Post # 1
For most of us, career and our relationship/family are the two most important things in our lives right now. We’re sort of in that stage where you work hard on developing your career and this also coincides with settling down with a partner. This being the case, it seems that sometimes the career and the relationship might come into conflict.
For me, this is a particularly pressing issue because I’ve deferred so much for career, including my personal life. Case in point. Last week, I was blind-sided with an offer to apply for an additional year of fellowship training. Fellowship pays very poorly, requires long hours, and requires coursework. I had to decide in a short period of time whether that or my planned job was going to be best for 1) my career 2) my relationship. (And no, the priorities aren’t necessarily in the order presented).
So, I spent a week in an existential crisis about what was best for me as a person, me as a partner, and my partner.
After a lot of soul searching, I made a decision. For the first time in my life, I made a decision that wasn’t necessarily the perfect decision for my career.
It was a scary moment, because it was like getting off a merry-go-round. Maybe this decision is just th efirst in a long string that will lead to limitations in my career. Maybe it was just the right choice for now… for where we’re at as a couple.
Regardless, I imagine many of us are grappling with similar choices and are trying to find that sweet spot where career and life are in perfect balance.
Is there anyone else out there who can relate? Have you had to make hard choices about career and relationship that tipped the balance?
Post # 3
I don’t know if I’ve made any huge choices, but I do know that my relationship hasn’t always won the tug-of-war. For instance, even though I only get one day off (a day that Fiance is working), I work two jobs. It gives me more credibility in my field and it helps pay the bills. But not seeing him sucks. I’ve had to commit more time to work and take time from him a lot lately. But in the long run, it helps US.
Post # 4
Yes. I was a big firm lawyer and changed my life (long story, best left for another time), not because of a relationship, but because I needed to do it for myself. But I can totally relate to the feeling of "getting off the merry-go-round." It is terrifying! But good for you for making that decision.
Will have to watch your friends and peers accomplish things you would also love to do? Yes. But you only have one life, and you have to live it according to your own priorities. It sounds like you know what you want out of life — work/life balance.
I have found what I once considered "sacrifices" (including moving across the country for BubblyGroom’s career) have not been sacrifices at all. Eventually, I have come to realize that the decisions I’ve made have opened doors and made my life infinitely richer in the process.
I would say it’s hard to be a professional woman, but it’s hard for young men as well. Maybe not necessarily because of a relationship, but at a certain point, a man also has to decide exactly how much energy he is going to pour into his career. I have seen workaholism destroy people’s lives.
Post # 5
I have made some life choices in a career and a partner. I am the opisite which would be i am in the other persons shoes. I work 5 days 8 hours a day. He works 5 hours some days and others 12 and get the juggle around his plans first. His work comes first. I crush hard on this cause i am eating healthy and trying to make a healthy living as well. But his jobs seems to live it easy and also get great rewards for his position. Unlike me i have to earn it and pretned i enjoy it when infact i dont enjoy it cause i never get the reward. I am waiting for his needs and waiting on what he wants for dinner. I am not too busy to spend great amounts of time with him, as he is with me. His work comes first i come second. For instince tonight, hes out working till 930 i know i shouldnt be all in a tiffy, but he sits and walks a bit and talks. Sales man, cars. He likes his cars he talks nothing but his cars, and his clients come first. Selfish, ME? Yea i wish i could call it that, more like innoying and self centered. His attitude when he first started was cashe, and cool. Then it got flashy and big headed. Come on i say this has to give a break sometime. But i am not to sure if this job is going to make a better person outta him. I think he needs some Direction. I still love him and i alwatys will, but as for careers they suck, when you dont have the skills to be the cats meow. prrrrrrr
Post # 6
Wow. Talk about synchronicity.
I’ve been going through a very similar dilemma at the moment – with the key difference being that I’m not yet established in my career. For years, I’ve assumed that I would go into academia. My fiance is also an academic. For us to be together now (as opposed to a decade, perhaps, from now), I would have to make some sacrifices school-wise; for us to start a family relatively soon, even more sacrifices. And for what? The academic job market in the humanities is in a sad state at best. Worst-case scenario is that for us to live in the same town I’ll be unemployed and saddled with an enormous amount of debt.
So… yeah. I guess I’m at the other end of the tunnel. On the one hand, I can work my tail off to maybe, possibly, just-might land a tenure-track position at a reputable school and then slow down later to start a family, possibly regretting getting off the merry-go-round after I’ve invested all of that work.
On the other hand, I can just not get on that merry-go-round in the first place.
What’s a girl to do?
I think in your case, you know where your abilities lie and just what you’re capable of. For me, that would give me a lot of satisfaction (particularly if I’ve been successful!), and would possibly make it easier to slow down a bit later.
