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I am a 32 year-old woman living with my boyfriend Chris for 6 years. We are very committed and in love and both have chosen against marriage.
When we first began dating Chris was finishing law school and I was well into an established career and clientele I built as a hairstylist in New York. We discussed his plans to move to Chicago and I was willing to move after he passed the Illinois bar.
The Chicago legal market was bad. He found contract work (not enough) but I was supporting us financially which was fine! He didn’t like the work much either.
Then he was offered a good job in Seattle. We moved again and I began working with a great group of women in a salon there. After a few months he was disenchanted with his boss and looking for something else and we landed in LA.
I quickly built a thriving business and love it here. Chris enjoys his work but loathes his boss, who has been described as a tyrant by many. Although he has been promoted and is doing quite well he doesn’t feel he can go on in that environment. He wants to relocate again. I am completely stunned. I have a stable career and business which can’t just be moved to another city.
I truly want him to be happy and have told him that he needs to do whatever it takes to make his life what he wants it to be. So, if there’s another work environment out there that will support his happiness I want him to have it.
How do I make this decision between losing my love or losing my career. Please help!
(Readers, as I reported Monday my hand is severely f-ed up from a burn. I saw a doctor and while he confirmed I do not have an infection in the bones of my hand, I did do damage to the tendons. We are talking about quite a burn with a high smoke-point oil. The halibut was delicious but the nearly three weeks of misery is not. Typing is still very painful so today I go in search of dictation software, because the blog must continue. In the meantime, this is a re-run. Just typing this paragraph has left me with a very tired and sore right hand and wrist. If you are a weirdo and want to see a photo, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org!)
As you can see from reading my version of your letter above, I had to do a massive edit. Your original email was about three times as long and filled with an odd combination of wringing self-doubt and bold confidence in your new business.
My audience and management team is on my ass to be brief and I let you use up most of the words today, so I’ll sum it up for you nicely in one sentence and then I’ll blather on incessantly for a while.
Your relationship will never be happy until your partner admits law school was probably a mistake, identifies his calling, and seeks it in Los Angeles.
Cynthia, you have been supportive to the point of ridiculousness.
You are not a military wife who signed up for a life lived out of moving boxes with transient connections both personal and professional. You are an accomplished businesswoman whose livelihood depends upon local and loyal clientele.
Stop perseverating over his career satisfaction and happiness and focus more upon your own.
Stop fooling yourself.
Stop Fooling Myself?
Cynthia, I speak from personal experience when I tell you Chris is not the unlucky fellow he believes himself to be, hopping from shit pile to shit pile and blaming the dog who left it there instead of walking the ample feces-free path of another career choice.
I can barely count on both hands the number of legal jobs I had before finally giving it up to chase this crazy writing gig and Divorce Consulting and Mediation Company.
A professional job-hopper with a penchant for playing the Blame Game, I was sure every job I left, always on the worst of terms, would have been a great fit if it just weren’t for ________________.
Fill in the blank.
My boss, my co-workers, the company, the commute. Whatever.
Chris Isn’t a Happy Lawyer.
Instead of facing the uncomfortable truth he may have wasted three years and $120,000 on law school, Chris is “pulling a geographic” by moving from city to city, job to job, hopping and hoping that next time, at the next job, things will be different.
Until Chris does a deep dive on his career goals, what makes him happy and gives him purpose (and what does not), his ennui will follow him everywhere he goes, and you as well.
How many times can you pick up and move, Cynthia? How many client lists will you start over from scratch in an unfamiliar city with no friends to support you?
There Is Another Choice.
Your question to me was posited as one of you having a choice: lose your business or lose your love. The 5,000 pound gorilla here is that you should have to lose neither and that the choice you articulated is not the only one before you.
If he loves you and considers you an equal partner, Chris will make his way in your latest adopted city in deference to your success and your prior moves on his behalf.
If he stands firm that you both should move for him, you won’t have to guess at what will happen because your life has been and will continue to be a series of re-runs with the predictability of a Perry Mason episode: always a little different but with the same elements.
Behold your future:
- Chris lands new job and you both move with optimism about his latest opportunity;
- You work your ass off getting a new business together, finding clients, and making friends;
- After a few months Chris starts to grumble over dinner that his boss is a jerk and the work does not please him;
- You try your hardest to make him happy at home to dull the pain of his dissatisfaction at work;
- He grows more unhappy and starts to look for another position (and always in another state – what’s up with that?);
- He quits his job and you both move;
- Lather, rinse, repeat.
Advice for Cynthia
Remain where you are and continue your professional development and personal relationships in Los Angeles.
If Chris wants to make your love a priority he will have to do some work to discover why he keeps failing and moving you both from state to state without anything ever changing. He will become good friends with the term “personal responsibility” and own up to the role he has played in his rocky career so far.
A few sit-downs with a therapist, both together and apart, may help clarify things for him and for you both as a couple.
Until he sorts out his life do your own thing and the love, whether from Chris or someone new, will follow.
Readers, what do you think? Sound off in the comments, and please don’t forget to share this with the “sharing” buttons you see below!