hgAdapted from a recent online discussion.
Hi, Carolyn: I was recently offered a job that pays substantially more than I make now. I’m overqualified but generally happy where I am. I wasn’t looking; the offer fell in my lap.
Though tempting in some ways — well, just financially, since we could really use the money right now — the thought of accepting the new job made me miserable. After much soul-searching and discussion with my husband, I turned it down.
He is now livid. So seething angry, months later, that we still can’t have a civil discussion about it. There are lots of under-the-breath comments and bitter, sarcastic remarks about me choosing my personal happiness over helping our family unit.
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We’re not destitute, bills are being paid, but we’re not keeping pace with our friends. Every time a bill comes or we’re invited to dinner, he gets mad all over again.
I’m starting to feel resentful that he’s so willing to trade my happiness for a few extra bucks, but I also feel guilty. How do we move past this?
Grit My Teeth and Take the Money?
He’s behaving abominably. Even if he has rock-solid grounds to be angry, this is a horrible way to manage that anger. Any loved one/partner/neighbor/anyone owes it to others to figure out what it would take, within the bounds of morality and the law of course, to get past the anger, and then start taking those steps. His way commits you both to being stuck and miserable — or, I should say, it commits him to that, and limits your choices to stagnant misery or divorce. Bad stuff for you both.
This is so bad, in fact, and you’re so far apart, and so far from communicating fully and civilly about it, that I don’t see any realistic options besides very good marriage counseling. I’m sorry.
I can just hear him refusing to agree to counseling — saying you can’t afford it — but this degree of misery dictates your going without him if you must.
Last thing — your signature suggests the job is still an option. That might be the Band-Aid you need, but I’m skeptical; you will never forget that this is how he responded to your decision. That means conceding and taking the new job won’t bring your marriage back to where it was, but instead to some other place you can’t fully envision. Plus, you’re probably seeing some of his past actions differently through this new light. Raise or no raise, the anger is now the thing.
Re: Spouse: If the family is not keeping pace at the rate husband thinks is acceptable, he is free to search for a new job where he will make more money.
Re: Spouse: Her husband may be “gritting his teeth and taking more money” with his job because he feels like the family needs it. I can imagine him getting angry because he doesn’t get to choose a lower-paying job for better personal fulfillment. She could start looking for a higher-paying job doing the same thing.
Important point, thanks.
However, it’s his job, not yours, to say this explicitly and kindly. Instead he has chosen months — months! — of bitter fury.
So, raise or no raise, the anger is now the thing.
Email Carolyn at firstname.lastname@example.org, follow her on Facebook at www.facebook.com/carolyn.hax or chat with her online at 10 a.m. each Friday at www.washingtonpost.com.