WIBU to ask DH not to take this job (academia)?(45 Posts)
DH is currently doing a postdoc which is due to end soon. He moved to a different country to do it and we were long distance for 2 years. I then got pregnant and moved to where he is late in the pregnancy. Our baby is now 3 months old.
We plan to move back to the UK at the end of my mat leave so that I can return to my job, which I love and is better job security, conditions etc than his. We had agreed that he would look for positions commuting distance from where we live, and that if he couldn't find an academic position he would look at options outside of academia. However he has not been able to find anything so far.
He has out of the blue been offered a position at a very prestigious university, however it is only for a year's contract and the city is around 4 hours by train from where we live in the UK. As it is such a short contract we could not practically relocate there, so the only way he could take it would be if we lived apart in the week and he just came back at weekends. It would start in 6 months so when our baby is 9 months old and around the time I would be going back to work and the baby starting nursery.
I feel that we have already sacrificed a lot for his career. We lived apart for 2 years and I have given birth and spent the early months of our baby's life far from our families and friends. If he takes this job it would mean another year of living separately during the week and me working full time and looking after the baby on my own in the week. Neither of our families are local so I would have very little practical support. There is also no guarantee that he would be able to find anything after the year's contract was up, so he might have to end up moving out of academia at that point anyway. It is proving very difficult to balance his career, where to pursue it fully means moving wherever in the world the jobs are, with my career and our family life.
On the other hand, this opportunity would look good on his CV and hopefully make it easier to find another position in academia. It is probably the best department in the country and a brilliant team. He would really enjoy the work, and if he doesn't take it might end up with nothing at all. I am worried that he might resent me and the baby if he was not able to find anything else. I also feel like if he leaves academia all the sacrifices we have already made will have been for nothing.
It is obviously a decision that we need to make together but I would appreciate any advice. My gut feeling is that I don't want us to live apart again, especially while our baby is so young. I would welcome any views especially from anyone who has been in a similar situation.
If he doesn't do it would it hamper his earning potential? The thing about academia is it's fairly hard to get a good opportunity especially as you get older - if he's set for life after a 1 year contract (my friend became a 6 figure earning management consultant after a 1 year contract as a research assistant at Oxford) then yabu. It's only a year. And you will still see him at weekends
It is hard on you but if this position is likely to give him more options and flexibility in his career in the future then it might be in everyone's long term interests that he does it.
It's a tough call.
Oh no what a tough one.
When you have a family your priority should be them.
But by taking this position, and opening doors he could potentially earn more and have a steady job. Which would mean a better family life. He would also be happier, which is good for the family too.
But you might feel so isolated and frustrated.
I think he would resent you if you said no you can't go. But you should explain your fears to him and let him make his choice.
If it's a big name for his CV I think you should do whatever it takes. Sorry.
Another twelve months really isn't that much in the grand scheme of things. The phrase short term pain but long term gain springs to mind
I don't think his chances are going to be any better in a year. Academia is pretty fucked up. I'd be asking him to put family first.
If you were married to someone in the army or who worked offshore you might have no choice. Not your position I know but just to give context that people do manage. That said I would suggest a nanny rather than a nursery. Young babies are ill so much that the burden would be on you. A nanny would be able to help with washing / light domestic duties to make your life a bit easier.
I would say consider how you can make it work..What can you do to make it easier for you..Can you get a cleaner ? Is there an option you could do some of your work at the weekend then reduce childcare and he gets 1-1 time with little one..
Think about how you can make it work before you dismiss it.. They are tiny for such a short time and then they do get more expensive.
DH works in academia (research fellow) and that would be a no. I think he would be very selfish to do that, but only the 2 of you can decide what is right for your family.
I would suggest moving somewhere in the middle but with a baby the commute wouldn't be doable.
Would they consider him working from home some of the week?
I think I'd want him to do it if he's struggling with opportunities elsewhere.
I have many many colleagues that do this and they have permanent positions, one commutes from a different country. Nature of the beast and I'd go for it if it will be as good for his career as you suggest.
Tough one. My DH has just taken a job where he could be potentially working away weekdays and home weekends. The only reason he took it is because our DDs are 5&2 and are getting to an easier age. (I found the baby stage HARD).
Agree with eighty, if you can, use a nanny. They get so ill when they first start nursery and you need to take a lot of time off work to care for them, and that is even more difficult on your own.
TBH I would say yes if it helped his future prospects and earnings, and get something closer to home.
As pp say, it's a tough one. He's presumably trained for this for around 7 years (UG/ Masters/ PhD) and then done the postdoc. You don't invest that much time in something just to let it go. My advice to him would be to use that contract to put together his REF submission for 2020. If he looks like he can contribute to the REF then a university will want to get him into a contract until 2021. Of course they may then dump him.
Sorry OP, there's no easy answer. I turned down a similar contract to stay with my then partner. It was the biggest mistake of my life and despite moving into other areas, my earnings have still not recovered 10 years later. Of course every situation is different and I hope it works out for you. I don't think either of you is BU but I can see why he wants this position.
