Author Topic: Walking away from a good thing (ie. security of career or security of a family)  (Read 4147 times)


  • Guest
 I'm not sure where to begin this post but I need to get a few things out.  I'll try to be brief but brevity is not my strong suit.

Andy and his daughter moved in with us in September.  On the whole, its been great.  He applied for some jobs (we are both college professors) and almost immediately got an interview on Skype.  Shortly before that, I saw that the same university was hiring an art department chairperson, currently my very same job at a similar kind of school.  So I applied.  Then he was invited to their campus to interview as a finalist.  Then I was asked for a Skype interview.  Then he was offered the job; it is a very good job in a location I do not want to move to but would if stars aligned.  I had my Skype interview 3 weeks ago and even granted that its been the holidays, I haven't' heard from them and can only assume that I'm not going to be a finalist or get the job but I still have to think about whether or not we should take this - two academics, from two continents - a better scenario is not especially likely.  They'll probably come up with something for me because they want him.  But I'm struggling. 

I never set out to be a superstar in my field.  I just loved what I was doing and loved that academe let me spend my time with curious students and interesting people and afforded opportunities to do interesting things.  I've held my current post for 14 years.  It has been the one mainstay.  It gave me purpose, identity and meaning in times when I could have been just completely lost.  I love my new life.  I love Andy and his two children and I love what we have built but I am scared to walk away.  I don't want to live in that part of the world.  I don't want to accept whatever "spousal arrangement" they come up with for me.  It makes me ill just thinking about it.  I wanted to get the job on my own merits.

There is no doubt that my husband's illness and death ruined my career goals.  It is a fact.  I also gladly chose my child above advancement but I never let go of the hope I might be able to make it happen - the grants, the promotion I so covet but cannot attain - but I'm sitting here now, facing this reality I've both created for myself and which the universe has created for me and I'm just feeling so fundamentally scared.  I know I can do it.  After everything, I know I can do anything.  But I don't need another identity crisis.  I don't want to be sitting here thinking, "If I walk away from my job (ultimate security) to have my family together and really start our lives together, what if, what if, what if...."  There was recently a post about being broken, I forget where, but I think that's where I'm broken - what if, what if, what if. 

This is not where I thought I would be (how many times have I said that these past years), where we would be.  It is so overwhelming, the thought of reinventing myself still one more time.  And why can't the job be in Philadelphia instead of where it is?!  (stomps feet like impetuous toddler) and why does being together mean that I have to make this horrible choice between my family and my career?  If I give up my career to be a family, I am/M and I are vulnerable.  And after everything, doing vulnerable again is terrifying.  But you can't just make every choice based on what's safe, right?  ARGH! 

Thank you for listening to me - this most likely makes no sense. 


  • Member
  • Posts: 22
I have no advice to give but just wanted to say I understand the problems with the academic life (UK academic here). From what I understand of the US process, it's fantastic that Andy is in the running! 

All I can say, and I certainly don't mean this to sound blunt but words are not working for me this evening, Andy moved from the UK to the USA to be with you and M, yes? I, personally, think that's an incredibly brave and courageous thing to have done.

I wish you all the best wishes I can for the future and know you will come to the best decision for you. x
How lucky am I to have something that makes saying goodbye so hard
~ Winnie the Pooh


  • Member
  • Posts: 323
Makes sense to me for 2 reasons.  1.  You love Andy and are planning a forever future.  2.  You love your job and all the facets it has provided for you and your daughter. 

For me this would have been easy at 28 and starting a new career and new husband and without the "what ifs" that experience, grief, and vulnerability placed on our very being.  You are a thinker, problem solver, and a very smart woman and you will come up with the right choice/decision in your own time.  A lot to think about but my money is on you to successfully work through this.



  • Member
  • Posts: 1708
  • aka MissingmyTim
Such a big decision to make!  I can understand your apprehension in leaving behind the security you have after suffering the loss of your husband and the security of the life you planned together.  As you know, I too am a huge over thinker and fall prey to the "what ifs" more than I like to admit.  In the past year and a half I have deviated from my life time practice of playing it safe and followed my gut and took some big leaps.  Some times it's ok to follow your gut and your heart and let your brain take the back seat. I hope you find peace in whatever you decide to do.
You will forever be my always.


