One of the challenges that we face on almost a daily basis, not just as parents, but in our careers and in our lives. the paradox of compromise. One of my favorite stories about compromise, he's often told around the holiday season, it's called the gift of the magi. The husband and wife early on in their marriage decide that they are going to shop for Christmas gifts for each other, but in secret.
Summary and Quotes
[00:00:09] – The paradox of compromise
[00:02:16] – Challenges as a couple raising our kids
[00:04:59] – Dissonance and mental struggles
[00:06:05] – Cultural conditioning vs realization
[00:09:22] – Bringing the best of us to the table
Quotes from the episode:
“When we have compromises that not only do we not recognize that we're making, but that our partners and our family members don't recognize that we're making, it creates a huge challenge.” [00:01:50]
“One of the things that we found is that. We both had some beliefs that were installed in us from a very young age that kind of conflicted with how we wanted to live our life once our children came around.” [00:03:25]
“What we realized is that there is a biological drive that my wife was feeling. To be home with these kids, just as there was a biological drive or a feeling that I had that I wanted to go out and provide, even though I was providing, it wasn't . It didn't feel like I was providing. And so what w what we realized was that. We were both giving up the part of us that we were best at and we were trying to be something that we were not.” [00:08:30]
Transcript continues below
The wife knows that her husband really admires his beautiful pocket watch, so she decides that she wants to buy a chain for that pocket watch because he's, Oh, he's losing it. The problem, of course, is that she doesn't have the money. So what does she do? She goes to her hairdresser who always admires her.
Beautiful. Long and luxurious hair. And the hairdresser says, well, you could sell your hair and I'll, that will give you the money that you can go buy that chain for the pocket watch. And then of course the husband goes, and he is also searching for a gift for his wife. He admires her hair, and so he decides he wants to buy her a beautiful.
Jeweled hair clip for that hair. The only problem of course, is that he doesn't have the money. So what does he do? He goes, and he sells his pocket watch to get the money to buy that hair clip. Now in the story, the couple exchange gifts on Christmas Eve, and they realize that even though they're not able to use those gifts, that their love for each other, When's the day? And that's the sort of feel good thing about the story. The challenge, of course, that we face is oftentimes the compromises that we make aren't even visible to us. When we have compromises that not only do we not recognize that we're making, but that our partners and our family members don't recognize that we're making, it creates a huge challenge.
It can create resentment. It can create frustration. And ultimately it ends up, as opposed to both people winning. It ends up as a loss for everyone. Today, I want to talk about some of the challenges that we've faced as a couple in raising our kids, and these are challenges from the perspective of the various careers that we so.
Neither of us, neither my wife nor I, when we were younger in K through 12 really gave any thought to the function of getting an education. We were really focused on getting good grades for the purpose of getting good grades and being good at school. The reward for being good at school, graduating from the 12th grade is that you get to go on to grade 13 and basically repeat the whole thing over again.
The challenge of course, is that once you finish with university, you actually have to go out and provide value into the world, and in exchange for that value, you get some compensation. One of the things that we found is that. We both had some beliefs that were installed in us from a very young age that kind of conflicted with how we wanted to live our life once our children came around, and the first thing is, number one, my wife was really focused on her career.
Then as soon as the kids came around instantly, the career. At the hospital took a back seat to wanting to be with the kids, and so there was this huge amount of internal turmoil of, I've paid all this money for this education. My parents helped me with this education. I feel that I am expected to use this education for this particular career.
That really wore on her. It wore on her a lot. And what made it kind of even more challenging was the nature of, of my job changed after we moved from Washington D C I had an extremely flexible job that was not as satisfying as the work that I was doing in DC. It wasn't as fulfilling. It wasn't as challenging.
It wasn't as enriching, but I was good at it. And it also gave me a lot of flexibility, a substantial amount of flexibility. So what ended up happening was I functionally became the primary caregiver and my wife was off at work at the hospital. And that created even more dissonance and even more mental.
Struggles for her because now she would see me spending time with the child that she wanted to spend, be spending time with. And realistically, who should be spending time with that baby? Should it be me, the the man, or should it be her who has the equipment basically to feed the baby? Right? So here I am.
I'm. Getting the milk that she has pumped and put in the in the fridge and I'm feeding the baby and she has gone and returned to work and we didn't realize it at the time because it's very challenging to put your finger on that. It's really hard to say why you're frustrated with something. We just know that we're frustrated, but really going in and digging in and figuring out why specifically that is.
Was challenging for a couple of reasons. The first one is because it's difficult to do that no matter what. But the second one was all of the cultural conditioning that was telling my wife that she could have it all, that she could have that career that she wanted to have, and she could also be present for the children.
And she basically realized that no, she couldn't because if she's away at work. Then she's not physically present to be breastfeeding the child or to be, to be nursing the child. she ran into some issues where she was not actually, the baby would not latch. And so we had to use a bottle of breast milk as opposed to breastfeeding.
It doesn't matter. The point being that what really, what really made it very visible to her. Was that I was doing that work and she was not. Now I was working at the same time too, but it was, it was not like we treated roles 100% but what made it so frustrating for her was that she felt betrayed by buying into this belief that she had to have this.
Successful career in order to be happy and in order to be fulfilled. Now, on the other side of the coin, I found that what happened for me was I had given up on some work that I really enjoyed doing that I was very good at. That was fulfilling and rewarding to me, and the trade off that I made was I would have.
A job that was far more flexible. Yeah. roughly the same, but was not nearly as challenging or rewarding or fulfilling to me. I did not realize how much of an impact not would have on me as the husband and as the provider. Now, granted, both of us were brought up in a very quote, unquote.
Liberal environment, a new school, liberal, not old school, liberal environment, and . My belief was that, you know, well, I've been told on my life that it doesn't matter who does this, who takes care of these, this kid, you know, if it's me or if it's his mom. but what we realized is that there is a biological drive that my wife was feeling.
To be home with these kids, just as there was a biological drive or a feeling that I had that I wanted to go out and provide, even though I was providing, it wasn't . It didn't feel like I was providing. And so what w what we realized was that. We were both giving up the part of us that we were best at and we were trying to be something that we were not.
And even though we were doing a good job at it, we were succeeding at doing it. It was making both of us somewhat miserable. But we also weren't being the best that we could be. We, we weren't bringing the best of us to the table. And the reason that we weren't bringing the best of us to the table is because we're trying to play a role that we're not ideally suited for.
And one of the, one of the analogies that we, that we use to kind of work through this was if you've ever played sports, for instance, if you've ever played soccer. Somebody who's a goaltender may not be as good as somebody who is a forward. Now the team needs a goalie. So if that goaltender gets hurt, a forward may step up and take that role because they need to have a goaltender.
Yeah. But it's not what they want to be doing. It's not why they joined that team to begin with. Sure they're going to do the job, they're going to get it done, but it's not what they're optimally supposed to be doing. And that's kinda how we felt. Okay. So what my wife and I ultimately realized we needed to do was we needed to identify where our strengths naturally were and then try and come to the table with those strengths, bringing those strengths to the table as opposed to applying to, trying to play the position that we were never really intended to play.
Sure we can play it. Sure, we can even develop some skill in that area, but why not focus on making our strengths better than trying to backstop areas where we're really not strong in the first place in areas where we really don't actually enjoy playing. That's the end for this episode. If you have any questions, if you have any comments, please send me an email and we'll see you in the next show.