Friday, September 26, 2008

Trailing spouse gets the shaft

Husband is still deeply entrenched in the writing of his paper (and still doing some "final" experiments for it). He's been working crazy hours trying to get his experiments done, the paper written, and because of this his time with the Bean is way too scarce.

A few nights ago, as we were settling into bed, Husband says casually Maybe I don't want to do this tenure track thing after all. I don't want this to be my schedule for the next ten years.

Of course everyone goes through this kind of thing at every possible decision point in their career. And most postdocs are constantly asking the "is tenure track right for me?" question. Or, if you've already answered that question with a resounding HELL NO, you're wrestling with the even more amorphous question of "what the hell do I do with myself now?"

So I cooed reassuring things in Husband's general direction until we had satisfied ourselves that it wasn't a decision to be made in bed on a weeknight.

But, um, I'm a planner. I cannot handle open-ended, no-light-at-the-end-of-the-tunnel plans. It makes me feel unsettled to not have a plan.

I will support Husband in whatever career path he chooses, but it is driving me f*cking crazy to not have a plan. When will he get his paper out? Who knows! Is he applying for tenure track positions? Who knows! Will we be moving next summer? Who knows! What kind of job can I find if/when we move? Who knows! Can we afford to have a second child? Who knows! Are we facing a future as assistant managers of the local video strore? Who knows!

The life of a trailing spouse. I know, I volunteered for the job. But that doesn't mean it's not really annoying. I can't plan my career until I know what Husband's plans are. And until he knows... I'm up a creek.


Anonymous said...

I am not married but I kind of have a similar problem with my boyfriend. He's going off to Country A to do his Ph.D. end of this year and I probably will, too, to Country X.

So what happens when both of us graduate? Will we still be together? Will we want to do our post-docs in 2 different countries?

Like you, I worry way too much when I don't have a plan. But unfortunately, my boyfriend isn't so much a planner :(

EcoGeoFemme said...

That sounds really frustrating. I have similar feelings about our two-body problem, but I feel like at this point EGM and I are on equal ground -- we haven't decided who will trail. I think your situation sounds tough because of the feeling of limited control. Keep us posted on the progress.

Jenn said...

I KNOW! It makes me want to pull my hair and scream. I hate open ended no plan in sight living. It's so stressful for me too. Husband is applying for TT jobs right now, but is going through the same things, and I can't apply for postdocs until I know at last which continent he's going to be working on.... I feel like I'm in limbo, and I'm not liking it! So, feel free to vent away here.

Candid Engineer said...

My husband empathizes with you (hell, I empathize with you). You could call me the "leading spouse" I suppose (just because I'm the one considering TT positions), and I just can't make up my mind. This drives my husband bonkers. Although at least he is not a planner. I'm in the planner, and that's why it drives me bonkers, too. Hang in there.

mama of the valley said...

Sounds a little bit like me last year, when our lives hung in limbo on hubby's career and wherever it would take us.

I don't think there's any magic words I could say that make it better. Just that this chapter in your life won't last forever so hang in there.

You're a smart, tough cookie. You'll be better than fine wherever you land.

ScienceGirl said...

:( Hugs in your general direction. Hubby and I haven't hit this problem yet; not looking forward to it.

MommyProf said...

Oh, I feel your pain! If you come up with an answer, let me know : (

Anonymous said...

I am so glad I found this blog post. I've been in limbo with my husband finishing his PhD (for how many years now?) and not knowing where we'll be going. I would like to go back to school, but I don't know how long I'll be here. I'd like another job (mine is horrible, and has been) but I don't know if I'll be here long enough to justify starting a new one and leaving. He is sort of certain we'll be gone by the spring, which means I can't make any obligations I can't finish (I *used* to volunteer for a non-profit, but I couldn't sign on for another year with a clear conscience). We used to have music shows in our house, but he asked that we stop that so he has his weekends free to work. Everything that means anything to me has been put on hold, and I don't know when I can start my life again. Sorry, just needed to say that, and I can't say that to him. Only signing as anonymous because I'd hate for him to ever end up here.