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46% Of Women Say Career Is More Fulfilling Than Marriage. Thoughts?

What satisfies you more: your job or your marriage?

Marriage

Recently, I checked out a YouTube post of a live conversation that Joe Budden and Eboni K. Williams had. The part of the clip that stood out to me the most was when Eboni broke down what, in her opinion, is the difference between companionship and partnership. Starting at around the 2:00 mark, she gets into this:

"Companionship relationships are a great kind of relationship. You enjoy each other's company. You're probably involved sexually. You enjoy doing things together—traveling, going to see the movies, going out to dinner…going out to parties together; you enjoy time with each other. You genuinely enjoy each other and you guys are companions in that way. But it stops short of [a] partnership relationship because partnership relationships are, 'I am trying to do life with you.' I am trying to plan my life with you, whether that is purchasing a home and living together, whether that is having to bring children into this world and co-parenting them together. Whether that is marriage, potentially, or anything of those things that look like a joint life."

The reason why I think what Eboni said is so vital to this particular piece is because, before we explore why more people may find having a successful career to be more fulfilling than being in a successful marriage, her points are a great reminder that a person has to first decide if marriage is even something that they desire to begin with (check out "Single-Minded: So, What If You Like Dating But DON'T Desire Marriage?", "He Loves You. He's Just Never Gonna Marry You. Now What?", "Why You're Always The One Who Prepares A Man For His Wife" and "The 'Pre-Commitment Interview' Every Dating Couple Should Have").

The reason why I say this is because, we only tend to be successful at the things that we actually want to be successful at.

Now with that foundational point laid, let's get into a Pew Research survey that I checked out where 57 percent of men and 46 percent of women say that having a great career is essential when it comes to leading a fulfilling life while merely 17 percent of men and 16 percent of women feel that way about marriage. Interesting. Very interesting.

Why Do You Think So Many People Prefer Careers over Marriage?

OK, let me start this part off by saying that, while I always welcome comments, I would really like to hear your feedback on this one. One reason is because I know that the myth of the Black woman never getting married is just that—a myth. Studies actually reveal it's not that we don't ever become wives, it's just that we prioritize things like education and career-oriented goals first which results in us getting married later on in life. So, since I'm most interested in what Black women have to say about all of this, a part of me wonders if it's not that we find our careers to be "more fulfilling than marriage" so much as we tend to put marriage on the backburner until we check some other things off of our life's to-do list.

Another reason why I want to hear your thoughts is because science is revealing that the marriage rate is dropping overall, in part because, at least for women, more and more men are, as one article puts it, "economically unattractive". Could it be that a lot of us find our careers to be more fulfilling because there is a fear that if we do marry a man, we'll have to take care of him more than he takes care of us—financially or otherwise?

Still, another reason that I think should go into the mix of contemplation is the fact that I am well aware that about half of marriages end in divorce which tends to have a doozy of a domino effect on children; including adult children (check out "What Some People Regret About Their Divorce"). Therefore, a part of me wonders if some of us (because I fall into the "child of divorce" category) have so much PTSD from our parents' marriage (or marriages) that we're somewhere in the lane of, "I can't control if someone breaks my heart, but what I can control is thriving professionally. So, I'll guard my heart and focus on my career instead."

Another thing to throw into the equation of possibilities is the fact that, a lot of married couples only spend around two hours a day with their partner in comparison to 8-10 hours (on average) at work. If you're spending most of your waking hours working, could that be what makes you care more about "being fulfilled" (I'm coming back to that phrase in just a sec) in your workspace over a long-term relationship?

Taking all of this into consideration, this is not to say that some people happen to choose a career over marriage, simply because marriage isn't on their menu (understood). At the same time, with data out in cyberspace like "Marriage Tied to Longer Life Span, New Data Shows", "A Good Marriage May Help You Live Longer. Here's Why." and "Want More And Better Sex? Get Married And Stay Married.", we can't be out here acting like marriage is obsolete for all and/or doesn't still have some pretty major perks.

Whew. OK. So, if you've read even three articles on this platform that contain my byline, you know that I'm all about word definitions. That brings me to the word "fulfilled". A pretty big amount of both men and women find their career to be more essential (absolutely necessary, indispensable) than marriage and also more fulfilling.

Fulfill: to carry out, or bring to realization, as a prophecy or promise; to perform or do, as duty; obey or follow, as commands; to satisfy (requirements, obligations, etc.); to bring to an end; finish or complete, as a period of time; to develop the full potential of (usually used reflexively)

Wow. Amazing what a definition can reveal, right? I can't tell you how many times I've sat with a married couple and heard either one or both spouses say that they want out because there is no pleasing their partner. The expectations have shifted. The requirements are unrealistic. Their attitude sucks. But at work, unless your boss is a total jerk or you are an impatient perfectionist (which is a double whammy), things tend to be much easier—or at least, more manageable. You know what's expected of you. You are equipped to perform the duties at hand. There are constant "finish lines" whether that's the end of a work day, a payday, a vacation or even a promotion. You feel yourself growing professionally. All of this brings about a feeling and sense of satisfaction. In marriage, things may not always be so…obvious, definite or even guaranteed.

