ask the readers: when and how do you involve a partner in your career decisions?

I’m throwing this out to readers to weigh in on. A reader writes:

Something interesting came up today regarding careers and relationships that I’d be interested in hearing people’s opinions on.

My younger brother (YB) is in a fairly serious relationship with a woman of his age. She has expressed a desire to join the police force, a move that would be a complete career change for her as she currently runs her own business selling jewellery and paintings, and is looking into that. I hear from my mother (all this is second hand) that YB is upset because his girlfriend wants to do this – apparently it’s because she’s tiny (5ft 2in) and he’s worried about her.

My initial reaction was to tell him to get a grip. It’s not his life and he can either support her or get the hell out of her way.

It made me think about people in relationships and career decisions/moves. A couple of times on AAM, I’ve seen people mention discussing job offers with partners and, of course, those strange and peculiar letters that spill over into worrying control issues that are just baffling (for example, the woman whose husband emailed HR about their decision for her to leave her job). When I was working in recruitment, a lot of candidates said that they needed to discuss the offer with their partners as well.

My gut reaction is to recoil from that. My skin crawls whenever anyone mentions talking to significant others about decisions like these. I can see using them as sounding boards, but ultimately I believe that the decision is up to the person who is going to have to work the job.

I suppose my question is, where is the line drawn with partners and career decisions? At what point does a person have to step back and say, actually, this is my decision?

Full disclaimer: I am a single woman, happily so, and I’ve never had, nor wanted, a serious relationship and so I am very independent and get annoyed at anything I view that encroaches on my autonomy.

Well, the biggest thing here is that “I’m going to talk to my partner” doesn’t mean “I’m going to see if my partner okays this”; it just means “we’re going to discuss it because we’re in a partnership.” But readers, what’s your response to this?

{ 578 comments… read them below }

  1. Roscoe*

    I’d personally say if you are married, engaged, or discussing marriage, then it should be a conversation you both have, specifically if it would involve a significant change of schedule. For example, if you work days and your partners potential new job would be nights, well then you will rarely see each other. That can lead to issues. Similarly, if you are co-habitating and now it would lead to a significant change in income. Also, frankly sometimes there are moral objections. If I’m dating a strong vegan, and I am interviewing with a meat company, I think that is fair as well to discuss.

    1. Jack*

      “I am a single woman, happily so, and I’ve never had, nor wanted, a serious relationship and so I am very independent and get annoyed at anything I view that encroaches on my autonomy.”

      This is why she doesn’t understand. When you are in a relationship, you do need to take your partner into account when making decisions such as taking a new job because it affects your partner. Maybe you’ll have a longer commute, or work nights or weekends, etc. And you sure as heck can’t take a job that would require you to relocate without discussing it with your partner.

      The fact is being in a relationship does mean you lose some of your autonomy.

      “I suppose my question is, where is the line drawn with partners and career decisions? At what point does a person have to step back and say, actually, this is my decision?”

      When you are in a serious relationship, major decisions are no longer your own because they affect another person (or several people if you have kids) and you need to consider that.

      1. Anonymoose*

        Whoa ho there. Don’t automatically say ‘she’s single, she doesn’t get it’. I am MARRIED and I always fight against my husband’s need for a single unit decision making. I think it’s really just who we are (autonomy junkies), as my husband doesn’t ask anything that other husbands wouldn’t. It just that he prefers to make decisions together whereas I think if it’s in his wheelhouse, he should make a decision and I support it and vice versa. It’s really just how we look at partnership differently. So I 110% understand where LO is coming from and frankly my need for autonomy has created quite a few issues in my marriage.

        For job stuff, all the items listed by Roscoe are sound. That said, I would probably have all of those figured out BEFORE I even bothered bringing it up in discussion because I personally need to feel like it’s ‘mine’ before I can give it up for feedback.

        Just wanted to throw that out there.

        1. Anonymoose*

          Oh, and for S and giggles, my husband makes fun of me about this autonomy need and says it’s adult-only-child syndrome because I still don’t like to share. It may be! LOL

          1. Mallory Janis Ian*

            For me, it is overly-strict-parents syndrome. I grew up with parents who wouldn’t let me do the normal, everyday things that other kids my age were doing, so I think I chafe at being restricted. Like when we first got married, he could stay out late and I wouldn’t start worrying about him until it was past a certain time; I didn’t care if he called me if he was going to be just a little late, but if he was going to be a lot late, I wanted to know just so I could relax and not worry. Well, his threshold for worrying is lower than mine, so I always felt like he had a lot more leeway to stay out late than I did, not as a matter of household rules, but just as the natural consequences of “I worry if he’s three hours late” and “he worries if I’m one hour late”. I wanted to receive the same amount of grace period that I was giving.

            1. Business Cat*

              Growing up in a super strict home has definitely informed my emotional response to any perceived loss of autonomy. Usually it’s just a matter of resetting expectations with my spouse, but my default setting is definitely more prone toward acting independently.

            2. Brendioux*

              +1 My brothers and I grew up with strict parents and I’ve noticed the same thing in all of our relationships. It has gotten to the point, with me, that I can’t imagine being in a relationship where I have to take someone else into account in every single decision.

              1. Kimberlee, Esq.*

                Yes! I’ve been with my teammate for 12 years and am extremely happy, but it is very much exhausting to have to make joint decisions all the time. Even small, dumb decisions (the classic example being “what are we having for dinner?”). When I can make a decision by myself, I tend to be very decisive, but add him into the equation, and the decision just becomes a lot harder.

                1. JR*

                  I hate the dinner conversation since he doesn’t make decisions. He thinks about it until I am annoyed and then make a decision. I’ve started going with ” I am thinking X for dinner, does that work?” Or I just make a schedule for the week and then it is “We have X on the schedule, sound good?”

                2. Mallory Janis Ian*

                  Ugh, I hate joint decision making. We’ll talk about, say, a household upgrade, and I’ll think we’ve come to some sort of decision, but then nothing happens. I never can figure out who’s supposed to be driving the action forward, and I really want it to be him for those things. I’ll make suggestions about spending the weekend working on it together, but my suggestions don’t get picked up, and I don’t want to have to push and plead and drive him into action.

              2. Optimistic Prime*

                I never thought about this, but I grew up with strict parents too, and I hate being fettered even by a partner. And my partner’s parents were fairly strict too. Huh.

          2. Snark*

            On the other hand, I’m an adult only child and I don’t really do this, so maybe it’s just a personality trait.

            1. SignalLost*

              I’m an adult oldest/middle child (14 years between me and my next up sibling) and I DO do this. It’s personality, not birth order.

          3. Jack*

            But the point is you’ve established this with your husband and he is on board with it. And you also said that you have had issues with your husband because of your need for autonomy.

          4. Stranger than fiction*

            There’s definitely some truth to that. I have two longtime girlfriends that are serially single (but don’t want to be) and they are very independent and I think maybe too independent and must get in the way of their relationships.

            1. Curious*

              It’s interesting that it’s not common to hear “his independence is getting in the way of his relationships”.

              I’d be curious to know it their independence is “getting in the way of” some potentially pretty crappy relationships, or at the very least relationships which are not great fits for them, i.e. It’s not “getting in the way” at all.

              1. Biff*

                I definitely know several men whose independence are getting in the way of the relationships they say they want. I think we, as a society, just tend to phrase the same issue differently. When a man doesn’t have room in his decision making for another person, we say he’s still learning to understand women, or he’s uptight, or he’s getting things in order. We downplay the fact that the dude can’t compromise. With women, we’re honest. It’s annoying, but how things shake out.

                1. Wubba Lubba Dub-Dub*

                  +1. Everything to do with compromise and nothing to do with independence. If I want to go to a concert, a class an activity that my husband doesn’t want to do, I go. If it’s something I’d like to do with him and he doesn’t want to do it, I ask if we can compromise. He does the same

                  If we’re making a decision that impacts both of us, whether it’s seeing a movie or what’s for dinner or moving to a new state, we take each other into account and discuss it. My goal in these discussions isn’t to get permission. It’s to understand how important the choice is, what his values are, how strongly he feels one way or the other, and *why*. If he feels hella strongly about Course B and I don’t feel as strongly — I think Course A could be better, but I’m not married to it — then I decide to try things his way. He does the same for me.

                  Sometimes we get into situations where he is willing to die on Hill A and I am willing to die on Hill B, AND those hills involve Meaningful Life Choices That Can Not Be Lived Separately. Those are situations that are tough, and have only come up a few times in our seven-year marriage. In those situations, you have two choices: you look for a compromise and come up with a solution that everyone hates only a little bit, or you decide if being married to this person is worth the impact of change you’re being asked to make. For us, it always has been and we work toward the compromise, but our marriage isn’t a template, and other people may feel differently when faced with the same decision.

        2. Ellen*

          Do you have kids? Because before I can make a decision, I need to consider things like child care. I was debating a job shift from one where I had every other weekend off and one roaming day off a week. Before I can decide if I want to switch to a m-f job, I need to consider, personally, the fact that my mom, daughter, and grandson kind of need me during that one during the week day, as well as those weekends. Not discussing these things and possible repercussions with everyone involved is really just saying “up yours, you have to accommodate my whims”

          1. Ros*

            Exactly what I was thinking. I have kids, we have an established routine/schedule, worked out childcare, and made life plans based on a certain location and income. If those change, that needs to be discussed – I can’t just tromp home and be like “hey hon, you’re on your own with all the kids for weekends from now on, I have a new job!” And if my husband did that, well… I guess I’d be on my own one weekend out of two, anyway. (Jk)

            That said. If I was like “I want to switch from x career path to y, itd be the same amount of money and schedule but I’d be happier”, there really wouldn’t be much to discuss. The discussion is about the impact on each other/the family, not about the specific work.

            (And to the OP: if the objection was “but you’re so tiny and frail and you’ll hurt yourself, pls step behind me little lady”, let’s just say I wouldn’t marry him at all omfg what EVEN.)

            1. Infinity Anon*

              Even if there isn’t much to discuss, I would want to hear about it before he actually took the job. My permission is not required, but I want to be in the loop and have the chance to say something if there was something he was unaware of or forgot to take into account.

              1. Anon today...and tomorrow*

                Yes! My husband is always looking at “fun” jobs. He thinks they’d be interesting to work at, that his work experience would be positive. Most of the fun jobs he’s applies for pay little to no money and offer nothing in the way of benefits or have odd hours or whatever. He calls me the fun sponge when I point this stuff out…but the fact is he’s not seeing the big picture because he’s too wrapped up in the fun job. I can see the rest: handling the kids routines alone, shouldering the bulk of housework because the hours are off and he’d be sleeping during the day, trying to pay bills with less money, scrambling to find new MD’s because the insurance didn’t cover our regular doctors, etc. Once I point out the stuff he can’t see it takes some of the fun out of the job but he’s fully informed.

                1. nonegiven*

                  One time a martial arts club I was in decided to switch from T&Th to MWF. My husband didn’t like the sound of it. He framed it like he couldn’t do stuff he wanted for being tied down alone with the kid 3 nights instead of just 2. I pointed out since kid was going to grandma’s W & F evenings, he was actually coming out ahead on the deal so he should get over it. “Besides, you don’t have a vote in this.”

                  Now if he had something he EVER did on Monday nights, I would have took off any Monday if he wanted to do it.

                2. Beatrice*


                  My spouse likes to take on odd community volunteer projects. He’s good at organizing fun fundraisers and does them ad-hoc for small causes that he’s passionate about. My problem is that he *always* miscalculates the time commitment, and he discounts the inconvenience to our household (ok, me) when he’s gone. It’s all volunteer work so he never gets paid, and we often wind up donating money or materials in addition to his time. I love how excited he gets about this stuff, but it crushes me to support him taking on a fundraiser that’s “only going to take one night of [his] time, no really” that I know will probably really involve 5 nights of solo planning, 2 nights of meeting with organizers, dozens of phone calls, and sometimes getting stuck with organizing work he didn’t originally plan to do, that no one else will take. And chances are good it’ll spawn another fundraiser a few months down the road, for the same cause or another one, because he gets such good results that someone else wants him to help out. He works *so hard* at this stuff and he’s really good at it, and it kills me to watch him underestimate his level of effort, and watch other people take advantage.

