My and my wife’s careers have run parallel or overlapped for most of our married life after a certain point. Whenever I got an opportunity, as soon as it was possible, I connected her with the people responsible for hiring me.
Sometimes this was a resume. Sometimes a reference. In at least one case, I interviewed for a job, did not get it, and referred her immediately. Our salaries have run somewhat parallel. Sometimes she made more, sometimes I did. It has never been an issue or point of contention. Everything has gone to the same place.
People at our work often ask silly questions. How do we stand working together and then coming home together? (She is the one who is always asked these questions. I should probably take a message, if not offense, but I know me and I know her.) I can see how some people could wonder; who say they could not do it (with their own spouses, not me). One friend whose wife was applying for a job where he worked told the people doing the hiring that if they hired her he would quit. She did not get the job. I don’t believe she was happy about it. They are still married.
We have also heard stories where a couple who did NOT work for the same company was invited to the husband’s work party and he went around beforehand pleading with his coworkers not to tell his wife about him at work. Also never an issue for us. My wife always came to our company picnics and parties. The people who knew me knew her. I am socially eccentric but I am the same with everyone. I went to her picnics and parties when we worked for different companies. Given that I am not a people person, my relationships with her coworkers have always been a lot different, but we never had to ask our coworkers to withhold things from our spouse. It is hard to imagine a relationship outlined like that, and in that context, I can see how people would wonder about working and living together.
My wife followed me into the mail room at Mellon Bank. We advanced/moved through several more jobs/careers, both ending up at USBank. Working for the same manager on different teams. I was a programmer, she was a Quality Assurance person. Management went off a deep end, forcing a coworker to change desks so that my wife and I would not be in the line of sight of each other. It was not necessary. Work is work and home is home. When people would gather around my desk on occasion and a conversation would break out, I would soon come to a ‘breaking’ point and tell them it was time to leave. My wife included. She usually knew when I was getting to the point of that telling, and just left. Work is work and home is home. It was not personal. She is just a coworker at work.
I started working full time from home in 2009. When we moved to the forest, she started working full time from home also. Then it was literally twenty four seven together. People REALLY started asking how we stood it. And each other. And saying out loud that they could not do it. Again, no problem. We each have our own office. Work is work and home is home. It is still a mystery to me what is a mystery to so many others. Still, there are some interesting statistics about marriage shedding light on those questions.
I had long heard that 50% of marriages end in divorce. The source I looked at for this article says “…the actual percentage of marriages that end in divorce in the US varies between 40% and 50%.” The conclusion drawn was that you are a little more likely to stay married than get divorced (because the percentages were below 50%). It takes a special kind of optimist to find THAT in that statistic.
The article says that divorce rates have fallen in recent years. And attributes it in part to the increasing cost of attorneys. But says online divorces, much cheaper, are becoming a thing. Optimist?
“Gray divorce rates” have risen dramatically over the last 30 years. For those 50+:doubled. For those 65+:tripled. You are more likely to get divorced if you have friends who are divorced. Children of divorce are more likely to get divorced. Second marriages have a higher rate of divorce. America has the third-highest divorce rate in the world. Etc. Etc. Etc.
This set of statistics is disturbing. The ‘good news’ they find in the various numbers seemed to me to be like finding a penny in a turd, but statistics don’t determine outcomes. My wife and I are in year 47. Her family has very little divorce. Mine has very little success at marriage (Editor’s note: the author provides additional context and clarification for this statement here). Nothing predestines success or failure. There are lots of marriages like ours. No stories like ours. No two marriages are the same. Success can be had.
I don’t believe there are any ‘secrets’ to success. Some basic principles. Be faithful. Love each other. Be honest. Don’t go to bed angry. Marriage is a bond, not a styrofoam cup; not meant to be disposable. Know boundaries; don’t push them.
Christian teachings certainly help, but this is considered a Christian nation. That is hard to reconcile with marriage statistics here. Are the principles faulty or is it the way they are held/applied? The things I’ve seen in the news just over the last 6 years suggest some of the problems (to me). I know that ‘pride comes before a fall’ so I try to focus on my own path. I’ve seen successes. And failures. Our answers have worked for us. Other answers have worked for others. There are many successful paths. There are never any guarantees. The statistics are disturbing but marriage can succeed. It takes working together. Twenty-four seven.
Source for divorce statistics: https://legaljobs.io/blog/divorce-rate-in-america/
Editor’s note: This piece first appeared in the Forest Press in 2022, it is being republished here with the author’s permission.