Making It Work
The number of dual-career couples is on the rise—and that means that life can get complicated.
Whose job comes first, you or your partner’s? For many couples, this question can come up and cause friction when job demands intrude on family life. When one partner’s job requires a move, things can get really tense. Do you follow or stick with your current job and location and embark on a commuter relationship? How do you make a long-distance relationship work? Throw kids or elderly parents into the mix, and things can get really murky.
There are many factors and circumstances that you need to work through when considering whether to move for your partner’s job.
6 Factors in Moving for One Partner’s Job
1. Impact on the family – Do you have family members in your current location who need you? Are your kids at a stage of life that makes it difficult to move (e.g., young kids so you want the support of family nearby, or high school students about to graduate)?
2. Impact on the other partner’s job – Is your partner okay with leaving his or her current company and role? Can your partner find a job in the new city?
3. Long term career goals – Do you see yourself with this company, industry, and area for the long term? If not, is it worth uprooting yourself and your family for a short period of time?
4. The job and the pay – Is the pay raise or role change enough to offset the moving costs and stress?
5. The new city and area – Can you afford to live there? What are the amenities and schools like? Can you and your family find outlets for your hobbies and interests? What’s the weather like?
6. Your place in the community – You are leaving a community behind—can you build a new community in the new location? Do you make friends easily and handle change well?
Sit down with your partner and map out everything:
• pros and cons to each of your careers;
• pros and cons for your family and your life outside of work;
• cost of the move;
• cost-of-living difference in the new city.
If you only look at the money—and not at your life outside of work—you may make a choice you will regret later. This can be particularly true if your partner gave up his or her life and job back home for the move.
In every industry, you can find couples that make the tough decision to live apart. They travel long distances and are away from home for long periods of time for work. This is especially true for many CLAC members in the construction industry working at remote sites.
Before deciding to take that remote job up north, there are a number of factors to consider and discuss with your partner.
4 Nonmonetary Factors in Long Absences for Work
1. Stage of life – It’s a lot easier to be apart without kids. So for some, working apart is something they do at the beginning of the relationship but cut back on once kids arrive. For workers who share custody with an ex, this is also a consideration.
2. Your partner’s job – Can your partner continue to perform at his or her job while you are away? This again is often tied to family responsibilities, including caring for elderly parents or young children.
3. Distance and time apart – Working a fairly short distance away and being home every weekend is a lot easier to swing for most couples than being gone for several weeks and then home for a week.
4. Your relationship health – If you are going through a rough patch, living apart can exacerbate the issues because your ability to communicate decreases.
4 Things That Make Being Apart Easier
1. Technology – Although some work sites are remote, most long-distance workers find it easier to keep in contact with their families now than 10 years ago.
2. Commitment to communicate – Talk every day. Make it a point—not just something you do if you have time.
3. An endgame – Couples who have a specific date or milestone for ending the remote work tend to experience less anxiety than couples who don’t have an endgame in mind.
4. A support network – The partner at home needs to have family or friends to rely on for help, particularly if you have kids. Otherwise, your partner may feel trapped—working all day, caring for kids in the evening, and not being able to leave the house after work to run errands, grab a coffee with friends, or even get a haircut.
1. The bright side of time apart – You may find that you and your partner enjoy the independence and extra time to explore your own activities. Again, this changes if you have children. For the parent at home with the kids, there is often less independence.
2. Season of adjustment – You may experience a period of friction when your partner returns from a long absence. You have each become used to doing things your own way. Take time to readjust and do things as a couple.
Sources: Harvard Business Review, forbes.com