I have been curious after observing how a marriage works; a bond that is made to be function by two individuals. Individuals essentially means a person with his/her own opinion, perspective and ways of doing things. How can two individuals make it work?
So I had a long time thinking and observing how two can be fully functional and at what stage a certain decision has to be made, especially when both of the partners have their own career. After years of learning, I have come to the following (very fair, pretty ethical, and practical) approach. Or what I like to call;
The Modern Day Rule of a Marriage/Family Operating Model.
This should be valid for a couple that has committed to live their lives together, be it in a long term relationship and especially for marriage.
There is one true rule which I feel should be the default way of dealing with the decision to work, or to quit.
(A Very Fair) Rule of Thumb:
For cases where one earns more than the other, the decision on whether or not the lesser income partner need to continue working or to resign should be and only be made by the individual that is to resign.
It should not be a decision made by the bread-winner of the family. This is to ensure that we keep a fair, respectful and power-balance dynamic within the two. The bread-winner however can open up the discussion to suggest that, respectfully. Example:
“My dear, recently I realized that I have made enough to cover our family expenses. So, if there is by any chance that you feel you would like to be a stay-at-home mom/dad, do know that I am supportive of any of your decision.”
In the case that the individual has chosen to resign, the bread-winner shall ensure the resigned partner is compensated on a monthly basis, a salary (of half his/her last salary, or full of his/her last salary, or an amount mutually agreed).
The reason why the bread-winner is to match or at least agree upon an amount to be paid to the resigned partner on a monthly basis is to ensure the individual is given a personal freedom.
Otherwise, the resign partner will always have to request for permission or money which will then lead to unnecessary stress. This indirectly puts control that have not been there before, or never will be (should they choose continue to work), which may lead to resentment or even stress-induced diseases such as depression.
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Now moving on. We have 2 stages in a committed relationship; otherwise called Marriage.
Stage 1: Committed, without kids
The two individuals in this marriage can choose to let both of them to pursue their career, chase after their dreams, whether or not it involves living apart (such as being a weekend partner where you need to fly over the weekend to meet the other half).
That will then need to be managed between them; of what is acceptable and what is not; of how often is the visit; how is the cost management between them. It has to be mutually agreed upfront. Compromise will need to be a strong factor to make this long distance marriage to work.
Otherwise, the Rule of Thumb can be brought forward if neither of the two is willing to live apart.
Stage 2: Committed with kids
Essentially with current era, both of the individual in the marriage very much prefer to work. It is only fair if the chores within the household is equally shared between the two.
Better yet, if the children are of capable age, get them to start helping out early to teach them the lesson on life, cooperation, and living/working as a team player.
When it comes to bringing up the children, the Rule of Thumb is especially true. This is to ensure a healthy partner and a healthy parent for the children.
Once the children has reached the age of living apart; off to college or moved on as adults, the dynamic within the couple then recycle into Stage 1 again.
Ideal case after the children has grown up into adults with their own lives is when the couple will use this time to further bond and pursue their dreams together.
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Remember, sometimes our priorities changes with time and circumstances we are in. The ultimate goal is to be happy, better yet; to spend a lifetime of happiness, together. Never let anything ruins that goal. Keep it near to your heart and mind, always.
Now that is the modern day rule of a family/marriage. It is the current era’s working operating model.
I hope it helps you to foster better perspective on working on your relationship at hand. Let me know what you think?