              2. irritable vowel*

                Right – not only are there logistical things that might need to be discussed, but I would also want to have a conversation with my spouse about making sure it was the right decision for me. Some people might also (or instead) want to have this conversation with a family member or close friend – someone who knows you really well and can help you assess if the job is a good fit, if there are any legit red flags or if you’re overreacting, etc. Saying “I’d like to talk with my partner” isn’t about asking for permission, it’s about doing a gut check with someone you trust.

                1. Stranger than fiction*

                  Or maybe it’s just an excuse or easier than saying “ok i just need to think about it “.

            2. Kathleen Adams*

              LOL. Yeah, that’s for sure. It would be OK if that what he felt so long as he didn’t say it or act on it. Some of these things are pretty instinctual, after all. But feeling it and acting on it – much less expecting her to act on it…well, that’s different. We have all kinds of instincts, but we must learn to control those that are not in our best interests.

          2. Carolyn*

            Sorry, but when I first saw this “m-f job”, I just assumed that you were camouflaging some pretty strong swear words. Couldn’t figure out why you might take it if it was so unappealing…

          3. Biff*

            Kids/Elderly Parents/Needy Pets/Health Issues (yours or partners) all vastly complicate employment. I think people who are single, in a decent situation, and without dependents of any kind have a tendency to underestimate just how much impact any one of those things really have on a job. Even if those realities are planned for carefully, they still add an element of chaos into things.

        3. Optimistic Prime*

          Yeah, I was going to say the same thing. Every person, and every partnership, handles it differently. I’m married and while I’d want to discuss employment changes with my husband, he doesn’t get veto/yay-or-nay power unless it significantly impacts his life (necessitates a move, for example). And even then, it’s a discussion, not permission.

          I am also very independent and get annoyed at anything that encroaches upon my autonomy. That’s not limited to single people. I do it because I am interested in maintaining my relationship, but for me it’s probably the single most frustrating thing about being in a long-term relationship.

          1. Observer*

            I get that it’s frustrating, but it IS part of the price you pay. For some people it is significantly harder than for others. But if you want to be in a committed relationship, you have to cede some autonomy. How much is a good question, but even for you – someone who will only cede as much as is absolutely necessary, SOMETIMES you just have to do it. Not when it’s just a matter of different opinions, or even minor inconveniences. But when “unless it significantly impacts his life” (regardless of gender) that becomes a different issue.

            I think that’s the key that most of the comments I’ve read are making. That when you are in a relationship you HAVE to take the other person into account for things that can make a significant difference in their lives. And, from the outside no one can tell what will make a significant difference in a couple’s lives.

            1. Not So NewReader*

              When ever we invite another life into our lives we have to make concession.

              I buy a plant. I like my plant and want it to thrive. One day I come home from work falling down exhausted and I see my plant is wilted. I can’t sack out on the couch, I have to throw some water on the plant asap. If I want to keep my plant I have to stall off my immediate need for a nap.

              Granted this is a simple and stupid example, but any time we add any type of a living being to our lives we have to trade off other things.

              How often and when partners check in with each other is something that two people have to agree on. Just because someone has to check in with their SO does not mean they are in an unhealthy relationship.
              My solution was to talk about the job before I even applied. And I only talked about jobs that were not similar hours as my husband’s job. While we had an apartment and no kids/pets, we had to consider meal timing because of his diabetes and we had lots of elder care issues going on.
              I will say though, I never mentioned any of this to the interviewer. The closest I would come would be to verify what my schedule would look like. And one of the reasons is shown right here, some interviewers/employers just do not understand and will think less of a person.

              1. Curious*

                I really love your plant example. Everything does have a trade off.

                I think one could have a relationship where two independent adults (probably kidless) could just make their own decisions completely autonomously but live together for ever. But some people wouldn’t like that! They don’t *want* a relationship like that and that’s a mutual agreement and that’s totally great!!

                1. Julia*

                  Being single has trade-offs, too. You might have less money, or even if you don’t, you have to do all the housekeeping alone. (Unless you can afford to outsource that.) Sometimes you might be lonely. Being sick alone sucks.

                  Sometimes, my husband annoys me. I am also someone who gets anxious about losing people I love. But I wouldn’t want to trade not having those annoyances and fears for not having him. Other people think differently. That’s okay. Everyone needs to live their life the way they want to.

            2. Optimistic Prime*

              I’ve been in a committed long-term relationship for 16 years, and married for 5 of those, so…yeah, I know. There are many things in marriage that I realize are necessary but that doesn’t stop me from being frustrated or annoyed by them.

          2. Blue Anne*

            Yes, exactly. Of course I discuss these things with my partners! To get their advice, to see how they feel about it, to work out my own thoughts, to keep us on the same page. But I am also a very autonomous person, and there is really nothing about my life that I would give my partner (who I love DEARLY and would go to the ends of the Earth for) veto power over. I don’t expect veto power over anything in his life, either. God, why would I want that? The ability to issue ultimatums doesn’t seem like the sign of a healthy relationship to me?

            Sure, if he really didn’t like something, that would be a big factor in my decision. It would still be completely my decision.

        4. Business Cat*

          Gratingly autonomous wife here. Some people are definitely wired to handle interdependent decision-making better than others.

          *Not to derail,* but I can empathize with the OP’s unpopular pet peeve. I have a similar peeve with people who smother their social media handles with proclamations of parenthood. Handles like or @motheroftwogirls really grind my gears, but there are plenty of other people who wouldn’t think anything of it. To me, it seems like wrapping up your whole identity in your kids like that is weirdly dissociative, and the fact that it’s usually done by women really raises my feminist hackles. (It is entirely possible that there are fathers who do this kind of thing as well, but that hasn’t been my personal experience) That opinion might rub a lot of people the wrong way, and people might think “Ugh Business Cat doesn’t have kids, she can’t possibly understand,” but it absolutely doesn’t mean I have any scorn for mothers or parenthood in general.

          Squicky unpopular pet peeves make the world a more interesting place.

          1. Mike C.*

            I’m with you here. Parents are still people in their own right rather than avatars of their children.

            1. Snark*

              Eh, you’re a bridge too far here. My wife and I have a mylastnameherlastname at domain dot com address, which we use for, say, the Amazon account, online bill pay, family and neighborhood mailing lists, daycare, and other stuff we want to make sure we both see, and it’s got nothing to do with inseparability or policing.

              1. Business Cat*

                Ooh, that makes a lot of sense, actually! I might look into that for our spousal billing setup.

                BUT, do you have a joint Facebook account? From my perspective, it’s the squick of squicks, but if there’s a rational motivation behind it I would be interested to know!

                1. Anon today...and tomorrow*

                  The joint Facebook pages always make me cringe. Years ago a male friend of my husband was venting about the girlfriend of a guy they both worked with. She would introduce herself at parties as “Hi, I’m John’s girlfriend Sally”. The guy venting hated when she did it because he felt like she was marking her territory in a very obvious and unattractive way as well as diminishing her own self by making herself to be merely an accessory to her partner. That conversation made a lasting impression on my husband. Since that day, any time I am introduced to anyone he knows, he says “This is Anon today.” And literally that’s it. It always makes me smile. :)

                2. teclatrans*

                  My in-laws do this, but I find it even squickier because it’s under the wife’s name and picture, but all postings are by the husband. It feels like a screen. (They also share a cell phone and a personal email address, but at least they sign their own names?)

                3. Renna*

                  My parents have a joint Facebook because my mom just sucks at computers (not horribly illiterate, she knows how to save things and print and open things, but she also types with two fingers). There would be no way to reach her on FB if it wasn’t Dad and Mom Lastname because she would never have gone through the hassle of making an account. As far as I can tell she will look at the news feed and see what’s going on with people; Dad will comment and make posts.

              2. Lily Rowan*

                But then you also each have emails you use with your friends, right? It’s getting personal email from janeandfergus@whatever that irks me.

                1. Snark*

                  Oh god yeah, I’ve got my own snarksnarkerson at domain address that I use for my own stuff. It’d be just weird to share an address used for personal correspondence.

              3. Kathleen Adams*

                Yes, I have two accounts, one that’s the bland marriedcouple’snamehere type, and one that’s under a different name that’s just for me. (My husband has a third one, but he only uses it when he’s applying for a job, which hasn’t happened in a while.) I think of the bland marriedcouple’snamehere one as our business one, and the other as my personal account.

              4. Blue Anne*

                Oh! That makes me feel so much better about that type of account! That had never occurred to me as a possible explanation.

              5. jj*

                We first did this for our wedding planning (to keep it from being all my responsibility) and now we use the joint email for everything you talk about. It’s a great way to cut down on forwarding things back and forth, manage household/joint bills, email the cleaners or other providers, etc. The only problem is my husband prefers to leave emails he needs to take action on unread instead of flagging them so I can never get to inbox zero on my phone.

            2. SQL Coder Cat*

              In my case, way back when my hubby and I got married, the only way to keep an email address was AOL or to buy your own domain. We were 12 months away from an east to west coast move, so we opted to buy our own domain. But… we could only afford one email address on it, so that original email was SQLnHUB (7 character limit). That was… yikes, 25 years ago. Over the years it’s evolved into what Snark has- a general box for joint accounts and family pictures.

          2. Observer*

            Eh, I happen to agree with you on stuff like @jaydensmommy (I hope that one is made up). And I also think that a healthy relationship between adults includes a healthy amount of autonomy. (It’s not for nothing that the letter from the woman whose husband wrote a resignation letter for her got such strong reactions. That was, for lack of a better word, strange and disturbing.)

            The problem to me is that the OP says that she “recoils” when someone says that they need to discuss an offer with their spouse. That’s just over the top in the other direction. A job offer can make a HUGE difference to the family. The idea of it being a problem to discuss it with the other adult in the relationship is just … I’m having a hard time coming up with words for it, but it’s antithetical to a committed relationship. A couple are not just neighbors, or even room mates.

            1. Not So NewReader*

              “Bye, honey! I am off to learn how to set charges to drop large buildings that need to be demolished.
              What? Your worried? But why?”

              1. MCMonkeyBean*

                Yeah, I don’t think it’s unreasonable at all for her brother to be upset that his wife wants to switch to a significantly more dangerous career! For one thing it’s possible to be upset about it but also be supportive. And on the other hand–for a lot of people that kind of switch might be a deal breaker and I don’t even think that would be wrong!

                1. CMart*

                  My husband is having a “I’m in my 30’s and I don’t know what I want to be when I grow up” crisis, and asked me just yesterday if he could be a police officer. While he is not petite like OP’s brother’s girlfriend, my response was the same.

                  “I’d rather you didn’t.”

                  It was then followed up with exactly how long he’d need to serve before he was killed and our daughter and I could receive his pension. Being in Illinois we decided the entire idea was a non-starter.

          3. Quickstepping Matilda*

            One of my regular messageboard haunts has a poster whose username is “lovemydd,” and every single time I see it, I think, “So you’re saying that what’s unique about you is that you love your daughter so much more than the rest of us love our kids?” Drives me nuts.

          4. Catclaws*

            I’m in a WhatsApp group with former high school friends, and one person has her cell number listed as Jane & John. Squicks me out big time because 1) John was never in our all girls high school; 2) Why the *bleeping bleeps* would I want to discuss anything related to our schoolgirl past with a total stranger in the mix?; and 3) What’s up with the shared identity? Grrrrr… Which is why I keep interactions in this group to a bare minimum.

          5. Future Analyst*

            I’m a parent, and it grates on me as well. The fact that I’m a parent (and a spouse) is one of the least interesting things about me, so I don’t understand the need to “tag” oneself as such.

