Balancing Act: a Dual Career Marriage

4w_wedblog300x300_052913Brooke Armstrong and her husband Drew are in the middle of very successful careers, yet they have managed to balance two demanding work schedules with a strong marriage. Last week, we chatted with Brooke to learn some inside information on how the Armstrongs do it.

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4word: First, can you tell us a bit more about your job and your husband's job? How did the two of you meet?

Brooke: I am a Senior Vice President with Jones Lang LaSalle’s Tenant Representation group. I represent office tenants with real estate-related needs in the Dallas and Oklahoma areas.

I have been with the firm for more than 9 years now, but every day I am impressed by the level of professionalism and collaboration among my colleagues. We don’t operate in set teams but instead craft the right team for each transaction, which means I’m lucky enough to have learned from the best in the business.

My husband, Drew, is the CFO of a pipeline company, Wildcat Midstream. They have been in business for nearly one year and are growing rapidly, and he has been very busy wearing multiple hats within his organization. We met during college at Oklahoma State and got married just after graduation.

4word: How do you maintain balance in your careers so that you have time for each other and to invest in your relationship?

Brooke: Fortunately both of our careers are very self-driven. They are demanding, yet flexible, which has allowed us to continue to make family and our relationship a priority.

Also, we were married at a young age, so we’ve been fortunate enough to build successful careers side-by-side and see each other through hardships from the beginning. I think that really helps us maintain balance and mutual support. From the beginning of our marriage, we’ve both been working hard at building our careers, so we don’t know anything different. There isn’t anything that I would change about our work/life balance. We’ve been very blessed in that respect.

4word: Has it always been easy for you to balance work and life? Were there speed bumps along the way when you first got married?

Brooke: I don’t think I’ve ever met anyone who would use the word “easy” to describe balancing work and life. That being said, although there have been speed bumps along the road, we’ve always had a very solid foundation. Our marriage is a true partnership in which we both love and respect each other and are supportive through each other’s challenges and achievements.

One speed bump we conquered was when Drew was taking night classes at SMU to earn his PMBA, while working crazy hours during the day at TXU. I remember looking forward to the nights he had class because I knew that, those nights, he would be home by 9:30. It was a tough couple of years, but fortunately we got it out of the way before we had kids. I really respect those who are juggling added stresses with small children at home.

4word: What has been the hardest part about trying to balance two big careers within a marriage?

Brooke: The hardest part about our balancing act is having children. If we both have an early morning or evening meeting, we have to decide whose meeting is more important since someone has to be home with the baby, unless we can get help. We don’t have family in Dallas who can watch the baby for us, so that adds an extra challenge to the mix.

4word: What advice would you give to other couples who are trying to do the same thing?

Brooke: You have to look at your marriage like a partnership. It helps if your partner is also your best friend. Women still do the majority of housework and childcare even if they and their husbands are both breadwinners. This is still true in my household. It’s a tough thing to change our tendencies since we all grew up with certain roles being played by our parents.

I am lucky enough to have a husband who wants me to succeed and views me as a partner. If I ask for help, he gives it without second guessing me. He celebrates my wins and comforts me when I lose, and I do the same for him. We’re in this together, through the good times and the bad!

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What about you, reader? Whether you’re dating, engaged or married, how well do you feel that you and your man do at supporting one another and working as a team? If you have other tips, share them with us in the comments!