What will this mean for your career? You said that you plan to return to your previous post, what impact will full responsibility for childcare have on your ability to progress?
I absolutely would say no to taking on sole responsibility for childcare post mat leave esp if you wish to continue a career as I'm not sure how you'll ever get parity of careers once you establish this dynamic. Your career will always take a backseat.
Over 20 years in higher education here, two major relocations, its the nature of the beast unfortunately.
I guess it depends how set he is on pursuing a career in academia. If he still is and it is the best department in the country sounds too good to miss and hopefully will give him better chance of securing a longer term job close to home. Would the university let him work from home some of the time? Have to say this sort of situation was why i dropped out of proper academia though. I couldn't see it being compatible with my family life - i have lots of friends who did the same.
I think you need to have a very honest bottom line conversation with him about how much he wants to pursue an academic career. He must do a huge amount to be contemplating leaving you for a year four hours away. That's not a small commute. You could do it, you could think about flying instead of train, but the plain fact is you are being somewhat abandoned and it has to be absolutely worth it for you all as a family.
It also wouldn't make sense for him to do this and then jump ship out of academia, he (probably depending on the subject of post-doc and new lecturing post) won't be more valuable outside academia the longer he continues- so the only rationale to do it would be to stay in academia.
The biggest problem is going to be not this year, but what happens after. Is it realistic for him to get a permanent job in the area of your previous career? Unless it's London, or very near a cluster of northern universities, it really may not be at all. You can't just show up in an area and expect to get a lectureship locally- the competition is international (even after Brexit for the time being) and moving to get that entry-level lectureship on a permanent track is extremely competitive- he won't most likely be able to do that if you don't have flexibility of location.
I've only made it work as my husband's career has taken a back seat- that may not be what you want. I know lots of academics who don't live together, as they can't get jobs at each others universities (no spousal hire here).
The best (and probably most likely) scenario for him would be- take this job, impress them loads, then possibly get made permanent there. That is not going to work for you though, is it?
I would probably say no, but after a talk about your joint plan
Because it's just a one year contract, and then he will be in the same position again, looking for work (and possibly getting something four hours in the other direction....)
Or if they do offer him a perm role, will you move, or will he want to keep living away?
It just seems to be prolonging the inevitable.... Unless you think this could work out in a few years and he get a stable permanent job?
How long realistically before he would be offered a long term role?
How likely is this to happen? Some academics end up taking short term contract after short-term contract....
Is your career portable? If he gets offered a perm job 8 hours away can you and would you move?
I just think that giving up so much for a career is nuts. Obviously some people think that is worth it though.
You haven't really sacrificed anything at all for his career though have you? You're just spending part of your maternity leave where he is located then returning back to your old job when it ends. You say you have no support where you live anyway so it's not like he's dragged you away from your family.
What you're actually asking him to do is make all the sacrifice himself while you give up nothing. YABU and you should look into perhaps extra childcare support at night.
Might be more accurate to say that their relationship has suffered from his choices, given that he moved away from the OP for two years. However moving away from all your support networks when you are heavily pregnant/have a new born isn't nothing either. Plus being a single parent with a very young child is pretty tough, especially if you are also working full time. I can't imagine choosing to do that if it wasn't absolutely essential.
OP I think I'd start by having him explore potential options in terms of his working week, and also what sort of leave provision there is. My dh has just started work four hours away from home, he gets home on Friday no earlier than 10pm and has to leave on Sunday at about 6pm. If your dh had a similar pattern that means he would be home less that 48hrs a week, only do one bedtime, be on duty for only one night. Will he be prepared to do domestic chores when he is home (given that he will almost certainly have more down time that you), and what sort of support will you be able to buy in? Is a nanny even a possibility?
Thank you for your replies. They have given me a lot to think about. To address some of the comments and suggestions, it is difficult to say exactly what the long term impact of taking it would be. It is unlikely it would lead immediately to a permanent job and more likely there would be at least one more short term contract so we could easily be in a similar but stronger position in a year.
The city where this job is is somewhere where I could probably find work but we would prefer not to settle there longterm as cost of living is high and it is further from our families than where my current job is. My career is also not one where I could do a year here, a year there.
A nanny financially would not be an option. His position wouldn't pay brilliantly and most would be eaten up by the cost of running two households including one in an expensive area. A cleaner would be an option though. The impact on my work of doing all the sickdays, childcare drop offs etc is definitely a consideration.
BillSykes, up to now I haven't really made many sacrifices in terms of my career but obviously we have both made sacrifices in terms of our personal lives.
I think there would be a little flexibility in terms of his working week but not loads.
If the holidays are decent, he can manage his time so that he could leave early on Monday and be back before the babys bedtime on Friday and it's September to June and you can afford a cleaner then I think I'd say maybe, possibly, just for this contract I'd think about it. However I found the first year with both my children exhausting and stressful and I would have hated to do it essentially on my own. I think the risk of being unhappy and massively resentful might be quite high.
Join the discussion
Registering is free, easy, and means you can join in the discussion, watch threads, get discounts, win prizes and lots more.Register now »
Already registered? Log in with:
Please login first.