“When I was looking at possible career choices, my wife told me she did not want me to pursue an occupation in sales. Her father had been a salesperson and had experienced severe stress over his finances for the majority of her life. With her desire in mind, I was careful in choosing my major. How do you feel about directing your spouse’s career path?” the Professor asked.
I thought about my experience with Ben’s career choice.
Ben and I were both in school when we married. He was just starting and I was almost half way finished. Because of this unique arrangement, my opinion on Ben’s career choice was highly valued. I had only one stipulation: he could not choose a career in which he would travel excessively.
It might seem mean or unfair that I was so forceful in my opinion, yet I know how I become when Ben leaves town. A day or two before his departure, I become moody and unreachable. I lash out at him for little things. I am surly and unapproachable. When he does leave, it gets worse. Arguments abound and jealousy ensues. Our usually agreeable relationship turns into a cesspool of negativity. Not exactly breeding grounds for a healthy marriage. So, to ensure that our marriage stay intact, I knew the remedy: a career that would not require traveling.
With this in mind, Ben originally decided to pursue a doctorate in Psychology. Sure this required a lot of school, but I knew this job would not require too much travel.
A semester into his undergrad, he felt dissatisfied with psychology. He was unsure what other course to take, so he continued in his chosen path. That next semester, though, he began looking into other things. When he started looking into becoming a pilot, I became weary. He asked my opinion on it and I told him I didn’t think it was a good idea.
“Why?” he asked.
“Because, it would require that you be gone frequently. You know my feelings on that. You also know how I become when you do leave.”
The reminder was enough to help him look elsewhere.
(You might be curious how I will hold up while he is in medical school. It is different. Maybe in a future post I will explain why.)
In answer to my professor’s question, I feel a career choice is a joint decision. Choosing employment that may leave one or both spouses feeling overwhelmed is not a good idea. In the end, employment is something the whole family will work at together.
How would you have responded to the question?