A good couple is a team: it’s not “my career” or “your career” but “our careers”.
Understanding each other’s ambitions, supporting each other during setbacks, making important decisions together – these are cornerstones that make a couple successful.
Unfortunately, when misunderstood the two-for-one approach can seriously undermine your or your partner’s professional success.
There is a number of toxic behaviours which are very common, and should absolutely be avoided –
1. Bossy. “I’m the boss’ wife/husband/partner which gives me authority over his/her subordinates and/or their partners”. It is exemplified by the colonel’s wife bossing around the lieutenants and their wives but this can take many forms: visiting the office and giving unsolicited advice to staff, giving instructions to the PA, lecturing the other spouses on social occasions, etc. This kind of entitlement is not only irritating to everyone who is subjected to it; it seriously undermines the leadership of the person whose authority is being hijacked.
2. Needy/demanding. “My husband/wife/partner deserves a promotion/raise/works late, so I will call their boss to get it fixed”. Only do this if you want to make sure you completely destroy your partner’s reputation and prospects. Your partner is not a child, their boss is not the headmaster, their colleagues are not their playmates. So save the parent-talks-to-headmaster approach for your children.
3. Too well informed. You may discuss work-related problems at home, and it is not unusual for spouses/partners to look for solutions to tough challenges together, or to ask for/give to each other advice when facing a complicated situation at work. But your, or your partner’s colleagues don’t need to be aware of that, and in any case, they didn’t ask for their co-worker’s partner’s input. So stay away: do NOT interfere – unless someone specifically asks for your input, e.g., if you have relevant expertise. Even then, be careful not to overstep the boundaries: you don’t work there. And avoid phrases like: “my husband says we should do X“.
4. Snob. It’s perfectly normal to feel proud of your spouse’s/partner’s achievements and success. It’s also normal to feel that you’ve contributed to their success, and to expect to share it. It’s no good, however, to appropriate their success. And it’s even worse if you snub people on their behalf – or let your significant other do that on your behalf. Successful people don’t look down on others just because they’ve achieved less – especially if they’ve simply made less money. Flaunting your success – and wealth – in other people’s face is bad form.
5. False networking. There are great advantages to networking as a couple: you can make contacts and search for opportunities on each other’s behalf. There are quite a few ways of doing this right. There’s also a way of doing this wrong, and that’s introducing yourself as your spouse’s/partner’s other half just because you expect to take advantage of them being better known than you, and expecting to use their success to promote yourself. Basically, other people’s elevator speech will say: “I am (profession) and I help clients solve (problem)”, yours will be: “I am married to a clever and successful person, so why don’t you hire me”.
Do this right with my TwiceAsSuccessful™ program.