I was recently talking to peers in the vCommunity and our spouses came up as a topic. When it came my turn to talk about my marriage everyone was surprised to discover my spouse is in IT too. All of a sudden I was flooded with questions like “Do you talk shop”? “Do you help one another”? “Doesn’t it get boring”? “How do you two unplug”? After some discussion with some they told me this would make for a great blog article so here it is.
I thought I should start with a little background on my spouse and I. We met in the year of 2008 by a random act of chance. The day we both met and we didn’t tell the other till many years later but we knew this is the missing part of my life and we’ve been together for twelve years now. Here comes the part people find shocking, neither Makaela or I were in Information Technology in 2008. I did not enter IT until 2010 when I was 27 years old as a support engineer for EMC and I was granted this opportunity after asking for a job in the mailroom. Makaela entered IT in 2013 at the age of 22 as a project coordinator for Federal Trade Networks by going to a cattle call interview. When I got into IT I didn’t know if it was for me or if I would even stay past a year. Fast forward ten years and I am a Global Enterprise and Solution Architect specializing in Digital Transformation. When Makaela became a Project Coordinator she dreamed of becoming a Project Manager. Fast forward seven years later and she not only became a PM but now she is Senior Problem Manager for a Global Company. During these years there have been many highs, many lows and a lot of crazy. Below you will find some of the unique aspects we find about being married to someone in the same work field.
Two Sides of a Coin Make for a Whole Coin
Makaela has always been on the Service Management side of IT and I have always been on the Service Delivery side. Even though our roles interact in the beginning years of our careers we didn’t understand the others responsibilities and challenges. Through the years of coming to understand the other persons role it made us better at our jobs. With open communication we were able to share thoughts, opinions, notes, and bounce ideas off each other. It feels so easy now to approach Makaela and tell her about an initiative I want to pitch to my employer and for her to outline procedures for my proposal to be received well. Also, it is easy for Makaela to come to me outlining a technical or application issue and for me to show her where the problem exists and recommend a solution. By being integrated together as tightly as we are we are able to respond to challenges much more efficiently than if we were always in it alone.
When “I” Win “We” Win
Makaela and I have had discussions in the past that having a spouse in the same field makes life easier. When one of us achieves an accomplishment we understand what it means in our industry and how great of an accomplishment it is. After the first couple of years any achievement I obtained I quit looking at it as an individual accomplishment but started viewing them as our win. Makaela has stood by me through the good, bad and ugly of my career. She has endured long nights, travel, training, and many setbacks in my career. I would not be where I am today without her love and support. That is why today when I achieve a new award, trophy, or accolade I look at it as “We” did it and I give her all the credit for still inspiring me to give that extra 1%.
The Couple that get Certifications Together Stays Together
Getting an earlier start in IT than my spouse, Makaela learned that certifications can be king. We are now both at points in our careers where our certs don’t matter as much but we still like to obtain two or three a year. Over the years as we have pursued certifications (rarely the same ones) we have come to understand that the other will dedicate a certain number of hours a week to studying. The weekend prior to and the week of an exam, wow, give the other person space because they will be in the zone. Also, over the years we have been able to share study techniques, quiz the other person before an exam, and do what we can to help the other. We have always viewed obtaining a new cert a team victory because we are not in it alone.
Family Always Comes First Even When the Other is Traveling
There comes a point in your IT career whether in Service Management or Service Delivery that if you climb high enough travel becomes a necessary evil. Whether to Tech conferences, travel for work, or travel for training it is inevitable that travel will be a part of your life. When you have a daughter together like Makaela and I do it becomes a balancing act. That is why it is important to know future travels a head of time to schedule well in advance. When one of us is out of town we come up with an itemized activity list with timestamps so the other person can carry to load solo until the other gets back. Facetime chats while the other is away is critical to help them normalize living out of a suitcase that week in a hotel. We both agreed that one of us would always be home for our daughter so she could have her normal. I have had to tell a few bosses that I couldn’t travel that week because my spouse was out of town.
How a P1 can Toss a Monkey Wrench into Your Plans
Whether on the Service Management or Service Delivery side when a Priority 1 comes in it can wreck the best plans. A downside to being in IT is at some point something always goes wrong. Over the years we have been in IT we understand the other will be called upon at some point to work a late night or two due to a P1. Since we both have our P1 battle scars we feel for the other and understand if date night has to be rescheduled. Instead of complaining that we couldn’t go out we let the other work. We also check in on the other, bring coffee, give neck rubs, and keep our daughter busy the next morning while they sleep in and rest.
There is No I in Team – Even New Job Opportunities Are Evaluated Together
Over the years Makaela being on the Service Management side and I being on the Service Delivery side we have been able to understand a 360 degree view of IT. Watching each other come up through the ranks we have learned from the other and the cost associated with “jobs.” When presented with a new opportunity we take our collective experience and evaluate if the gains outweigh the cost. Examples, we have learned that even though 25% travel is listed for a position it is more like 50% and now when presented with those jobs we ask is 50% travel worth it. Another example, is the compensation worth potentially going into a decentralized environment and having to build process to make it more centralized. It is with this collective experience that we are able to bring up situations that the other may not see because they’ve not held the position before or worked in a particular vertical.
Too Much Understanding is a Bad Thing
You would think this one would be standard for any couple but a few years back we noticed that our careers were becoming the main focus behind our actions. We started to lose sight of “US” for the benefits of our careers that supported “US”. Both Makaela and I being in IT allowed us to understand the sacrifices the other was making because we had to make the same sacrifices. This lead to a sacrifice of “US” or the greater good with the completely understanding of the other. I believe this is unique to a couple in the same profession because there is that higher degree of accepting because you know from personal experience vs being with someone who doesn’t know and cannot understand. Sometimes it is that not understanding that allows someone to tell their partner they feel neglected. Once we came to this realization we started having to perform better time management allowing for more time to be spent together so we don’t lose sight of why we work so hard.