Supporting Spouse Through a Career Change

How to Support Your Spouse Through a Career Change

Connecting through transitions

By Mark Lim | 22 January, 2019

2019 marks the 5th year of my company, The Social Factor.

I am enjoying what I do on a day-to-day basis, and am very thankful that I made my big career transition 5 years ago.

Back in 2014, I was employed in a comfortable full-time position, with regular working hours and a fixed income that was sufficient to pay the bills, send our kids for one or two enrichment classes, and allow us to go on regular trips each year.

However, I was restless. I had been doing the same thing day after day, year after year. I wasn’t confident that my salary was going to grow significantly even if I continued to work at the same company for the next few years. I felt that I had been working for bosses for more than 10 years of my working life and that I needed a change.

Most importantly, I felt that my job had ceased to become meaningful to me. If I continued working in the same company doing the same things each day, I would eventually lose the drive to work and become no more than a living zombie, sauntering into office each day without any motivation or purpose. That was something I did not want.

A heart-to-heart talk

And so I consulted the love of my life, my soul mate and life partner. The following is an interview I conducted with my wife Sue regarding what happened:

Me: Dear, when I decided to quit my full time job 5 years ago to launch my business, what was your reaction?

Sue: On one hand, it seemed to be a good move as you were frequently complaining about your job. On the other hand, I was worried about our finances as we had just made a major financial commitment.

Me: I see...Sounds like it was a difficult decision for you too. But you eventually decided to go support my decision. What made you do so?

Sue: I decided to support you as your ideas seemed viable and I also chose to submit to you as your wife.

Me: But it wasn’t always easy right? I know there were some times when you felt you couldn’t support me. Why was this so?

Sue: Well, in reality, it’s much harder than I thought it would be. For the first few years, your decision to start a business took a toll on our finances. I was resentful and tired, as I had to help you in your business, as well as manage the household and the kids.

Me: Yes I remember those days. We quarrelled often and it was quite a difficult time in our marriage. How did things change?

Sue: Well, I told myself that I had to work on my resentment. I knew I had to change my attitude and stop complaining so much. I also told you how miserable I was. I had to make you understand that I was in no way questioning your decision, and that I maintained my respect for you but you did not always believe me, and that was difficult for me.

Me: Did I do anything to help?

Sue: You showed empathy. Understanding that things were hard for me, you showed your appreciation by telling me that I was trying my best. I saw your love for our family and for me, and I chose to respect and support you through those years.

It was indeed a difficult time of transition that lasted for a number of years. On hindsight, I would not have been able to manage the move without the support of my wife.

Understanding that things were hard for me, you showed your appreciation by telling me that I was trying my best.

Key considerations

Since my career transition, a number of our friends shared with us their desire to make a career change. We have learnt that in order for things to work, there are several key areas that have to be considered:

1. Connect in spite of conflict

There are times when things can get difficult between husband and wife. During such times of tension and disagreement, it is crucial to keep talking to each other. An open communication line helps us to connect even when times are hard. This gives us the opportunity to truly listen to the other, which hopefully results in empathy and understanding.

An open communication line helps us to connect even when times are hard.

2. Communicate love and respect

We strongly believe in the principle of love and respect – that a husband should love his wife single-mindedly while a wife respect her husband completely. We try our best to continually communicate love and respect to each other in everything we do.

For my wife, I know it was important for her to know that I love her and the family above my job. Conversely, it was crucial for me to know that she respected me in all the decisions that I made, even when things were hard.

3. Keep going even when things get hard

One of our friends said this, “People often think that when the marriage is the hardest, that’s when you give up. But what they don’t realise is that if they work through it, their marriage will be even better than before.”

That has been our experience too.


© 2019 Focus on the Family Singapore. All rights reserved.

 

Mark Lim is Consultant & Counsellor at The Social Factor, a consultancy company which conducts training on life skills such as parenting, counselling, mentoring and special needs. He and his wife Sue co-write a parenting blog Parenting on Purpose, where they chronicle the life lessons from parenting two young boys aged 8 and 6.

 

 

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