How to Handle Husband's Wish to Change Career

Updated on June 28, 2009
C.B. asks from New Milford, CT
12 answers

Hello moms. I am hoping someone out there has had the experience of a husband making a drastic career change or going back to school, etc. My hubby just dropped the bomb on me that he wants to go to school and change careers. I hate the idea but know he really needs my support right now, his job is really getting him down. We have had a strained marriage as it is, I just can't imagine him having to work and study, then having to work crazy hours to move up the ranks. How have you made it through and been supportive. Thanks for your time.

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So What Happened?

Everyone has had something wonderful to share on this subject and I thank you so much. It has really helped me to see the light at the end of the tunnel. Even more, I am excited about the new time in our lives. Thanks again, but feel free to add any encouragement you have. I am sure I'll need it as time goes by.

More Answers



answers from New York on

My husband changed jobs, moved us 2000 miles (though it was back to where I grew up), and went back to law school 2.5 years ago. And, he just changed jobs again from his old career (engineering)to a law job. His hours are crazy, but he went from a job he did not love to one he cannot say enough good things about. He is much happier, which makes me happier. I have two kids, 4 and 7, who are very involved and I have to pick up the brunt of the carpooling, sitting around while they do their activities and entertaining one, usually the little one. I also have a full-time job. I am, however, excited for him because he really wanted it and is happier. I just keep remembering that it is a short term thing, though it will take a total of 4 years. It is not easy, but I want him to be happy and I have leaned on family/friends for help when I need it. The more you talk to him about it the better, but I can tell you a happier husband made me happier.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Boston on

Hi C.,

I wish my husband would have the ambition to make a career change, go back to school or move up in his job!!!! My husband works in a menial job that he complains about all the time, yet he refuses to take the steps to move up in life. Financially our family suffers.n This also puts a strain on our marriage.

I think that the changes your husband wants to make will benefit you and your family in many ways. If he is happy, your marriage will be more satisfying and hopefully his career change will help you and your family enjoy a comfortable financial future.

I wish you happiness!!



answers from New York on

Why do you hate the idea? If his job is really getting him down, then you need to support him. What if it was the other way around and you wanted to do something and he didn't support you? Its not fair to not support him and expect him to continue to be miserable, that probably contributes to the misery in your marriage - maybe once he leaves that job and pursues another goal, he will be happier and your marriage won't suffer. Its not about the money (to a point obviously) Theres ways to make supplemental income or cut back for a period of time. He needs to be happy to be a good person, good father and good husband. Doesn't mean its going to be easy for him or you, but if he's got the motivation to make a change for the better then support him! Not supporting him and expecting him to stay miserable is going to breed resentment and further contribute to marriage problems. Change is hard and it many never seem like the right time for it but theres always excuses, finances, responsibilities...we only live once so allow your husband to live. We can't get complacent b/c of "life" Life is what we make it and if he doesn't take the chance now - or at whatever age he is ready to do it - then you never have the chance for betterment...don't make your husband settle. You should be happy he's willing to make a change for the better. I give him credit!



answers from New York on

I think the key here is to get your marriage in a little better shape, in order to be able to handle this difficult time ahead! Of course you are going to support your husband, because you know he needs to do this. But that doesn't mean it will be easy for you (or him), and that doesn't mean it won't add even more strain to your marriage! Resentment is probably already building in you, over other things that are happening. And now add in even more work for you, since he'll be so busy with school. And there also may be some resentment about the fact that he gets to try something very exciting and new, while you aren't able to do so.

That's a lot of potential negativity weighing you down, and it can really hurt you and your relationship. And if you're like me, it can lead to passive aggressive behavior. Which never goes over well, or gets us what we want or need!

So I would seriously recommend finding time for a once weekly counseling session for the two of you. I think it's as important as date night! When something is hard in a marriage, and then you want to add in a major challenge like a career change- it can only help to have the lines of communication open! It will be much easier to appreciate what your husband is doing, if you are feeling heard and understood.

