“I’m Six Weeks Pregnant. Should I Move Away From My Husband?”

I have a PhD in the social sciences. Currently, I have a year-by-year contract as a full-time, but contingent, graduate faculty member at the same institution where my husband has a tenure-track position. My job could go away at any time and I don’t get retirement benefits.

I am a finalist for a tenure-track job about two hours away from our current location. And I am about six weeks pregnant for the first time. I’ll be 33, we’ve been married for six years, and we’re a two day drive from both our families.

I’m not sure how I feel about the job. It’s not my dream job (my field wouldn’t even have its own program – let alone department – and I’d have a higher teaching load) – but it is my dream career. I really enjoy research and teaching, and they are a huge part of my happiness. The job market in academia is really tight, and I feel lucky that I even have this dilemma.

Admittedly, I haven’t done the interview yet. They may not want me. Or I may realize we’d be a bad fit. Or we might lose the baby and the situation would be very different. But I want to start thinking about what to do now as we made a rushed decision the last time we were in this situation, and we often wonder if we made the right decision, even two and a half years later. (I turned down a tenure-track job eleven hours away from my spouse’s job offer, and for security reasons we moved to a state neither of us likes.)

I know having a kid means making sacrifices. But I also know people who manage to have kids and tough jobs. Or people who have a long commute and kids. Or, people who live apart from their spouse/kid(s) for a time. Or, single parents who have to work long hours. Or people who travel frequently for work and have kids.

I can see the following possibilities if I were to take this job:

1. I commute two hours each way when I have to go to campus.

Pros: it disrupts spouse’s life minimally, we still live together
Cons: long commute and spouse would be fully responsible for child on those days.

2. We live halfway between each institution – in a town of 7000 with 10 restaurants (including fast food).

Pros: we each split the commute
Cons: Still long commutes, town is not great, and our friends would live far away.

3. Live apart (part of the week)

Pros: small commute times
Cons: don’t want to be a single parent or barely see child

4. Keep the status quo (don’t pursue job):

Pros: live in same house as family, have friends near by
Cons: Not have a “real” job with some security/“throw away” education

5. Spouse moving to new institution is not a possibility. It’d be a downgrade for him — a higher teaching load and harder to secure grant money. And he’d have to leave his PhD students behind, since the new institution doesn’t offer a PhD in his field.

I’m writing to you because you often see what people can’t see for themselves when they are in the middle of a situation. And you often see a situation as gray rather than black and white. — Status Quo or Not?

First of all, congratulations on your pregnancy! The coming months (and years) will be exciting and exhausting, regardless of where you live and what job you have. But you can bet you’ll be a hell of a lot more exhausted and stressed out if you pursue most of the scenarios you’ve listed above. The only one I see even remotely possible in the long run is the second scenario, where you and your husband each live an hour away from work, and even then I think the only way you’d be able to sustain a functional and happy lifestyle is if both of you commuted no more than three days (per week) each.

What I find puzzling is that the possibility of your husband looking for a new job isn’t even open for discussion. You seem to think he would be limited to jobs at the same institution where you’d be employed — if you even get the job! — and that he would face restrictions within that university that would basically ruin his career well-being. But, you know, maybe there are other jobs — for both of you! — outside academia that would be equally, if not more, rewarding, intellectually and financially. There are plenty of jobs outside university life that utilize the teaching and researching skills you possess. And, if your husband is set on academia as his life career, he can certainly try to negotiate for a good deal at a different university than where he currently is. A higher teaching load and difficulty raising grant money doesn’t have to be a given. And even if it is, maybe that sacrifice is worth it to sustain balance in your family life.

But maybe the answer, since neither of you is crazy about the town where you currently live and you’re both far from family and this job — that you haven’t even interviewed for yet — isn’t even a dream gig, is to focus on searching for jobs in cities that are a little closer to family and where there are a plethora of academic and non-academic jobs that utilize your skills and degrees. Since you’ve been worrying for two and half years that you made a wrong decision moving where you did, maybe this is a good time to look for new opportunities across the board that would keep you together in the same town and provide a lifestyle balance that would allow you to enjoy parenthood and keep your marriage intact, because let me tell you: Having a baby is a huge stressor on a marriage even when everything else is relatively simple. Throw anything into the mix that complicates the tender balance — super long commutes, a parent who’s only present on a part-time basis, unsatisfying work, financial stress — and you disrupt family harmony.

The catch is, whether intentional or not, your family harmony will be disrupted plenty as it is. There will be crises you can’t predict that will throw monkey wrenches into your life. Why set the family harmony, right out of the gate, on a course of disruption that you can already predict? Why not protect the harmony as much as you can so that the balance isn’t thrown out of whack even more than it has to be when unplanned disruptions arise?

Bottom line: Decide with your husband what your priorities are, and then work together to support those priorities, while protecting your family harmony as much as possible.


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If you have a relationship/dating question I can help answer, you can send me your letters at wendy@dearwendy.com.


  1. Another young female academic here – congratulations on your pregnancy! The academic 2 body problem is terrible, and I’m sorry that you’re in a position where you feel trapped between 2 “good news” situations that seem to conflict. I don’t know what will be right for you, but I really don’t recommend option 3 – you need all the backup you can get from your spouse during the pregnancy and after you give birth. If you consider Wendy’s advice about transitioning careers, a way to start is to volunteer in ways that will build the skills for the industry you want to enter. That’s what I’ve done the past few years, and I’m hoping it will pay off soon with an industry job near my husband (we currently live 12 hours apart). For me, it was hard to shrug off the sunk-cost fallacy, but once I got past that, I could see all the skills my grad career had helped me to develop. I wish you the best on your interview, and I hope that the discussion you have with your husband about this issue will make the best option for you clear to you both.

  2. Sue Jones says:

    Academia IS a tough row to hoe. My brother is a professor and it is really difficult to change institutions and get another tenured job. His first wife (ya, that is correct, they divorced) was also a PhD and it was always a bone of contention in their marriage that he got the job first (she had 2 babies) and one day she just left him for a job across the country. His second wife is very traditional and doesn’t work…..

    My sister in law (husband’s brothers wife) also a tenured professor, commutes 1.5 hours each way. Actually they both commute 1.5 hours each way and he travels a lot overseas… So when the kids were little they had scores of nannies, etc. Academia is not the ideal career for being in charge of where you live, or how you live or having flexibility…

    I know that I made career choices based upon having flexibility and autonomy and am personally slated to teach at a community college next fall in addition to my main work, which I may back out of because I am feeling that I don’t want the commute (only 30 min busride and 30 min walk but still… I am spoiled in that I haven’t had more than a 15-20 min commute for over 2 decades.)

    So I don’t have answers for you. Only that I have witnessed scenarios that worked (my in-laws), and that didn’t ( my brother and his first PhDed wife).

    Another thing to consider which is VERY IMPORTANT if not MOST IMPORTANT once you have kids is the quality of the local public (or private) schools (unless you plan to homeschool). A small town of only 7000 may have crappy public schools which would influence and shape your children’s education, their friends, their enrichment options. If you live in the middle of Trumpland redneck America, guess who your kids will be hanging out with? One reason I chose to live in the affluent ( though expensive) college town with great public schools that I do. So keep all that in mind when you make your decision. Best of luck and please keep us posted in your decision!

