I just read this article, Instead of Work, Younger Women Go Back to School . The main example of the story, young woman quits her part-time job at Starbucks to get a graduate degree in communications which will put her in deep debt, was not what was interesting to me. It was that women are more willing to leave a job (albeit, a low paying one) and go back to school while men will take any job that's available. Here's a quote from the random "expert":
“There is still this heavy cultural message that men should be out there earning money and supporting themselves, and they feel more distressed by losing their breadwinner role,” said Stephanie Coontz, director of research at the Council on Contemporary Families. “We’ve made much more progress overcoming the ‘feminine mystique’ than this masculine mystique.”This is exactly what my husband and I are going through. He was offered a good job in a community about three hours driving distance from our home. But it was in the field he's been working in all his life and he's told me many times he doesn't want to do that line of work anymore. I think his declaration took a lot of courage and I wouldn't ever forgive myself if I dismissed it. The pressure for men to work at anything that's around is huge. I'm sure his parents expect him to take the job because Work is King in their minds. What's been so hard for me and my husband is to stay strong and faithful to God while considering these options.
We (society) talk about how hard life is when we have no choices, but I think it's much more challenging when you have lots of options and it's not very clear what's a better choice. Option A could be good in the short term but Option B might be better in the long term. But it's never obvious because, duh, we can't predict the future. So, lately we've been reminding each other to pray in these times of panic and indecision.
The problems with taking this job were 1) I have a good job which pays well; 2) We'd only be able to see each other on the weekends until I found a job in that area which would have stressed our marriage; 3) We can maintain our lifestyle with my current income, and; 4) He really didn't want to do that work anyway. There are a lot more factors that go into this but that's really the essence. And just getting to the point where he could admit to himself that he didn't want to that kind of work, was a long road. If he really thought that job was good from him and was excited about it, I would definitely support him, but it's just not.
Making the decision to turn the offer down doesn't erase the anxiety. If fact, I think it increases it. And it's harder for men maybe, but just people in a different generation. I feel much more comfortable changing careers (my husband says that's because I'm young but I'm not sure that's it.) I think this period in our lives is a true adventure and an opportunity to walk the faith rather than just talk about it.
We have a lot of things going for us. The obvious is not having children. That's a lot of money we don't have to spend. We live, I think, pretty simply. I make my lunches and eat them at work. We don't buy stuff just to feel good. We have to need it. And now the standard is, we have to really need it. We've always lived far below our means. We are retirement savings obsessed and enjoy saving money rather than spending it.
I'm not, believe me, trying to toot a horn. I think it's critical, however especially in the infertile blogosphere to promote awareness that thinking about financial health relative to a desire for a baby is super important. Everybody has to weigh their own costs versus benefits and everyone's standard for what is acceptable is different. However, I am beyond grateful that we do not have children right now. I don't know if that's God's doing or what but I feel very blessed in that regard.
So, we're choosing love over money, togetherness over separation, productive work over working just for prestige or to satisfy our parents' egos. I'm proud of my husband. He's taking the road less traveled. And that's flat out cool!