          6. PLORP*

            I have 3 kids, I am currently SAH with them, and I am planning to start homeschooling this school year. 90% of what I do *is* child related, and I hate those social handles so much. To the point that I feel badly for how strongly I judge them. My life is all kids all the time, by golly, I will do *anything* else with my twitter handle. Awkward sound effects, FTW.

          7. Optimistic Prime*

            I’ve seen dads who do this too – I hang out on college advice forums. It’s mostly moms, but there are a lot of dads who also do it.

        5. Snark*

          “Whoa ho there. Don’t automatically say ‘she’s single, she doesn’t get it’.”

          I think that’s a defensible assumption, frankly. If you’re single and have no kids, your life is not intimately intertwined with another person’s, or those of children, and so it might not be obvious how deeply that affects decisionmaking. (I think it should be obvious, but.) If I took another job, it would immediately affect my commute, my availability to pick up the kid from daycare or drop off, our benefits coverage (would we stay on my wife’s, or would we take my new plan?), our finances, our daily schedule – a lot of important, daily, routine things would change, and yeah, the person who’s part of that daily routine gets a say, or at least the courtesy of a conversation before I say yes. Just because it’s my job doesn’t mean it’s 100% my wheelhouse.

          This has very little to do with person autonomy and everything to do with sharing a life with someone.

          1. Working Mom*

            I tend to agree, LW may not “get it” because she is not in a relationship, or maybe she would want 100% independent in a relationship and would find a partner that would match that. It could happen.

            However, in most relationships though – finances are tied together, schedules are important, etc. For example, if you have a 50/50 split on household costs (mortgage, utilities, etc) and one half of the partnership chooses to take a significant payout for a better schedule, I would hope that person would discuss that payout with their partner first. Otherwise, that next mortgage payment comes due and you’re short – what then? If you discuss it in advance, you and your partner can agree on what makes sense for your family. If your expenses will allow for a pay cut or not, etc. That’s why we call these people partners, because we’re in a “partnership” which means we depend on each other and at times rely on each other. Sometimes I am making more than my partner and vice versa. Sometimes my schedule trumps his, and vice versa. It’s a give and take and we have to be able to discuss these things with each other to make our partnership work!

          2. Dankar*

            I don’t think it’s a completely defensible assumption. There have been a couple of people downthread who said they’re single, but still understand the need to discuss with an SO. I think it is rather obvious, so while the single person may not 100% get the depth of those discussions, it is possible to understand their importance.

            People intertwine their lives with others in lots of ways, whether they’re caretakers for their elderly parents, committed activists, etc. Someone used the example of a shared vacation with friends to drive home the point how difficult it can be on others when you mix up the plan/arrangement last minute.

            I do agree that this is way more about respectful life-sharing than it is about sacrificing personal autonomy. It doesn’t seem as though the OP can differentiate between those two things. Not necessarily because she’s single, but because she’s not seeing past a personal bias. I hope she never took this pet peeve into serious consideration when she was recruiting.

            1. Snark*

              To clarify, I think it’s defensible in the sense that if someone who’s single and never been in an LTR is confused about this, that’s good reason why that might be – not that all single people cannot possibly understand the considerations of being in an LTR.

              1. Dankar*

                Oh, gotcha. I think I’m just on edge from having to listen to so many “you can’t really know what tired means until you have kids” lectures. Hah!

              2. Jessica*

                There’s nothing “confusing” about it. The issue is, “Do you think a non-formal relationship partner deserves a vote on your career path?”

                That’d be a hard hell no for me. Other people might have a different answer.

                1. Snark*

                  How “non-formal” are you talking? I think if you’re part of a couple that gets invited to things in the plural, you owe the other person at least a courtesy chat before you pull the trigger.

                2. Toph*

                  But I think the issue here is the question the LW wrote was about not understanding why someone would want to discuss w/SO, which, as Alison pointed out, doesn’t necessarily mean they have a vote or a veto. The LW said she understands using SO as a sounding board, and sometimes when someone says “I need to talk it over with my SO” that’s exactly what they’re going to do. So I think the answer to the question is twofold: 1) talking it over doesn’t imply they get a vote, 2) if it does there are often reasons for that beyond unhealthy controlling relationships, such as working out logistics of child car, or shifting schedules, or if a move is involved, or even something as simple as factoring in the math of the benefits package in an offer. Something like, well, the pay at job offer is +$X from currentjob but the health insurance costs more that it’d net less, what about if we do the math to switch to spouse’s insruance? Etc. That’s a formal-relationship example, but still I think the point is there is more to discuss than just “hey honey will you object if I do this”. It sounds like the LW may not have considered that. It doesn’t directly line up with the YB example, but does speak to the larger question of why people want to talk it over.

                3. Jessica*

                  I personally would define it as “not legally entangled”, whereby legal entanglement would be joint ownership of property up to and including marriage.

                  I’ve left relationships because my partner of the time made questionable career moves where the detriment would have fallen almost entirely on me, and to be brutally honest, that’s also why I wouldn’t tolerate a partner who thought he had veto power over my career. If I were engaged or married to someone, then we would discuss it and I would address their concerns as best I knew how, so that we could come to an accord. But someone I was simply dating? No, they are not part of that discussion. It doesn’t mean I wouldn’t factor our relationship into the decision, but they don’t get a vote, any more than they get a vote on how I spend my own money or how I decide to dress. No way.

                4. Working Mom*

                  For me that line would be if we depend on each other financially. I think if finances are mingled – not even joint checking account, but living together and my half of the rent check is needed – I would discuss career moves with my partner. Now, they may not get a huge vote… but I would clue them in to what’s going on, etc.

                  Also – the “I’d like to discuss with my spouse first” can also just be a great “out” when you don’t want to give an answer right away! :)

                5. JB*

                  “Veto power” is different from “Right to a heads-up.” You get the latter well before you get the former.

                6. Not So NewReader*

                  Non-formal? As in no commitment of any type? Then I’d say it’s whatever a person choses.

                  But if this is a person you want to keep in your life it would be good to tell them of any life changing things that are on the horizon. People who don’t feel looped in or included are less apt to stick around.

                  I think this is a sliding scale, the more commitment, the more enmeshed in another person’s life that one is, then that means more and more sharing must go on for the relationship to continue to be solid. Sharing, I mean two way street, both people share.

          3. aebhel*

            I agree with this. I don’t give my spouse veto power over my career choices, but if I was to, say, quit my job out of the blue, or switch to night shift, or accept a job in another state, it would dramatically impact his life, and I think it would be pretty obnoxious to do that without including him in the decision-making process. I mean, sure, I could come home and go, ‘Hey, guess what, I’m moving to California for this job, you can come too if you like,’ but that would be obnoxious to the point of cruelty. We own property together, we have a child together, he’s covered by my health insurance; the decisions I make affect him, so I discuss them with him.

            1. Not So NewReader*

              I have heard stories of divorces that start this way, “So, Ex got a job 1000 miles away from here and just decided to take the job. Ex made no mention of me and the kids.”

              1. Jules the 3rd*

                I have a friend who had this happen to her – 3k miles moving from east coast US to west coast. He’d mentioned he was job hunting out there, but when he got a job, he told her she wasn’t included. No kids, fortunately. She came and stayed at my apt while figuring out what she wanted to do next.

                I was stunned at the cruelty.

                She got her revenge, though, she is living very well, and deservedly so.

              2. Secret Penguin*

                My dad did this multiple times. In one case, he left, then *came back* and did it again. After that one (the last one, btw), we ran into him once with his boss and he pretended he didn’t know us (my mom, my sister, and me), so it’s possible that he never told his employer he even had a family to consider.

                My mom didn’t tell me about this until after I’d been married for a long time, fortunately–it might have kept me from ever getting married. :-) I always assumed all the moves were basically “Dad got a better job, so we moved.” But apparently, at least with the last two or three, he would just come home and announce that he had a new job four states away and we were moving. I’m often surprised my parents were together as long as they were (almost 20 years).

              3. Jessica*

                My sister has a friend who did the reverse. She followed her husband to San Diego and found that she loved it there. He took a job that relocated him somewhere else, and she was like, “Nah, I’m good here” and divorced him.

                1. CMart*

                  That is so… deeply antithetical to my personal feelings about marriage.

                  Obviously I don’t have any idea what your sister’s friend’s relationship was like, but unless my husband was like “surprise! We’re moving to the literal desert to live in an actual tent!” (aka: assuming an actual partnership where we discussed the pros and cons and the only con was “but I love it here”) my love for him supersedes my love for any given location.

                2. MegaMoose, Esq.*

                  I’m kind of in the middle here – I love my partner, but do I love him enough to move somewhere where I wouldn’t have good job opportunities, away from all my friends and family? Or somewhere I felt culturally out of place? Some people are equipped to be a “trailing spouse,” but I don’t think I necessarily would be. There are other aspects to happiness than being near my spouse. It’s huge, for sure, but not my everything.

                3. Optimistic Prime*

                  @CMart – eh, I don’t know. I think I’d have to think long and hard before following my husband on a long-term move to some super rural area, for example, especially if I couldn’t get a fulfilling job there. I’m not willing to be miserable in every other area of my life.

              4. Optimistic Prime*

                Me too. I’m a former academic, so I’ve actually heard of a lot of divorces start this way.

        6. Jiggs*

          I don’t think she doesn’t get it just because she’s single, but because a serious relationship is not something she wants in her life ever. Just like someone who is deliberately childless (like myself) has some difficulty putting myself in the shoes of someone who trades all their free time, money etc for their kid(s). Some life choices are so far apart from each other it’s hard to see why the other side is into whatever it is.

          More to the LW, I have also said “I need to discuss this with my husband” as a stalling technique as it reads as more polite than “I have to think about it” when you’re talking about a job offer. More often than not the talking to the significant other part is just using them as a sounding board. Sometimes, as others have noted, it could be related to possible child care adjustments, moves, commute times, hours and so on, where there really would be an impact on the other person.

          But yeah, your brother needs to step off.

          1. Anonyspouse*

            When I got my first job offer after college, I would have saved myself four years of misery by soundboarding the job offer with my partner. He has great input when I’m not seeing things clearly, and I wish I’d answered “I need to discuss with my partner before making a decision” instead of answering “OMG yes” like the 21 year old that I was. After I accepted and told him, he said, “Are you nuts? Do the math!”

            I learned the art of the stall the hard way.

        7. Lizzy*

          To be fair, I am single and have always been single, and even I was like, “This letter writer has never actually been in a relationship, has s/he?” before I got to the part where she confirmed that. If you are single and don’t want to involve another person in your career decisions, that’s great, but it kind of feels like this letter writer is unnecessarily upset about other people’s choices. No one is asking her to involve other people in her career decisions, so what’s it to her if other people choose to do so?

      2. kittymommy*

        Umm, I’m a single, never been in nite wanted in, a relationship, long term or otherwise and I did agree south the letter writer (some what) do please let’s not make broad generalizations.

        1. Jack*

          People are taking “she doesn’t get it because she’s single” to mean “all single people don’t get it”, and that simply isn’t what anyone is saying. People are making a leap that isn’t there.

          1. MCMonkeyBean*

            Yes, thank you! That’s a very different kind of statement than “no one can understand real love until they have kids” or something. There is really no need for people to be so defensive about it.

    2. Justme*

      Not to mention if you’re starting a job where you’re putting your life on the line on a daily basis, you might want to talk to your SO/partner about that.

      1. Kate*

        Yes. I think being the s.o. of a first responder or member of the military or anyone else who puts their life on the line daily is a LIFESTYLE. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t take a job if your s.o. isn’t on board, but they should also get some input about whether they want to sign up for that.

        1. Sarah*

          I think this is an important point. This isn’t accountant versus IT analyst. Being a police officer is a dangerous job regardless of your gender/height, and I think it’s fair for a partner to be concerned about that (although your brother is coming at it in an unfortunately sexist way). That doesn’t necessarily mean a VETO, but I think it’s fair that he’s not automatically 100% comfortable with it. In addition to the safety issues, it is typically a big schedule change from a regular job (or in the case of the girlfriend, a freelance job). She will likely go from a ton of flexibility to having very regimented hours, and as a new cop, probably getting a lot of the non-prime shifts like nights, weekends, etc. Again, doesn’t mean the boyfriend should get a veto, but it’s definitely going to impact their relationship so it is something to discuss.

