You're the one changing careers, but is your spouse with you on this one? [You can skip straight to the video, or keep reading if you're at work at need to be sneaky.]
I’ve been on both sides of this equation. I have changed careers and I’ve also helped support my husband when he was making a career change. You hope that this can be a good experience for both people and that it can actually draw you closer and make your relationship stronger. But it can also test you in some new ways.
The first thing I want to say about this is that if you're going to be making any major changes that are going to affect your time, geography, shared finances, lifestyle, or your future, you have to make those decisions in consultation with your spouse because you're not a free agent.
On the other hand, you also don’t want to just default to whatever your spouse thinks is best because this is your life and this is your transition to go through. You really need to balance doing what is best for you and also considering the needs and wants of your partner. I’m going to give you five ways to do that.
HOW TO GET YOUR SPOUSE ON BOARD FOR YOUR CAREER CHANGE:
1. KEEP YOUR PARTNER IN THE LOOP
That doesn’t mean you have to share every little thought that you're having about this, but it does mean no big surprises. No coming home one day and saying, “Honey, we’re moving to Montana!” because you found your dream job there. Imagine how terrifying that would be if you were on the receiving end. Just keep your partner aware of what’s going on. Share some of your decision-making process as you're thinking about this, so that he will feel included.
2. GET ADDITIONAL EMOTIONAL SUPPORT FOR YOURSELF
This is going to be really good for both of you. Career change can be a really emotional time, understandably. Of course, you want to be able to turn to your spouse for support, but you don’t want to barrage him and you don’t want to dump on him all the time. Having some other places where you can take these feelings and these questions is really healthy for both of you. Find some friends or family members or even work with a therapist, so you have other outlets to explore some of the stuff that’s going on with you.
3. SHOW YOUR PARTNER THAT YOU'RE SERIOUS
This might be the most important one. Show him that you mean business. There has been some great research about the fundamental differences between the male and the female brain, and the male brain more so than the female brain really quickly kicks into problem-solving mode when it registers something as a problem. If your spouse is a male, he’s probably going to hear, “My wife is unhappy. My wife wants something to change – problem.” He’s immediately going to start trying to figure out what the solution is. That little part of his brain is going haywire. What you can do to help calm that is to give him evidence that you're taking care of this.
If you're reading blogs or books, tell him about that. If you're working with a coach, tell him. If you're revamping your résumé or speaking with a mentor, let him know those things so he can be assured that even though there’s a problem, it’s being taken care of.
4. LISTEN TO HIS FEARS AND MIRROR THEM BACK
This is just a really good thing for couples in general. A lot of times we just want to know that we are heard and understood. This is a really simple exercise you can do. If your husband comes to you and says, “I can’t believe you're thinking about moving to Montana! I like my job and I love my life here. I can’t believe you would do that to us,” instead of getting into it, all you say back is, “What I hear you saying is you're angry and you're scared that I’m going to ruin what we have.” It’s that simple. Then the conversation can continue.
5. THANK YOUR PARTNER
That’s it. Just make sure you're showing some gratitude and appreciation for the support that they're giving you. Being in the sidecar of a career change can be really scary because there’s no steering wheel over here. Even if you're making decisions with your partner, the other guy can feel like he’s just along for the ride and doesn’t have any control. Be sure to show some gratitude and appreciation for all that your partner is doing to support you.