Good luck. You're an awesome wife, supporting this choice. I doubt he realizes the sacrifices you are making! :)



answers from New York on

HI C.,

Change is hard - always! I just noticed your age - and you are so young. I am assuming your husband is close to your age as well. Now is the time to make those changes and find the path that is better suited. He definitely needs your support in this right now, but that doesn't mean you don't get to air your concerns - just do it in a positive way. If you are concerned about him helping with the baby - create a schedule (that has flexibility since you have no idea what studying/work schedule will bring!). Even scheduling in time alone together is a good idea.

It can be a meeting to set up structure, goals, and "rules" to live by. Then, meet again in 4-6 weeks to see if it's working and if any part of it needs to change. Take it from someone who has been in the rockiest of marriages and come through it into a fantastic marriage - keep talking and communicating with each other. Stay supportive with each other - even when it seems the other is being unreasonable and KEEP TALKING!

Marriage is hard, babies make it harder, and when you hate what you do each day - the layers on top of it never stop! Good luck, but I think your husband probably should make that change at this age, especially if it is working toward something that will be a positive change in the end (he doesn't want to go study music and plans on joining a garage band as the lead drummer at the end - right??? LOL)



answers from Buffalo on

Hi C.,
Have you considered working from home so that you can be with your daughter as well as make some money? Alternatively, volunteering some where that you feel passionate about what you are doing is another idea. Both these ideas will get you out meeting people so that you are not so dependent upon your husband. My significant other and I are like ships passing in the night but when we do have time together we have a lot to talk about and that time is really treasured.
If you decide you want to work from home, let me know and I can help with that. I wish you the best whatever you decide.



answers from New York on

I'm not in your same situation, but a similar one. I met my husband when he was in grad school, during the first year of a PhD program. I stuck with him and supported him through the program, which took 5 long, hard years, plus we were in a long distance relationship. And he didn't want to get married until he was finished. I told him he was NEVER allowed to get another degree. I was half joking, but half serious. Anyway, fast forward to now. He's in a good job, but all jobs are shaky today. He is one of the few in his line of work to NOT have an MBA and, with the cuts companies are making, he thinks he should have one to stay competitive, and in case he loses his job. Meanwhile, I am a SAHM of one, our next is due in April, and he wants to start this part-time program in May--I should mention it's in Philly, and we live in Northern NJ. He's already gone from the house everyday from 6:30 am until 8 pm. Sorry if this seems like a vent, just trying to "set the scene." Anyway, I'm not thrilled, but I feel that I need to support him if this is what he really wants to do, and if he thinks it will help his prospects. And here's how I'm planning on coping--I asked him if we could maybe work out a deal where I could have a mother's helper a few afternoons a week, just to give me a hand, both mentally and physically (we have no family nearby). All that to say this--maybe you can find a way to make it work for you (similar to my idea of having a mother's helper, you could find some sort of compromise), to keep it sane. After all, it won't last forever, and it sounds like it will be well worth it in the end. Good luck to you. I think young families have it tough these days, but I also think your support to him will be important, and will make your marriage stronger.



answers from New York on

Hey C.,

You guys are both young and if you can swing it financially I think you should let him do it. When my husband was in his mid 40's he wanted to do the same thing, problem was we had two kids ready to go to college a huge mortgage, car payments, etc so we couldn't take the pay cut or come up with the money for school. Fortunately a job change came for him a year later and they provided him with the schooling he needed and paid for it which was great. I think if you can swing it when you are young enough do it, education will only help him to help his family down the line. It may just be a small sacrifice your family will have to make for a huge pay off in the end. A better job and a happier husband. There is nothing worse then having to get up everyday and go to a job you hate. Good luck and happy holidays!!



answers from New York on

My husband decided last year to go back to school to get his executive MBA. at first I was very reluctant and was worried on how it would affect our "time" together and our marriage. But then I realized how much it meant to him and that he wasn't just doing it for himself but also for our family. If your husband is miserable at his job then he will just bring that home with him (I am sure unintentionally). How would you feel if you were working in a career that you were miserable? I realized that my husband just needed my love and support. In the beginning it wasn't easy but I also had to adjust as well as he did. We also had to make at least one night a "date" night and made sure to make time for each other. Luckily the program he is in only lasts 2 years and he will be graduating this coming June. But it was definitley a transition and will take some getting use to. But in the end was definitley worth it!
I am also due to give birth to our first baby this coming May so him going back to school couldn't have been that bad...hehe.
Good Luck and just give him your love and support. Which i am sure is exactly what you would want if the situation was reversed.