          1. CityMouse*

            Yeah look, people are going on about this being supersede but my sister is in a prosecutor position that sometimes involves going to crime scenes. She has been shot at, threatened, and one time had a scene she was at totally rushed by a mob of people. She worked a gangs case that meant she had temp police protection. Now i have no qualms about this, sis is great at what she does and I do not worry about her. I worked at a courthouse and we had death threats and bomb scares and escaped criminals. But yes, law enforcement can be dangerous.

          2. nonegiven*

            She gets to decide if she wants the career and he gets to decide if he wants to stay in the relationship.

            1. Y*

              That makes it sound like relationships are fungible, though. Relationships aren’t jobs, where if you don’t like the one you’re in you just up sticks and find another you like better.

              1. Kate*

                “Relationships aren’t jobs, where if you don’t like the one you’re in you just up sticks and find another you like better.”

                That’s exactly what you should do. You should definitely like the relationship you’re in, probably more so than your job even. You don’t have to stay in a relationship just because you’re in a relationship. To build on what nonegiven said, she gets to decide if her ambitions are more important than their relationship. He gets to decide if their relationship is more important than his reservations.

                1. Jessica*

                  So, what, you think people should stay in relationships that don’t make them happy? That’s absurd. That’s how a lot of unhappy people make each other miserable for decades on end, and pass on their dysfunction to future generations. There is zero justification for perpetuating that kind of BS.

                2. Y*

                  That makes it sound like you’re only in the relationship for what you get out of it. It’s hardly ‘for better for worse, for richer for poorer, in sickness and in health’.

                  I mean, just taking the last of those, what if the other person falls ill, and you decide it’s not much fun looking after them? Do you just chuck it in, leave them to cope as best they can, and have a much better time shacking up with someone younger and fitter?

                3. nonegiven*

                  They’re not married, they’re on/off again. I think OP mentioned they aren’t even live-in. He may be more serious than she is.

                  This isn’t like they’re married with kids and she wants to switch from SAHM to enlist in the military.

                  She is single, she gets to decide if she wants to try out for police training.

                4. Y*

                  True. The comment was more about how ‘She gets to decide if she wants the career and he gets to decide if he wants to stay in the relationship’ makes it sound (hence ‘makes it sound like relationships are fungible’) than the exact details of the particular case.

                5. Optimistic Prime*

                  Of course people are in relationships for what they get out of them. That’s how social relationships in general work – friendships, romantic, whatever. People who care for their mates after they fall ill, for example, are doing so because they get something out of it. That “something” may be the fulfillment of true love or a warm feeling taking care of the partner they love so much, but it’s still something.

                  If a person decides they genuinely cannot care for their partner after they fall ill (let’s say a long-term, debilitating, chronic illness that requires demanding care) – no, I don’t think they should stay with them because of arbitrary social rules. (Also, not really a comparable situation, but still.)

                  The “for better or for worse” stuff comes from Catholic wedding vows, and not everyone takes those.

              2. Close Bracket*

                Relationships aren’t like jobs in that a job is necessary (unless you are a trust fund baby), while a relationship isn’t.

            2. JM60*


              Anything that significantly affects your SO should be discussed with your SO. If you make decisions that your SO dislikes, you should expect it to hurt your relationship, possibly to the point of one person ending it.

          3. sunny-dee*

            It’s not sexist to recognize that women and men are biologically different. Women officers are more likely to draw their weapon than male officers because of the size differences between them and male suspects. There is an additional physical risk to female officers. I had a friend whose husband insisted that she transfer out of the “at risk” school she was teaching in when she got pregnant because of the risk of being stabbed or beaten (which had happened to other teachers at her middle school) — it’s not sexist to note that a pregnant woman has additional health concerns that a man doesn’t.

            That said, moving into a physically dangerous career is a big deal of either sex, and you should definitely discuss it with your partner before you make that kind of decision.

            1. aebhel*

              …so, was she more at risk of being stabbed when she was pregnant than otherwise? Because frankly, as someone who is prgnant right now, this sounds like paternalistic BS. Being pregnant means there are some things I can’t do, or can’t do as easily, but it does not make my life suddenly more valuable or worthy of protection.

              1. Not So NewReader*

                I don’t think that was from a societal perspective, it was just about his wife and child. I think he got scared because there was two of them now in that violent workplace. He may have been worried before and said nothing.

                People sometimes take less risks when they have a committed relationship and again when they have kids.
                Car insurance goes down for married men. Why. Being in a committed relationship causes people to think about what they are doing and there is a tendency to drive safer.

                1. Optimistic Prime*

                  Well, to be technical, auto insurance goes down for married people between the ages of about 20 to 25-30. It’s not limited to men, and the difference basically goes away after age 30. Also, we don’t know why they do – we can make an assumption about the mechanism but that may not actually be the case. (It could be, for example, that married people are more likely to buy safer cars or travel less risky roads or be out at times that they’re less likely to have an accident.)

              2. blackcat*

                Probably not at work, no, but in general, pregnant women are actually much more likely to be victims of violent crime than non-pregnant women. The fast majority is from partners/family members, though, so it doesn’t likely doesn’t matter for a job.

                1. aebhel*

                  Pregnant women are more likely to experience domestic violence than non-pregnant women, but I don’t see how that correlates to her spouse demanding that she change jobs.

              3. LilySparrow*

                I don’t know how far along you are, but I sure as heck was not as able to run, dodge, or practice any sort of defensive moves as quickly or effectively when I was past the first trimester. Any dangerous situation would certainly have been more dangerous for me. In the third trimester, that included non-malicious situations like walking on ice or trying to carry something heavy or awkward on stairs. Having your center of gravity change on a daily basis is challenging.
                You may be wonderfully fit and not have your mobility, balance, aerobic capacity, or alertness compromised at all. But it’s not imaginary.

                1. aebhel*

                  That’s… not really what I was getting at, in the slightest. Of course pregnancy affects your physical fitness in ways both obvious and not (I’m 8 months along, FWIW, and this is my second child, so it’s not like this is a great mystery to me). It is in a very real way a temporary disability. But unless her spouse would also have demanded that she change jobs if she, say, broke her leg–also disabling, also temporary–this stinks to me of the kind of social convention that demands that pregnant women are not just accommodated but protected.

                2. CMart*


                  I suppose you and I perhaps viewed our fetuses differently. If I worked a job that came with the risk of being stabbed then I would have taken that job assuming the risk for myself. I’m willing to accept I’ll be hurt while doing X.

                  I’m not willing to have my unborn baby get hurt doing X. I imagine sunny-dee’s buddy’s husband felt similarly.

                3. Optimistic Prime*

                  @CMart – Pregnant women take on additional risks every day, every time they get into a car, fly in an airplane, eat food they didn’t prepare themselves, etc. There are also lots of other things a female police officer can do besides be out on the beat while 8 months pregnant (there’s administrative duty, there’s leave, etc.)

                  I mean seriously. Assuming even a 20-year career as a police officer, a woman who has three children – more than average – would be pregnant for just over 10% of that time. Arguing that women shouldn’t be police officers because of a hypothetical risk of hypothetically getting hurt while pregnant is a real slippery slope.

              4. nonegiven*

                Being pregnant makes you more likely to experience DV, she may have been safer on the job.

            2. Optimistic Prime*

              That’s actually not true. Male officers are more likely to draw and fire their weapon than female officers. There’s quite a bit of data on this.

              I also can’t find evidence that there’s an additional physical risk to female officers.

      2. Augusta Sugarbean*

        Agreed. There’s a reason that part of the application process for law enforcement jobs include a home visit and discussion with the partner/spouse. Part of this step is to try and make sure that person understands the field-specific stresses of being a LEO partner/spouse, to answer questions, to make sure everyone is on the same page about what that looks like and is able to commit.

      3. Snark*

        Yeah, just maybe. My best friend is a Sheriff’s deputy, and he regularly has to throw down with psychotics with nothing to lose. Yeah, sorry, OP, it might make your skin crawl, but a spouse gets significant input, even veto power, on a potential career that could get you shanked next Tuesday for no reason at all.

          1. Chinook*

            Not weird? Just spending all their time with pair who are having very bad days or are bad people who may or may not want to hurt them. It warps your sense of reality when no one is happy to see you and your mere presence puts people on edge. Heck, if people do treat you nicely, you will wonder if it is true or if they just want your guard down.

      4. MCMonkeyBean*

        Seriously! I know there are a lot of people that would never date/marry a cop because they don’t want to spend their evenings worrying whether their spouse would even come home. This is a huge change and not at all what he thought he was getting into.

        1. A Non E. Mouse*

          I was married to a cop (a long-enough time ago I don’t want to think about the exact years) and I can vouch that is a significant lifestyle difference between regular job and Cop job.

          The partner who is not a cop takes on a significant amount of Other Life Duties, because cops work late, depending on the unit they are in at the time they work a rotating shift that changes hours/days each week, etc.

          Parenting was a nightmare – it was actually EASIER once we divorced because there was a set date/time he had the kids, rather than basically a call that he’d be home long enough to change uniforms and he was going back out.

          And that was on top of the worry of it all.

    3. Kinsley M.*

      Yea, I mean my husband just accepted a new position that is almost SIX HUNDRED MILES AWAY from his current position. The fact that we need to move states most definitely makes it a joint decision (and that we’ll need to stop trying to get pregnant until I can safely have FMLA again). There’s no way on this Earth that he could have accepted without talking to me. Even if the job wouldn’t have caused us to uproot our lives, we’re married. We’re a partnership. We own a joint home and joint cars and have a joint checking and savings account. I have a 401K and he has a pension. His career is going to affect me and vice versa. This is the type of decision that becomes a joint decision when you commit to another person.

      1. Rainy, PI*

        I changed roles recently and I definitely discussed it with my boyfriend, because it involved a pay cut and I am the breadwinner. I thought it was the right decision and he agreed, but it would have been irresponsible to just tell him “btw we’re going to be down $Xk/yr starting in Janaugtober” instead of discussing it.

    4. Foreign Octopus (LW)*

      Hey guys,

      I’ve provided more context down the thread that should clear a few things up. As Snark mentioned, I come across a little judgemental in the letter so I wanted to clarify the situation down the line!

    5. Sfigato*

      Absolutely. At the very least to get their read on the job/change in career. I’d also say that the partner’s role (depending on the person, I guess) is to err towards being supportive. The decision to move to another city/take a pay cut/have significantly longer hours is one that needs to be discussed with one’s partner.

      I think partners can also be a sounding board for work issues. A lot of what my wife and I talk about is what is happening with us at work. However, I would never interject myself into my spouse’s professional life. I think there are very few circumstances, beyond dealing with a serious illness, where one’s spouse/parent/friend should be in contact with one’s employer.

      Finally, as someone who spent the majority of his life super autonomous and now has almost no autonomy because I have a small child, I don’t miss the autonomy so much. I think having more personal responsibilities and obligations has been healthy for me.

    6. Heywood Jabuzov*

      Seriously? Under what circumstances is it okay to not discuss a decision that may impact the household income, family dynamic, personal time, insurance, childcare, residence location, or a million other things? The bottom line is that major changes in your work life affect your relationship, and that’s just something you accept when you choose to be in one.

    7. Quinalla*

      Yes, once you are in a serious partnership (of or approaching marriage-like), you do discuss these things with your partner. Not to get permission, but because it will affect your partner’s life and you need to keep them informed and work out ahead of time how you will deal with changes in schedule, etc. And with kids in the mix too, it can get even more complicated. And all relationships handle this a bit differently and it is something you are constantly tweaking and fine-tuning as you are together too. And for sure people need different levels of autonomy in relationships, I tend to want to split up most decisions into my and his wheelhouse and that person makes most of the decisions for that with a heads up for disagreement when it is something bigger. My husband tends to want to make more decisions together. I think a lot of it is introvert (me) vs. extrovert (him) style of communicating and making decisions too. But, anything big we do make the decisions together in some fashion and we are keeping each other in the loop for sure.