    1. Avatar photo Dear Wendy says:

      Very good point about the local schools. It’s something that is easy to not think about until you have an almost school-aged kid.

    2. Ele4phant says:

      I’m not a parent so I may come across as biased or naive, but if a child had two highly educated parents, does the quality of public schools matter that much, if at all. The parents can provide all the example of how important studying and growing intellectually is, and they can provide all the enrich they feel is missing from the school. Barring any safety concerns, the chances their kid will grow up to be high achieving is probably little impacted by where they go to school.

      Again I don’t have kids so I don’t know the personal side of things, but I feel our educational system is getting more and more polarized, in large part because well resourced and well educated families are purposefully ferreting out the “best” schools, be they better public or private schools.

      But again I have no kids, I have no idea what it might feel like to have to put your child in a school that you feel is subpar.

      1. I think it depends how much time the parents spend with the kids everyday. If both parents are commuting 1+ hours each ways, almost every day (on top of all the traveling that most people in academia do), then I suppose the kids will spend a lot of time at school + after school program + baby sitters or nanny + friends house and with friends’ parents. It would be very different if the school was crappy but the parent were dropping the kids at school at 8:30am everyday, bringing them home for lunch then picking them up at 3pm every day.

      2. Avatar photo Skyblossom says:

        It does matter. The quality of the school determines things like the quality of the teachers, the course offerings and advanced educational opportunities. The quality of the schools varies district to district. We live in a good district but we have a boundary with a poorly performing school. The people of their district have voted down all school levies since I’ve lived in this area so for at least 28 years. Their schools are terribly underfunded. They had to close a building because of lack of maintenance. They can’t afford to pay their teachers well so they end up with the teachers that other local districts don’t want to hire. The same for administrators. They have serious discipline issues in their school. Because the schools are bad families with children don’t want to move there and so the property values are depressed compared to ours. Comparable houses across the road from each other but in separate school districts will vary drastically in price with our side costing about $70,000 more than the other side for a 3 bedroom, two bath house. They end up with poorer families who can’t afford a better district so they have far more kids who arrive at school unready to learn. It is a mess that you don’t want to get into because your property values drop over time so you have trouble moving to a better district. Your kids end up in classrooms that don’t have many resources with poorly paid teachers and unruly kids who need lots of attention from the teacher.

      3. Avatar photo Skyblossom says:

        This was meant as a reply for Ele4phant.

      4. …as long as you’re not only looking at test scores. I’ve taught at a wide variety of schools, and I have to say that the one with the top test scores had the worst teaching, but the kids were all super-motivated, so it didn’t really matter. Paying attention to how the school runs things and how the public supports education is key.

      5. I think having educated and reasonably well-off parents helps, but it’s not everything. I went to a very poor high school and I can tell you for sure that the resources at that school were less that those my friends went to and I think that does impact students future. Does the school have a science fair? Does it have AP classes? Does it have a debate team? Does it have sports? Your parents cannot make up for all of this at home, in terms of both exposure to many things (helping you figure out what career path you want) and also in terms of building your resume for college admission.

        There’s also the matter of peer pressure, which is huge in middle/high school. If all your kid’s friends are not studying, not planning to go to college, they will be influenced by that to also not study. And also if there are things like drug or gang problems, that can have a huge impact. Especially if you have 2 full-time working parents, you can’t be everywhere all the time to counteract that.

      6. RedRoverRedRover says:

        This is my belief as well. Studies have actually shown that the parents’ education level and socioeconomic status are much bigger predictors of children’s academic achievement than which school they attend.

        When my husband and I were looking to move recently, one of the considerations was initially how well the school scored. But the more we looked around, the more I realized that in areas with a larger percentage of poor kids, ESL kids, and single-parent families, the lower the kid’s average grades were. Were the teachers really that much worse? Or was it more likely that when kids go to school hungry, when they don’t have a stable home life, when they don’t know the language and culture, that their grades go down. Compared to kids who have a stable home, parents who speak the language and are educated, and who have money for tutors or other extra-curricular study programs. I eventually stopped looking at the school ratings altogether because it seemed to me that all the school ratings do is reflect how rich the parents are. And frankly I’d prefer my kid to be in a school with kids with a mix of backgrounds, than to be in one where it’s majority white, english-speaking, well-off kids.

      7. Snoopy128 says:

        Studies show that parents have less and less of an influence on children as the children age. Peers are a particularly important group of influence, but so are teachers and the systems in which then children grow up in.
        You can try and instill good habits on your children, but if they see their peers being rewarded for bad habits or are continually put down in a system which fails to acknowledge the work they do, it’s hard to resist those influences.

      8. I was redistricted between 6th and 7th grade (lovely time to go through a school change!) and spent a year of middle school in a district that was more rural, less educated, less aspiring… Same home environment, different school environment. I didn’t experience the competition or academic environment I was used to, and my grades plummeted. My parents sent me to a private school (the original public school was not an option), and things got way better. Definitely experienced what Snoopy is describing!

      9. Avatar photo Dear Wendy says:

        Living in a city where the good public schools are increasingly hard to get your kid into and the private schools are cost prohibitive, but where there is exposure to so many enrichment activities and opportunities outside of school, I have this thought quite a lot. Here in NYC, you families go through school applications for pre-k and then again for kindergarten, so we are in the midst of all that and having these kinds of conversations almost daily. Drew said something to me the other day along the lines of, “Well, you could always homeschool…” (he was mostly joking), and I said, “I already do! He gets homeschooled AND he goes to traditional school.” It’s my hope that wherever his school fails, I/we, as parents, can make up the difference (and vice versa). Not every child will be as fortunate/privileged as my kids to have parents who care, are educated, and have the time and resources and ability to provide education and enrichment outside of school. And it is exactly that reason that the socioeconomic gap continues to increase.

      10. We’re having this same conversation in our neighborhood, too. The school zoning is set to change soon, and a number of us who are currently zoned to the “best” elementary school in the district will likely be re-zoned to the “worst” school. (One of the worst in the state, according to test scores.) But as RedRover said above, one of the reasons it’s not great is because a lot of the students have an unstable home life. Ten percent of the students are homeless; a local shelter is within the school zone. I think that part of education should involve exposure to people whose circumstances and backgrounds aren’t the same as one’s own. That way they won’t grow up to be Trump voters… Not to mention, we live in a major metro area, in a neighborhood of double-income, educated, involved parents. (Last week a neighbor organized a Q&A of prospective students’ parents with some current families on the PTA of the “bad” school. Most of the neighbors who attended have children who are still infants!)

      11. Ele4phant says:

        Also if a kid has good grades and participates in just one or two extracurriculars (or none) if it’s a small town and there are few options, they’ll still get into college somewhere. An ivy? Maybe not (although plenty of kids from one horse towns do get into Ivies every year so it’s still possible). But there are thousands upon thousands of post secondary institutions in this country. Just like you don’t have to go to the best public school as a child, you don’t have to go to the best college to succeed as an adult.