Ah. So maybe that is why so many people are more fulfilled by work rather than marriage. And, since we need money in order to survive, maybe that is why careers are seen to be more essential/absolutely necessary than marriage is too. Got it. But what about the fact that reportedly a whopping 85 percent of people hate their job and how, according to one article that I read, "120,000 deaths a year could be attributed to work environments"? Meanwhile, it's reported by many sources that married couples live longer and the sex is better. Shouldn't that be factored in? Doesn't that kind of marriage data bring its own type of satisfaction? Do you now see why I'd like to get some of your insight into all of this?

If You Had to Choose Career or Marriage, What Would Be Your Choice?

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According to the Pew Research data that I checked out, something else that I found to be interesting is 31 percent of the women surveyed said that marriage IS NOT important for a woman to live a fulfilling life while only 24 percent of men felt the same way. Taking all of this into account, I'm curious about the following questions.

  • What do you value more—your career or your marriage? Or, if you're single, the desire to be married over your career? Whatever your answer is—why?
  • Do you even think that marriage is essential to you living a full and satisfactory life?
  • What fulfills you about your career?
  • If you're married, what fulfills you about your marriage?
  • Do you believe that women can have both and be satisfied in both?

If you're curious about what my stance on this is, a part of my career focuses on marriage, so yeah—I think that being fulfilled professionally and relationally is not only possible but necessary. No, I don't feel like marriage is or even should become obsolete and, I also believe that, so long as your partner complements you (which includes complementing your purpose), they can actually make your career more satisfactory than ever. But that's just me. The data says otherwise so, when you get a chance, hit me up and in comments and sound off. I can't wait.

Want more stories like this? Sign up for our newsletter here and check out the related reads below:

11 Boss Women On The Biggest Career Mistakes They Made In Their 20s

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ACLU By ACLUSponsored

Over the past four years, we grew accustomed to a regular barrage of blatant, segregationist-style racism from the White House. Donald Trump tweeted that “the Squad," four Democratic Congresswomen who are Black, Latinx, and South Asian, should “go back" to the “corrupt" countries they came from; that same year, he called Elizabeth Warren “Pocahontas," mocking her belief that she might be descended from Native American ancestors.

But as outrageous as the racist comments Trump regularly spewed were, the racially unjust governmental actions his administration took and, in the case of COVID-19, didn't take, impacted millions more — especially Black and Brown people.

To begin to heal and move toward real racial justice, we must address not only the harms of the past four years, but also the harms tracing back to this country's origins. Racism has played an active role in the creation of our systems of education, health care, ownership, and employment, and virtually every other facet of life since this nation's founding.

Our history has shown us that it's not enough to take racist policies off the books if we are going to achieve true justice. Those past policies have structured our society and created deeply-rooted patterns and practices that can only be disrupted and reformed with new policies of similar strength and efficacy. In short, a systemic problem requires a systemic solution. To combat systemic racism, we must pursue systemic equality.

What is Systemic Racism?

A system is a collection of elements that are organized for a common purpose. Racism in America is a system that combines economic, political, and social components. That system specifically disempowers and disenfranchises Black people, while maintaining and expanding implicit and explicit advantages for white people, leading to better opportunities in jobs, education, and housing, and discrimination in the criminal legal system. For example, the country's voting systems empower white voters at the expense of voters of color, resulting in an unequal system of governance in which those communities have little voice and representation, even in policies that directly impact them.

Systemic Equality is a Systemic Solution

In the years ahead, the ACLU will pursue administrative and legislative campaigns targeting the Biden-Harris administration and Congress. We will leverage legal advocacy to dismantle systemic barriers, and will work with our affiliates to change policies nearer to the communities most harmed by these legacies. The goal is to build a nation where every person can achieve their highest potential, unhampered by structural and institutional racism.

To begin, in 2021, we believe the Biden administration and Congress should take the following crucial steps to advance systemic equality:

Voting Rights

The administration must issue an executive order creating a Justice Department lead staff position on voting rights violations in every U.S. Attorney office. We are seeing a flood of unlawful restrictions on voting across the country, and at every level of state and local government. This nationwide problem requires nationwide investigatory and enforcement resources. Even if it requires new training and approval protocols, a new voting rights enforcement program with the participation of all 93 U.S. Attorney offices is the best way to help ensure nationwide enforcement of voting rights laws.

These assistant U.S. attorneys should begin by ensuring that every American in the custody of the Bureau of Prisons who is eligible to vote can vote, and monitor the Census and redistricting process to fight the dilution of voting power in communities of color.

