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How to Be a 50/50 Partner

Women still do a majority of housework and childcare, and in many cases husbands’ careers get prioritized. Approach your relationship as a true partner. Couples who share responsibilities have stronger marriages—and their children benefit from seeing their parents model equality.

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1. Communicate Openly

Did You Know?

Women are interrupted more than men. Even if you’re supportive of the women in your life, you may not be giving them the airtime they deserve.

Situation

Communication is critical in relationships. Marriages are stronger when both partners talk through disagreements calmly and listen to each other’s perspectives, and this is particularly important when you’re managing a home or raising children together.

Solution

Discuss your goals for your home and career with your partner. Listen carefully to what she wants and be vocal about your own needs. Then keep the conversation going. Talk through unresolved issues and review your calendars and to-do lists together. When you see your partner has too much to do, ask her how she’s feeling and how you can help.

1. Communicate Openly

Did You Know?

Women are interrupted more than men. Even if you’re supportive of the women in your life, you may not be giving them the airtime they deserve.

2. Make Decisions as a Team

Did You Know?

According to a survey of graduates from Harvard Business School, three-quarters of millennial women anticipate their careers will be at least as important as their partners, while half of millennial men believe their careers will take priority.

Situation

Many women make professional sacrifices to support their partner’s career, and men still assume their partner will do the lion’s share of child care. In addition, couples often prioritize the husband’s career when they make household decisions. Over time, these trends can lead to missed opportunities for you as a couple.

Solution

Make decisions as a team. Consider what’s good for both of you, and be clear about each other’s trade-offs. It’s not about finding the perfect compromise with each decision; it’s about achieving a healthy balance over time. If you have children, treat child care as a joint responsibility.

3. Do Your Share at Home

Did You Know?

When men share household responsibilities, their wives are happier and their marriages are stronger. Not only does marital satisfaction go up, but couples have more sex—“choreplay” is real!

Situation

Running a house and raising children is hard work—and women still do most of it. This means many women don’t get the support they need at home, and women who work outside the home often end up with two full-time jobs while their partners have one. More women than ever are primary or co-breadwinners, yet only 9 percent of couples in dual-income marriages say that they share child care, housework, and breadwinning evenly.

Solution

Approach the responsibilities of housework and child care as real partners. Commit to doing your share of daily chores, and make sure work is split fairly. Don’t wait to be asked—step up when you see dishes in the sink or laundry piling up.

3. Do Your Share at Home

Did You Know?

When men share household responsibilities, their wives are happier and their marriages are stronger. Not only does marital satisfaction go up, but couples have more sex—“choreplay” is real!

4. Encourage Your Partner to Lean In

Did You Know?

Women who don’t negotiate for more leave money on the table. Over the course of their career, this can amount to hundreds of thousands of dollars in lost earnings.

Situation

Men typically apply for jobs when they meet 60 percent of the hiring criteria, while women wait until they meet 100 percent. Though women negotiate as often as men, they tend to ask for less money because they anticipate pushback. And they are right to worry—research shows that women are often penalized for asserting themselves. There is a good chance these dynamics impede your partner’s career advancement and your income as a couple.

Solution

Encourage your partner to keep lobbying for a promotion or stretch assignment and commit to doing your fair share at home. When it’s time to negotiate her compensation, encourage her to ask for more and role play the conversation.

5. Model Equality

Did You Know?

Seventy-six percent of people who’ve taken Harvard University’s Implicit Association Test more readily associate males with “career” and females with “family.” You can take it yourself at leanin.org/IAT.

Situation

We’re all held back by gender stereotypes. Women are expected to be kind and collaborative, while men are expected to be strong and in charge. As a result, we’re often uncomfortable when women lead and men nurture, which makes it harder for all of us to be our whole selves.

Solution

Show the people in your life what equality looks like. Model a broader definition of manhood and celebrate your partner’s ambitions. If you have kids, encourage your daughter to speak up and take the lead and your son to respect his feelings and care for others. Point out and challenge gender bias when you see it. When you reject outdated stereotypes, others will follow.

5. Model Equality

Did You Know?

Seventy-six percent of people who’ve taken Harvard University’s Implicit Association Test more readily associate males with “career” and females with “family.” You can take it yourself at leanin.org/IAT.

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