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In this series entitled Partner Profile, PATRONNÈ MAGAZINE explores the hearts and minds of the men who partner with high-flying women and the keys to their relationship success.
MARRIED TO MEDICINE
Sadeq Quraishi is an Intensive Care Physician and Clinical Nutrition Research Scientist. The 39-year-old Medical Doctor is married to a surgeon who is also a visiting professor and consultant to digital health start-ups. Married for 19 years, Sadeq talks to PATRONNÈ Magazine about parenting with his ambitious wife while balancing two sets of career goals and three growing kids.
MORE MONEY? NO PROBLEM …
PATRONNÈ (P): You and your wife are both MDs. How would you feel if your wife ended up with a more successful career making a higher salary?
Sadeq Quraishi (SQ): She already makes more money than me and has done so for many years. I am in academia and that’s one of my passions. It doesn’t pay anywhere near the private sector, but it makes me happy. I feel more fulfilled and I think it makes me a better husband and father.
We both decided many years ago that just because we were married, didn’t mean that we had to give up on our career goals. More importantly, we realized that being successful did not have to happen at the expense of one another. We also realized that we had very different definitions of “success”, and learning how to appreciate (and support) each other’s ambitions was extremely important for strengthening our relationship.
COMPETING AMBITIONS …
P: What is like to be partnered with an ambitious & successful woman?
SQ: It’s tough but worth every minute. It motivates me to do better and be a better person. My natural tendency is to just roll around in bed on Saturday mornings when I’m not working. But my wife has a series of conference calls that she does super early every Saturday morning. Though it’s usually out of guilt, I get up early on Saturdays and get a bunch of work done and get breakfast ready with the kids until she can join us. And every Saturday night, at bedtime, I am so grateful for that amazing experience.
The other interesting thing is that I never imagined how incredible it could be to just take a back seat and enjoy your partner’s professional success. As a pretty ambitious and rather competitive person, I was really afraid that I would not be able to be a good partner in this regard. But letting go and learning to occasionally distance yourself from the spotlight has worked wonders for my own career. It has made me be so much more aware of the various things that people contribute to my own success, that would have otherwise likely gone by unrecognized.
MANAGING THE HOUSEHOLD …
P: How do you and your spouse share the challenges of your household?
SQ: I think the most important thing is to recognize and build on what each person’s strengths and interests are. I cook, she cleans. I fight morning traffic to drop off the kids at school, she battles evening rush hour to bring them home. I make them shower and eat, she makes sure homework is done and they’re off to bed on time … sometimes we switch roles, fully recognizing that we can’t expect the other person to do it the same way or with equal efficiency.
P: How did you arrive at the specific division of labor in your household?
SQ: It has taken us a few years to recognize what and where we each feel that we can have the most beneficial impact on our family. I appreciate having a spouse who is willing to try different things… laugh when we fail miserably, and acknowledge and celebrate when my spouse might be able to do something better than me. This has been central to how we have recognized overtime where each of us “fits” best.
ROMANCING THE SURGEON …
P: How do you and your spouse make time to “date” amidst busy careers?
SQ: When the kids were younger, it was much easier. We used to have weekly dates. Every Wednesday evening was date night no matter what – even though a few were thwarted by sick kids, elderly parents, or friends having a meltdown. Now, as life has gotten much busier, we have monthly date nights that we consider “mandatory”. Also, at least twice a year, we try to get away sans kids for some kind of an overnight trip.
MAKING IT WORK …
P: What traits do you possess that make your relationship work?
SQ: We both have the deepest respect for each other as human beings and I believe that respect engenders honesty. When a couple learns to be totally honest with each other, even the most awkward or even embarrassing things can be openly discussed.
P: What things are you still improving upon to make your relationship successful?
SQ: We still continue to work on everything. Life is complex … life with a career is hectic … life with 2 careers and kids is outright insane – it’s never going to be perfect. Continuously working with my wife to make little improvements can sometimes be tedious, but it is rewarding in the long run. The important thing is to only pick and choose a few things that really matter to work on at any given time. We come up with solutions and actions plans to meet our relationship goals all the time. But don’t be surprised if some of the same issues keep showing up. It probably means that you’re picking the right relationship goals to work on.
THE DOCTOR’S ADVICE …
P: What advice would you give ambitious women looking for the right partner?
SQ: First, ask yourself if you are ready to really have a meaningful relationship. Being ambitious and career oriented is great but being in a real relationship often means re-prioritizing or moving along your career trajectory at a slightly slower pace. Once you are truly OK with that, make sure your potential partner is honestly ready to do the same with her or his career.
P: What advice would you give other men about partnering with a career-driven woman?
SQ: The most important thing is to make sure you understand what you are really looking for in a partner. Lots of guys say they want to partner with a career-driven woman but still have very “traditional” expectations of their relationship. Also, most guys have a false notion of how simple a relationship with a career-driven woman might be. I’ll get up on my soapbox and blame the media for this one. I know first hand that despite Grey’s Anatomy telling you otherwise, surgeons don’t have time to randomly make out with their partners while saving lives. Partnering with a career-driven woman is challenging. There are going to be times when your gut reaction is going to be a desire to just walk away from it all. Trust me, the best thing you can do is to NEVER immediately react to a situation that brings about such feelings. Sit down, clear your head, calm down, talk to your partner, and don’t go to bed mad at each other. #