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How Two People Can Work Together To Build One Career

By: Steve Johnson

6/23/2009 - 119 Comments

This is an old strategy that has been discarded by the current culture, but I think it has a lot of potential if people realize its advantages.

Yesterday my company gave me my annual review.  I didn’t get a raise, because we are on a wage freeze as I mentioned a few weeks ago.  But, I was surprised by the many good things my manager had to say about my performance. 

Performance is based on the other workers that are doing a similar task.  From my point of view, my performance wasn’t much different than previous years.  But, from my managers view my productively was much higher when compared with other employees doing similar tasks.

When I pressed my manager for an explanation, he simply said that others have not been able to respond to the additional responsibilities and stress of the economy as well as I have

The recession has created a lot of stress and many people are struggling with a loss of income from their spouse or cannot work the additional hours needed because they are already committed to managing the family.  As a result, they are not able to remain as productive.  I have also had to work more hours in the last year then I have had to in previous years. 

Apparently, I have been able to remain productive, not because I am more talented than the next guy, but because my spouse has the flexibility to help me.  Recessions tend to add stress to jobs, and when a family has two jobs, the stress is doubled. The doubled stress results in lower productively. 

My wife does not have an ‘income’ earning job, but she works just as hard as I do. She helps me with my side business and manages the home so I can work late hours when I need to.  Our single-income family model is much more flexible and easier to absorb unplanned stress, whether from a recession or from within our extended family.

I can honestly say that my wife has helped my career more than anything that I have done.  My promotions are a direct result of her work, which has brought a financial benefit to our family.  At the same time, she is her own boss and enjoys doing whatever she wants to each day with more financial freedom than if she was dependent on a paycheck. 

Competition Is No Match

As the recession deepens, the global fight for jobs is just getting started.  Many nations will create protectionism policies to try to protect their jobs from other nations.  The US stimulus package had a provision to ‘Buy American’ with the idea of keeping the jobs in the US.  Russia, China and Canada have already followed with their own government policies to protect jobs. 

Competition is going to continue to get fiercer within each company.  This is a time to step up to the plate and increase your productivity and this strategy is excellent for doing just that.  In fact, I could imagine someone taking this a step further and having several people working behind the scene to propel one person to keep their job.  Maybe they already do this in other nations.


A few years ago I was talking to the husband of a friend of my wife’s.  He was recently promoted to the Vice Precedent of Marketing at his company.  When I asked what is wife does, he said that she stays home with the kids.  That is when I became very suspicious of his wife’s involvement with his career.  He wouldn’t say much more about it, so I asked my wife to ask her friend how involve she was with her husband’s career.

When pressed, she admitted that she helps with ALL her husband’s presentations and proposals, which are the primary deliverables of his job.  This is an example of how two people can build one career and he now makes well into the 6-digits, which is probably more than double what he would be making without his wife’s help.

Another example is a good friend of mine that is a landscaper.  He is the only person that any of his clients call when they need his services, but his wife is his secrete competitive advantage.  She does all the invoices and accounting, helps with the designs and even negotiates with their suppliers. 

Without her help, he would not be able to work nearly as many hours as he does in the field.  With her help, he looks like a super human able to work harder than any of his competitors.

Wage Difference Between Sexes

This is one reason why the wage gap between the sexes remains.  I think there are more wives that help their husbands’ careers than there are husbands that help their wives careers.  In my observation, woman seem to naturally want to help their husbands look good and get a promotion, while husbands are more driven by competition and don’t want to encourage competition with their wives.

Single-Income Family Advantage

This is one of many ways that a single-income family has an advantage, even a competitive advantage over a dual-income family.

This is an excellent strategy to get ahead financially.  This strategy can also be very helpful in keeping a job during the deepening recession.  If you can manage the stress of the economy better than the next guy, because your spouse is helping you, then you are increasing your chances of keeping your job. 

If your spouse has lost their job, consider putting that person to work behind your job to propel your career against the competition.   Why risk the only income that your family has? 

If you don’t have an official ‘job’, that doesn’t mean you cannot work.  Don’t sit home and complain about not being able to find work when you could work for your spouse and help them increase their income. 

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