        I came from a small town, only did a few extracurriculars, and I still managed to get into all the schools I applied to – public and small liberal arts – and now I’m a functioning adult.

        Sometimes I feel there’s such a focus in middle class families about making sure kids get “the best” but they don’t have to have it. And the benefit of getting them to interact with kids from different backgrounds as they grow up is immense. In many ways more for them than for the other kids.

      12. I totally agree- the test scores thing is such a terrible metric, *except* for the fact that low test scores mean more state interference, which can be a very bad thing, depending on the state (see: Michigan). Looking at the quality of the programs offered (including how many types of special ed support and the guidance/school psychologist/nurse situation) and the building upkeep (not necessarily a shiny new building but one that is very clearly clean) are your two big indicators about whether or not a school is running smoothly.

      13. ele4phant says:

        This is the whole reason I think middle-class parents need to put their students into public schools!

        To get ancedotal, my boss was faced with putting her children into the local public school that was iffy at best. Rather than put her kids in private school, or move, she put them in. Then she spent the next ten years building coalitions with other parents, utilizing her connections to bring attention to the school’s conditions, and putting pressure on the district. Now it’s one of the more desirable schools in her district. If middle class parents keep their kids in local schools, sadly they have more ability to advocate for change and make that come about than the parents of kids from lower socio-economic status. It’s not right but it’s true.

        And if you’re talking about two highly educated parents and a school that’s maybe okay but not the best (but not horrendous), the kids will be fine. Better than fine. You don’t have to have the best school.

        But I say all this from a theoretical stand-point. It’s easy for me to talk about the responsibility of the middle-class in sharing the burden of public education and baring some of the responsibility for making sure it performs as best it can for everyone, not just their kids. But if I had an actual child and actual schools I was concerned about, I’m sure I’d have a different opinion.

      14. Completely agree. My husband and I are committed to sending our daughter to public school for just this reason. With the mass of highly educated and involved parents in just the 5 blocks of our new-development neighborhood, I think we could effect real change that would benefit ALL of the children. (Of course, we may need to revisit the decision if we didn’t feel that she was receiving a quality education. But again, we have the privilege of being able to make that choice. Other parents do not.)

      15. RedRoverRedRover says:

        Hear hear! I’m a parent and I completely agree with you. I grew up in a small town, too, and the schools were limited in what they could offer. None of my friends in school went to university. In the end, didn’t really matter. All five of my parent’s kids have one (or more) post-secondary degrees.

      16. Avatar photo Skyblossom says:

        The ability to make a change depends on the district. If you live in a state where schools are heavily funded by local tax levies and the local population refuses to vote for the levies then you have severely underfunded schools that can’t perform. Their school boards know that they can’t perform. They know that they can’t provide what they want to provide. Last year the district next to us was unable to provide the state mandated minimum education. They didn’t have enough money to provide the minimum courses required for graduation.

      17. RedRoverRedRover says:

        @Skyblossom, is that typical? That sounds like an insane way to run a school system. Shouldn’t everyone have access to a school that enables them to at least graduate?

      18. Avatar photo Skyblossom says:

        It depends on the state and how they fund their schools. The school funding in our state has been ruled unconstitutional by the state Supreme Court three times but the funding hasn’t changed because the courts can rule it unconstitutional but they can’t tell the state that they must actually change the way that they do the funding.

      19. RedRoverRedRover says:

        That’s horrible! 🙁

      20. Avatar photo Skyblossom says:

        It is horrible. I support public education. I think every child deserves a quality education. My daughter is attending our local public high school. When we moved houses 16 years ago we refused to look at any houses outside our current school district because we knew we needed to stay where the schools were good.

        It is also easy to say you can just provide extracurricular activities but those tend to clump in the better school districts because there are more people able to afford them in those districts so the people who live in the poorer districts have to drive farther to reach the activities. Those communities also provide poorer, smaller libraries or no library so the parents again have to drive a distance to get the materials for reports. The quality of the better districts runs across the board from better band instruction and better private voice and instrumental lessons to better science and math and science olympiad and envirothon, more accelerated classes, to more sports options to extra options in the community like theater, ballet, karate and gymnastics.

        Poorer districts may have no options in science, math or English providing the bare minimum of courses required by the state so no choices and no advanced classes. They may have no business classes at all because those aren’t required by the state. This includes computer courses.

        It is important to at least look at how the schools are performing and see what courses they offer. You need to see if there is a good public library in the area. You should look at the extracurricular activities and see what is available. Would you have to drive for most or all extras.

      21. RedRoverRedRover says:

        Yeah, it’s not like that where I live so I never would have thought of those details. Here, it’s mainly the natives who get screwed. The rest of us have access to at least a good minimum level of education, even in smaller towns. The reservations are definitely a problem, but unless you plan to move to one it’s not going to directly affect your own kid’s education.

      22. Ele4phant says:

        I live in one of those states (Washington), and while our Supreme Court is holding our legislature in contempt for not properly funding schools, the republicans still won’t get off their asses about it.

        I can’t promise I’d put my words into action with a real living breathing child, I’d like to think if I had one I’d put them in our local elementary school. And maybe if enough parents living near by chose to put their kids in these underfunded schools instead of moving or funding a private option, they’d vote yes on those levies. Maybe the could use their time and effort to mount better pro campaigns for these levies. Maybe if the voters who vote down these measures (ahem old white people) we’re hearing from people they feel more “comfortable” with (i.e. other white people) they’d vote yes.

        I grew up in a very small town, I got a reasonable education, but there weren’t many extras as far as enrichment programs, extracurriculars, or AP and advanced classes. I still got a college degree.

      23. As a teacher who is firmly pro-public ed for my own career (because I think it’s important to fight the good fight), I will seriously consider putting my kid into a private K-3 school if the following happens:

        1- We have the money (obviously a factor; we will have the money if we only have one kid, but we’re going to be aiming for two, we think)

        2- The local public schools insist on the “EVERYONE MUST READ BY GRADE 1” rule. It’s ruining the lower grades, and making it hard on both kids that read and don’t read, and there’s nothing the teachers can really do about it. Montessori schools and their bretheren have a much more sane idea about child development for that age group.

        So, while I fully support the idea of public schooling, I think there can be very good reasons to keep your kid outside the system, particularly in today’s political climate.

      24. Agreed! People talk about private schools as the best and have an idea of the “best schools” for their kids. But not all private schools and top-ranked schools are better for kids. There are examples of this in my own family: Bassanio hated private school and fought to go to public school. My dad went to a public inner city school and is a successful doctor. My aunt went to a private school and ultimately did well but bounced around aimlessly during her college years. Heck, my own public high school was a good school but so competitive that at least one girl was hospitalized for the pressure and they had to eliminate class rank. And we had almost no diversity, which definitely had an effect on my world view. When your only concern is the “best” schools, you end up missing out on a lot.

      25. Avatar photo Skyblossom says:

        Some of the private schools in our area, especially at the elementary level, are very poor. They don’t pay their teachers well and so get the teachers that can’t get a job in the public schools. 85% of the Charter schools in my state perform at a level lower than their local public school. They are supposed to be closed if they don’t perform well but what happens is they close and then reopen under a new name but with the same business backers and the same teachers and the same students.