We are also calling on Congress to pass the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act to finally create a fair and equal national voting system, the cause for which John Lewis devoted his life.

Student Debt

Black borrowers pay more than other students for the same degrees, and graduate with an average of $7,400 more in debt than their white peers. In the years following graduation, the debt gap more than triples. Nearly half of Black borrowers will default within 12 years. In other words, for Black Americans, the American dream costs more. Last week, Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Sen. Elizabeth Warren, along with House Reps. Ayanna Pressley, Maxine Waters, and others, called on President Biden to cancel up to $50,000 in federal student loan debt per borrower.

We couldn't agree more. By forgiving $50,000 of student debt, President Biden can unleash pent up economic potential in Black communities, while relieving them of a burden that forestalls so many hopes and dreams. Black women in particular will benefit from this executive action, as they are proportionately the most indebted group of all Americans.

Postal Banking

In both low and high income majority-Black communities, traditional bank branches are 50 percent more likely to close than in white communities. The result is that nearly 50 percent of Black Americans are unbanked or underbanked, and many pay more than $2,000 in fees associated with subprime financial institutions. Over their lifetime, those fees can add up to as much as two years of annual income for the average Black family.

The U.S. Postal Service can and should meet this crisis by providing competitive, low-cost financial services to help advance economic equality. We call on President Biden to appoint new members to the Postal Board of Governors so that the Post Office can do the work of providing essential services to every American.

Fair Housing

Across the country, millions of people are living in communities of concentrated poverty, including 26 percent of all Black children. The Biden administration should again implement the 2015 Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing rule, which required localities that receive federal funds for housing to investigate and address barriers to fair housing and patterns or practices that promote bias. In 1980, the average Black person lived in a neighborhood that was 62 percent Black and 31 percent white. By 2010, the average Black person's neighborhood was 48 percent Black and 34 percent white. Reinstating the Obama-era Fair Housing Rule will combat this ongoing segregation and set us on a path to true integration.

Congress should also pass the American Housing and Economic Mobility Act, or a similar measure, to finally redress the legacy of redlining and break down the walls of segregation once and for all.

Broadband Access

To realize broadband's potential to benefit our democracy and connect us to one another, all people in the United States must have equal access and broadband must be made affordable for the most vulnerable. Yet today, 15 percent of American households with school-age children do not have subscriptions to any form of broadband, including one-quarter of Black households (an additional 23 percent of African Americans are “smartphone-only" internet users, meaning they lack traditional home broadband service but do own a smartphone, which is insufficient to attend class, do homework, or apply for a job). The Biden administration, Federal Communications Commission, and Congress must develop and implement plans to increase funding for broadband to expand universal access.

Enhanced, Refundable Child Tax Credits

The United States faces a crisis of child poverty. Seventeen percent of all American children are impoverished — a rate higher than not just peer nations like Canada and the U.K., but Mexico and Russia as well. Currently, more than 50 percent of Black and Latinx children in the U.S. do not qualify for the full benefit, compared to 23 percent of white children, and nearly one in five Black children do not receive any credit at all.

To combat this crisis, President Biden and Congress should enhance the child tax credit and make it fully refundable. If we enhance the child tax credit, we can cut child poverty by 40 percent and instantly lift over 50 percent of Black children out of poverty.

Reparations

We cannot repair harms that we have not fully diagnosed. We must commit to a thorough examination of the impact of the legacy of chattel slavery on racial inequality today. In 2021, Congress must pass H.R. 40, which would establish a commission to study reparations and make recommendations for Black Americans.

The Long View

For the past century, the ACLU has fought for racial justice in legislatures and in courts, including through several landmark Supreme Court cases. While the court has not always ruled in favor of racial justice, incremental wins throughout history have helped to chip away at different forms of racism such as school segregation ( Brown v. Board), racial bias in the criminal legal system (Powell v. Alabama, i.e. the Scottsboro Boys), and marriage inequality (Loving v. Virginia). While these landmark victories initiated necessary reforms, they were only a starting point.

Systemic racism continues to pervade the lives of Black people through voter suppression, lack of financial services, housing discrimination, and other areas. More than anything, doing this work has taught the ACLU that we must fight on every front in order to overcome our country's legacies of racism. That is what our Systemic Equality agenda is all about.

In the weeks ahead, we will both expand on our views of why these campaigns are crucial to systemic equality and signal the path this country must take. We will also dive into our work to build organizing, advocacy, and legal power in the South — a region with a unique history of racial oppression and violence alongside a rich history of antiracist organizing and advocacy. We are committed to four principles throughout this campaign: reconciliation, access, prosperity, and empowerment. We hope that our actions can meet our ambition to, as Dr. King said, lead this nation to live out the true meaning of its creed.

What you can do:
Take the pledge: Systemic Equality Agenda
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