As I ruminate over the possibility of accepting an offer from a great company and moving to the West Coat, I can’t help but stress over the potential life change that would come with a move of that magnitude.
I have a great life now. Friendly coworkers, a beautiful home, relaxed lifestyle, and most importantly a supportive fiancé.
My fiancé and I have had many conversations about the move and we’re still not any closer to figuring out what he would do when we moved. We are worried that it would slow down his career progression.
I Regret Prioritizing My Career Over His
I have put the brakes on my fiancé’s career twice over the past four years.
A few months into our relationship, my fiancé had landed a one-year dream internship in the Midwest.
He cut that internship short and only stayed for three months so that he could accept a full-time job back in the state I was living in. We had just started dating and it was fairly critical to our relationship for us to be in the same place.
Just a year ago, my fiancé received a second opportunity to work at that employer but it was full-time.
He did not pursue the opportunity since we were prioritizing my career at the time. I was on the fast-track at my company, starting to make well-over six figures, and we thought it was best to stay where we are and focus on my job for the time being.
Now we’re about to prioritize my career for the third time. I’m hoping that luck comes through for us and he gets an amazing full-time job offer on the West Coast but it’s extremely difficult in his field.
Staying in his current job is not much better for him either. He really needs the freedom to move to whatever part of the country will offer the best opportunity.
Most of the spouses to people in his field follow their spouse all over the country as they chase their dream. They support them as they work their way up from the bottom to a top position in the field.
I haven’t done that. We made a decision to prioritize the money I could make in my job over his career success. And I regret that.
Being the Female Breadwinner is Hard
I’m about to get a bit controversial in this post but hopefully it will create good discussion. I hate being the female breadwinner lately. Never thought I would say that, ever.
When I was a little kid, people used to tell me jokingly “marry rich” and I would reply “I’m going to be rich and someone is going to want to marry me!”
That has always been my philosophy, until recently. I was so proud when I first broke 6-figures in my job and then pushed well past that in recent years.
I loved the power of having the money to buy what I wanted, when I wanted. I also liked taking care of my fiancé. Being the “sugarmama” felt good!
I’m kind of over that now. While we view our money as a joint pot and not separate accounts, we still have the elephant in the room when it comes to finances.
It’s that elephant that forces us to choose my job over his. Working in technology is extremely high paying. Working in his field is highly rewarding but not high-paying relative to IT.
The Added Pressure
There is also added pressure that comes with being the breadwinner. My income supports our lifestyle. What we should have done was choose a lifestyle that we could contribute to 50/50 but we didn’t and now it’s created this monstrosity that I feel responsible for maintaining. It also makes him feel bad at times when I’m always picking up the check.
If we had prioritized his career over mine a few years ago, we wouldn’t be in this position. We wouldn’t be as well off financially but he would be in a better place with his career. Our incomes might be more equal.
I would never go back in time and change anything since our decisions have led to great success professionally and personally – I’m engaged to my best friend – but maybe we can change the decisions we make from here on out.
The Ticking Biological Clock
Also, I’m turning 27 this weekend and my biological clock is starting to enter my mind.
There was a time in my late teen years when I didn’t believe in having kids. I was one of those women that wanted to focus on their career and having kids seemed to slow that down.
Sometime in the last decade my mind has changed and I want kids. Maybe not at 27 but at some point in the next five years. And shockingly, I want to stay home with them!
I remember freshman year of college having a conversation with one of my friends about our career aspirations. I wanted to be a CEO. She wanted to be a stay at home mom. My mouth opened in shock. What?! You’re going to this incredible school to just waste it to stay at home?!
Well flash forward a decade and it turns out that I am right there with her. I want to be a stay at home mom too!
Maybe I won’t stay away from working forever or I may run something entrepreneurial part-time while I am at home but I definitely don’t want to be the breadwinner in a cubicle with the stress of our lifestyle hanging over my head every day.
I also know better than to share my goals in the office. I heard someone one time go into the pros and cons of promoting one young woman into management and on the cons list was that she wanted to be a stay at home mom!
So for anyone who asks me at work – I plan on working when I have children!
Feeling like I’m Giving Up
I’m a big fan of Sheryl Sandberg and love “Lean In.”
I’m in the Women’s Business Network at work.
I attended the Grace Hopper Celebration this past October which is one of the largest gatherings of women in technology in the world.
I also try to be extremely supportive of the women that report to me and try to encourage their career growth.
Am I giving up and being hypocritical by stepping out of the race just because it’s hard? I don’t even have kids yet!
I don’t know.
What I do know is that I want more freedom and flexibility in my job while also continuing to achieve success. Do those have to be two opposite paths?
From what I have seen so far of corporate America, they do.
These feelings have led me to pursue financial independence even harder. I want to work on my terms.
Our Dreams of Financial Independence
My fiancé and I both have dreams of financial independence but he wants to keep working much longer than I do. So if we are going to prioritize one career, it should be his, right? He will be the one providing the income during the years I don’t work (or in the years that I work for myself).
I guess we could prioritize my career in the short term to save money and then prioritize his career in the years leading up to when I stop working but figuring out when to switch from prioritizing my career to his career is tricky.
Ideally we should prioritize both careers right now but that would require us living apart and neither of us want to be in a long-distance relationship when we’re getting married at the end of this year. I guess it wouldn’t be so bad if it was short-term but it certainly adds risk to our engagement.
Also, moving up in his career would require a substantial pay cut short-term for a potential long-term pay off. I will have to suffer from “female breadwinner” problems for just a little bit longer.
In that time, I will likely pay off his student loans and support his housing and food while he pursues his dreams in another state. I am fine with that but hoping it’s just short term. Is it wrong to want to be taken care of too? 😉
I don’t know what to do. We’re at a bit of a crossroads and we have lots of thinking to do.
So those are my first-world problems. Sorry for offending anyone! Hoping to start a good discussion in the comments.
Is anyone else in this boat? What are your thoughts?
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