  • Global Moderator
  • Member
  • Posts: 270
  • Widowed: August 2009 Remarried: June 2013

Ever since my graduate school days decades ago, I have repeatedly witnessed the problem you describe of academic couples attempting to stay together while each pursues a college/university position. Always a frustrating situation, I think in recent years it has only become worse, with the freezing and gradual elimination of tenure track positions in favor of an ever increasing number of very poorly paid adjuncts.

Sorry I can't offer any meaningful advice, suggestions or words of wisdom. But I just wanted to say that I understand the difficult dilemma you are facing. And as I have said here before, I'm glad I will be retiring from the academic life soon.

--- WifeLess


  • Member
  • Posts: 222
I'm sorry you are in such a difficult and conflicting position.... I hope that "the way" somehow becomes more clear for you.


  • Guest
Thanks everyone.  It is far more complex than I think I conveyed.  First of all, Andy's children are grown and I have a school aged child with at least 10 more years to go.  Second, he wanted to move abroad - he was ready for a change; his wife died 10 years ago.  My husband 4.  Third, we waited until now - we'd been together more than 2 years before his move to the States happened - because we wanted to make sure everyone - and everyone includes lots of people in multiple generations on two continents and managing both of our households for now - was in a place where such a move could be absorbed.  I appreciate where you were coming from smm but everyone involved in this arrangement has been extremely brave. 

Anyway, as an academic, I didn't go into this for the money.  But my job has a whole lot of security in an increasingly insecure world; I worked hard to get where I am.  My choices have been different from most people but to put them into perspective I didnt have a car until I was 30 (when I got this job) and I never had a lease more than 9 months in length until I was thirty (when I got this job). I have no regrets about any of that but there were a lot of lean years before I got the coveted tenure track job.  I was only just getting used to it when Scott got sick and then died.   If I am to leave it so that my family can be together, I stand to take a pay cut of upwards of 50%. FIFTY.   How can I do that?!  Yes, it is a feminist thing for me but it is also just plain old practical.  What if Andy dies?  Then I will be in this place far away from the people and world I know and I will have lost his salary which stands to be 3 times mine, still with a child to finish raising and to put through college.  I don't have life insurance to fall back on or some big windfall from the eventual sale of my house; what I have had to count on is the security of my career.   I have a legitimate reason to be conflicted.  I'm not complaining and I'm also aware that this is what I chose, what I want.  But it is a bona fide conflict and it isn't a choice I can make flippantly if they're not going to offer me a package commensurate with his because of course if something ever did happen to him I would have all three of the children - let's face it, even grown children have to lean on their parents sometimes.  It's legitimately scary. 
« Last Edit: January 03, 2017, 10:23:11 AM by TooSoon »


  • Member
  • Posts: 473
I'm sorry you guys are in this position. Essentially you are taking a gamble either way - on finding a better arrangement or going with this one and making it work. I do know that you have been unappreciated and unhappy for a long time. Security is huge, and worth a very high cost. But how high? Let's take Andy out of the equation for a minute. How long could you sustain being undervalued? How long could you realistically continue in this frustrated state? Until M graduates from high school? Maybe, but is that fair to you? Granted, it would be easier if the two of you didn't have one another's professional considerations to contend with. Maybe you would find something that feeds your soul.  I fully recognize that what you would be going to would not perform that for you, but it might provide the opportunity to explore a different path.

This is just the rambling of someone who has always struggled to find meaning in her professions. I've simply never felt rewarded professionally in the way I do with my relationships. So my opinion is probably not helpful. So I'll just stop and say this sucks! and I validate you.
You are the Bear of my heart dear,
And nothing can take that away.