      26. Well, that sounds like a terrible situation, especially reopening the same terrible school again and again. My public school district tended to get the better teachers than other public districts because they paid them very well (we had some PhDs and people who had taught at colleges). But you know, my friend who went to an unranked public high school with limited to no extracurriculars got into the same college as me and did just as well and went to grad school, so sometimes I wonder how much that matters. Or if rallying the support of other parents, like ele4phant’s friend, can improve the situation on the ground.
        Most of the private schools I was talking about were religiously-affiliated or Montessori or college prep-type private schools. They likely paid their teachers better than the public schools and were all highly ranked, but they weren’t all better options for the students.

      27. Avatar photo Skyblossom says:

        Our private schools are also mostly religious and Montessori. They pay their teachers about half the salary of the local public school teachers and so get the teachers who failed to get jobs in the public schools. There are a couple of very expensive private schools on the edge of the county that are much better because they do have high tuition and do pay their teachers more.

      28. I have never heard of a private school that paid as well as public schools. They have their own advantages, but I have turned down quite a few private school jobs of various types (religious, montessori, etc) because they can’t pay me enough to live in the area.

      29. Ele4phant says:

        I don’t disagree that sending a child to a school that has robust extracurriculars, lots of advanced options, and a student body that all come from generally stable homes has an impact of the quality of learning. And I can’t fault parents for wanting the best for their children.

        I just wonder if that advantage is a) somewhat marginal, and b) at least largely replaceable by the concerted effort of parents to supplement their children’s development with what the school doesn’t provide.

        I also think there’s a massive benefit society wide of children from all backgrounds going through the same system. And I think the benefit to all outweighs the benefit to the individual. But again, I don’t actually have a child, so my opinion is somewhat limited.

      30. snoopy128 says:

        Ele4phant, I don’t mean to pick on you here, rather I’m responding to the general ideas I’m getting from the above paragraphs in this tread.
        I think that there’s a lot of really unrealistic and individualist thinking going on here which ignores the systems and environments (context in general) in which children spend a lot of time. I think it’s largely unrealistic to say that if you spend enough time with your kid doing ‘the right things’ for their education, you should be able to overcome whatever is going on when they spend time in less than ideal educational environments. It ignores the fact that as children age, they gain more of their cues from their peers and the environment around them. I think, sure, if you have a child that is motivated in a certain way, spending more time with them on their education may be able to override the effects of them being in a shitty school system (public or private). But for other kids (heck, and people), it’s hard to thrive in a system where you aren’t rewarded for the work you put in. So if the school system (teachers, peers…) keeps giving your kid cues that their hard work doesn’t mean much, that it isn’t worth it, and getting rewarded by the system is what is motivating for your kids, it’s unrealistic to say that as a parent, if you just spend more time with your kid, helping with their education, and trying to find ways to reward them at home, that they will thrive. That their school system and the environment they are immersed in for 6-8 hours a day shouldn’t matter.
        That’s not to say that a schooling should be left to schools, or that parents shouldn’t be involved in educating their kids. I’m just saying that I don’t believe good parenting can necessarily overcome all the detriments of a crummy system for many/most/all kids. And I think it’s dangerous to put those sort of high expectations on parents. It sets them up to say – if your child isn’t succeeding at school, regardless of the school system, it’s because you failed as a parent. It’s because you didn’t spend enough time educating your own child.

      31. It seems there is a hefty amount of academic literature that says parental involvement is more important to academic achievement than the caliber of education: http://ideas.time.com/2012/10/24/the-single-largest-advantage-parents-can-give-their-kids/
        I tried to find academic articles that backed up the other side and couldn’t. Doesn’t mean they’re not out there, but the research seems to be supporting parents having more of an impact. Unless anyone can share research supporting the other side? I’m all ears.

      32. RedRoverRedRover says:

        That’s all I’ve ever seen as well, that success is more correlated to the parents. To give an anecdotal example, my parents were well-educated but due to some bad financial decisions were pretty broke as I was growing up. All of my friends in school were in the same boat – not much money.

        But for me it was a given that I was going to do more than highschool. My parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles, cousins, etc all did. It was just accepted as the way to do things. That attitude made a much bigger impact on me than my friends who thought they’d just finish highschool and then get a minimum wage job. That wasn’t really an acceptable path in my family. Couple that with the fact that my parents treated schooling and grades as something important that we needed to succeed in, and it was a no-brainer for all of us to take post-secondary education, even though we had no money. The loans were considered entirely worth it.

      33. That’s a great example, and good on you and your parents.
        Also, being in the best schools doesn’t guarantee your kid could slip through and need they’re parents to advocate for them. For an anecdotal example on the other side of the coin, my high school is in the top 10 in the state, my elementary and junior high schools were also highly rated (my junior high is in the top 5% in the state). But my mom still had to advocate for me on more than one occasion because the school or teacher was wrong. And these were the good schools!

      34. snoopy128 says:

        Ack, I found one yesterday on my phone saying that what you found is true…except for minorities. The effects of parental involvement are almost negated in children who are racial minorities. Which to me says there is something more than parental involvement going on. But that’s my extrapolation…. There’s no doubt parental involvement has a huge impact. But even being able to be involved or know how or have the opportunity is still rather divided by racial and classist lines. I guess that’s my main hesitation here.

        I guess I see myself as a child who could have fallen through the cracks at school, despite my parents involvement. The public schools in my system were great, but class sizes were large-ish and even though I was always put in a split class with the grade above, I wasn’t doing amazingly, even though my parents knew I could do better. They basically forced my teacher to give me a ‘gifted kid’ test in grade 2, which ended up showing I was performing well below my potential. My parents knew that because we did lots of education at home. But, I was one of those kids that needed to be pushed *at school* and see the direct rewards *at school*. If grade 2 had percentage-based grades it was the equivalent of me performing at 75% in the regular system, or 90% in my advanced classes. But those advanced classes end after grade 6. I ended up leaving for a private school, which had more ‘streams’ (like 3 levels of math, english, AP’s). My parents had the same attitude as your RedRover, but as a kid, I need other, outside, motivation.

      35. Ele4phant says:

        That is entirely fair, and I take no offense. I’ve tried to be upfront that I’m not a parent, my view is limited. I mean I have a vested interest in that I’m a member of society and I want as many people around me to be as well educated as possible. But I’m not kidding myself that my opinion counts just as much as a parents or is as realistic and as fully formed as someone who has children and has to deal with the realities of our educational system. It’s not. But I’ve had fun debating it!

    3. My town of 6,000 didn’t have the most rigorous schools, but I did graduate with 33 hours of college credit thanks to AP and dual credit. Small doesn’t necessarily equal bad. The city my parents left has horrible public schools and a lot of crime.

