Hello, Gentlemen.

I have a job I love in management at a new public library in my home town. I don't make a ton, but cost of living is very low and I do earn what I would as a teacher (I'm also qualified for that). Also, the stress is non-existent. I am engaged in the community and really feel that I make a difference on a daily basis. There is one position above me for promotion, which will likely not open up for a long time but would be mine without question due to my long tenure when the vacancy does open. That position does pay well for this area.

My wife moved here after several years of long distance throughout university, largely because we have fantastic family support here that really did make the transition easier. However, my wife is very much an executive type personality and has had a rough time finding a job she enjoys in the area. She did have a job in a call center which covered all of our expenses, but she disliked it so much that she gave it up for other jobs that paid less.

She did eventually find a job she enjoyed in retail management about 45 minutes away, but had her salary cut after her company was purchased. She was then offered a promotion to compensate. This job pays well, but requires her to travel a lot and is covering neither her car nor her gasoline. I expect she will put 100,000 miles a year on her car.

The thing that boggles my mind is that she loves this job (she is a corporate trainer for a subsidy of one of the large cellular companies), even though it keeps her on the road four hours a day and is not sustainable because of travel costs. She is hoping to obtain a raise after she has worked there for a year, and perhaps make the jump to Corporate where she could have a stationary job in one of the metropolitan areas to which she is already traveling.

That is all fine and well, but I would have to give up my position that I love and probably seek employment in a metro school. I'm very much a quiet, small town person. Cities stress me out, and I have heard that those inner city schools have a retention rate for teachers at around 50% at a 3 year mark. I could seek employment in a library, but I would probably first need to obtain a Master's degree, and even then those jobs are highly competitive.

I'm very hesitant to move because of all this. Even if she secures a raise and I were to get a job in my field, cost of living would be much higher, and we would have to seriously look at child care costs when the time comes to start a family. Not to mention that my current job would allow me a flexible enough schedule to pick the children up from school, be home to cook dinner, etc. I am also sure she could obtain a job in her field within reasonable distance and make enough for us to live comfortably where we currently are. I just think she is attracted to the thought of climbing a corporate ladder.

Am I being unreasonable? There seems to be more at risk in leaving than we would potentially gain. I love my wife, but my gut is telling me to stay put.

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My husband and I are putting some amount of money and countless hours into his obtaining a job he'll like, though we don't need the money.  He says, though, that he wants regular employment to feel productive.  The idea of a job makes him happy, so I go along, just as he has gone along with some of my employment choices that haven't been great financially but have been good for my peace of mind. 

There's more to employment decisions than dollars and cents.  Lots of people derive personal satisfaction from their work, job title, or corporate status - just like other people derive satisfaction from how much they can bench press or how well-behaved their children are.  Cut that off, and you'll have an unhappy spouse.

Your present situation, however, isn't sustainable.  Your wife wants to climb a management ladder, and your small town doesn't have long ladders.  But you don't like the city.  You're going to have to compromise and set up some soft long-term plans.  Maybe you stay in one situation for a year or 3, then switch, then switch back after a few years.  Maybe you focus on your career until your twinkles-in-your-eyes are in school, then focus on hers.  I imagine you both have about 30 more years  of working life.  The decisions you make in the next couple of years will impact those 30 years, but they won't cut off any long-term possibility completely.

Did you two talk about career goals before tying the knot? Did this come up? I'm not married myself, or even engaged, but I feel like if your wife is the corporate type, and will climb the latter at all costs, you two will be butting heads about this that could have some serious ramifications. 

Thanks for the reply, D.J.

Yes, we spoke all about this during our long dating period. She didn't quite know what she wanted to do then, but assumed her retail experience would get her in management somewhere she would appreciate.

Now she has found a niche she enjoys in the mobile industry and is quite adamant on it. 

I should say the world headquarters of the mobile company she is hoping to be hired at is in the city to which she is already commuting. 

How can she do all that in a kitchen?

See how the cards play out.  Support her and see how it goes.  If she can land a Corporate Job that will cover your household monetary needs or close, have her take it.  Then look for a place in that area for you to join her at.

This opens the world to her to try for and lets you stay with what you like until a real situation happens.  At that point you will probably be able to find a new enjoyable life in one of the feeder towns in the metropolitan areas.  

Until she lands that dream job, don't worry about leaving yours much.  Just support her goal.  She may land a fantastic job somewhere that lets you volunteer/work in the new area and find fulfillment for you also. 

Sound advice! Thank you, David. 