  • Member
  • Posts: 1708
  • aka MissingmyTim
I can't hear the panic in your post and that you are legitimately scared and I would never try to minimize your concerns.  You have a lot at stake here and so much more than just yourself to think about.  MrsDan has some good points about your current position being secure but you have been frustrated by the roadblocks in your way.  It really comes down to facing fears or living with regrets and which you can live with.  I wish there was a way to help make this easier for you.
You will forever be my always.


  • Member
  • Posts: 64
I totally get the what if what if you speak of...

Maybe I shouldn't jump into this since I don't know many of your details, not on this board much at all, really only just started recently to participate when I feel something moving around inside that seems like a good sharing moment.

I HAVE picked up my life to move 1000 miles to live with new partner, left my college age daughter behind in Texas (saw her every four months or more and she eventually moved to Florida where I moved and then later moved 1000 miles in the other direction for a job to begin her career). I also sold a house I loved that had a paid off mortgage. No issues with my job or income. I sell antiques and can do that from anywhere- and actually Florida is better for this as I sell on the internet and lots of old people move to Florida and it is easy to find estate sales here, where I buy most of my inventory).

I can also speak to security- financial security and the security of having someone meaningful in your life, romantically and friendship wise. I had a very hard time with loneliness when my first husband died. I lived in a very rural area and none of my friends lived close by. I had to travel to see them. So being alone meant that for days on end the only person I interacted with was my mailman, so lonely was a very real, deep seated and disturbing issue for me. My late husband had been my pal. We were tight and talked to each other about everything, deep and lighthearted, always, during our relationship. My daughter was 45 minutes away at college and although I saw her weekly she had her own life, her own friends and our time together was limited to lunch. She hardly ever came for an overnight visit. During this time (2 years from the time my husband died until I started to socialize with widows and met my fellow widower who is now my new husband) I struggled financially as i had a kid in school and lots of expenses (health insurance was a misery) and was paying off some debts incurred while my husband was ill. I also owed IRS a huge chunk of change. (Let's not get into that). So...

it was still very hard to even think of beginning a new relationship. After a 24 year marriage allowing myself to allow someone new into my life was in and of itself a very hard thing. It took me quite a while to let my fellow help me financially. Still not easy to allow all of the blending that we have decided to undertake as regards finances. My first husband was the primary bread winner and I was a stay at home mom who was always able to add to our coffers by doing this or that. I've had lots of jobs and several businesses of my own through the years.

Once death happens and leaves us with this life that is torn to bits it is ALL about rebuilding I think. I know I had to figure out me again. So long a  part of we...who was me?

Fitting myself in with another man was never part of the game that was hard. Living in Florida? Living in his house? Crazy. Now we are married and bought a house new to both of us and I am on his insurance and he is ready to retire and it is clear, abundantly clear that finances are shared and it will take both of us to survive in this world without his work income. Pensions. Social security income. A new business we are building together before he retires for good in about three years.

Only YOU will know what is right for you. I advise allowing for sharing and helping each other if you decide to make a move, a change. How are you handling financial stuff while living together now?

We can't know what the future really holds and I don't think it is a good idea to make plans based on what ifs. If Andy dies? You will have some new challenges for sure. You have dealt with it before and survived...hope that isn't the case for you any time soon. I lived with my now husband for seven years before I decided to marry him finally. I haven't regretted it at all. It was a very good choice but I needed to do so in my own time. He is a sweetheart and generous with me. Giving. Unselfish. I've done a lot for him too. Give and take.

It is so hard to know what to keep and what to let go of. So many choices boil down to leaps of faith. It has been such a long time now since I felt myself looking over the edge and doing the swan dive...

I tried/try to remind myself that I am smart and a solid person, responsible, not flighty...but you still have to jump into an unknown and trust that you can recover even if you make a mistake.

I'm glad you have this board as a place to mull things over. Seems like you have people chiming in who "know you" (maybe they even know you IRL) or at least who are more familiar than me with your story. My words here are just thoughts from someone else who has walked the walk and done things a certain way and for reasons of my own. Hope there might be some take home value for you here in my post!

Best regards to you!