  3. As an academic with a child (with an academic spouse, sometimes living apart for our jobs), if you do not feel that giving up being an academic is what you desire/can do right now, I would say live close to your institution for at least the first year. It sounds like you would have the higher teaching load — could he live with you and sometimes could stay with friends for a night or two close to his university and could commute to his university? Especially in the beginning (depending on what you decide/happens with breastfeeding etc.) living far from your job would add an extra level of unnecessary difficulty. The first year of a tenure-track job with a kid… you’d need all the extra time you could get and proximity to colleagues, institution etc. helps. Another issue with the in-between place is what your research is like — does it have a library? does it have coffee shops that you two could go to if you need to get out of the house? what would your support network be like there? You may start off at your individual institutions and could transition to living in-between in the future (and choose the place with good schools or something). When we did distance with a baby, his institution offered a semester paternity leave (mine did not offer the same for mothers or fathers), so he lived with me for six months, before doing the commute (cross country, so I was alone with the baby for much of the month). Now we are together. Whatever you choose wouldn’t have to be permanent if it didn’t work for you and could change as your child, his tenure status, your tenure status, your relationship all progress and change. Leaving academia can be a huge emotional shift that affects one’s identity… same for motherhood. So if you aren’t ready for all that right now and want to see if you can make it work, try it — just be open to changing it in the future if it isn’t working for you. For the first year after child: try if possible to teach classes you both have taught before and be really careful about when they are scheduled, if you have a say.

  4. RedRoverRedRover says:

    Personally I wouldn’t suggest having your husband look at different jobs right now, because for me, I’d want the stability of at least one of us having a job they know, that they don’t have to “prove themselves” at. If you both get new jobs that introduces a lot of uncertainty, especially if you move to a new city too. I moved to a different part of the city right before the birth of my first child, and it was really hard. And that was in the same city! But it’s a big city with horrible traffic, so basically I ended up being a half-hour further than everything I knew (an hour round-trip), and that was enough to affect how how comfortable I was there. Suddenly away from friends and everything I knew. It really sucked actually.

    The other job doesn’t sound like it’s a daily commute, is it? How many times a week would you have to go in? One thing you should consider, if you can swing it, is a nanny. Because from experience, the biggest problem you’ll have day-to-day is arranging daycare runs. If you’re not there, your husband will have to do it all. I guess it depends what his commute is like, but it’s not easy trying to fit a job in between the daycare hours, in my experience. I do all the daycare runs in my family because I don’t have a commute, and it leaves me with just 8-8.5 hours between dropoff and pickup, which for my job is not a lot, most people work longer hours than that. A nanny would mean you don’t have to worry about that, and it would make it a lot easier when you have sick days etc, because otherwise that would all be on your husband too.

    Anyway, if it were me, I’d either do the commute if it’s only a couple days a week and get a nanny, or I wouldn’t take the job. If it was a commute every day I don’t think I could handle it, personally.

  5. wobster109 says:

    LW, I’m sorry to say your situation is what I think of when people claim the wage gap is because “women choose different jobs”. You gave up a tenure job so your husband could have his. 2 years ago you took a huge downgrade for him. Now he won’t even consider taking a downgrade for you — or your child.
    Look at your option 1. This option has you making the 2-hour commute. Where’s the option where he makes the 2-hour commute?
    You say that having kids requires sacrifices, but it sounds like you’re preparing to make those sacrifices alone. And, I don’t know, it makes me so sad to imagine my little sis giving up her dream again and again because her spouse won’t downgrade, not even once. I hope that’s not what’s happening to you.

    1. Avatar photo Dear Wendy says:

      Yes to all of this. I’m so sick and tired of the female partner in hetero relationships being the default person to make the career sacrifices.

    2. Yeah, this bothered me somewhat as well. Especially why he could not be the one to commute, given that she sacrificed her TT job before. The thing is, it’s really difficult to do this in an equitable manner. I didn’t follow my partner and chose my own job, but now we’ve been doing long distance for more than a year and it sucks. There’s also no way to start a family as long as we’re this far apart.
      By now I’m sick of academia for other reasons so this will probably at least reduce our “two body” problem because I’ll be more flexible in a different line of work, but if this weren’t the case, I’d truly not know what to do. Basically, it’s having kids or having the academic career (still with a lot of sacrifices), much as I don’t like that things are this way. And actually, my partner staying in academia – even while I’m leaving – will probably still mean no kids because I’m not ready to take over all the caretaking responsibilities and follow him to whatever geographical location. For me, I’ve resolved the issue by not having kids until I have a situation where we can both equitably parent, but I’m not sure this will ever happen so I somewhat understand just going forward and getting pregnant.

    3. Thank you, this was my first reaction as well. There’s really no “choice” if these are the choices. But also, if your partner is supportive, this should not be the whole list of choices. It sounds like he is, so don’t sell yourself short!
      Having both partners in academia isn’t ideal, but giving up opportunities and going into the private sector isn’t always better. This is not at all the same, but this unfortunately made me think back to Bassanio’s cousin. She is incredible, has a PhD, and had gotten a Fulbright to study something related to animals in South America when she got pregnant. The guy was (is) not a great guy and basically threatened their relationship, his relationship with his kid, a whole mess of terribleness if she took the Fulbright. And he was not going with her despite subsisting on contract jobs, plus those jobs took him away for months at a time so he’d be gone frequently anyway. That ended in a shotgun marriage, her giving up her dreams, and barely scraping by on jobs in the private sector (she just got laid off for the second time in 4 or 5 years) with two kids in tow. And later her supporting him when he went back to school by barely making a teleworking agreement with her job work to accommodate that. Then she was laid off. So, what I want to say with this story is lean on your partner for support and don’t sell yourself short. And go after your dreams within reason, and I think you can find a solution to pursue your career.

  6. I’ve always worked at grad schools (not as faculty but staff) and I have seen very similar things happen between married and committed staff and faculty members as Sue Jones pointed out. I’ve seen a number of divorces and break ups, but on the other side people who seem to make it work effortlessly. I also work in a somewhat narrow field and for both people in a committed relationship to find work in the same field, in a commutable distance from one another is just hard. I’m always glad my husband has such a different career than me. It’s easier for him to follow me around, because my job is the one that is limited in location.

    It is hard also to make the change from academia to other fields. But, it’s usually what has to happen. Or one person has a commute. But, with kids I don’t know how people do it. I have a 40 min commute and I can’t imagine doing any more or having kids schedules to think about on top of that. Also as Sue Jones mentioned one of the reasons I have a commute is so that I don’t live in the middle of nowhere. I tried that and it’s not for the faint of heart, or for those who love Target. The commute is worth it to me, but some days I still think about finding a private sector job. But, then I remember my perks. It’s a hard line to balance. But, it’s not impossible and I think the take away is Wendy’s last statement. You have to figure out what your priorities are and work together to find balance. And then find what works for you both personally and as a family.

    I’m not sure I gave you any advice, but I hope things work out for the best for the both of you. And congratulations on your pregnancy!

