My husband has a job working in an industry that he loves but at a company he dislikes. Unfortunately, in order for him to work at a company that he also loves, we are probably going to have to move. This is a problem to me for a few reasons.
1. We have moved once for his career and I hated it. I spent ten months trying to find a job, trying to make friends, failing at both, and became increasingly depressed.
2. I genuinely love the city we live in now. I moved away for awhile, and I missed it so much. We’ve only been back for a few months, and I am really upset at the prospect of leaving.
Right now I’m still unemployed (ugh) so technically, if he got a better job elsewhere I could go. But I’m worried I will hate the new place and the old no job/no friends/depression will repeat.
He’s generally more concerned about finding the perfect job and furthering his career. I’m generally more concerned about living in a place I like and having friends. I knew this would be an issue in our marriage but he really downplayed it. I think it is okay to say I would be willing to move to A,B,C, but not D,E,F (for example), but he is starting to get annoyed and say that he wants to be able to move wherever his career will take him. I can’t figure out how to make it work. Gah.
Sorry. I’m gonna tell you what I hate for my mechanic to say to me: put your husband on the phone, sweetie, I need to talk to him.
Marriage, along with all of the nice, squishy, wonderful stuff that we talk about on here all the time, also means that you’re stuck considering someone else’s feelings every time you make a major decision. That same team that makes you capable of conquering the world, is the reason you need to call home before you set off to do it. It would be just lovely for me to be able to say, “Mm hm, honey, you go ahead and don’t let anything stand in the way of your goals.” But, you’re married now. And agreeing to stick with someone during rich/poor and better/worse means you both have a say in deciding how that plays out.
So, basically, Husband. Suck it up. It’s not all about you.
And that doesn’t mean that you two necessarily need to decide to stay where you are and ignore career goals and “just get over” terrible job situations. It just means you two need to decide. Both of your feelings on the matter are equally valuable and merit consideration. Even if it’s “his” job, it’s still “our” decision.
Alright, Anonymous, you can come back on the line now so the three of us can start tackling this to find a reasonable compromise (or, more likely, determine who bites the bullet). You could start with the classic 90s sitcom favorite: the pros and cons list. Are there any factors other than just crappy job vs. lack of friends? Could he feasibly find a better job where you live now? Could you possibly find a way to take up a social hobby and make friends if you move? Are there some factors that weigh more heavily than others (for example, if you’re not able to pay rent unless he moves for a job)?
Like you mentioned, both of you can start setting parameters for your compromises. Your example of, “I’m willing to move here, but not here,” sounds like a good start. Another that he might be willing to consider is to set time limits, like, “I’ll hang around here, but if I don’t find a good job in this area within six months, we’ve gotta look somewhere else.”
You could also work out the worst-case scenarios of all the different possibilities. What will you both do if he stays here but can’t find a good job in his field? What will you both do if you move, and you end up depressed?
Notice the “both” I used there. Because, if he’s unhappy at work, that’s your problem as much as his. And if you’re feeling lonely and disconnected, that his problem as well as yours. That’s the other thing about teams. If either one of you is independently miserable, it’s bad for you both. That’s the sort of thing that breeds resentment and a terrible sex-life and yeah, divorce.
But before we jump to big scary “D” words, the real question is, has this happened yet? Has someone made him a job offer, forcing the decision of to-move-or-not? Or, is this just hypothetical future talks? Maybe for right now, you can agree to expand the job search, while still discussing what would happen next, before you make the definite decision to move. That’s a tricky line to walk, of course, so you want to make sure to keep discussing things as they unfold.
Honestly, it’s not an easy thing. But, whatever decision you make right here and now isn’t necessarily determining the rest of your life. And, sometimes you need to have one or two terrible years as a stepping-stone toward something better. No matter what little tricks and tips I give you for discussion and compromise, there’s a good chance that one of you will end up with the shitty end of the stick—at least for now. In the best teams, the shitty end is shared or gets passed back and forth in shifts, both people taking the brunt of crappy situations for the sake of adulthood and bills. Even though it sometimes sucks, that really is one of the best parts of marriage: sharing the shit.
Somebody write that into their vows for me?
Team Practical, how do you compromise on the big decisions when it seems you’re in a stalemate?
Photo by APW sponsor Gabriel Harber.
If you would like to ask Team Practical a question please don’t be shy! You can email Liz at: askteampractical [at] apracticalwedding [dot] com. If you would prefer to not be named, anonymous questions are also accepted. Though it really makes our day when you come up with a clever sign-off!