      In the LW case, talk to your brother more before jumping to conclusions based on what you heard, but again, when you are in a serious relationship, you have to consider how your decisions affect the other person. If your YB girlfriend really wants to pursue that career, I think she should, but your YB gets to decide if he is ok being in a relationship with someone pursuing that career. And it is ok for him to express his concerns to her about it, though it sounds like it might be coming from a pretty sexist place even if he doesn’t realize it.

    8. Callie*

      “For example, if you work days and your partners potential new job would be nights, well then you will rarely see each other. ”

      My brother was a sports reporter. His wife was a middle school teacher. They had complete opposite schedules. He eventually went back to get his masters in teaching and now he teaches high school journalism and English with some freelance reporting on the side (mostly during football season).

  2. ZSD*

    Well, first, it depends how serious the relationship. Obviously, you’re going to run some things by a spouse that you wouldn’t involve a casual bf/gf in.
    Second, assuming the relationship is serious (married or living together, or at least getting close to that point), if the career change would significantly affect the s.o., I think they should have some input into the decision. Some examples:
    -Taking the new job would involve moving to a new city (or state)
    -The new job would be a significant pay cut, rather than a raise
    -The new job involves significantly more travel or longer hours than the current one
    In those cases, it makes sense to ask your s.o., “Is this the type of life we want to lead together?”
    For the example of becoming a police officer, I could see asking, “Will this make you constantly worried, such that your fears could affect the stability of our relationship?” If the answer is legitimately yes, then you’d have to decide whether the career or the relationship is more important to you.

    1. NotAnotherManager!*

      This is a great list and basically what we live by (though we are old enough that we also look at whether there is significant change to benefits, particularly healthcare and retirement, as well). When you are partnered, you have to consider how what you do affects other people in your family/relationship. My job tends to be one of the most stressful things in our relationship because of the 24/7, last-minute-staying-late nature of it. It encroaches into family time, and it means my partner has to compensate for things I’m not able to do (e.g., take my kids to school when it starts the same time as my job).

      That said, I would never tell a potential employer I had to consult my partner. I would simply ask for time to review and consider the offer with a mutually agreeable deadline for a decision.

      1. Language Student*

        +1. Especially with a career change, moving into a highly stressful and tine-consuming job… yeah, I’d be talking to my partner before deciding. Not so much for permission, but to figure out how it would work for us and to think the whole decision over.

        1. Infinity Anon*

          Yes. It’s not permission (at least not for me), but I wouldn’t make a serious life change without giving my partner a chance to say how they feel about it, especially if it will affect him. I would definitely want to discuss anything that would require us to move or shift more of the work at home onto him. I would be incredibly hurt if he accepted a job without telling me before hand. Not because I get to veto it, but because telling me about it is a sign that he respects me and acknowledges that this is a partnership.

      2. Cobol*

        That’s interesting. I’ve told employers in the past-and had people tell me when I extended an offer-that very thing and it didn’t even occur to me that it would turn somebody off.

        1. many bells down*

          I mean, employers know that if you’re in a long-term relationship, you are probably going to be weighing your partner’s opinion. When Mr. Bells interviewed for his current job, which required us to relocate to a different state, they assumed it as a given so much so that they flew BOTH of us out for the interview. So while he was doing his interview, I was seeing if I actually wanted to pick up and move.

          1. Saturnalia*

            Yep, partner’s new company flew both of us out for his interview with the same intention… I get food poisoning the first night and barely made it out of the hotel for (what felt to me like) a death-march tour of newcity led by newboss before he got the offer literally at the gate of the airport. They were that serious about making sure I was sold on things that they wouldn’t make the offer until I got their pitch too.

            For the data point, we’re partnered and don’t intend to marry. We keep finances separate. We both have been through divorce and are pretty damn autonomous… And also we are in love with each other’s brains so of course we are going to get each other’s perspective and input on most things!

      3. anonymouse*

        Same here. I wouldn’t tell an employer I want to talk to my wife about something – but I would DEFINITELY be talking to my wife to make a family decision like accepting a new job. Our jobs affect our partners, our families, our free time outside of work! (Also, sidenote, am a woman married to a woman in case that isn’t clear in my comments. Not that it matters, but maybe it reads differently if it’s unclear.)

      4. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

        Oh, that’s interesting. Why wouldn’t you mention you’re speaking to your partner?

        1. anonymouse*

          for me personally, I’d just find it simpler to say, “I’m going to review the information and make my decision by ____, I look forward to being in touch by end of week!” or something like that. Rather than “I need to discuss with my partner” – I don’t know what they’d infer from that, so I’d just use different language. For all I know, the interviewer is close to someone with a controlling spouse and it’s a red flag for them hearing me say that, or they’re like OP and their “skin crawls” when someone wants to involve their partner in the conversation about life changes. Easier just to avoid, in my opinion!

          1. designbot*

            It does make it sound more like a gatekeeper/permissions issue, vs. the normal course of decisionmaking. Even though we know that many (most?) people do talk these things over with the spouse, we’re not hiring the spouse so recoil a bit against the idea that the spouse might have a say in something about our business.

        2. Business Cat*

          I don’t know NotAnotherManager!’s reasoning, but I think it’s one of those details that an employer doesn’t *have* to know. “I’ll need x amount of time to consider the offer,” is really all you’re obligated to share. In contrast, “I’ll be mulling over your offer while taking tea with the Queen,” or “I’ll be hashing out this decision with my therapist and will get back to you,” or “I’ll need to check in with my Roller Derby league to see if they will work around my job schedule,” are not truly imperative details to share with a hiring manager.

          You’ll be doing any number of things to determine whether an offer is the right fit for you–going over your budget, taking your lifestyle/schedule into consideration, feeling out pros vs cons, etc. While consulting your partner/spouse/SO is one of the more expected responses, I could see where a lot of people would see it as an extraneous detail that is not really any of the employer’s business.

          1. Dankar*

            I don’t know… I think that, given the opportunity, I would not hesitate to namedrop the Queen to anyone who would listen, including prospective employers.

          2. NotAnotherManager!*

            This is it exactly. It’s not pertinent to the discussion I’m having with the employer about my job and doesn’t (or shouldn’t) really matter to them as long as I’m giving a response on their timeline. I tend to be a fairly private person (not so private that people with whom I work don’t know I’m married or have children once they get to know me), and, particularly in an interview phase, I don’t want to give anyone a ton of information outside my actual interview performance and references to form an opinion of me.

            I will also add that I hire new graduates, many of whom tell us they need to consult their parents before taking the job. I get it, and, had I reasonable and sane parents, I might have done the same, but it comes across as having to ask Mom & Dad’s permission before making an adult decision, and I’d prefer to avoid that perception.

            1. Mayor of Llamatown*

              When I was job hunting I would tell hiring managers/HR recruiters that I would need to discuss the offer with “my brain trust”. That included my significant other and my parents, not in terms of getting permission but because they were good, reasonable, sane people with a wealth of knowledge and experience who could help me weigh the decision. Using a non-descript moniker for that group of people meant that I never looked immature/in need of reassurance, but I also gave them generic details of what I needed to do before I accepted the job.

              1. Teapot Librarian*

                Ooh, I like this. I have been known to post questions on FB “because I don’t have a spouse to talk this through with…”. I think I’ll refer to those as asking my brain trust from now on :-)

        3. Language Student*

          For me, I hate bringing my partner up until I’ve spent some time actually working somewhere. You never know when someone’s going to get super into questioning you about your life and I don’t want to out myself too soon, nor do I want to avoid using “she” pronouns when talking about my partner.
          I’m also worried about looking indecisive or needing to rely on someone else’s opinion.

          1. Junior Dev*

            Yes to both. I’m a bisexual woman and in addition to potentially worrying about outing myself, I work in a male dominated field and there’s a lot of pressure on women to not seem like family will detract from our careers.

        4. IANAL (I Argue Nightly About Llamas)*

          I just want to throw in that, for people in the LGBTQIA community, discussing a partner can “out” a person. In many states in the US (possibly even most states), it’s perfectly legal to fire/refuse to hire someone just because they’re gay. In that event, a queer person wants to be as tight-lipped as possible about their partner/spouse for protection.

          1. Language Student*

            +1. Even if you have legal protections, some might be concerned about unconscious bias, and how it might affect relationships at work or promotions and such later on.

            1. Rich*

              I agree with this. Laws and protections exist, but unconscious biases can be hard to prove. (Correct me if I’m wrong, but even an active bias is hard to prove unless someone says the exact words, I would think.)

        5. Kathleen Adams*

          I would have no hesitation in saying “I need to think about this and discuss it with my husband.” If a potential employer had a problem with that, well, that’s just too dang bad.

        6. Optimistic Prime*

          In addition to what others said, for me there’s an extra gender component. I’m a woman, and I don’t want me saying that to color people’s perceptions of me and my work style right off the bat. Even though it’s a totally normal thing and people of all genders do this…sometimes people interpret it differently when it comes from a woman.

    2. k.k*

      This really sums up how we’ve approached it (we’re married). For example, I took a paycut to make a career change. Spouse was heavily involved in this decision because we share finances and it meant changes in our spending habits. Spouse took a job that involved weekend and evening hours. I was involved in that choice because it meant a serious change in how often we saw each other, who would be responsible for various household tasks, how we would handle family events, etc. If it’s going to impact the other person, they get to be involved.

      1. Ramona Flowers*

        Oh yes, events. I cannot bring my husband to your summer wedding, however many months or years notice you give, if it clashes with a major music festival like Glastonbury, as we can’t afford to have him not work that. I’m okay with that but some people would mind.

        1. Purple snowdrop*

          My friend likes messing with people saying that her husband has not had a Sunday off all the time they’ve been together.

          He’s a vicar :)

    3. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

      This is a great list/framework for how to approach these conversations.

    4. pope suburban*

      This is how my husband and I have approached it. He’s in a field that has a lot of great opportunities in very remote locations- where I might not be eligible to live in the housing, or where there might not be jobs I can take (or they’re exclusively service-industry jobs, with corresponding sporadic hours and low pay). Fortunately, there are also a lot of great opportunities in cities, but when he was just starting out in his career, we did have to think it over. There were scenarios where I might have moved with him, and scenarios where I would have maintained a place of my own where he could stay when he was not working (A lot of these jobs are seasonal, which changes the math a little). The bottom line was that since so many of these jobs would have required major upheavals, he didn’t want to make the decision unilaterally. Which fortunately never ended up happening, but we knew the field and we talked about it a lot in the interest of being prepared.

    5. Allison*

      I would add:

      – you’re both insured through your job, and a change in job could mean a significant change in coverage (like having to switch from a really good HMO to a high-deductible plan with a health savings account, which isn’t bad but is different and could change their care options as well as yours)
      – your new job would have significantly less vacation, which especially if you have a family, could mean a big change in how often your family travels
      – you’re the one who takes the kids out of school when they’re sick, takes them to the doctor, and/or stays home with them, and the new job wouldn’t offer you the flexibility required to keep doing that.

      1. kbeers0su*

        I would also add- as with the LW- if there is a particular risk to the job that the person would be taking. I work in a field that generally does not have risks, but the role that I took a year ago does bring a certain set of risks. I’m in a high-profile position where I make decisions that affect other people’s lives. My partner was significantly concerned about the risks, to the point that he wanted me to get a concealed carry. The conversation wasn’t necessarily “can I do this?” but “how will this affect us, and how much do your concerns get to weigh on this conversation?”

        (Ultimately he’s not in the field and doesn’t understand that the *perceived* risks that he has are actually minor, considering how many people do what I do across the country. So a lot of our conversation was about the reality of what I would be doing, the protections my employer provided, and if the negligible risks were worth it. Which they were!)

