Long Distance Marriage: If you give a husband some support…
Moving to California when T got into graduate school here was exciting. I rolled my eyes (secretly… or not) at collegues and aquaintences that asked:
….if we were engaged (nope!)
…..if I liked the job I was leaving (yup!)
…..if I was moving “for him” (among other things)
….. if the beach I was going to live by was even a nice beach (Seriously?! Enjoy your snowy land locked state!)
Sure, I liked my old job, but there was a new job waiting. I didn’t like living in in the city I was in. It was much like the small city I grew up in, except without my family. I was still an 8 hour drive from my parents. It was cold. The day I left, it was sleeting & slushy and I was scraping ice off my wind shield. All I could think was “good riddance!” The people were nice and all, but a new life awaited.
T being a grad student while I worked (and also was a M.S. student) was only a minor annoyance in most cases, a perk in some cases. Still, he made much less money than he could have if he was employed. Not that our life hasn’t been pretty grand, but it would have been extremely comfortable if he had a regular job. He wanted to pursue acedemia, so I supported it, without much complaint. I’m for it! Big goals, life dreams, passion and all that.
By “supported it”, I mean emotionally supported it. I got annoyed at those who implied that I was the breadwinner, his sugar mamma, that I was putting him through graduate school. Some meant it as a compliment and saw it as a nice thing to do, others probably worried I was being taken advantage of. Either way, I felt compelled to tell everyone (over and over) that he was going to school for free, and getting paid a stipend, and that is NORMAL for science PhD students, especially at good schools.
We thought he wouldn’t do a post-doc unless it was international (for fun!). As his graduation approached, it became pretty clear that he’d need one if he wanted to be a professor. We started talking about post-docs in town, or about taking an academic-like job for a year while he beefed up his resume. Then, an opportunity with two really great schools basically fell into his lap. Well, that’s a lie. He worked REALLY hard for it and he impressed the professors at those places. And who says no to these schools? I mean, how could I say no? We would make it work.
As recently as 8 months ago, I was much more ambivalent about my job. I liked it, mostly, but I was willing to look elsewhere. Things really changed for me this year, I got a lot of new opportunities, so we decided I’d stay in L.A. for the duration of his 1 year position. It was just NorCal. With Southwest at our beck and call, we could make it work.
Then he talks to his new professors more, and they talk about a strategy of only applying for the best of the best schools the first year, in order to maximize his chances of getting a position overall. The second year, if he didn’t get any offers, he’d widen his search. I freak out. Two years? We can’t do this for two years! We talk about me moving up there now, just in case it takes 2 years. But I don’t want to leave, not unless it is for good, not unless I have to.
We abandon this strategy. We talk about the possibility of him doing the post-doc primiarly from L.A. if it does end up taking 2 years. We hope it doesn’t come to this. We abandon talking about this possibility at all, and just assume we’ll get what we want: a tenure track job for him, in California, maybe in L.A. We know this may not happen, but there is no use in trying to solve problems we don’t have yet.
I tell him that I feel like it’s always moving a small step further, he’s always asking for just a little bit more support. I tell him that I feel like eventually he’s going to tell me about a really good research opportunity on the moon, and he’ll want me to support it. “But wouldn’t it be cool to visit the moon?” he jokes. If you give a mouse a cookie….
I wrote the above a while back, before T started is position. Since it is a little more personal than I usually post here, I kept it to myself. Now that things are further along, I felt comfortable sharing. We are about 1.5 months into this “long distance marriage”, and… it’s not ideal, but it is working. We’d rather be together, but we think that it will pay off. We have LOTS of trips booked to see each other.
(Though this post doesn’t focus on it, T is also very supportive of me, my career, and my personal goals.)