  7. As one half of an academic couple, I know this situation well. Honestly, I don’t know if there’s a scenario that’s going to be entirely satisfactory. As Wendy said, you need to weigh your priorities, together with your husband. Something might have to give: Either one of your respective academic careers, or a comfortable living and commute situation. This involves super tough decisions regarding who gets to pursue their dream career, and who bears the brunt of the commuting burden if neither of you is willing to compromise on that (and I do know academic couples who live apart even though they have small kids). I agree with Wendy that you should not immediately assume that you’re going to be the one who will make the sacrifice. Your husband must be part of this conversation. You’re both going to be parents, it’s unfair if all the sacrifice falls to you.
    Some thoughts: If you are offered the other job, could you use it to negotiate a better gig at your current institution? This might be particularly effective if they believe they might lose your husband. I think you should at least try to leverage this if you get the offer, and your husband should possibly hint that he might decide to follow you if your current institution does not offer you something better.
    If this is your dream career, I would also definitely look into the option of living in between both cities. This seems more doable than a 2 hr commute or living apart during the week.

    1. I second an attempt to negotiate with your husband’s institution. I’ve seen this happen and work out a number of times with academic couples. It depends a lot on how valuable your husband is to the institution, but don’t rule it out.

  8. No where in her letter did she say her husband wouldn’t downgrade. That’s an unfair assumption that you’re making. I took it as them talking about it and him staying put because he has something stable.

    1. She said at the end that him leaving his current institution is not an option.

      1. Yes, but she didn’t say “he said he absolutely will not leave his current situation” … There is nothing to say that they didn’t discuss openly about this and together they decided that him keeping his tenured job as the best option.

      2. I see what you’re saying. I do think there are signs that both of them are giving the husband’s career priority though, and that deserves some attention. I wouldn’t blame the husband for it, usually both people in a couple contribute to this dynamic. A gendered dynamic doesn’t have to be one where one person is being unreasonable, the point about these dynamics is that people are usually not even aware of them.
        The signs I’m seeing is that she’s already refused a tenure track position to live with him once, and the reasons she gives for why him giving up his position is out of the question sound like they are the reasons he stated. The new opportunity she has may not be a “dream job” by her description, but it’s a TT job, and that’s what matters. That’s a huge deal in academia and another opportunity may very well not come. She may be minimizing this opportunity in her head because that it makes it easier to reject it.
        All of that said, I agree that the husband should not leave his job. What he should probably do though is go on the market again and try to either secure a position in a place where LW can be a “spousal hire” or use offers from other universities as leverage to get her a better position in their current institution.

      3. I see your points. My first comment was meant to be in reply to eleph4nt and I got caught up at work and commented wrong. I do agree that the gender dynamic typically happens without it being realized, I just didn’t think it was fair to bad talk the husband about something we don’t know that he ever really said.

    2. RedRoverRedRover says:

      That’s what I thought too. And it won’t be just her sacrificing if she takes this other job. She’ll have a commute and see her kid less. But he’ll be the one with most of the childcare responsibilities. He’ll be the one getting baby changed/dressed/fed and out to daycare. He’ll be the one having to make sure he leaves work in time to pick the baby up, and then doing dinner for himself and the baby and likely starting the bedtime routine, if not doing the whole thing. And he’ll be the one who has to take time off work if the baby’s sick and needs to be picked up from daycare and home for the rest of the day. So they’re both going to have to make sacrifices if they do it this way, he’s not getting off easy.

      Also, I’d question him giving up a tenure-track job just so she can have a non-dream job, especially with a kid on the way. I do think she should consider taking this job, but I don’t think he should give his up for it because they’d be risking too much, stability-wise. If she wasn’t pregnant, then sure, he should consider it. But not when there are so many new expenses and unknowns coming their way in the next little while. It sucks that she gave up her tenure-track job in the past, and it sounds like she thinks that may have been a mistake, but it’s not going to fix that mistake for him to now do the same thing, and then neither of them are tenure-track.

      1. I agree. This was my thought as well. I didn’t realized I submitted so soon. This is why DW and work shouldn’t be allowed. I would never want my significant other to leave a tenured job for something that wasn’t my “dream job.” Who’s to say she doesn’t take the job and then hate it, and now he is out of something he enjoyed doing.

        I think she should take the job for now – if she even gets it. If she gets the job and enjoys it, they as a married couple she reevaluate him leaving his job. But for the time being, nothing makes sense about him downgrading for something she may not even enjoy.

      2. RedRoverRedRover says:

        Yep, for sure. I wouldn’t dream of encouraging my husband to leave his job, which he enjoys and which he’s on track for an exec position with, for me to take a job that wasn’t really what I wanted to do.

  9. I’d say stick with the status quo, because that seems to be what you and your husband want to do and it avoids big change at a time you are just beginning parenting. You would still be able to teach and research (perhaps you need a discussion with your current university to confirm this). If you love research, perhaps you want to undertake a project to research and write a book, which would increase your academic marketability.

    I am struck by both your statement that your husband changing institutions in a possible move is outside the realm of consideration and this from your letter “we made a rushed decision the last time we were in this situation, and we often wonder if we made the right decision, even two and a half years later. (I turned down a tenure-track job eleven hours away from my spouse’s job offer, and for security reasons we moved to a state neither of us likes.)”

    What does that even mean. You moved to a place neither of you wanted to live because of security. But, both of you had a tenure-track offer, so why was your husband’s offer ‘security’, while your offer didn’t merit that label? I think you as well as your husband have more than implicitly placed his career as a clear #1 and yours as secondary, and have done so based upon ‘security’. Now that your husband is closer to achieving tenure, that issue of ‘security’ should loom even larger, yet you say that your husband, as well as you, still regret the decision you made. How so, exactly? I get that you don’t like the state you now live in and that your career is stunted, but if that is the case, why is it beyond the pale that your husband also job hunt in the hope that you can achieve your ideal outcome: living in a place you would enjoy living and where you both can have either a tenure-track academic job or a good non-profit, corporate, or government job? It just seems you have two very contradictory thoughts: “neither of us is happy here and we still regret our decision” alongside “my husband changing institutions is beyond the pale.

    You have to mutually decide how much your career opportunities matter and whether you can achieve your minimum requirements where you are. You have to decide whether your ideal can provide what you see as minimum security.

  10. Another question for the LW: what are your maternity benefits now vs. the new job? FMLA doesn’t cover you within the first year of employment so if you find a new job now you will not be legally guaranteed maternity leave when this baby is born (guessing the LW is in the US because she said “state” but idk for sure).

  11. I’m half of an academic couple and also the one who had to give up her offer because my partner signed on the dotted line first. The major difference between me and the LW is that I am teaching-oriented, while it sounds like the LW would enjoy the research time and supports that come from a TT position.

    Are you and your husband in allied fields? If so, go on the interview and if you get an offer, use it to leverage. I don’t expect your current institution to make a tenure line appear out of thin air, but you might be able to get a multi-year contract, or a course release, or an optimal schedule to leave you more time for both research and being with your baby.

    And your husband probably needs to go back on the market as well. Even if he has no intention of leaving his current institution, they need to understand that you are both commodities and that you two have other options. It’s amazing what tricks deans can pull out of their hats when good scholars and researchers seem like they may be moving on.

    Last suggestion: if you get an offer and decide to take the job, you can always try to negotiate start date. It’s very common for new professors to start 1 or even 2 semesters later than the offer. If you could push back your move and start in the spring (or better yet, following fall), you wouldn’t have to brave the early months of parenting alone and you could avoid a rushed decision on where to live, who has to commute, etc.