        1. Observer*

          I would mention, though, that (even going by the original letter without the additional explanation posted below), people need to really put a lid on assumptions based on stereotypes. The OP’s brother is apparently worried because she’s “tiny”. That’s just nonsense, and has no bearing on the realities of the job.

          1. VioletEMT*

            One of the most bada– cops I know is a 5’2″ lady. She is very fit and strong and can hold her own physically. She is also the best de-escalator in her department and rarely uses her weapon. Size isn’t everything.

    6. cataloger*

      I was just remembering the letter where the husband of the new employee was now subject to the new company’s trading policy, including declaring (and asking permission to make) trades.

      1. Ledgerman*

        I have to annually disclose all of my assets, and “my” assets and financial relationships include my spouse/domesticA partner and dependent’s assets as well.

        Which on a practical level means I have to ask my husband for the info on what exactly is in his 401(K) each year, info on the business he owns a piece of, etc.

        We definitely talked about it before I took the job!

    7. A.N.O.N.*


      I would never leave a job/take a job – or make any massive life-changing decision – without discussing it with my long-term BF because:

      A) Anything that impacts my income and benefits will impact our/his financials, including the amount we anticipate having for spending, saving, etc. A huge increase in my salary might mean we take that Greece vacation; a salary cut may mean we cut back on how often we go out for a fancy dinner.
      B) A change could impact our relationship/duties. If new job has longer hours, we’ll obviously see each other less, which could impact our dynamic. Or if new job requires that I leave the house before him, that may impact our morning roles (ie, he’ll have to feed the cats in the morning).
      C) I care about him and value his opinion. I want him to be a part of a massive life decision because he might have a perspective on it that I’ve overlooked that he knows matters to me.

      Regarding YB’s situation, I think it’s valid that he wants to discuss it with her. If his only objection is that he fears for her safety, then that’s something they need to discuss. Relationships differ, so it’s hard to say how much weight his opinion should have over hers – that’s something they’ll need to figure out themselves.

    8. Erin*

      Being a police officer is more than a job. I think is more of a calling, which requires a bigger commitment than just working in an office. Like, being a priest, doctor or nurse or joining the military. It’s not like working at UPS and thinking about working for the post office. You’re working strange hours and putting yourself in harms way. I’m not even talking about being shot. Police get ran over on accident preforming traffic stops. It’s a huge deal and being a police officer is a lifestyle. Which if you’re in a committed relationship can be a deal breaker.

  3. Housemouse*

    I mean, when you’re partnered up, you have to take your partners’ thoughts and feelings into consideration.

    In some situations we’ve seen here on AAM, the partners have gotten way too involved.

    In this situation, I understand YB’s thought process, but if his partner can show him that she can handle herself, then he needs to take a step back.

    But there are times when you do have to think about how your actions are going to affect your partner. If your dream job is in China, but your spouse’s mother lives nearby to where you currently live and is sick and he wants to take care of her, you have to think about what would happen if you said “Screw you, this is my dream job, I’m taking it.” If you want to take a job that pays significantly less than what you’re currently making, you have to talk with your partner about how that decrease is going to affect your household, and if it’s a smart move you can afford to make. If you want to take a job that puts you on the road 75% of the time, but your partner isn’t able to handle the household alone, or doesn’t think they can deal with you being gone so much, you have to think about how your decisions will affect them.

    1. Housemouse*

      And honestly, there are many people who are willing to put up with the annoyances of someone else encroaching on their autonomy because they feel there’s a greater benefit in being with a partner.

      1. MicroManagered*

        You said it perfectly.

        I think it can be difficult to understand to an outsider who doesn’t share the same values about life choices. Though I’m married, I identify with OP’s disclaimer of that they’ve never had, nor wanted, a serious relationship because I’m childfree by choice. When people discuss life-altering choices revolving around children, my immediate reaction (internally, mentally) is “why would you want to do THAT?” So I get it. But at the same time, when you make the decision to have a family (whether that’s a partner and/or children), you have to consider them when making serious life-changes. That’s just how it is.

        1. Housemouse*

          Yes, you hit the nail on the head with the kids example. I am also married but childfree by choice and it makes me absolutely crazy (internally) when parents give up their entire weekends to shuttle their kids around to various activities. How positively mind-numbing that sounds to me. But these people love their children and want to do right by them, so they give up their free time to help make their kid happy. The benefits outweigh the costs. I’ve decided that the costs of having kids are too high for me. LW has decided that the costs of having a partner are too high for her.

          1. Sally*

            It shouldn’t make *you* crazy that *other* people shuttle their kids around. That’s their business and you have no standing to judge. I’m sure most other people are different from you in various ways and it doesn’t need to drive you nuts. But if you go crazy at the idea of YOU having to be a kid’s shuttle, then yeah, the cost/benefit for you in particular points towards a child-free lifestyle.

            1. MicroManagered*

              I can’t speak for HouseMouse but when I “go crazy” thinking about people giving up their resources for their children, it’s not the kind of judgment I think you’re reading into our exchange. It’s more of a vehement feeling that that’s not the life for me. And that IS OKAY to think/feel. I look at someone covered head to toe in tattoos and think the same thing… even as I admire the gorgeous artwork I can go “wow why would someone do that?” and not be judging their choice necessarily. I just can’t imagine doing it myself.

            2. Optimistic Prime*

              I feel like this is an unrealistic expectation. People have feelings about other people’s behaviors; it’s just part of living in a social world. I can look at others and think to myself “Man, that sounds super boring to me” without harshly judging – or saying out loud – any of those things.

    2. Jessie the First (or second)*

      “if his partner can show him that she can handle herself, then he needs to take a step back.”

      This bothers me. The idea that she has to prove to him that she can do it – that’s not okay. At all. He is not the judge of whether she can “handle herself” and he is not the judge of whether she will be safe in the job.

      I get that he could be concerned – being a police officer can be a dangerous job, and so that is a fair thing to worry about. It does not stop being dangerous just because she can “handle herself.”

      But I agree that in a committed relationship (not just dating, but actually more long-term planning committed partners) you have to talk with your partner about finances and schedule changes, jobs that would require moves, etc. Those things affect both people as a couple. (And I just operate in a way that means I like to process things with my partner, so even with no changes to any of that, I’d be talking.)

      1. Housemouse*

        It didn’t come out the right way. Basically, if he has real concerns about her being hurt on the job, they need to consider those. If I suddenly told my husband I wanted to work somewhere where I had to lift 50 pounds over my head repeatedly every day, he’d be right to have some qualms about it, because he knows I’m clumsy by nature and most likely would end up hurting myself in that job (and then costing us more money in hospital bills). But if YB’s only concern is that his partner is “small”, then that’s not a real concern. If she’s shown that she can handle herself just fine in the past, then he shouldn’t try to shut down her dreams of being a police officer. If she’s shown that she can’t run more than three feet without tripping, or she’s known to be a terrible aim with a gun, or she panics easily, then that’s worth a conversation about the nature of the job.

        1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

          It sounds like in the latter case it might be better to let her realize that for herself, though, right? I think it’s 100% valid to say, “There’s a high likelihood of injury or death for police officers, and that terrifies me.” It’s not so ok, ime, to say, “Right now you’re clumsy/panicky, and I don’t think you’re capable of undergoing the training necessary to overcome those natural tendencies and be successful at the job you want.”

          1. AndersonDarling*

            I agree that she will need to figure out her own limitations and abilities, and hopefully the husband can discuss those if they exist. I’ve had to bring my husband back to reality on a few occasions. He wanted to purchase a building and open a restaurant, but he has zero savings and neither of us has any business experience. He wanted to build art projects to sell full time, but he really doesn’t like people so selling art wouldn’t suit him well and he hadn’t tested the market or tried to build any projects.
            Luckily these points were flushed out in a discussion. But if he wanted to take my savings and start a business behind my back, then oh dang, that would be a marriage breaking decision.

            1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

              Those examples totally make sense to me, in large part because they significantly affect you and your household’s security—opening a restaurant with no experience and using up your personal assets puts you both in a financially vulnerable position, and becoming a full-time artist means a loss of at least one spouse’s income for the foreseeable future.

              I guess I think there’s a material difference between what you’ve described and YB saying, “well you’re petite/small/weak” as a response to “I’m thinking about becoming a police officer.” I think it’s because there are already so many hurdles and ingrained biases (often incorrect or misplaced) about women’s physical capabilities with respect to policing, firefighting, etc., that I have a bit of a knee-jerk reaction to “well you’re petite” as a rationale for “bringing someone down to earth.”

      2. MK*

        The people the girlfriend has to prove herself to are the ones who will decide if she will be admitted to the police academy. Not her boyfriend, who probably has no idea what it takes to handle being a policewoman.

  4. Bookworm*

    This is a hard question because it varies so much depending on what both parties are hoping for, and on convoluting factors, particularly children and if there is a relocation involved.

    As far as autonomy goes, most people know they’re making a trade-off when they accept a life partner, and children. If someone isn’t willing to consult with a life partner on this sort of thing, it will change the sort of relationship they’re going to have.

    1. Frances*

      Agreed. So many things go into this discussion such as how long you’ve been together (and plan on staying together), children, pets, joint finances/assets, etc. If the decision will affect more than just the job holder, it shouldn’t be made in a vacuum.

      Career decisions can also be put on the table by the other half of the relationship. There was a spell where my partner was absolutely misereable at work and would complain about it for hours every day. It got to the point where it affected home life and our ability to enjoy ourselves outside of work. That’s when I put my foot down and said that either the job changes or the attitude about the job changes.

  5. PhillyRedhead*

    I think that if a job could potentially involve a lot of travel, or even relocation, it would be disrespectful NOT to discuss it with a partner. My husband would be justifiably furious if I told him I’d taken a job that would have me away from home (and our 5-year-old child and 2 dogs) frequently.

    1. LeeGull*

      Exactly! My husband is currently in the running for a promotion that would move him from the office 2 miles from our house to one over an hour away. If he had taken it without bringing me into the discussion, I would be frustrated. We have children, so it would shift the burden of situations like “Oldest is sick and needs to be picked up from school – what does the rest of your day look like?” (where we compare responsibilities and see who has the most flexibility) to “Sorry, boss, I need to pick my kid up from school and work from home the rest of the day” because husband would no longer have that schedule flexibility. Definitely something he and I would and should discuss, because we are partners and co-parents.
      I think anything that would change the dynamics of a household should be fair to discuss with a partner before accepting – whether financially, commute time, schedule flexibility, or stress load. And obviously big things like relocation!

    2. Becky*

      My brother-in-law is, this morning, interviewing for a position that, if he is offered and he accepts it, would involve selling their current house and moving them and their 5 kids 15oo miles across the country. You’d better believe that is a decision that my sister (his wife) has input in.

  6. Raine*

    The thing is some jobs might require relocation, they might require discussions about childcare, they might require a discussion about budget or insurance (can we afford to take a job at this salary but without these benefits?). Because when you’re married or dating things like this don’t just affect you. They can affect the whole household. If my partner wants to take a job that requires moving, but jobs in my field are scarce in the location then what do we do? Do I have to go back to school to get a degree that’s a better fit for the area? Do we go temporary long distance? Do I quit without having anything lined up and just hope I can find work there before we burn through our savings?

    1. SM*

      Those are my thoughts exactly. If I ended up getting a different job in the same city with similar pay, I would mention it in normal conversation with my husband, but I wouldn’t need to “discuss” it with him. But, if a job change directly impacts him, such as relocating to a different city, or a pay decrease, or a totally different schedule, I would discuss it with him to make sure he’s on board because once you’re living together or married or have kids, its a partnership – not a free for all.

    2. LJL*

      Exactly this. My job requires significant travel, so I discussed it with my husband as when I’m traveling, all the household duties are on him. I’d expect him to do the same if the situation were reversed.

  7. Dankar*

    I said I wanted to discuss my job offer with my partner when I received it (and that was true!), but primarily so I could buy time to see if I had any other offers coming through and to think a little more about the pros and cons of the offer. It’s a reasonable way to ask for additional time before committing to a job, and I suspect that’s what most of the people you speak to are really using it for.

