Three is a crowd in most relationships, but if there are shared financial goals and obligations, your job may be an important part of the party. When your relationship with your job turns rocky or unfulfilling, it can be hard to break the news to your partner that you may need to break up with the steady paycheck that comes with it.
If you’re in a relationship and thinking about making a change in your job or career, here are three recommendations:
1. Communicate Early and Often
Maybe you are an information technology professional who dreams of designing sets for TV shows. Maybe you’re an accountant who wants to become a full-time artist. Whatever your goal happens to be, it may take time, multiple steps, and a lot of support to get there.
If you’re seriously having doubts about your job, career direction, or both, express what you are going through and let your partner be there for you. Stress from work tends to make us short-tempered, depressed, illness-prone, and just generally miserable. Be as honest as you can about how work is making you feel. Your partner may be grateful for the assurance they aren’t the source of your bad moods.
I have noticed that a lot of people tend to believe they are so miserable about their work situation that it’s obvious to everyone, and they feel guilty openly expressing those feelings to their partners. It’s important to keep in mind that your partner has their own stuff running through their head, too, and may not intuit the extent of what you’re experiencing. You’re better off being as open as possible, at the risk of boring them with the details, rather than expecting them to know what you’re going through. No matter how much your partner loves you, they can’t read your thoughts.
2. Don’t Be Afraid to Pursue Something Better
Many of us have had a well-meaning boss say something like, “I can tell you’re not always happy to be here, but I just want to let you know every workplace has its problems. Sure, some may not have our problems, but if you’re looking for nirvana, it doesn’t exist.” I’m pretty sure nirvana is a state of mind rather than an employer, but that’s beside the point.
While it is true every workplace has its challenges, it is also true that some environments are more toxic than others.
While it is true every workplace has its challenges, it is also true that some environments are more toxic than others. (The same could be said for relationships, of course.) It’s not ridiculous to want to find a better fit for you, and if your partner truly cares about you, they will recognize being happy with your work can have positive effects on other aspects of your life—including your relationship.
Being open to a new opportunity that may be more fulfilling is the responsible thing to do. You are owning the reality that your time is worth something and you don’t want to waste 40 hours (or more, or less) a week doing something that makes you miserable. That is not a decision you need to justify to anyone. Be proud of leading a mindful existence.
3. Be Patient—with Yourself and Your Partner
Be patient with yourself. Changing jobs or careers is a difficult and time-consuming process. You may feel discouraged and frustrated at times, even with professional help and social support. Sometimes, doing something as simple as making a lateral move in your current field can allow more time to take classes, volunteer, take on side projects, plan, or just reflect. Not every move you make is going to be dramatic, and that’s okay.
It’s important to not take any resistance and difficulty you encounter as a sign you shouldn’t be making a change. If you are having a bad day, accept that you are having a bad day, but keep in mind you may not feel the same way about your transition in a week or after you get a good lead. Career transitions can happen suddenly after putting in months or years of effort.
Be patient with your partner as well. If you are living together and your finances are combined, it’s natural for your partner to be anxious about any changes you’re planning that could affect your income, where you live, etc. Try not to conflate your partner’s concerns about the practical matters associated with your transition with how they feel about you. As I recently mentioned to someone I’m counseling, if you need assurance your partner wants to be there for you and believes in you regardless of what you decide to do, ask them directly. Don’t infer how they feel based on how nervous they seem about the status of your retirement accounts.
The preceding article was solely written by the author named above. Any views and opinions expressed are not necessarily shared by GoodTherapy.org. Questions or concerns about the preceding article can be directed to the author or posted as a comment below.