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Couple Goals: 3 Transitions That Challenge Working Partners
Couple Goals: 3 Transitions That Challenge Working Partners
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Couple Goals: 3 Transitions That Challenge Working Partners

Sheila Brenda Andoi
May 13, 2022
“You must be formless, shapeless, like water. When you pour water in a cup, it becomes the cup. When you pour water in a bottle, it becomes the bottle. When you pour water in a teapot, it becomes the teapot. Water can drip and it can crash. Become like water my friend” – Bruce Lee

Sociological studies indicate that when both partners devote themselves to work and home life, they gain improved economic independence, a more pleasant relationship, and a lower-than-average risk of divorce.

Couples with two incomes are becoming more common in Kenya with many working full-time in challenging professional positions and environments. 

Transitions are typical occurrences in today's workplace. Some are more traditional professional changes, such as climbing up the career ladder or leaving to work for another company. Others are more dramatic changes that entirely reorient or restructure people’s career paths and family lives. 

You may be thinking about changing careers, moving to a new town, county/country, or starting your own business. Transitions may be both thrilling and difficult. When working couples are juggling two careers with different sets of transitions, the pressure is even multiplied.

Relationships and families are made or broken during transitions. Let’s have a look at three of the most common transitions that challenge dual-income couples.

Transition 1: Living Apart for Work

Couples who are offered career opportunities in different parts of the country may choose to live apart from each other or their families. Research shows that this is happening today more frequently than ever before. It is no longer rare for two-career couples to live apart.

According to studies, such families instil a sense of equality, financial soundness, and even accountability in their children. But all is not always rosy when this transition comes in.

These families are constantly confronted with difficulties that frequently defy conventional systems. When two career spouses are required to be separated in different locations, family responsibilities can weigh heavier on one spouse than the other. 

Due to the physical distance between the spouse who has to change their location because of a change in their career, and the spouse who chooses to remain with the children and be responsible for them, the burden will always be more on one spouse than the other especially when the children are involved.

Work-home conflicts are typical when such obligations are unbalanced. In most cases, one of the couples may feel like all the responsibility of raising the children is falling on them when their partner chooses to migrate. Research shows that in such a scenario, many women would choose to trail behind and even forego their professional duties in order to streamline their family lives. 

Will your income be enough to sustain two households? Take that into account and know how flexible the job is and whether it will allow you to visit your family from time to time without strain.

Also, consider how far you will be from your family. This will allow you and your spouse to plan how frequent your visits will be and make adjustments to your budget to include your visits.

In the meantime, while you work out the details to better manage your being apart for work, remember to stay happy, positive, and in love.

Transition 2: Parenthood

When a couple gets their first child, (or even more), their relationship is generally disrupted. 

The nature of marital issues that might be expected during the transition to parenthood includes;  disruption of time schedules, disagreement over who does what when the baby arrives, adjustments to be made in your personal lives, and your financial readjustment prior to and after the baby arrives. 

Read Also: What to Financially Expect When You're Expecting A Baby 

Everything changes when you have children. Your perseverance, finances, and time are all tested. Sweet memories are punctuated with sleepless nights as you learn to balance your careers, family, household, and personal affairs. If you're not careful, you and your spouse may drift apart due to your demanding schedules.

To navigate this and be on the safe side, before the baby arrives, understand your health insurance, pay down or greatly reduce any debt you might be having, build an emergency savings fund if you don't have one, start making your parental leave plan, update your household budget and start thinking ahead for childcare.

Transition 3: Retirement

Retirement is also a  significant life transition that requires a lot of adjustment. The retirement process affects not only the retiree themself but also their spouses and families. Because retirement impacts you, your spouse, and the entire family, it is vital that you take the family dynamics into account in your transition.

Without proper preparation, retirement can be extremely frightening for all parties involved.

When do you plan to retire? Will you and your partner retire at the same time or separately? What if you still feel obligated to work because you don't want to go broke? Will you be working part-time or retiring gradually? 

Read Also: Planning for Retirement: Factors to Consider

At this point, both of you have already dealt with the previous life transitions like parenthood or living apart for work if that applies - differently in the past, and that will influence how you deal with the retirement transition as well.

Here’s how you can navigate this transition;

Manage expectations 

What do you intend to do after you retire? What do you think will change for you as a person and as a couple? It is necessary to clarify expectations. 

Imagine a case where the husband retires first and the wife is still working. Who will now be in charge of the household's finances?

How will that have an impact on your health now that you were used to your company's health policy?

It's vital to talk about expectations so you don't set yourself up for disappointment and always feel like you're letting your partner down.

Read Also: Family Health: How to Financially Prepare for Medical Costs in Retirement

Arrange retirement finances

Finances are a big deal - Knowing where you stand financially is a critical part of the retirement transition. Money is a tool. The amount of money needed for retirement will be determined by the type of lifestyle you would like to have. 

Many people often believe that once they retire, they will be spending less money, but that's not necessarily true. Yes, you won't have to commute to work daily, etc, but other expenses continue and if you have no inflow of income either from a business or side hustle, you might exhaust your savings sooner than expected. 

Read Also: 10 Creative Ways to Make Money After Retirement


Every transition is unique to different couples and it also presents new and different challenges, but they are all interconnected and many of these transitions are well-known.

Dual-career couples can come out stronger and more fulfilled both in their relationships and professions if they understand each transition, know what questions to ask, and figure out the way forward and how to navigate it.

To thriving at work and love!

Sheila Brenda Andoi is a communicator, journalist, editor, and writer passionate about human-interest stories. You can find her on Twitter @sheilaandoi

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