The right balance between career and personal life is hard to find. If your partner doesn’t support your career dreams, it’s even more challenging.
There are many priorities in life, but two of the highest on the list for many are our partner and our career. When your relationship with your partner is going well and your career path is on track, life can feel pretty good.
But what happens when those two things are at odds and your partner doesn’t support your career dreams?
Lack of support from your partner when it comes to your career can cause problems, and resolving them is not always easy. In fact, having to make a choice between your career and your relationship can lead to the end of one or both of those things.
However, there are some steps you can take to resolve this problem and make the transition to a new career easier for you and your partner.
No matter the reasons, when your career and relationship are on opposing sides, there can be tension.
The threat of change, and what it might mean, can be uncomfortable and difficult for your partner to come to terms with. Approaching your partner’s lack of support in the right way can be key to being able to resolve it.
But before you determine a strategy for getting things back in balance, consider trying to understand why your partner is unsupportive in the first place.
There are a variety of reasons they might be resistant to your career change. Some common ones include:
If you’re passionate about your career, your partner may feel like you prioritize your job over them. Consider how you balance career and personal time, and ask yourself the following questions:
- Do you, or will you, have to travel a lot?
- Do you have a lot of late nights?
- Do you often need to entertain clients? (This can be a big one for the stay behind partner).
- Do you break plans because of work, or are you too tired from work to spend time with your partner?
- Does the next step mean moving?
If the answers to any of these questions are “yes,” then your partner may feel their spot in your life is threatened by your job.
When work gets busy or requires you to be away from your partner or family, it can create an imbalance at home. This may leave your partner with more than their share of the responsibilities for family or home duties, or having to change their schedule in order to accommodate yours.
If your partner isn’t experiencing success in their career like you are, or feels stuck and unhappy, they may feel jealous of what you have and your passion for it.
Concern for your safety
Depending on your line of work, your partner may have a genuine concern for your physical safety or mental health. This can often be seen in the partners of first responders.
They don’t take it seriously
Your partner may think your job is not important or can be easily dismissed. If so, changes and advancements in your career may be met with a lack of interest or a belittling attitude.
It may seem like any issue your partner has with your career is theirs to solve, but as with anything that affects your relationship, it’s not — it’s both of yours. So, understanding what’s at the heart of their lack of support will determine the path forward to a positive resolution.
Once you have an idea why your partner doesn’t support your career dreams, you can try to figure out what to do about it. Here are some do’s and don’ts for guidance:
- listen to their concerns and take them to heart
- empathize with their fears
- be clear about your career dreams and plans to achieve them
- explain the importance these dreams have for you
- involve them in your decision making
- know what you’re willing to give up, not give up, and compromise on
- approach things in a combative or defensive manner
- dismiss their concerns
- use ultimatums
- give up your dreams completely
This is likely to be a difficult conversation, but the degree of difficulty will vary depending on the reasons your partner is opposed to your career and your ability to ease their concerns. How well you and your partner are able to communicate will also play a role.
It’s possible for a conversation (probably several) like this to reach an impasse. You can help them along by being clear in your own mind about what you’re prepared to give up or not give up.
The last thing you want to contend with is resentment in your relationship or regret in your work life.
Making compromises and sacrifices in any relationship is natural. Determining how these are achieved is tough, and if done poorly, can leave you or both of you feeling like you’ve lost too much.
This can be particularly true when making a choice between your partner and your career. The right level of compromise for you and your partner will depend on you, your circumstances, and timing.
For instance, if you have young kids, being willing to wait a couple of years for them to get older before taking on more at work could make a difference in your partner’s response.
A healthy relationship and satisfying and rewarding career can be possible. Shorting either one can result in resentment, lack of fulfillment, and potentially depression.
You know you’re on the right track to finding balance when you both feel heard, part of the plan, and no one feels like a “winner” or “loser.” Instead, you both feel respected and secure in where you’re going together.