For the past few months, the APW staff has been obsessed with putting together a week of content talking about careers. It turns out that the week we put together, thanks to all of your amazing submissions, was even better than we could have hoped. This week we’re talking about working together. We’re talking about all the ways that partnership lends itself to collaboration and support, professionally and personally (and wedding-ly). Our first post is from our own Allison Andres. It’s about marrying young and building careers together. It’s about the depth of support and commitment that I hope we can all figure out how to bring to our partners’ goals and professional struggles. It is about true partnership.
Unlike most of my peers, when Fred and I got married neither of us were college graduates with “stable careers.” In many ways, we were both just starting to navigate our place in the working world. I’ve heard plenty of times that this isn’t the best idea. As a woman, I’m constantly told that I should be established, have a degree, and be fully independent. While I agree that this is true for some, it just wasn’t right for me, or for us.
I often think that as a feminist, I should be self-driven, self-motivated, and self-inspired when it comes to my career. But the reality is, I highly depend on my husband and partner for professional support and encouragement. Fred and I are still pretty green in our marriage, but marrying on what some consider a younger age of the spectrum has really helped shape the way that we emotionally, physically, and financially support each other.
I often talk about the dichotomy of getting married at a young age. We are supposed to be in a partnership and team, but still maintain our independence and follow our own dreams. I know that some of my friends have struggled with this balance, and I feel fortunate to have not experienced this growing pain. I have to thank my parents for that. My mom and dad were married young (nineteen and twenty), and they were very much in the same position as Fred and I were professionally. Maybe I was just too young to observe it, but I never felt like my parents had made a mistake choosing to marry and have children before becoming established. I grew up in a home where my mother continued her education, my father joined law enforcement, and the two of them built their careers together, finding success after the wedding, on top of raising my sister and me.
I always knew that my parents had to make sacrifices for each other. My dad went to Kuwait during the first Gulf War, and then his job often had him working graveyard shifts in cities far away from the family. Mom worked and went to school finishing her accounting degree, causing her to be gone in the evenings. They spent the majority of their working years as a team, talking about whether or not to go for a promotion, or if it was time to quit a toxic job. Now they are getting close to retirement and enjoying the rewards from careers that they’ve built together. I strive for that level of support and teamwork from my own marriage.
A few years ago, Fred was fortunate enough to be working in his desired field, but his workplace was terrible, and the threat of being laid off always loomed. I knew that he wasn’t happy, so when he called me in a flustered state, proclaiming, “I’m on my lunch and I just CANNOT go back in there,” I gave him my love and full support to give notice and find something else. So when he quit his job and went back into the world of retail management, I never worried about how we would pay the mortgage or feed ourselves because I knew that we were in this together. Then, a few months ago he applied to, and began the testing process for, a career that has the potential to drastically change our lives. When someone asks me how I feel about it, I respond, “I know that this will make him happy, and I encourage him because he’s always encouraged me.” I know that he is choosing a path that is built for him, but I also know that if he is satisfied in his career, it will translate to a more satisfying and fulfilling relationship for the both of us.
When I decided to start my business two years ago, Fred was everything that I had imagined a spouse should be. While I spent long nights creating my business plan, he feverishly typed away creating my website, business cards, and client forms. He patiently listened while I ranted about a specific shade of pink (I know, I know) and the spacing of the letters on my first advertising badge.
I am so grateful for his encouragement, because choosing this life is not easy. When I am having an exhausting week, he tells me that he loves me and is proud of me. When I text him that I just can’t spend another moment working two jobs, he replies, “Four more months, then you are fully in control of your own destiny.” He’s okay with not spending our days off together because I am shooting a wedding, and he represents me at family dinners when a business meeting takes priority. Hell, he even sent me on my merry way to Las Vegas for an entire four days, just so that I could immerse myself into the photography world.
Our marriage isn’t about money, or always being on top of the heap with the best career, the biggest house, and the newest car. Our marriage isn’t about a perfect division of housework, or an equal amount of money coming into the bank account. Our marriage is about one person pulling a late night finishing a school project (or editing a wedding) and the other making sure that the laundry is done. Our marriage is about seeing the spark of passion in each other and making sure to help grow that spark into a roaring fire. It’s me standing on the sidelines giving an epic slow-clap as he approaches the finish line called graduation. It’s him rubbing my shoulders and letting me talk his ear off about an amazing wedding, even if it is at midnight and he has to work the next day.
Our marriage is an environment that nurtures creativity and encourages leaps of faith. While to some, we may not have “made it,” I know that in his eyes I am the most successful, and in my eyes he is the most driven. How could I not rely on my marriage for motivation and inspiration?
Photo from Allison & Fred’s personal collection