Dual career and commuter families

It’s tough to be married to a lawyer.  I should know, since my husband is a lawyer; pity for him that I am too.  The careers that our spouses or partners engage in may determine quite a bit about our lives.  Lawyers are often accused of arguing in a relationship as if in court, or of cross-examining children rather than gently probing.  Some doctors have the reputation of bringing clinical detachment home.  Scientists may demand amounts of evidence that would exhaust ordinary mortals — other, of course, than lawyers.  Social workers stereotypically give so much to others that they may find it difficult to be emotionally available for their own families.  Fortunately, all of these suggestions describe nothing more than inclinations that may or may not hold true for any individual and, if true, may be overcome with an intentional decision to behave otherwise.

What about dual career families, though?  Each partner will bring the tendencies of his or her career to the table, along with the career’s demands.  I remember that in law school one professor advised married students to seek out the best jobs they could find without regard to location.  That advice may or may not work for all couples, but it’s certainly a popular approach.  The result is to have a commuter family, where partners may live apart for a time or permanently.

I’ll explore this topic more over the coming weeks, but it was put into sharp focus by an article in the October 1 Atlanta Journal-Constitution, available for only a few days for free here.  (The online version requires free registration and does not include photos; when the link expires, it will remain available in the archives for a small fee.)  The article describes a marriage between an Emory University professor, living in Atlanta, and a Samburu herdsman living in Kenya.   Imagine the cultural and business conflicts generated by such differences, and exemplified in this story:

Sidney Kasfir’s cellphone went off, signaling an urgent text message from her husband: “We are being attacked by cattle rustlers.  We are abandoning Tinga.”

Kashir was terrified.

“I was very worried that somebody in my family would get killed,” said Kashir, who was at a conference in Senegal when her husband, Kirati Lenaronkoito, messaged her from his home in Kenya on his cellphone.

Now, your dual career family doesn’t seem so challenging anymore, does it?

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