It's a strong recipe, marriage and work. Meryl Streep, Amy Adams and Nora Ephron struck a chord with me recently when discussing the importance of marriage to a woman's career, in a fascinating group interview by the Ladies Home Journal. So last night I went to see Julie & Julia, their movie about Julia Child and Julie Powell, the blogger who cooked all 524 of the recipes in Julia Child's Mastering the Art of French Cooking in 365 days.
It brought home to me the volatile combination of marriage and a woman's career. For entrepreneurs, marriage can be both a vital support and a nagging distraction.
On one hand -- as Meryl Streep and Amy Adams point out -- the unconditional love of a life partner gives you tremendous confidence to tackle challenges. Julie & Julia moved me to tears several times in portraying the faith of the husbands of Julia Child and Julie Powell as their wives took on a mammoth project. In the movie, Paul Child tells his wife her book will change the world. Eric Powell endures late-night dinners and early morning blogging sessions to support his spouse.
Amy Adams talks to the Ladies Home Journal about how she wasted her 20s looking for a man, and now that she's engaged, to actor Darren Le Gallo, she can focus on herself and her career. Meryl Streep discusses the security of a longtime marriage, where you "love without looking," compared to the insecurity of worrying that you'll never work again or that the next project won't be any good. (How many entrepreneurs can relate to that emotion?)
On the other hand, Julie & Julia starkly portrays the strain Julie Powell's blogging project put on her marriage, as she layered hours of daily cooking and writing onto a full-time job. Often she's shown asleep on the couch, still in her cooking garb. At one point Eric Powell tells her, "Less food. More sex!" Shortly thereafter he leaves her, only to return after reading her blog post about how she doesn't deserve him the way Julia Child deserved Paul.
As anyone knows who has become consumed by a project, especially entrepreneurs, your marriage can suffer neglect. Not only does your spouse support you emotionally, he or she often picks up the household chores, child care responsibilities and other daily tasks. As I write this, my husband has taken our girls to run off some excess energy and leave me a quiet time to write. I know the families of all the CurrentMom bloggers have picked up the slack at home as well.
It's important to balance your passion for a new project with the daily nurturing that marriage demands. After all, any great accomplishment will take months or years to achieve -- it's a marathon, not a sprint. And remember to say thanks to your spouse, and heed Eric Powell's wise words.