Couples That Work: How Dual-Career Couples Can Thrive in Love and Work

Couples That Work: How Dual-Career Couples Can Thrive in Love and Work

by Jennifer Petriglieri
Couples That Work: How Dual-Career Couples Can Thrive in Love and Work

Couples That Work: How Dual-Career Couples Can Thrive in Love and Work

by Jennifer Petriglieri


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Finding fulfillment in both love and work isn't easy—but it's possible.

The majority of couples today are dual-career couples. As anyone who's part of such a relationship knows, this presents big challenges: trying to raise kids and achieve career goals while caring for and supporting your partner can seem impossible. Yet most advice for dual-career couples fails, framing the challenges as a zero-sum game in which one partner’s gain is the other's loss and solutions feel like sacrifices or unsatisfactory trade-offs.

This book is different. In Couples That Work, INSEAD professor Jennifer Petriglieri rejects conventional, one-size-fits-all solutions and instead focuses on how dual-career couples can tackle and resolve the challenges they face throughout their lives—together. She identifies three key phases of exploration and personal growth in every couple's work-life journey, showing how partners must navigate these together to strengthen their bond. Each phase is crystallized with a question:

  • How can we make this work? The first phase focuses on the logistics of combining two busy lives and often involves the demands of young children.
  • What do we really want? In the second phase, couples learn to navigate their midlife crises in ways that allow each partner to continue to feel happy and fulfilled.
  • Who are we now? With careers winding down and kids grown up, this last phase offers new freedoms—and uncertainties.

Based on a five-year research project, the book includes interviews with couples from over thirty countries—from executives to entrepreneurs and from twentysomething newlyweds to dual-career grandparents.

Filled with vivid real-life stories, keen insights, and engaging exercises, Couples That Work will help couples develop their own unique answers to that most pressing question: How can we successfully combine love and work?

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781633697249
Publisher: Harvard Business Review Press
Publication date: 10/08/2019
Pages: 272
Product dimensions: 6.10(w) x 9.30(h) x 1.00(d)

About the Author

Jennifer Petriglieri is an Associate Professor of Organizational Behavior at INSEAD, where she directs the Management Acceleration Program and the Women Leaders Program. She was included among the world's "40 Best Business School Professors Under 40" by Poets & Quants. Her work on dual-career couples has been featured on the Harvard Business Review podcast Women at Work, as well as in HBR articles and on

You can find Jennifer Petriglieri at:

Table of Contents

1 The Three Transitions of a Dual-Career Couple 1

Transition 1 How Can We Make This Work?

2 When the Honeymoon Ends 23

3 Struggling to Do It All 43

4 Achieving Interdependence 65

Transition 2 What Do We Really Want?

5 Hitting the Wall 93

6 Turmoil and Conflict 115

7 Transitioning to a New Path 135

Transition 3 Who Are We Now?

8 Loss and Limits 161

9 Exploring Wider Horizons 181

10 Couples That Work 201

Appendix: Studying Dual-Career Couples 227

Notes 233

Index 241

Acknowledgments 247

About the Author 251

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