Platt Perspective on Business and Technology

Should I stay or should I go? 39: couples and family considerations 4

Posted in career development, job search, job search and career development by Timothy Platt on February 7, 2017

This is my 39th installment to a series on intentionally entered into, fundamental job and career path change, and on best practices for deciding both when and how to carry through on it (see Guide to Effective Job Search and Career Development – 3, postings 416 and following for Parts 1-38.)

I have been discussing the questions and issues of couples and families, as they impact upon jobs and careers decision of their members, over the course of the past three installments to this series. And a big part of that narrative has focused on deciding and sharing and reconciling what is truly important for the people involved here. I have focused in all of this on couples, where that can mean husband and wife, or any two-person deeply committed relationship and with or without legally formal marriage involved. And then at the end of Part 38, I said that I would move on from there to consider more wide-ranging family obligations and commitments, and how others, and their needs and preferences can enter into this too.

I will in fact specifically address that complex of issues, or at least select aspects of it. But before doing so, I want to return to the couples level of this overall discussion, to consider one more perhaps-complicating, and certainly decision influencing contingency: the question of how to plan and execute end of work life changes and transitions when one of a couple wants or needs to retire, but the other partner in such a relationship is not ready to do so too, at least yet.

On the face of things, this sounds fairly straightforward and certainly if both people would prefer to stay where they are geographically – continuing to live in their same home community and even in the same house or apartment there. One member of such a couple simply continues to work, while the other tapers off in what they do professionally or finishes with that phase of their life overall. And picking up here, on a line from the “simplifying fairy tale narrative” that I made note of in Part 38, “then they live happily ever after.”

And that is where the complications enter in and even if one party is not arguing a case that they should move, for example, to a warmer climate while the other argues that they have to stay where they are for their job – “and besides, all of our friends live here. I don’t want to lose all of that and neither should you.” Complications can arise and even when seemingly everything appears to be in place and in agreement in the combined, shared constraints box wish list that these two people have worked out together (as discussed in Part 37 and Part 38 as a shared hands-on planning exercise.)

Let’s consider a couple of these new and emergent issues here, as a brief sampling of what is possible:

• Until now, both partners in a couples relationship were working and full time, and both were bringing in paychecks and steady sources of income. Now, this has all changed and one of the two involved here is suddenly bringing in most or even all of their salary-based income. And the dynamics of their relationship can change accordingly, and certainly if the one bread winner in this relationship feels that they now of necessity lead that relationship and that they should have a larger say – at least on financial and expenses matters.
• Coordinately with that, couples can suddenly find themselves disagreeing on how each spends their time. And this can go both ways. A still full-time working partner in such a relationship can find themselves angrily arguing that their less or non-working partner should be spending at least a lot more of their time taking care of household responsibilities now, as they are no longer working. And a less or non-working member of such a household can become resentful of overtime and of work brought home, taking away from what they would want to see as family time.

I just mention two possibilities here, focusing on issues that would not likely appear in a shared wish list constraints box – where the basic assumption that is more usually in place is that both partners in this relationship have fully retired from their work life and career path per se. Constraints box issues can arise here too, and particularly where they involve intended and with-time expected change, as for example in where a couple lives.

• And some of these issues can also emerge if one of a couple transitions from fully paid professional position work, to actively participating in volunteer or other ongoing commitment activities. That can skew what had seemed to be shared expectations too, and certainly if this type of “post-career career” takes on a life of its own and becomes more involving, and time and attention consuming than initially expected.
• Sometimes this type of complication to couple’s planning can be anticipated, but sometimes unexpected factors enter in – including boredom, if one or both of a retiring couple find that they need to bring more structure and commitment into how they use their time again.
• And this set of points highlights just one area where the type of Plan B contingencies, and need for them, that I made note of in Part 38 can arise.

Both members of a couple’s relationship have to be true to themselves if their relationship is to work, and stably supportively so. And both have to be willing to accept that their partner in this might find their being true to themselves too, means acknowledging previously unconsidered needs on both partners’ part. And both have to be willing to adapt and adjust to meet the needs of their partner in this too, and the dynamics of all of this can get a bit complicated at times. A life change such as retirement is a disruptive change, and that means it is going to offer learning and discovery opportunities, and even where everything has seemed to be settled and unchanging in the planning. And that effort at open adaptability, is a game that both have to be able and willing to play.

And with this noted, I will finally widen out family in this discussion to consider more than just couples per se. And I will further discuss the unexpected and how it can arise and need to be addressed – where I have already at least begun to consider that here. Meanwhile, you can find this and related postings at my Guide to Effective Job Search and Career Development – 3 and at the first directory page and second, continuation page to this Guide.

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