliff and there were days we felt that the best we could do was just hang on. But we did hang on, we learned, we grew, and we became better — better as individuals, better as a family.

Was it worth it? Yes. Absolutely. Without a doubt.

Of course, there are some things we wish we had done differently, but I suppose that is usually the case. Hindsight is 20/20. But, all things considered, I wouldn’t trade the experience for anything. I have been blessed and I am one that counts my blessings daily.

The perplexities and challenges facing dual-career families in contemporary society demand that couples move beyond archaic traditional notions that benefit the man while demoralizing the woman. Actualizing potentials and realizing dreams are only possible with consistent mutual support.

The challenges of role strain, time management, division of household labor, childcare and managing guilt demand a team effort where both husband and wife are seen as equal contributors.

Both strive to support the other, doing what is possible to encourage and help their spouse become better, stronger, and more capable as a result of the relationship they share.

By doing so, their marriage becomes a genuine expression of love in action.