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?
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:
Featured image by Shutterstock