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Two-career households

Two-career households are households in which both adult partners hold demanding jobs. Each partner can pursue a career and together they benefit financially.  

Balancing work and family is an ongoing challenge and there can be conflicts between the two. If the spouse or significant other (SSO) of a PSP also works shifts and/or overtime, the challenges increase. Particular attention must be given to transitions, planning, and responsibilities when work schedules are always changing.  

Family life is further complicated when both partners have PSP careers. Each partner has insight into the experiences and stress of being on-the-job which can be a benefit but boundaries between work and home can blur. If partners both work within the same sector, or if there is a difference in rank, conflicts can arise.  

How two careers affect family life?




PSP and their families live with many different kinds of expectations. There are expectations from the PSP sector, the PSP organizations, extended family members, friends, the media, etc. In two-career households, there can be the expectation that the PSP job will take precedence over everything else.


In two-career households, scheduling is difficult at the best of times. Shift work, overtime, and unexpected call-ins can make it harder. Many activities and events are scheduled to accommodate standard hours of work (i.e., Mon-Fri 9am-5pm). Challenges are often related to childcare, household responsibilities, social commitments, medical appointments, etc.

Family life-cycle

Family life-cycle can be affected by—and can affect—the partners in a two-career household. Families with young children have different needs than families with adult children. In the same way, family members who provide eldercare to parents/ grandparents can also experience logistical difficulties.

Career life-cycle

Partners in a two-career household who are new to a career might face higher expectations, feeling the need to prove themselves in their new jobs. Often, low seniority can mean very little flexibility. As PSP progress in their career, or move up the ranks, they might experience more flexibility, and, with that, reduced logistical concerns.

Tips for two-career families

  • Being aware of the logistical challenges can help PSP couples and families to problem solve. Through conversation, families have an opportunity to be creative and proactive.
  • Working together to support each career in a two-career household is important.
  • Shaping times in which the non-PSP career can take precedence can create a sense of balance.
  • For dual-PSP career households, understanding the unique aspects of the job can lead to too much “shop talk”. Couples can feel that they cannot escape the job. It is important for dual-PSP households to talk about when, how, and how much they will communicate about their workday.
  • Trying the Coparenting in PSP Families strategy can help families think about the challenges and develop coparenting skills.

Need Something More?

Check out our self-directed Spouse or Significant Other Wellbeing Course.

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References for this page (click to expand)

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