One of my favorite single girlfriends just came back from a terrible first date. She had a whole list of very valid complaints, but a certain one stuck out to me. She said he talked about his job way too much. Now of course, this was just a first date and not a full blown relationship, but it got me thinking about how involved a woman should actually be in her man’s career. And the truth is, it varies. Here are some questions you should ask yourself to figure out how deep you should get into your man’s career.
Do you want to be involved?
The first thing you should check in on is your curiosity level. Do you want to know more about his work? Are you interested? Do you feel strongly enough about him that you’d dive into his life on that level? If the answers to any of those questions are no, that’s probably an indication that you should give your relationship some thought. While it’s OK to have some church and state separation between professional life and personal life, in this age, it’s impossible for anyone to be completely divorced from what they do professionally. Having no appetite for information on your partner’s work may mean you’re missing out on a big part of him.
Does he want you involved?
There are two parties in this equation – him and you – so you need to factor his preferences in, too. Does your man want to share his work with you? If he does, super. He likely values your input and wants you to know as much about his daily life as possible. If he doesn’t want your opinion on his professional happenings, but still shares stories from the day and his feelings about his work with you, that’s fine, too. I mean, he gets paid for his job because it’s not a hobby! You shouldn’t be expected to do his work for him for free. But, if he’s not sharing anything and clearly doesn’t want you involved, that could be a problem. I’m not saying he’s Walter White or anything, but there’s no good reason a person’s career should be completely separate from their partner.
Can you add value?
If you’re interested and he’s open to your involvement, you’re in a good spot. Now you need to determine if and how you can add value to his professional life. Again, his job is his job and you shouldn’t have to do his work for no pay. But, gauge what you can bring to enhance his professional success. If you’re an expert manager, you can offer staffing advice. If you’re more advanced in your career, maybe there are general tips you can share. If you know his industry, speak to that. Or, if you’re mostly a good sounding board, lean into that. Try to only insert yourself where you have the expertise to offer something valuable. And, remember, being a good listener is actually really valuable.
What are your boundaries?
You’re not his boss, co-worker or assistant and you need to remember that. You shouldn’t be expecting yourself, or allowing yourself, to offer the type of help that should be compensated. You also need to realize that he got hired for this job for a reason. And you need to trust his decisions and instincts, even when you two aren’t aligned on something. When you’re in a relationship, there can be a thin line between supportively involved and way too in the weeds of his work.
Is he reciprocating?
People generally do unto others as they’d have done unto themselves. (Maybe that’s the naïve optimist in me, but I truly think that’s how people behave.) So, assume how involved he wants you in his work is how involved he gets himself into your work. Try to match what he’s doing. And if that doesn’t feel right, it’s time to have a convo and discuss how you’d each like the other to handle careers within the relationship.
While there are no firm answers and certainly not one fit for all couples, I’m hoping that asking yourself these questions helps you find the right balance in your relationship.