Our hardworking society oftentimes encourages workers to choose between their careers and their significant others. After all, to your CEO, less time spent with your partner is more time spent at your desk.
Which presents the question: When should you choose work over your relationship? Relationships expert and New York Times best-selling author Laura Doyle takes us through the steps necessary for making a tough decision.
Don’t Immediately Threaten to Leave
“One of the worst things you can do in a relationship is threaten to leave—even if it’s for a great reason,” Doyle explains. “Therefore asking, ‘What would you do if I left for this job?’ is likely to earn a defensive response, rather than the tender, loving one you might be hoping for. Toying with choosing the career opportunity over the relationship is going to do serious damage if you do it out loud.”
Have That Conversation
“Before you start viewing this as an either-or situation, consider borrowing your partner’s brain about the challenge by stating your desires,” Doyle says, providing an example of what this conversation might look like: “Can I borrow your brain? I would love to take this great opportunity that came up for my career, and of course, nothing can tear me away from you. I’d love to have both. Do you see any way it could work for us?”
“It’s amazing how many previously unsolvable problems can get solved with that approach—a combo of being open to your partner’s thinking and expressing your desire in a way that inspires,” Doyle emphasizes.
But let’s say that it’s not solvable, and you absolutely must decide between your career and your partner….
Ask Yourself What Matters Most
“If you’re feeling like your partner isn’t as important as furthering your career, it’s likely that you’re feeling hurt and angry at them anyway, having little to do with the career opportunity,” Doyle explains. “That happens in all relationships from time to time, even though no one ever sets out to hurt their loved one.”
“I can’t think of anything in life that’s more valuable than learning to love and be loved in return—celebrating milestones together, having great sex and making each other laugh,” Doyle continues. “When I think about all the ways that feeling loved every day has contributed to my success, it’s hard to imagine any career opportunity that could begin to compete with being in a relationship.”
In other words, the very fact you’re even considering this decision likely means that you’re already unhappy in the relationship—and that this career opportunity is just an excuse to get out.
Career counselor Susan Wise Miller agrees (especially if you’re married and/or have children): “Right now, there’s so much opportunity to work remotely that I don’t think you have to make that choice,” she emphasizes. “I’m a career counselor, but the most important job you’ll ever have is raising good kids—as parents, as both a father and mother. You want to do everything in your power to raise those kids so that they have two parents who are involved with them and so forth.”
“Work remotely, work it out, visit each other a lot,” Miller continues. “There are certain pluses to it: It’s very romantic to not be living together and having these weekends together. There are pluses and minuses to everything, but if you have a loving marriage, and a supportive spouse, you want what’s best for your spouse—so you want your spouse to make that career move.”
Put simply, if you love someone, work can suck it. And if you don’t love someone? Get that money, baby.