    That being said, I’ve been with my partner for more than 10 years, and we’ve chosen universities, grad programs and jobs with the other person’s careers and challenges in mind. Asking someone to uproot their life and their plans to follow you somewhere is a huge deal, and I would never commit to something without at least getting his input first. If I’m passionate about something, I have 0 doubts that he would support me. That being said, if he had real reservations and wasn’t comfortable with doing the long distance relationship thing again, I might turn an offer down. Some things are more important than work for me, and he’s definitely one of them.

    1. The IT Manager*

      I said I wanted to discuss my job offer with my partner when I received it (and that was true!), but primarily so I could buy time.

      I think this is a great use of that excuse to buy yourself some more time to think as long as it is a significant enough change that will impact your partner that it’s reasonable to he the discussion.

    2. Rebekah*

      I think the buying time thing is a big one. Often when I say that I want to discuss something with my husband first, it is to avoid being pressured into a decision on the spot.

      Also, I find that we make better decisions together than either of us do separately. The process of talking through important issues helps to clarify problems, find solutions, and come up with alternatives.

      1. Samata*

        Yes! This. We’ve both reconsidered options – or made them more confidently – after discussing the impact they will have on our relationship and our household.

      2. Malibu Stacey*

        “Often when I say that I want to discuss something with my husband first, it is to avoid being pressured into a decision on the spot.”

        I have married friends who use it as an excuse to say no in social situations without hurting feelings “Oh, sorry I can’t go to your [event that has no appeal to me whatsoever] because my husband has A Thing That Night/won’t let me spend $.”

      3. Corinne*

        Exactly. I think this is a point that LW (and “autonomy junkies”) are missing – I don’t discuss things with my partner because I HAVE to, I do it because I WANT to. I trust his opinion, it helps me think things through, and we are a great team. Hence the term partner. We work together, and I like it that way.

  8. businessfish*

    Often, career moves have a significant impact on family members/significant others. These could include:
    – needing to move (definitely not a solo decision if you’re part of a partnership
    – a change in hours, travel, or even commute time might mean a change in the amount of time you’d see your family, might impact childcare arrangements, etc.
    – a change in compensation might impact your quality of life and affect family choices, as might a change in benefits
    – your partner may have insight on what you’re looking for that you might be glossing over (red flags, you have repeatedly said you hate this type of work but it sounds like a significant part of the job)

    I certainly wouldn’t be okay with my partner interfering in career decisions, but his life is affected by my work, so he is a part of the conversation (with me, not my employer or potential employer)

    1. Matilda Jefferies*

      And in the case of police work in particular, there is also a significant risk to personal safety, that isn’t typically present in office jobs. Same with firefighters and military, and probably others that I can’t think of off the top of my head. That doesn’t necessarily mean the partner gets a veto, but they certainly have a much bigger stake in the outcome than if the person is moving from one accounting firm to another.

      1. Future Homesteader*

        Yup! My husband considered a career move into policing for what turned out to be only a hot second. But when he was thinking about it, I told him it wasn’t my first choice for him (for a number of reasons), but that if he felt like it was important to him and a career he really wanted, then we could explore it further and I would do some hard thinking about my concerns, why I had them, whether they were reasonable, and how we could address them together. Ultimately, it would be his choice, but not without careful consideration on both our parts.

    2. k.k*

      your partner may have insight on what you’re looking for that you might be glossing over (red flags, you have repeatedly said you hate this type of work but it sounds like a significant part of the job)

      That’s so true! I’m job hunting now and I was recently telling him about a job I was applying for. His response was “That’s sounds terrible”. Because it did. I’ve been discouraged and getting desperate in my search, so I had convinced myself it sounded better despite it being a terrible fit for me. Now if I had still wanted to move forward he couldn’t stop me from doing it, only strongly advice against it. But in the end, I wouldn’t have married someone if I didn’t respect their opinion and judgement, so it’s unlikely that either of us would end up doing something the other person thought was a terrible idea.

    3. Ramona Flowers*

      “your partner may have insight on what you’re looking for that you might be glossing over”

      Oh yes! I had a choice between two offers. I wrote a list of pros and cons. My husband asked which one would make me always wonder what if. He said he’d seen the look on my face when I got the call for the job I now do.

      It was paid less with a longer commute. On paper the other job made sense but my heart wanted this one and you know what? I have never regretted it. I am SO happy. I recently looked for the person who got the other job on LinkedIn and her description of her duties made it clear I would have been bored and miserable.

      So involving my partner helped me make the choice that was right for me!

    4. Another person*

      Agree with all this – my husband and I both changed jobs this year and we discussed our respective job offers with each other before accepting because of all of the above reasons (except the moving.) Of course it was ultimately my decision to accept my job and his decision to accept his job. But when you share a life and management of a household it just seems inconsiderate not to talk about it first.

      Saying you want to talk over an offer with your partner also gives you the gift of buying time to think over an offer you aren’t 100% sure you want to accept without sounding less than all aboard enthusiastic about it.

    5. CB*

      Yeah, it’s not just the big relocation/night shift/ etc issues, as people are citing above – it’s the offer details, right? This commute means I leave and return a half hour later. This offer is $5k less than we hoped, that means a slower payoff on student loans. I had hoped for an extra week of PTO, but no, can we stay satisfied with our vacations as they have been. The new employer turns out to have a dental plan that won’t work with our favorite office. There are so many ways the offer will affect a partner! it doesn’t have to be a marriage with kids for the other person’s opinion to be a factor.

  9. Language Student*

    I think it’s very dependent on the relationship and its dynamics. Maybe financial decisions are made together, and with the change to benefits or travel expenses it can help to discuss the full picture with your partner if they have the other half of the picture (as well as for a sounding board). Plus for those with kids, it could be extra time away from there children or require different childcare arrangements – maybe the partner deals with those.
    I’d draw the line at someone telling their partner which job to take (for my personal relationship) but I think there’s viable reasons for discussing a career decision with your partner.

  10. NPOQueen*

    To me, the final decision should be left to the person who is working, but it’s a partnership. If I wanted a job that would take me 3000 miles away from my partner, they’d have every right to weigh in. Even small things can have unintended consequences, and I think it’s best to discuss what those might be. If you make a decision that goes against the interests of your partner, then it’s not really a partnership anymore. I could move 3000 miles for my dream job, but I can’t force my partner to come with me. So no matter what, I’d have a conversation; past that, I’d do pros/cons for both of us, because we’re supposed to be growing and moving forward together, whatever that might look like for us.

  11. Margali*

    >When I was working in recruitment, a lot of candidates said that they needed to discuss the offer with their partners as well.My gut reaction is to recoil from that. My skin crawls whenever anyone mentions talking to significant others about decisions like these. I can see using them as sounding boards, but ultimately I believe that the decision is up to the person who is going to have to work the job.

    Not sure why that would make your “skin crawl.” The various aspects of a partner’s job are going to have an effect on the other partner. Obviously, the final decision is up to the job applicant, but in a healthy partnership you discuss things that will affect you both. Hopefully you can come to an easy agreement that taking the job is good for the partner/family unit. However, the discussion may bring up something the applicant hadn’t completely thought out, like “OK, but your busy time, when you can’t take any time off, coincides with my job’s big conference, which I also can’t skip. How are we going to handle sick kids/pets/other emergency issue during that time?”

    1. paul*

      Yeah that came across very weirdly to me. Bluntly, it just sounds like the person isn’t compatible with serious relationships at this stage. Which is fine, not everyone is. But to be squicked out by someone valuing what their life partner thinks of a major career move is very, very strange to me.

      1. Kathleen Adams*

        Oh, me too. “Skin crawl”? Really? Yeesh.

        Look, a in strong marriage or other long-term relationship, the couple is in a partnership. They’re a team. Of course they have to consult with each other about things that affect both of them.

        What would worry *me* is if someone didn’t think he/she had to consult with the person he’s linked his life to. That would be truly disturbing because it would indicate an unhealthy balance of power.

        1. Falling Diphthong*

          If you want skin-crawling, try “It’s easier to ask forgiveness than permission.” Not good in a romantic partner, or a roommate, or a coworker, or anyone whose decisions are impacting you.

      2. DC*

        To me, that was not only strange, but also a little concerning from someone doing the hiring. If they’re judging applicants and reacting that way due to a typically normal piece of life (as evidenced by comments here), then I’m concerned about their judgement.

      3. Kyrielle*

        Me also. $LastJob moved the office so that instead of 20-30 minutes of commute time per day, I had 1.5-2 hours worth of commute time per day. We were not thrilled but, for a variety of reasons, I stuck it out (probably longer than I should have) after that happened.

        Had that been a potential new job, I am pretty sure my husband would have expressed deep concern about the impact of that commute on our time together and my quality of life, and he would not have been wrong.

        We didn’t have a very long discussion about my move to a new job, mostly because it came with a bunch of positives for me but also for us. Those positives-for-us absolutely factored into my decision. But I did discuss it with him, in the vein of, “I really like this; I think I’ll enjoy this work, and look at all these awesome direct and indirect benefits.” There was one small change that was negative that we decided we could live with, and there was also the impact that for the first three months I asked him to handle every kid sick / kid emergency that he could, bringing me in only for days when he was in front of clients, for example.

        It definitely had an impact on him, and our children. Mostly a positive impact, but still an impact. He deserved to be part of the discussion. I absolutely could have still decided to do it if he was against it, but he had a right to be heard – and I had a right and a need to hear how he felt about it and why. We’re partners; we’re not vague acquaintances. We’ve agreed to twine our lives together, and our actions affect each other.

        1. Kyrielle*

          LW – AH. Just realized something as I typed this. Involving my spouse in a discussion of a potential job change isn’t giving up my autonomy. I can still make any choice I wish (that’s physically possible).

          It’s doing two other things:

          1. Letting him maintain -his- autonomy, because where my actions impact him, if I make the decision without even hearing him out, I’ve taken that from him.

          2. Giving me data I need to make my best decision. If I want to accept a 6-month contract research position in the hinterlands of Alaska (…I don’t), and he is 100% unwilling to follow me and would want our children to stay down here also, that gives me a data point. What could I do with that data?

          Maybe I use that data point to ask him whether I could take the position and we could be apart for the six months, and some of the money I contribute hires help around the house to make up for my absence. In six months I come home. In the meanwhile we call each other, text, Skype, and do everything we can to keep me connected with him and the kids.

          Maybe, if things have already been sliding, it results in a separation or divorce, if I want to go strongly enough. I can make that choice (and so can he). But what doesn’t happen in this case is, no one gets blindsided by a divorce as a consequence of something they just did, never realizing it was an issue.

          Maybe instead I say, “Darn. That looks like an awesome position and I really wanted to do it…but I don’t want to be away from you guys that long. I’ll turn it down.” And then I look for something else that sounds good, but that I think might be more-okay for him.

          Choosing to talk to a spouse or long-term partner about job decisions isn’t about letting them decide for you*, and it’s not about anyone giving up autonomy. It’s about negotiating two people (or more, with kids) whose lives are intertwined, whose actions affect each other, and doing so -without- rendering either person voiceless or devoid of choice in matters.

          * In the healthy cases. We’ve certainly seen a few letters here where this statement wasn’t true, and that’s huge red-flag territory to me.

      4. Not a Real Giraffe*

        It came across to me like OP equated “discuss this with my partner” to “get permission from my partner,” and so I can understand a visceral reaction to that sentiment. (I don’t agree with OP here, but I can see where the latter would make my skin crawl.)

        1. Junior Dev*

          Yes, and if you’ve known anyone like the woman from that one letter whose husband wouldn’t let her drive, or like that OP whose husband resigned on her behalf, or the OP who emailed the boss for “encroaching” on the relationship with his girlfriend by having drinks with her, I can see how that’s going to be your first reaction.

          I agree that in a serious partnership it’s important to discuss major life changes with your partner, but I also sympathize with OP’s reaction quite a bit.