  12. Oh, do I ever empathize with the LW’s situation and many of the comments! I’m a 34-year-old female PhD in the social sciences as well, and will likely face a two-body issue soon. In my case, however, the roles are reversed: I recently got tenure at my dream institution, whereas my fiance (“Nadio”) is midway through his post-doc 6 hours from me. As much as I love my job, I know one or both of us eventually needs to compromise in order to truly settle down together. Nadio has always wanted a tenure-track job, but there are limited possibilities for that in my area, and my university is not great about accommodating academic couples. Given that my career is further along than Nadio’s, chances are he will be the one to leave academia (and fortunately, he’s very supportive of me and at least open to considering other options). BUT two things still make this situation difficult:

    (1) Being an academic myself, I fully acknowledge that academia is sort of like a cult. LW, I wonder if part of the reason you and your husband came across to Wendy as unwilling to think about non-academic jobs is that we are socialized to think doing so means we failed, are selling out, are pretty much abandoning our entire (academic) social networks, etc. What’s more, many faculty either look down on students who leave academia, or just are clueless about how to help such students (i.e., they have no idea where to begin to look for other jobs). It’s a horrible perception and given that the job market in my field is only getting worse, I’m working hard to change it among my colleagues and grad students. So, LW, I encourage you honestly ask yourself if these sorts of issues are factoring into the equation at all.

    (2) Regarding the comments about why the woman is typically the one in a couple to make the professional sacrifice, I could see that perspective (though I could also see how it may make less sense for your husband – depending on his field and how far along on the tenure track he is – to look for a different job at this point). I encounter such assumptions all the time, and they are so annoying! For instance, sometimes our well-meaning friends and colleagues – who should really know better – will ask if and when *I* plan to move to *Nadio*. Not only am I tenured, but Nadio’s post-doc is also temporary!!! So I can’t help but see that as a veiled assumption that I, as the woman, will automatically accommodate my fiance. Argh. Perhaps someday that will be the case for Nadio and me, but it shouldn’t be seen as a given. Anyway, I feel you on all counts… very best of luck as you and your husband carefully consider your wants/needs and priorities!

    1. Congratulations on getting tenure!

      You’re definitely onto something with your point that academia can be a little cult-like. When I read Wendy’s response about looking at other job opportunities I thought to myself “LW is not going to like this!” Many academics simply refuse to consider other options, regardless of the sacrifices they might have to make. For example, I’ve known several couples that lived in different countries while they had small children, several married couples in indefinite long distance relationships, etc. LW’s options actually look fairly reasonable compared to some of the constellations I’ve seen.
      I was recently talking to a friend about the fact that almost everyone in her country who has tenure lives in the capital during the weekends (often they are partnered up with people who work there) and in another city during the week, between 4-6 hours away. My friend said that “you just have to do that”. So people basically accept this as normal and either give up on having a family or come up with these really complicated solutions that involve several apartments and a lot of travel.

      1. Thanks for the congrats – just got the thumbs-up from my Dean this morning! 😀 Yep, I had the same thought about LW’s options being fairly reasonable compared to most academic couples (though by no means ideal). For example, I consider myself lucky to live “only” a 6-hour drive from Nadio! (His post-doc could have taken him to the other side of the country.) I’ve known or heard of many long-distance academic couples with even crazier commuting situations, but I personally would never want that in the long term.

      2. snoopy128 says:

        Having just come out of a Masters and with lots of friends with PhD’s- I, too, had the same reaction when Wendy said to consider non-academic jobs.
        But the more I think about it, the more reasonable it seems.
        It also helps that a good portion of my friends who have academic jobs are looking to leave because of politics and bullshit which is stopping them from moving forward or doing the research they should be able to do. They stopped drinking the Kool Aid, so to speak.
        So, LW, as uncomfortable as it is, do think about how you and your husband might be able to apply your skills and obtain jobs outside of academia that meet your goals.

    2. Avatar photo Skyblossom says:

      Probably many of the people who ask when you will join him have no clue that there is a huge difference between a tenure track position and a post doc. They see that you both have a doctoral degree and don’t realize there is a difference.

      1. With friends maybe, her colleagues should really know better though!

      2. Avatar photo Skyblossom says:

        The colleagues should definitely know.

      3. Oh, I totally agree that most people outside academia don’t see/understand the difference. However, I find it interesting at best (annoying at worst) that *I* am always the one who’s asked that question!

  13. Given that it’s not your dream job, and the timing with your pregnancy, I would say stay where you are for now. I work at a university and there have been quite a few couples that have negotiated positions for both spouses, after one has been offered a position.

    Is there a town or state that both you and your husband would be happy to relocate to you, perhaps closer to family? Maybe picking a location first could help narrow down the institutions that would potentially provide both you and your husband a position.

    On the flip side, you could potentially negotiate a longer contract with the current institution, particularly because your husband is tenure-track. Sounds like they want to keep him and giving you a better contract could be the solution to your husband staying on.

  14. Take the job, and organise the commute with your husband. A 2 hours trip is OK, many academic couples do more. Your husband should be able to do the commute, more easily than you for the first years. Then get a better job where you both can be close.

  15. Monkeysmommy says:

    So, I know it is in bad taste to hijack your question and tell you all about myself, but hang with me for a sec. I am a 34 year old corporate compliance manager for a national pediatric hospital chain, I also travel frequently with my job. I am a full time college student, and I coach youth soccer for 5 year olds. I am also a married mother of three, ages 5-15. We live 10 hours from the closest family we have. The point to my boring self history is that you can do anything, and still be a great mother and wife, as long as you are passionate about it. I love my job. It is my dream. So that makes the travel and long hours worth it. I am passionate about being educated. That makes school worth the extra time. Here is the catch with you- you don’t sound passionate. At all. That will make for long hours when you are commuting one way for two hours. After a while, it may wear you down. My advice would be to reconsider your husbands location of employment, or like Wendy said, go somewhere else altogether. If you are going to over extend yourself, you have to love what you are doing. Otherwise, you are going to breed resentment or unhappiness. On one last note- odd statement about how you could just lose the baby and it would change everything… Do you have reason to believe you’ll miscarry? Or are you just speculating since its early? Few people would count in the possibility of a loss so quickly.

    1. RedRoverRedRover says:

      My husband and I always included the possibility of a loss in our plans. In fact the first time I got pregnant we knew we needed a bigger house, but we didn’t want to move unless we were pretty sure we’d have the baby. So we waited four months until we knew the results of the genetic testing. As far as I’m concerned, it’s just realistic. Due to my age we had an over 25% chance of miscarriage, and then a 1/125 chance of genetic abnormality (which we would not have continued the pregnancy with). Plus a 3% rate of birth defects, and a higher risk of having a stillborn due to age. As far as I’m concerned, it’s just realistic to take all this stuff into account. Especially when you’re only at 6 weeks.

      1. Monkeys mommy says:

        Then I guess it is normal then… not the way I would go about it, but then again, I was not 34 during my pregnancies either. I imagine that would add an extra layer of “what if” to the scenario.