answers from New York on

Sometimes it's a very hard thing to do - to be supportive but to also think practically. My husband changed jobs in the middle of my pregancy with my first daughter and also joined the Newark Police in a tactical unit they were putting together - that was VOLUNTEER - we had to pay for his academy, his uniforms, work out gear, you name it, we paid for it - oh but we were sure to stock up on diapers when they were on sale. The new job was closer to home, but he was soon promoted after graduation & had to give them 2-3 night shifts from 6-11pm & 1 weekend - usually 8-12 hrs - so where did me & this baby i was carrying fit in - then we really took a hard hit - my mother died 3 wks before my daughter was born - the police dept started to mellow down a bit & he worked it until just after our 2nd daughter was born in 2003. Shortly after that he had a gun put up to his head & realized that one man cannnot change anything down there. I know he was really hoping to & trying, but when it comes down to it, I guess I just had to let him know how i feel. There are times that we can be supportive of eachothers dreams & wants but the in reality sometimes it just isn't meant to be. The most important thing to do is surround yourself w/people who have the same feelings as you. Good luck!



answers from Albany on

Unless your husband is doing something that could hurt your family, you should be supportive.

When my husband and I got married, I was 23 and he was 28. Upon getting home from our honeymoon, he decided he wanted a new career and began a trade school. For 16 months we saw each other at 11:30 at night for an hour or so until we went to bed and then Friday nights he'd get home at around 8:30. Then on weekends he was home but still had studying to do. We had been married a week and a half when that started.

It was hard. I will not lie but you tell yourself that it is only for X amount of time. You be thankful for the time you have together. Keep in mind, once my husband graduated with honors, he had to start out with a brand new company and it meant he got the late late shift...11 to 7. You know what that means. We now saw each other in passing as I was coming home from work and he was getting ready for work. That lasted for quite a while in itself because even when his shift changed, it was still a nighttime shift for quite a while still...just with an earlier start time.

If it helps at all though, we have been married for 12 years this coming February. We have three children and whenever things get tough, we laugh and say if we could make it through those first years of marriage, we can make it through anything. :) You have to be strong if what he is doing is the right thing for your family. Yeah, it might suck now, but what about the long run?

Take care and be strong. You guys can do it. :)



answers from Rochester on

Please don't takethis the wrong way - not knowing you or your husband, but your words 'strained marriage' are a red flag for me.

Be sure you don't put you, your child or your retirement/assets on the line for your husband's new career change.

You know your husband; my advice is simply cautionary.

One of my friends went through a similar situation, except he had her taking out $ on credit cards to get 'tuition' paid - and it wasn't tuition, it was down payments on another house for another woman.

Praying for you that you can get through this trying period - going to school and working full-time is VERY stressful - my parents worked out that she typed his notes for class so he could read them and study from them. (after seeing my Dad's cursive, you'd understand ;)

It IS a hard thing, and being prepared AHEAD of time is a good thing also - like checking up on quiet study sites that are close to home - the LIBRArY is not always the quietest, but they sometimes have a separate room that is able to be either reserved, or used when not reserved. Coffee shops are NOT a good place to sit, in spite of what college students do. :| :) All time best place we've seen is an all-you-can-eat Chinese place. Quiet enough, food enough (usually have to talk to management about staying there more than an hour though sometimes they are understanding :)

Be sure to have a little family time EVERY day - or you risk going crazy thinking it is just you and your daughter and a bunch of books who don't talk to you. Even if it is a simple cup of coffee in the AM together, schedule together time to connect for the day. Make plans for the day also - so you can plan around his study times, and he can plan around meal times, or whatever you need.

Good luck! I hope your family pulls through this schooling!

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