  • Member
  • Posts: 795
You're smart and have a level head on  your shoulders...This is a huge step

A big factor with me would be where is it you are moving? Is it a good place for M ?--Can  you see you meshing there? I don't like putting all of my happiness on the shoulders of one person (In your case Andy)--Not sure that makes sense..and maybe its not very romantic..but that is a huge undertaking for another person (meaning..if M isn't happy or you aren't happy by not being fulfilled in your career, etc)

On the other may indeed be a perfect fit for all of you. Only you can answer.

It's a lot to process..and without knowing any specifics...its something that only you know the answer.

I would just be cautious...but that's just way isn't the right way for everyone.
B.W.H. 9/24/2007


  • Member
  • Posts: 797
I did this.  I took a huge pay cut and left an exciting job I had attained for a lower level job within the same profession (I'm a lawyer).  I moved from super urban to super rural.  I became a mom with a man I didn't know very well at the time.  I had a huge social life where I was (NYC) and no friends where I went (though I do have family - still, not the same).  It is very hard.  It caused me to lose footing emotionally and psychologically and I've been struggling.  It has caused something of an identity crisis for me - realizing, being away from all these things, that perhaps what I thought was my identity was just my life, and having to start from scratch.  (Also, leaving my world for his world, and he being of outsized importance in my new life just by circumstance.)  For me, a lot of this though has been being a new mom and the isolation it brings, as well as a working mom to a young kid, which is just relentless as I'm sure you remember, so perhaps it will not be as trying for you.  As hard as it's been, I would not go back and make the opposite choice.  I'm finding aspects of my new life that have quality beyond my old life, and I'm surprising myself by being open to things.  Letting go of certain ideas.  My mom always taught me that the only thing that truly matters in life is other people and the love you share with them, and DH reinforced that.  That being said, this has required more work and more inner fortitude (and therapy) than most things I've endured (including losing DH).  I've felt adrift, I've felt alone, I've felt financially panicked/hopeless/ruined, I've felt like I don't remember who I am, like I hate where I'm at and who I'm around (choosing isolation over a social circle I don't enjoy, the lose/lose options), I've felt great resentment toward my boyfriend, etc., etc.  But after about 3 years, I'm bouncing back and truly building something.  And again, it's hard to say how much of what I felt after this transition had to do with new motherhood and forging a relationship with someone very different from me in such a context of upheaval and newness and change, rather than just simply a change in career and geography (which is enough for any person to adjust to!).  If you do it, I'd say go in open eyed.  Accept the possibility that you won't find happiness in your surroundings, that you may feel starkly out of place, a stranger in a strange land, alone, and will have to take responsibility for building your own happiness in circumstances hostile to it.  I'd say find a therapist ahead of time in that new place if you can.  I'd say brace yourself to accept the salary cut and chant, "money is just a number," in your head until you believe it.  I'd say find an independent life there as quickly as possible, apart from just your relationship.  This is all probably obvious or maybe not applicable, but it's what I'd go back and do if I knew then what I know now.  Prepare for the worst.  You know, a couple years after DH died, I wished for a big change thrust upon me - I wished I was with someone who had to go somewhere I didn't want to go for his job so I didn't have choice.  I thought it would be simplifying, and I thought, "Hey, I can thrive and be happy anywhere.  I'm a snail.  I carry my home on my back and I can create a great world/life wherever I am."  The adjustment can be hard, but I am finding it's absolutely true.  Sorry for babbling.  There's maybe something useful *somewhere* in here!  Thinking of you and wishing you clarity, and happiness/peace in your continuing new life. 