Also… partnership is, by definition, learning that it isn’t all about us as individual people. As women we’re trained to go for the loftiest goal around and not let anyone get in our way, but at the end of the day personal achievement isn’t everything – but personal satisfaction is.
It sounds like you made the right decision for your life. Just know you’re not alone in the struggle!
Post # 7
I decided not to go to medical school because I chose my Fiance over my career. I really wanted to be a dermatologist or orthopedist. Instead, I salvaged what was left of a pre-med chemistry degree (with lots of biology to boot) to become a materials engineer. Sometimes I wish I’d still gone with what I wanted, but I also know we probably wouldn’t have stuck it out for 4 years of long distance medical school plus internship plus fellowship. And, when I take advantage of flex time and paid holidays and 2 weeks off at Christmas, well, it’s awfully nice. It still pays well, but I do feel like I’m missing something sometimes. It’s a trade off I guess! Looking back, this was probably the *right* choice because I have to have kids very soon, and being 25 in medical school popping out 2 or 3 babies right after the other to save yourself from cancer would probably have been too much. I COULDN’T push a family back, and this is a recent discovery
No, you aren’t alone!
Post # 8
Sorry, your feeling the baby stress, EJS. You’re so young. Good luck. (And happy trying. )
Wow, I’m kind of glad or this thread. I often feel like I got off that merry-go-round. I left my job to go across country with my husband. I left work to stay home with the kids. Sure, I love my kids, but it’s hard to see other women working and having those kinds of relationships, and experiences. Not to mention, the sense of independence having a paycheck. Ugg. But I tried the whole work/daycare bit. It sucked. So this arrangement works out best for the family.
Post # 9
Thanks, Tanya. Yeah it sucks, but like I told my Fiance, the longer the idea marinates in my head, the more i get used to it. So i’ll have kids and be done by the time i’m 28 probably and he knows i can’t just stop enjoying my life b/c of it. At least i’ll be young and I’m settled with a good job and a house! And if we can’t conceive, we are very open to alternative methods of expanding our family. In a lot of ways, it prompted a lot of healthy discussion between the two of us and we really talked "family" stuff. So we made it a positive.
This is a good thread. I’m glad to know i’m not the only one. My parents pushed "job first" on me so much, and it was a really difficult decision when i decided that I became WE and my Fiance became that important. I got reamed on the phone on a 2 hr drive to St Louis about how I’d be poor (a poor engineer?! wtf) and how 60K a year (each, mind you) was *pennies* to live on in our 20’s and how nobody would respect me and how stupid i was for passing up the opportunity to be a doctor and be rich. My dad actually wanted me to be a plastic surgeon, lol. Nevermind i’d be paying loans until my 40’s, right? Ugh. It was a nightmare and I still look back and shake my head at their craziness.
So ultimately I feel like a cop-out for choosing my Fiance before me. But at some point that’s how it should be, right? Happy home life is better than a happy job with a miserable home life. Kudos if you can balance it! It’s just nice to know other people have struggled with this.
Post # 10
This is great because I hear your stories and I think everyone is making totally reasonable decisions.
The fact of the matter is that I’m still looking for academic positions for 2010, but instead of being a hard-core clinician-scientist, I’ll probably become a clinician-educator. I want to spend the first year of our marriage having time to spend with my husband. Writing a career development award wouldn’t really be conducive to that!
@EJS- I’m glad that you have the opportunity to have kids now! We, like you, are open to expanding our family in other ways like adoption, but it is nice to have the option to try as well.
@Cellardoor- my favorite professor (anthropology) right now said that the best thing that people in the humanities can do right now is to start a phd program, because by the time they get out, the economy will have firmed up and there will be positions available again 😉
Post # 11
There have been a couple times when I’ve chosen my husband over career paths. In college, I wanted to be an academic. My degree is actually in literature, and I was convinced that I would go straight to grad school and start looking for tenure immediately, nevermind if this meant pushing off the wedding for years (and years and years…). After we graduated, we knew my husband (an engineer) would have a much greater earning potential than me, so we chose a couple towns with my top schools and he started applying. We received several job and school offers, but when it came down to it, his best opportunity was in a little tourist town far away from the major grad school programs I was considering. I gave up immediate grad school opportunities to move 14 hours away to a place I am still not able to call "home."
Right now, I’m reevaluting my career path, and while I think library sciences would be a good fit for me (intellectual environment, kid-friendly working hours, publishing opportunities), there aren’t many jobs in this area. My husband is adamant that we could move for my dream job, but by that time we could have kids already and be established in this community. Plus, my husband’s career track at would eventually put him in the top position at our company, and he would make twice as much as he could anywhere else.
