Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Starting a Career as "We" (not "I")

If you had asked me three years ago what I considered the most important part of my life, I would have unhesitatingly told you that I cared more about establishing a career than any other life goals.  I had just graduated from community college, where few of my local friends had goals similar to mine.

K and I are getting married largely because he wants to, and I don't not want to get married enough to argue. I love him and want him to be happy, and getting married makes him happy.  That said, the institution of marriage makes me uncomfortable: it involves the community in what I consider a private relationship and opens healthy relations to public scrutiny.  Plus, it traditionally involves the commingling of assets, and I haven't successfully established myself as an individual with individual assets.*

This terrifies me.  Another smart person from the internet writes: "I often think that as a feminist, I should be self-driven, self-motivated, and self-inspired when it comes to my career." This sums up my feelings precisely: I want to establish myself individually before I commit to establishing myself as part of a marriage.  K keeps offering to give me money if I need it, but this makes me really uncomfortable. I'm supposed to have my own money: we're not technically married yet.

The problem? I want to marry K, and I want to marry him now. Yesterday, even.  Every time we see each other, we're tempted to call up our friend, who's an officiant, and just get the paperwork done.

See, we're already half-married for most practical purposes: we've already effectively made a life-long commitment to each other. Breaking our engagement now might not be as legally tricky as a divorce, but it would have a huge impact on our community. We've already integrated into each other's family. We have more friends as a couple than we have as individuals.** We'd have to figure out how to divvy up the kitchen stuff and the bedding and even a little bit of furniture.

So, I can't look for a job without considering him. I can't take just any offer that sounds like a good fit for me: I need to wonder if he'll be able to find a job, too. I need to consider if the job will force me to relocate often.  I need to figure out how far we can each commute and how long we're willing to live apart (not long: we've already done it quite a bit, and we don't like it very much).  On the flip side of this, though, he's looking for a job, too, and only one of us needs to find work before both of us can move and begin establishing our family. I need to remember that I'm not in this alone, even if it feels that way while he's finishing his last semester. It's only a few months until he graduates.

Starting a career as a "we" makes the job search harder.  Having K is worth it.

*To be fair, K hasn't established himself, either.
**We do each have our own friends, and we're not isolating each other or anything creepy like that. It's just a side effect of our relationship: we meet and grow to like each other's friends.

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