The catch? My husband just got an amazing job offer at the opposite end of the state (10 hour car ride/2 hour flight). It would almost double his salary; not taking the job is not an option. He’s also been looking for a couple years, and he couldn’t find a job in our current city. We live in a very expensive city, and he thinks it won’t be possible to live here without this next job. He wants to come home on the weekends for a few months, and he swears I’ll be able to find a job in the new city during that time. If I don’t, I move anyway. Then after two years, we’d come back home, since this is where we want to be long-term. He says this new job will open a lot more doors for him, and he’ll easily find a job back home in a couple years.
It kills me to think of giving up my new job that I worked so long and hard for. Then to start my job search all over again and, in the process, burn a bridge with a really great organization, just to come back to this city in a couple years! I honestly don’t think I can handle it emotionally. Job-hunting is an incredibly frustrating process, especially if I don’t want to do it. I know it makes sense to “follow the money” (as my husband says) but I feel this may be too much to ask of me. I feel I have to give up so much personally. I realize the alternative is giving up my husband, but, without a career, I’d be a very unhappy person and, therefore, a lousy wife. I want a career as much as I want my husband. He says my job is more replaceable than his, and mine doesn’t make enough money to support a family. All these things may be true…but how do I do all this without feeling resentful forever?? — Resentful New Wife
Wow, things sure are black and white in your and your husband’s world! He either takes this job or never progresses in his industry. You either stay with your new job or never have a satisfying career. You either follow your husband to his new job or your marriage is over. He takes this job and in two years has his pick of jobs in your home town. You stay at your job and get great maternity leave and the option to go part-time whenever you want. Give up any career at all, and you’ll be a lousy wife. I mean, you seem so certain about the direction each choice will take you and so sure of what choices you’ll have — or not have — in the future.
I have news for you: the things we expect or want to happen don’t always work out. You may tell your husband, “So long, go follow your dreams” so you can stay at your new job and then suddenly get laid off in a few months. Then what? Or, you may discover that that part-time option you seem to think will be available to you when you have a baby isn’t actually do-able. Or your husband might find that he hates the new job and wants to move home, even if it means giving up the huge salary. Or he may love it and never want to move home even though right now he’s saying two years, tops. Or, maybe you’ll find an even BETTER job in the city he’s moving to and then HE gets laid off and you’re suddenly the sole breadwinner. ANYTHING CAN HAPPEN.
You know what marriage is about? It’s about sticking with your partner through all of life’s uncertainties. It’s about celebrating each other’s successes, making some sacrifices, and altering plans and goals to accommodate situational changes (like new jobs, or job losses, illnesses, or deaths in the family, new babies, etc.). It’s about taking leaps of faith over and over and over and knowing that, despite the uncertainties that lie ahead, things are going to be ok for the simple fact that you and your partner are in this together.
Have you already forgotten the vows you took three weeks ago? Or have they not sunk in yet? Because what you described — being pulled in different directions? That’s life when you’ve got someone else to consider. It doesn’t always go exactly how you want it to. Hell, it doesn’t go exactly how you want it to when you DON’T have someone else to consider. But the beautiful part of having someone else to consider is that someone else has your back, too.
You committed to your husband. You probably stood before family and friends and promised to be there for each other — to take on life’s challenges together. Well, welcome to one of the first of many, many, many challenges you will face as a married couple. You can’t just run away. You can’t just give up on your marriage like that. So, pull it together. Make some tough decisions. Think about how you can make this work. Talk to your bosses about what’s going on. Ask what your options are. Brainstorm. Think this through. Life is NOT black and white. There’s wiggle room in many crevices and windows in rooms where doors are locked shut, so start looking.
Life is constantly changing and as it changes — both professionally and personally — you work-life balance will shift and you will be tasked with finding your footing again. Over and over. This will not be the last time you will feel that your career is pitted against your marriage or your family. So, decide now. Are you going to be a person who shuts down when you’re thrown a curve ball, or are you going to learn how to catch it and run with it?
If you have a relationship/dating question I can help answer, you can send me your letters at firstname.lastname@example.org.