When it comes down to it, I would probably choose family (husband and kids) over achieving my top career goals. The fact is that I feel more fulfilled by my husband than I would in a job, even my dream job. He takes care of all my needs, not just my intellectual/career ones. Though I know I will sacrifice in the future (and have in the past) for our relationship, I know that those sacrifices won’t mean as much in the long run. And my husband would make and has made the same tough choices aboutfamily over career. So it’s not like I’m going this alone. 🙂 All in all, I think this is a totally personal choice, but for me, my husband and I have to come first. I married him because my life would be meaningless without him. To take that kind of relationship and say "Oh, now that I made this committment to you I am going to go pursue some other fulfillment" just won’t work. It’s not what I signed up for!
Post # 12
Have you considered distance education from a major university? It’s pricey but it might be a sound alternative.
I work full time and it’s the ONLY way I can swing an engineering masters from Purdue and an MBA from a top 20 business school. Some companies pay for higher level education, like mine!!!
@doctorgirl, yes, you’re right! It really was important to us that we try to have our own if we can. If not, that’s another thing. But, waiting around to "see" if i got cancer or not seemed like a dangerous game of cat and mouse and nothing is worth that. Especially not a job.
Post # 13
Assuming you’re talking to me ejs… yes, a distance learning program is my next step. I have been looking at online masters programs in library sciences for a few months now, and I’ve found a few I’m interested in. The good thing about MLS is that everything is so technologically-based now, so almost all programs have a real focus on database and computer program learning. There are a ton of distance options from really reputable schools. 🙂 Although my company won’t pay for my masters since it’s in a totally different field (I work in hr), they will be compensating my husband for his masters in environmental engineering and an MBA if he decides to go that route.
The only problems comes in when I start looking for job opportunities. But we’re trying to just take it one step at a time and continuously reevaluate where we are and where we want to be. Eventually the time may come when we move so that I can pursue a librarian job, but I think if that never happens I will still feel happy about my choices. I guess it just comes down to the fact that, when I look back on my life, I am putting money on the fact that I will be more fulfilled by my husband and kids than I ever will be by my career. I think that’s a pretty safe bet.
Post # 14
Mrs. Spring, when I was still in the sciences I worked with a PhD student who was located in Portland but completing her PhD from UC Davis. It’s much more flexible once you’re working on your PhD instead of your Master’s; she took a trip down there every couple of months to meet with her advisor but that was it – she was able to raise a family with her husband back home in Portland.
Actually, her relationship is the epitome of work/family balance: they were long-distance for two years while she got her MA in education, then he moved with her for an internship, then she moved with him once he started med school, then they were long-distance again while she had to do her coursework in Davis.
Sheesh. But they’re motivated folks… my fiance and I are long-distance right now, and there’s no way I’d sign up for it for even one more year!
Post # 15
I really like this post. My situation is slightly different but definitely a work/life balance issue.
Fiance and I have been together for like 6.5 years, and upon graduating from college I immediately went into grad school. we lived 6 hours apart and it was tough. Then I moved slightly closer and worked for a woman who basically has my dream job… PR in arts and culture. The only thing was … that was ALL she does. She had been engaged twice (and I never pryed on the situation so I don’t know what happened) but she truly is a workaholic. That being said, I knew after a year there that I needed to be closer to Fiance and I moved to DC. Then after almost a year of being there (and getting laid off), he was transferred to a new job in SF. That is SF, California! So basically I have a masters degree, kick butt at what a do, but feel that I’m getting less feedback from prospective jobs in CA because I’ve moved in the last couple of years. But, I really don’t care too much because for me my Fiance trumps anything I can do professionally. This feeling might change (especially depending on how long I’m out of work) but I’m rolling with the punches right now and I know I need to be closer to Fiance.
Post # 16
Yes DG I understand quite well. And I also was one of those who did not go to medical school b/c my xh said we didn’t need the money..now he’s my xh btw. I wish I had.
Anyhow, I have a great careeer now, in a medical specialty and it’s good. Solid. And have quite alot of experience too. A few years back I was our state president for my society (medical) and lobbied alot for a certain educational program to begin that would elevate my profession further and give us much better salaries and the opportunities to finally be recognized for the fact many of us (including myself) do far beyond the mere job description for our profession.
Fast forward to one week ago. I found out the master’s program in my specialty, the one I worked so hard to get passed, HAS passed and that my alumni university where I graudated from is the first in the country to have the program.
this suddenly hit home. Here I sat. The woman in my state who made noise about this all along and now I’m like..oh no..here comes two years of my life and life as an intern. But the program is also able to (this is what they say in theory) hold down a full time job and also do the program. Geez Louise! How in the heck can I be a mom and a future wife and work a full time job and also work on this degree?
I am also at a crossroads and quite confused.