      2. Sure, the risk is a bit higher when you’re older, but even many younger pregnant women worry about miscarriage (and experience them). That’s where the whole “wait 12 weeks before you tell people” comes from. It’s just a matter of personality whether you assume you’ll be fine or if you’re cautious.

      3. RedRoverRedRover says:

        What SasLinna said. I would have still been cautious even if I’d had kids in my early 20s. My personality is to not count my chickens before they hatch. 🙂 Hell, I’m 7 months pregnant now and I still haven’t bought anything for the new baby besides a crib. Even at this stage things can go wrong. I don’t want to come home from the hospital and have drawers full of little things that I bought so happily and now will never use (this is our last baby). No right or wrong about it, just differences in how people see things.

    2. snoopy128 says:

      The latest research coming out is showing that the miscarriage rate may be much closer to 50% in the first trimester. This is due to women being pregnant and not realizing it and then thinking they had a heavier than normal (and a bit abnormal) period. The possibility of loss is a very possible reality in the first trimester.

  16. for_cutie says:

    It is fairly common for PhD couples to apply for and interview for jobs together at a University. Several of my friends are PhD/PhD, PhD/MD, and MD/MD couples where one was recruited and the other was also offered a great position as part of the job negotiations. You could negotiate a job for your husband if you are offered a tenure track position. Your husband could also pressure his institution to keep you on or prioritize you for a tenure position in order to keep him. One other option – I know of 2 couples who have this arrangement – one runs the lab and the other is the tenure track faculty. Not sure what kind of PhD you or your husband has but if it is in the same field this may be an option to get you job security and meaningful work together.

  17. dinoceros says:

    This is a tough decision, but my personal opinion is that the two-hour commute should be off the table. It’s one thing to talk about it, but it’s a whole other thing in practice. That’s four hours on the road each time you have to go. My co-worker has an hour commute, and a few months in, she almost quit job over it. It means a lot of time away from your family, a lot of stress, a lot of money spent on gas and oil changes, and a lot of miles on your car (not to mention if you live in a place where weather is an issue). And I think you want to give yourself the flexibility that if there are other things on campus that you want to get involved in to aid in your professional development and building community at your university, you don’t want to be in a position where you are turning down every invite to get coffee or every request to participate in something work-related.
    I don’t know if anyone mentioned this, but a lot of universities are willing to try to find positions for partners if it’ll mean they get to keep their top candidate. You might want to look into what options are there for him. If you get deeper into the process, it’s something you might want to mention. When I was in grad school, my department’s top choice for a faculty position had a husband who would need a job, and they hustled and got him a position. Unfortunately, it didn’t pay as much as he wanted (he worked in the private sector in his field), so they both turned down the positions. But they’ll try to make it work if they can and if they want you.

    1. It sounds like the school she applied to is a lot smaller than the one where she is now teaching and her husband is on tenure track. She says there isn’t a major or even a department in her field. She says heavier teaching load, which means research is less of a thing, or at least it will be for her in a field that this new school doesn’t emphasize. She seems less than enthused about this position, so I think it is better to just stay where she is and has a job she enjoys (I know, Tenure Track! — but even with TT there is no guarantee of tenure, especially in a field without a department). I’m not sure why her husband would want to work at this school rather than where he is now on TT, or why a professor moving from a non-TT position would have so much clout here that she could maneuver a TT position for husband. I’d think the chances would be greater that her husband could help her land such a position where they are now or, more likely, they can each find a TT position in an area that is denser with colleges and Universities, which would mean a big city, in which they’d likely be happier than where they are now.

      BGM is right, this is a ton of drama for what she says is far from her dream job in far from her dream location, with a lot more logistical problems. I think impending motherhood and the changes this will bring to their lives has pushed her career concerns and regrets about prioritizing her husband’s career back to the front of her mind. They will have a baby to care for and support — that certainly increases the importance of Security!, which is how she got into her current career predicament. I’m sure she recognizes this.

      1. Avatar photo Skyblossom says:

        I agree about the option of her husband moving with her. The position she is applying for is at a much smaller university that not only has no graduate department it has no department at all in her field. It wouldn’t be a good move for him. At the same time she has to think about her own pension and retirement. She isn’t building any at this time and that by itself builds a discrepancy in the marriage, a power imbalance. She can become trapped in a situation where she can’t leave because she hasn’t had a good position for so long after leaving grad school that she can’t get one and she becomes totally dependent on him for her future. At the same time having a baby that mainly lives with only one parent is not ideal and quite exhausting for the parent who is the main care giver. It can be done but they will need enough income for a good babysitter or nanny who would live near whichever parent took the main parental responsibility. In many ways I think the best option for the LW is to get a job that isn’t in academia but in the area where they currently live. It would allow them to live together and raise the child together and she could have her own solid future. The other best option is to move to an area that has many more universities so that they can both have jobs that they want and love. I’d start by searching for nonacademic jobs in the area where they live and seriously consider them. The LW might find that she loves the nonacademic work and finds a path that she never considered or she might hate it and learn that she needs to search elsewhere.

      2. dinoceros says:

        It’s not so much about having clout, but that a lot of colleges and universities offer to find partners jobs as a general service/policy. Because it often is the difference between getting the candidate you chose and not getting them. My friend got an entry-level job at a small private college, and when they found out her boyfriend was also looking, they tried to recruit him (after already having rejected him during the regular job search).

        I agree that it’s a lot of drama, and it might not be an ideal job for him or worth the move. But I think that it’s something to keep in mind at least for the future. She’s already trying to twist herself into a pretzel to get the job she wants, and at some point down the road, maybe he can compromise too.

  18. bittergaymark says:

    This seems like an AWFULLY lot of drama over something that very well may never happen… This is like me worrying about whether or not winning an Oscar will wreck my life when I haven’t even finished the fucking screenplay…

    1. RedRoverRedRover says:

      But it’s not like the situation is going to magically go away on its own. Even if she stays, she’s still in a job she dislikes, in an area neither of them like, and she still has the issue of trying to find a job that helps her meet her goals. It doesn’t hurt to have these kinds of discussions, because I’m sure next time, the job will be even further away, and they’ll be in an even tougher spot. It’s good for each to be aware of what the other is/isn’t willing to sacrifice.

  19. Potoo (a humanities academic) says:

    Wendy, I think you’ve completely ignored the fact that a tenure-track job is like a unicorn these days. There’s a chance the husband could find a new t-t job, but they’re few, far between, and insanely competitive, especially in the humanities. Even getting such a post is a huge achievement and it is not something that one gives up because of a commute.

    LW, is it possible for everyone to move in-between the two jobs, so both you and your husband have a commute? You two can live closer (30 min) to your job and farther (1.5hrs) to his, just for the interim, as it seems that you want to switch jobs in a couple of years anyway. I’ve heard tale from my supervisor of an academic couple who made it work, with kids, with one parent working at Mt. Holyoak and the other at Yale, and the whole family living in-between. There’s no reason that having made it this far– past the adjunct phase! In t-t jobs! Getting interviews for good-though-not-perfect positions!– either of you ought to give up on your dream. Either way, it’s a pain but this is so managable. Don’t give up if you want the post!

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