Shared Meanings – Roles

A role is the job we do, the tasks we take on, the duties and responsibilities that we shoulder in the course of our life.   We all play various roles, spouse, parent, child, employee, boss, parishioner, carpool driver, cook, carpenter, plumber, maid, the list goes on and on. Some roles are thrust upon us, others we take on voluntarily. Our roles change as we go through life.

Successful couples work to understand how their partner views his or her various rolls, in family life.  They then work to achieve alignment in their roles in ways that complement each other.  This can only happen as the result of conscious intent, as the result of a deliberate conversation. This is why the recommended 15 minutes per night or 1% of your day investment is so critical in achieving a happy marriage.  This is the opportunity to have conversations about role alignment.

One couple that I know experienced a lot of conflict after their first child was born. The wife began to define herself more as a mother then as a breadwinner. Because of that, she wanted to stay home and quit her job. The husband however had always seen his wife’s role as one that would contribute financially to the family. He was not prepared for the financial sacrifices that would follow the reduced income.

Here a few questions you can discuss with your spouse to help achieve the role alignment:

              How do you define your role as a husband or wife?

              How do you define your role as a mother or father?

              How do you define your role as a worker?

              How do you define your role in our spiritual life?

              How else do you define yourself?

By carving out time to answer these questions and whatever other questions you might have about how your spouse sees himself or herself, you will avoid the potential for a lot of conflict down the road. Remember, alignment is the key to smooth sailing whether it be in the business world or in family life. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.

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