I found you through the Wine and Sass podcast and love your blog! I hope you can help me. My husband and I have lived in Chicago for three years and before that we were in New York City for two years and Dallas for just over a year. The reason we move around so much is because he chases after some “dream job” and then once he gets it things never seem to work out.
I am a technical writer with several regular clients so I can work from home, meaning the moving around does not affect my career. I have always been very supportive of my husband and I want him to find the right position, but last weekend he told me he was talking to a company in Portland for yet another “dream job.” Hey – we can be friends! 😉
But Robin, I like Chicago, I’ve made a lot of friends here and and I’ve never even been to Oregon. More important, we have finally gotten pregnant (been trying for two years) and I don’t want to continue this pattern of getting settled in and then leaving different cities.
I’m really struggling. My mom is old school (never worked and always did whatever my dad told her to do) and says I need to support my husband, meaning move wherever he wants to move. I’m resentful of this latest plan and don’t want to leave Chicago. Any advice for this screwed up couple?
Dear Chicago Girl:
Oh boy. I really feel for you, honey.
There is a big difference between people who are pushed by their problems and those who are led by their dreams. I think your husband believes he is in the latter group, when the facts as you relayed them to me via email last week would seem to indicate he is in the former.
Thank you for giving me the additional information because it’s pretty important: it’s not just that these jobs “don’t work out,” is it? No – he gets fired because he has a very bad “communication style,” also known as yelling profanities at co-workers when he becomes frustrated or angry.
Given his temper I’m surprised he keeps getting job offers, but these days employers are reluctant to say much to each other about former employees for fear of being sued. I know that’s what kept me working as a lawyer for 16 years…
The first thing I wanted to know was: does he have this hair-trigger anger problem at home? Because if he does, you may want to check into the gestation limits for pregnancy termination in Illinois and file for divorce.
You swore to me he is never like that at home, and I’ll take you at your word. What that means is your husband is clearly not happy in his chosen profession, and no amount of moving around the country for different jobs is going to change that. I do believe the folks in Alcoholics Anonymous call this type of behavior “pulling a Geographic.”
The Avett Brothers wrote a beautiful song on just this subject, so why don’t you open this link in a separate window and listen to it while you read my advice? The Weight of Lies
First off, don’t listen to your mother. Listen to your new mother…me…the Mother of all Mothers.
I’m sure she’s a lovely woman but she’s got her ass firmly planted in 1956 and as such is not qualified to give you advice unless she is sharing her thoughts on sitting at home and doing nothing for 30 years.
Before your husband makes any solid plans to pull this latest Geographic, he needs some time with you in a therapist’s office and several meetings with a career counselor. After three moves, he cannot expect you to continue pulling up stakes every time you start to get comfortable in a new city, especially now that you have a baby on the way.
Here’s my advice in AskDesCamp Advice-by-Numbers format:
1. Ask your doctor and your friends for a referral to a family therapist and make an appointment for you both. When you call the therapist, ask for referrals to career counselors.
When you check out the career counselor ask him or her if they have former clients who are willing to speak with you about their services. After all, you don’t want your husband to seek guidance from someone who doesn’t know what the hell they are doing. *ahem*
2. Sit your husband down and make your thoughts known both privately and then with the marriage counselor. I’d be very specific regarding your concerns about his job-hopping, what you think it means about his chosen career path, how it has impacted you and your fears for how it will affect your child if it continues.
You told me you loved New York and didn’t want to leave, yet you said nothing. To “get back” at him for accepting a job without discussing it with you first (that was a crappy and thoughtless thing to do, by the way), you withheld sex for the first few weeks after he delivered the news. That sort of passive-aggressive bullshit is not fair to your husband and it certainly won’t help your relationship.
3. Show him this blog, in which I opine that the dude is definitely in the wrong field and needs to explore what professions will be more satisfying to him and make him less prone to be that jerk at the office everyone hates because they can’t keep their shit together.
Assuming your husband is dead-set on moving to my fair city, you’ve got two terrible choices: stay in Chicago and have the baby on your own, or move to Portland even though you don’t want to.
My gut tells me your husband won’t make this decision without your consent once he hears you out. Maybe when you find out more about the job you will believe it is a good move, because it’s possible he is already aware of his career fumbles and this position is more well-suited to his goals and talents. However, my gut has been wrong on two or three occasions, especially last weekend when I ignored the Portland “boil water” warning.
If he can’t convince you the move to Portland is a good one and tells you he is moving with or without you and the little Nugget of Love residing in your belly, I’ve got some bad news for you:
I don’t know how your marriage could survive if you moved to Portland against your wishes and solely because he forced your hand by threatening to leave you. In that case, I’d stay in Chicago and start over without him.
P.S. If you change your mind and you move to Portland, look me up. It’s a great city and I’d be happy to show you around.