When a well-paid job isn’t enough

Hands typing on a laptop

“We would like to invite you to attend an interview…” As grateful as I was to receive that email, I can’t say that I was entirely happy to be in this all too familiar position again. I had reached a point where interviews no longer made me nervous, as I’d been to enough of them to grow confident in the way I presented myself. I appreciated my personal growth, but this was outweighed by the fact that I just couldn’t seem to catch a break!

The career we choose takes up such a significant part of our lives. When the majority of us spend even more time working than we do with our spouses, it’s important to recognise the impact our work is having on our marriage.

When you and your spouse met, you both fell into one of five categories on the work spectrum:

-Unemployed

-Job-seeking

-Studying to begin a career or gain further experience

-Working in a role that isn’t considered to be the “end goal”

-Established in a long-term role

What does this mean when you get married? Often we find ourselves juggling to try and maintain a balance, especially when both spouses differ as to which category they fall into. For example, if we are both in established long-term roles then we have the benefit of being able to build our lives around the routine and financial stability that comes with that. But if one of us is studying, and the other is working in a role that isn’t considered to be the “end goal”, then there is a fair amount of uncertainty that can come with that and put a strain on your marriage. Once I finish studying, then I expect to get “that job”/ because I don’t intend to stay in this role, then I expect to find “that opportunity”.

What if you still don’t know what that ideal role looks like? Sometimes we think we know, and find ourselves chasing after a career or position that never actually gives us the job satisfaction we feel we need. The reality is that so many people leave university with no idea what they want to do, even after studying a degree in a specialist field. That and the fact that even if you do know exactly what you want to do, there’s no guarantee that you’ll be given an opportunity in the timeframe you would like – if at all.

During my university course I worked part-time in a clothing retail store, and some of my colleagues would share their frustrations at still working in such roles despite having had their degree for a number of years. I told myself that I wouldn’t give up once I had my degree, as I didn’t want to end up in a similar position. Even so, I still remember finishing university and expecting the opportunities to come rolling in (don’t we all!) but instead I found myself in one temporary role after another, trying to find a way to break into the creative industry and use my skills in a position that I believed would suit me best.

I could write an entire blog about the world of challenges you face when you’re a creative, but for now I’ll say that this definitely impacted my marriage. Certain career paths are more straightforward and predictable, but creative industries tend to be more fluid and ever-changing. This is a great thing if that is how you work, but for someone like my husband who is at the opposite end of the spectrum and has far more structure and routine to his work, you have to find a way to work with each other.

I lose motivation very quickly when I’m in a role that doesn’t offer much job satisfaction, even if the pay is generous. Whereas others would see the pay as enough of an incentive to keep going. This has been a point of contention in our marriage at times, but Liam has come to understand the way that I work as I have come to understand the way he works.

Throughout the course of our 7-year relationship, we’ve both studied, both been unemployed, Liam has worked in a long-term role, I’ve been self-employed, Liam has had a complete career change and taken a significant pay-cut with the potential to grow further in a new area of interest, I have been a stay-at-home mum and published my first book, Liam has had to consider the need for further studies to help develop in his new role, I’m now working part-time, starting to pick up freelance writing opportunities again and also pursuing further studies. And I expect further change in future! I share all of this to show you that your work life may be far from the smooth journey you anticipate, but that’s okay.

It’s easy to compare with other couples who may seem to just “have it together” with their careers and perceived financial stability, but you need to see the benefits to your own journey and focus on what you do have.

I know I can say that I’ve grown in confidence and my skill base is wide because I have experienced different areas of the creative industry and been able to fine-tune my work style as a professional. I’m probably even more confident stepping out on my own and working for myself than I am working for someone else, but I have the benefit of being able to do both.

In my marriage, we are continuing to learn the importance of prioritising our marriage and striking the right balance to help give our relationship the chance to keep growing. Too many of us don’t realise just how much damage we are doing to our marriage when we put work first. This was part of the reason Liam chose to completely change careers, as I was heavily pregnant and the role he was in was draining our marriage of quality time, let alone allowing the space for him to be a new father. He could have stayed where he was, but he took a pay cut and reduced his work day to a standard 9-5.

Honestly? I believe it worked wonders for his wellbeing. Yes its easy to quantify and think back to how much money was earned before – especially when things are tight, but seeing Liam’s relationship with our daughter Inaya and how close they are is priceless. No amount of money should mean more to you than the relationships you have with your spouse and children.

“Born for More” by Paul Daugherty shares the following truth:

“Failure would be walking into a position that you’re not supposed to be in and making tons of money doing it. Then, at the end of your life, God saying, “I gave you this gift and you never used it. I gave you this dream and you despised it.”

“I started to realise that a monetary number doesn’t define success. Success is achieved when you obey God’s calling on your life. That’s the bottom line of success – obeying what God has called you to do. Walking out your calling doesn’t always look like “success” does in the world.

“John 15:8, says, “My true disciples bear much fruit.” Jesus is saying, “I want you to be productive. I don’t want you to just survive or exist. I want you to be successful at what I’ve called you to be successful in.”

Some people end up so consumed in the chase for financial success, that they turn around to find their marriage is breaking and their children are dealing with the damaging effects of not having a present father or mother.

It all comes down to you, and where your priorities lie. I’m not saying that you should just up and leave your job after reading this, but if you know that your marriage is suffering as a result of your work then you owe it to yourself and your spouse to do all you can to try and finally prioritise what you have. Whatever that looks like will depend on your personal circumstances, but you need to be willing to compromise.

It won’t be easy – it wasn’t for us! But the balance that can come as a result of both of you choosing to put your marriage front and centre is entirely invaluable.

 

YOUR THOUGHTS

Do you feel like you have been so consumed in chasing “that” role that you’ve lost sight of what true success is? It helps to step back and assess what your life looks like right now, and consider ways you may be able to improve your direction. Way too many couples just plough on even though there are clear warning signs, so it is important that you pay attention to how you feel right now. Use the following questions to get you started:

  1. What do you appreciate about your career right now?
  2. What aspects of your career are you struggling with?
  3. If you could change one thing about your current role, what would it be?
  4. If you could do any job in the world, what would it be and why?
  5. How can we create a better work-life balance so that our marriage remains the priority?

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