Family rules.  When I married my wife she was in Buffalo and I was in New Orleans, she moved here with two children (long, long story there) giving up a job she really enjoyed.  She also gave up working part-time to work full time.  I didn't intend to stay in one place with low chance of moving up the ladder but here I am after 9 years pretty much as far up the ladder as I can go here unless a few people die off.  I gave up my 5 year plan when the wife and kids moved here.  The kids didn't want to move again and the lawyers would have made a bunch more money (again long story) so I haven't looked in any other job markets.

Basically stated each of you have to give up something in order for the marriage to work.  A question would be can you move to a smaller town close to a city where your wife can work and you can either get a job at a local library or teaching in the suburbs?  That way both of you can have some of what you want.

This sounds less like a question about making ends meet and more like a question about overall lifestyle. She wants to work towards a corporate job in another city. You want to stay put with the status quo. I also get the impression that, even if it were completely economically feasible, you still wouldn't be keen on the idea of changing jobs and moving to the city just like if it were completely economically unfeasible, she wouldn't be keen on giving up on trying to make it happen. Neither of you is right or wrong, or reasonable or unreasonble; you simply have different goals and preferences.


To me, it sounds like you two need to have a honest conversation about your goals, preferences, desired lifestyles, etc. If they aren't aligned (and assuming you want to stay together) you'll probably need to find a middle ground that works for both of you. (For example, if she's got her heart on a job in the city but you prefer the small town vibe, perhaps a middle ground would be moving to a suburb outside of the city; she could commute to her job in town while you got a job at a smaller library or school closer to home.)

Thank you, Regular Joe. One of my main fears was that I was being unreasonable. I will take your advice and work on communicating what each of us truly wants in the future. 

Thanks again.

Hey vsound. I second the idea of actually talking it out. Not that I am that experienced in think about thes things but I think maybe one thing that could help is if you talk about the other aspects of life that get affected by jobs. Where I am coming from me and my significant other would have two incomes and no kids. But we know in advance that kids change the world and they are something that can get overlooked easier than one may think. You think of having them, but look for spots to pawn them off on people weather intentionally or not I think it is worth looking at personal aspects... But of course together. that is really the important part.

as an exercise make a pie chart of your life together and fill it with a piece for work, family, community, health, etc and think of how much you want to give for each. The catch is the more you give to one it eats more of the pie. I think this goes unseen by many and it leads to the potential breakups of families.

I don't think you're being unreasonable, but it's subject you're going to have to open up completely with each other.  It sounds like she enjoys her career path very much and it would be difficult to convince her to give it up.  On the other hand, you've got a right to enjoy your career too.  

How does she feel about your career?  Does she give off the impression that it's not as important as hers?  Do you love her enough to move with her?  To start a family and raise kids around HER schedule?

Bottom line is that money and career differences between young couples are a recipe for a train wreck.  You'll have to choose to support her career or she'll have to choose to support yours.  Either way, one of you will most likely feel as if your dreams have been stifled by the other.

Whatever you do, DO NOT bring children into this world if you both aren't 100% happy with the goals that you've BOTH set together.  You will only be doing a disservice to the children because they complicate and change a relationship immensely.  If one of you resents the other for their career choice, it affects children.  It's also a recipe for divorce.  And divorce with children is disastrous. 

Your post really hits home for me.   It boils down to what tolerance level you have for self sacrifice. I had a great job. Loved it! Traveled around the world, worked on billion dollar (no exaggeration) defense tech development, and interacted with amazing peers on out of this world projects. My wife, on the other hand, was stuck in a job she didn't care for and was not excited about her future.

More to the point, she is incredibly gifted in mathematics and science. I'm just good at them because I worked at it. I had a good career but she has the potential for far more. Taking my ego out of the equation, it was obvious that the best thing for our family was for her to be the number one bread winner and for me as her husband to support her any way I could. A lot of my dreams had to go on the back burner. In fact I had to pretty much redefine my life!

When she got accepted at the Mayo Clinic (Premier medical training facility in the US if not the world) for a free PhD ride in Biomedical Engineering I transferred to what I knew would be the end of the line in my own engineering career. It was. After her graduation we moved to someplace I didn't want to be but it was the best opportunity for her. Now, I'm a stay at home dad, home schooling my kids, and keeping the home life steady so she and the kids can reach their max potential. Never in my life dreamed I'd be doing any of that!

Self sacrifice is a hard way of life, sometimes. It can be a tight rope walk between sacrifice and door mat. Never felt like one personally, but I know it is difficult for some men to give up themselves. It sometimes stings when I think about what I gave up. Then again, when I look at all my wife has achieved personally and professionally since our marriage, and at what fantastic adults our children are becoming, I see it was the best for all and if it cost me anything, in the end, it really was very little.


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