Edited to add: As for going somewhere for someone, changing your thinking on that immediately if this is a plunge you're going to take will likely be helpful to you.  You are going for you, not for him.  Yes, to be with him, to build a life with him, but I honestly believe that I'd have had a much easier time if I'd approached it in a way in which I took more responsibility for my choice rather than telling myself it was for him.  If I had approached my life and decisions up here (practical and emotional) as though I were a single person, not dependent on him for anything (emotional fulfillment included).  I think it would have strengthened me and strengthened our relationship, ironically. 
« Last Edit: January 04, 2017, 08:45:00 AM by Mizpah »
widowed 2011 (DH 28)


  • Member
  • Posts: 823
    • The Starving Activist
TooSoon -- as an academic colleague originally from the east coast (South Jersey, so Philly was my regular hanging spot), I can totally understand. However, this probably long post may give you a bit of food for thought :)

My LH lived and breathed where we used to live. I felt stagnant. I was led to go back to school for my doctorate and he supported that. As I got into my studies, I felt horrible about my job location as I'd visited the southwest and wanted to live here. I started applying for jobs like a madwoman and eventually landed an administrative faculty position in Southern California. LH was totally with me. We moved, leaving everything he'd known his entire life. We got here and he was unable to break into his field (music) here. He had already been deemed disabled but still played occasionally; however, once we moved, he didn't play outside of church. He wasn't fulfilled, but he accepted it. Sort of. I don't think he ever resented me but there's no way to know for real I suppose. Three years before he died, I didn't get a contract renewal; as the primary wage earner in our home, it was tough. I decided to try to advance my opportunities in online teaching since I'd also obtained a post-doc in teaching online. Again, LH was fully supportive. I am doing that now, trying to financially regroup, especially after he died.

I was afraid when the regular full-time gig ended, but took the leap and it was the best thing I could have done. It allowed me to be here for my special needs son when he needed me and with LH in his final days. Couldn't have done that with a full day in the office and a commute in heavy traffic both ways.

You might want to give it a chance. Maybe ... I had colleagues who shared time at first; they maintained an apartment in one state while their spouse worked in another until it was all settled. I have a doctoral student now whose husband stayed in Alaska while she moved back to Maine for a job and to care for her elderly mother. They lived that way for over a year -- he just moved to Maine toward the end of last year.

Just some things for you to consider. All the best!

Seek peace, and pursue it - Psalm 34:14b


  • Member
  • Posts: 377
I hear your struggle with your choices and the pros and cons all the way around.  Very difficult.

Your head tells you one thing, yet your experience tells you another.  And the conflict between the two.

I only had an identity as a couple since I dated DH since high school.  Then I had my career, too, I developed.  And then I was privileged to have a child, so another goal met I adored, another role.  After DH died, things and work, position, etc. left me unsatisfied, unfulfilled.   I left a career of 19 years, the security of the job, benefits, some pridefulness in what I did and who I was.  I work part time and live off a small amount, but could do it, I realize, and all cannot.  I re-evaluated what was important in this world we have no control over.  I decided time was the most precious gift, once spent, gone.  They don't put on your gravestone you were a great worker.  The people who ultimately will come to your grave and remember you aren't through the job.  They replace you.  You are replaceable in your work.  ONLY in your relationships/family are you not replaceable. 

" But my job has a whole lot of security in an increasingly insecure world; I worked hard to get where I am."  This may be true, but in the long run, is it satisfying?  Will it hold your hand when you are in need?  Will it be the ER contact on your form? Is it really secure?  All that....

I am struggling with choices, too.  Safe, secure, familiar turf, but stagnant, fearful of change, bored.  Get hurt again with the risk?  Is it worth it?  What if?  What if?  I understand it. 

I guess from your posts I read you are so fortunate to have found another great love, it would trump everything else.  But being responsible and safe is there, too. 

We are bound to have an identity crisis everywhere we turn. Widowed, single, changes in family life since our loved one's death.  New love, new lover, coupled again.  It is going to happen unless you stay still and that is not fulfilling, right? 

I am rambling, now, but just some thoughts to mull over.  Good luck!


  • Member
  • Posts: 377
Oh, just wanted to add I know my post is bias to me and my experience, etc.  So, please take it as you may.  I appreciate you sharing your story and know you will work it out the best way for you and yours.  It is your walk, and NO ONE has taken it, so your decisions and choices are yours alone, best for you. 


Had a friend remind me of this today, and I love her so for doing that. MY walk, my life, my choices.