          1. Gazebo Slayer*

            Yeah, I’ve known women who have to ask their husband’s permission for everything and it infuriates me, so I understand the “skin crawl” reaction – especially if your family or close friends have been in such relationships and you’ve been conditioned to think that’s what a long term relationship is normally like.

            1. Kathleen Adams*

              I’m sorry, but with all the good will in the world, I have to say that “skin crawl” is a serious overreaction. Logic alone should be enough to inform someone that when two people’s lives and finances are intertwined, changes *that will affect them both* have to be discussed. And the dictionary should be enough to convince anybody that “discuss with” isn’t the same as “ask permission of.”

              We all have issues, and I get that. But we all also have a responsibility to realize that not everyone has those issues. Unless the OP has been given reasons to suspect that a specific relationship is seriously unequal in some way, it’s a great mistake – and fundamentally unjust – to take something as fair and logical as “I have a major decision to make, so I need to talk it over with the person besides me who will be most affected by it” and twist it into something evil.

      5. BF50*

        It’s not just that they’re not compatible with a serious relationship, it’s that their default assumption is that a discussion is asking permission. The assumption of the worst is interesting to me and if it were me, once it was pointed out, it would be something I’d really want to examine about myself and my thought processes.

        Usually when someone is discussing a job choice with a partner, it’s to work out logistics. As others have mentioned it’s frequently for things that impact the day to day life of another person and it’s just selfish to not discuss with a partner if you are going to turn their life upside down.

        Also, having your partner be a police office, may be a legitimate deal breaker for a lot of people, and maybe the letter writer’s brother is one of them. My husband and I would be having a serious discussion if he came home tomorrow and said he was closing his business to be a police officer. That’s a huge change and I don’t know if I would be ok with it, but I’m thinking not. What if he died and left our children fatherless? Sure, if he’s “just a boyfriend” he shouldn’t be telling this woman how to live her life, but not everything is so black and white.

    2. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

      This is strange to me, as well. I’m single, and it makes perfect sense to me that someone will want to check in with their partner, particularly if taking the job would require changes in their roles as partners. It’s pretty normal (and healthy/good!) to want to discuss those issues with the person you might share your household, bank accounts, children/pets, or simply your future.

      When you’re in a serious/long-term relationship, it’s important that both partners are fully behind one another’s career changes. This doesn’t have to be inherently controlling or a damper on one person’s autonomy—it’s more about revisiting your agreement for how your shared future is running. A career shift from something like jewelry design to policing is pretty significant. YB doesn’t get to veto his girlfriend’s dreams, but he gets to share that the job change makes him actively worried for her physical safety and that he feels helpless about the fact that she may be in danger and he won’t be able to do anything about it.

    3. OhNo*

      I can see how it could be weird to hear that. More so, for me, if it was a (presumably heterosexual-partnered) woman who said, “I have to run this by my partner/spouse”, because it drops hints of a dynamic that I find unpleasant.

      Plus, some people just have different tolerance levels for relationship-talk at work, and different ideas of how that plays into professionalism. I’ve worked with people who believe really strongly that even mentioning that you’re in a relationship of any kind is unprofessional. I’ve also worked with people where 99% of their friendly chatter is about the adorable thing their spouse did that weekend/morning. As long as the OP’s preferences in this area aren’t affecting the hiring decisions, I don’t think it’s worth harping on.

      1. paul*

        I’ve never heard/seen anyone that considers even mentioning that you’re in a relationship as unprofessional. That’s very extreme.

        I also don’t see “I’m going to discuss this with my partner/wife/husband” as dropping hints of a bad dynamic, absent other stuff. Plenty of people in relationships discuss career things with their spouse.

        1. Junior Dev*

          I don’t think people explicitly say this but I do think there’s a double standard for women (who as women are subject to all the weird pressures about “having it all” and often subject to unwarranted assumptions that they’re planning to leave the workforce to have kids) and for LGBT people (since even mentioning the existence of a same-sex partner is seen by some as “shoving your lifestyle down my throat”).

          1. Junior Dev*

            I meant to write “women partnered to men” but I suppose the same dynamic sometimes happens for women in relationships with women also.

          2. Zahra*

            “Having it all” is so wrong as a concept. No one has ever had it all, if you define having it all as:
            – Having a fulfilling career with progression and all the networking/happy hour/events that includes
            – Being present for your kids (school events, volunteer for outings to museums or other, help them do their homework, put them to bed at a decent hour, put them in group sports activities such as soccer and be at each match, etc.)
            – Cooking home-made meals
            – Have a Pinterest-worthy home
            – Be always perfectly dressed, coiffed and makeup applied, even on weekends
            – Have a great figure
            – Go out with your husband
            – Have a great sex life
            – Have time for yourself
            – Sleep enough
            – Not have a burnout

            Men never had that. They were not present for their kids (for most of them). They didn’t have to care for the household and all those domestic responsibilities. Why should women be more or less Stepford Wives with a career tacked on? It makes no sense at all.

      2. Amelia*

        Anecdote! I started interviewing people at work a few years ago. A lot of our candidates are older and often married. I can count on one hand the number of men who have received an offer and said, “I need to discuss this offer with my wife/partner.” They are much more likely to simply ask for a day or two to think about it, during which I assume they consult with their family. But women frequently say, “I need to talk to my husband about this before I accept.”

        So, I didn’t balk at the OP’s wording about it making her skin crawl. I also don’t think it means the OP is “not compatible with serious relationships”–whatever that means.

        1. OlympiasEpiriot*

          Yes. I prefer to say ‘let me think about this’. I will discuss any big changes with my nearest and dearest, but I don’t feel a need to justify it to an interviewer. If they aren’t going to approve or want me to think about it a bit, I doubt they’ll be more willing if I mention family.

          1. Erin*

            I’ll say I need to think about it to an interviewer if I got a job offer that I wasn’t thrilled with. I didn’t want to flat out say no. Keeping the door open might be a good thing just in case. But I would probably never say I need to talk this over with my husband. But I could see where someone was faced with a move or transfer where they would need to speak with their spouse. I already know that I wouldn’t take a job where I had to relocate or a long commute. So I’d just say no thanks.

        2. Optimistic Prime*

          Me either. I got what she meant by it. To me, hearing someone say it makes me itchy too – and I am IN a committed relationship myself (and have been for 16 years). But when I’m considering a decision like a job or a grad school admission, I don’t need to tell my interviewer “I need to discuss this with my husband” anymore than I need to tell her that I’d have to run my finances or check out day care or find a new dog sitter or whatever else. Just “I need a few days to think about it.”

      3. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

        I think folks have said this effectively upthread, but I think folks are reading “run this by my partner” as “get my partner’s permission.” I understand that certain statements can trigger icky feelings about a partner being controlling (or controlled), but it’s really dangerous to read in a meaning that isn’t necessarily there.

  12. Typhon Worker Bee*

    I once had to take a (small – like ~4%) salary cut to switch jobs into what’s turned out to be a much better career path. I did make sure my husband was OK with that, since we’d just paid for a wedding and were about a year into our first mortgage, and still adjusting to our lower disposable income.

    I’ve also taken a new job at a time that meant postponing a planned vacation by a few months – that was much less critical, but I still checked that he was OK with it before accepting the offer as-is rather than trying to negotiate extra unpaid time off. He moves jobs much more frequently than I do (typical contract is 3-6 months long) and also checks with me if anything affects a vacation or other event (some of his jobs involve working a lot of weekends).

    Other than that: sounding board only.

  13. Anonymous Poster*

    Married here. What affects one of us ultimately affects both of us, so career changes, being major, are major events for us as a family. So discussing offers with a spouse to me seems so, so normal since it’s a family decision that I wouldn’t be concerned at all about that line.

    For us, we think of ourselves as a single family unit now, instead of single people. It was a mind shift, but helped us not be miffed at one another acting independently and unintentionally hurting/impacting the other.

    1. ENFP in Texas*

      “What affects one of us ultimately affects both of us”

      This. And if you’re considering a career change, hopefully you and your partner have enough communication that it can be talked about.

      And if one partner has very strong reservations about the job change (i.e. “I worry about you becoming a police officer because it is a dangerous job and I’m afraid of losing you” then that’s something you have to work out together.

      1. Anonymous Poster*

        Yeah. I think most couples draw the ‘talk-to-me-first’ line at different places on a wide array of subjects. I’ve known some where one person had a credit card problem so every purchase was a discussion, and others where it was only major things over a certain dollar amount, and everything in between. It can really, really vary.

        It would be creepy to me if a spouse started interjecting into say, job duties that didn’t require a change to hour or a major shift in responsibility and stress, since that’s just normal work stuff. But I think it’s really case by case. Ultimately, the spouse/partner employed by the company has to do the talking and make the call, and the other getting into the middle is weird. But talking over offers or opportunities, or even pursuing opportunities that will entail major life changes or initiating a job search seem like normal topics to me.

  14. Tragic The Gathering*

    My husband is in a career that involves a lot of seemingly sporadic relocation in the way that a military career might (though it is in no way military). We have to stay in constant communication about job opportunities, even if they are just rumored or potential or in the “someone who knows someone who knows someone gave my name to someone else” way. We have to make all career decisions together because they effect both of us equally.

    That is true in the reverse as well. I’m thinking about changing jobs within my current organization, but there is the looming uncertainty of how long I will physically be here – so we have to keep talking and understand that these decisions affect both of us. Thankfully we don’t have children yet, but that will only mean we have to increase our communication and thought for the other in our future career decisions.

    I realize this is a more extreme case than what others might be dealing with, but in any job where one person’s career really changes the life of the other, you absolutely have to take that into account.

    1. KR*

      So much this except my husband is in the military. He’s now facing a decision about what job he wants to reenlist into and it’s absolutely a joint decision because it effects where we may be stationed, what kind of hours he will be working, how quickly he may promote (once he hits a certain rank relocation is almost unavoidable) and what his chances of deployment are. We are discussing this a lot lately because we are trying to stay in our current location as long as possible so I can stay in my job as long as possible – not to mention the financial discussions about how this will effect our pay and budget long term. If we move we have to downsize so we can live on his half of our pay until I find a job. That being said, I would never tell a potential employer that I need to discuss things with my husband first but it’s acceptable for him to say he needs to mull it over with me first because the military understands how big of a decision it is.

      1. Tragic The Gathering*

        It’s definitely difficult when another entity holds the control over your life (like the military in your case) and the only thing you can do to combat the fact that you don’t really make a lot of decisions for yourself is to openly communicate. I think employers who do control their employees’ family lives in this way typically understand that, and wouldn’t even think twice if someone said they needed to discuss with family before making a decision. I think if an employer DID have a problem with that, it would end up being a red flag for me.

    2. Mockingjay*

      If you are married or in a long-term committed relationship, absolutely your career choices impact your partner.

      In the 90s my husband and I got affected by the BRAC – Base Realignment and Closure. He was civilian government and a military reservist; I was a contractor with a very stable, good company and a great career path. His job was relocated south. Mine stayed in place (with my contract’s government agency). We had to choose:

      1) Stay and hope he found a local transfer within the government (lots of competition for the few openings) or another job as a contractor at time with hiring freezes.

      2) Move, which meant that I would have to find another job and childcare or stay home. COL in new location was lower, but the area was economically depressed. Finding comparable employment for me would not be easy. Staying home would be okay, but would definitely impact my career when I went back to resume it. He would have more opportunities for his career path in the new location, but would have to transfer reserve units. We’d have to sell one house and buy another. We also had to look at schools in the new location.

      We stayed up a lot of nights tossing pros and cons. Either way, one of us was going to take a hit in their career.

      In the end, we decided to go south and I stayed home. It turned out well enough for us – he had an opportunity a few years later to transfer to Europe, which was an amazing experience for us.

      I’ve been back in the workforce for 10 years now. Am I quite where I wanted to be career-wise? No, but other trade-offs have worked out. If you asked whether I would do it again, I would say that it’s whether we would do again. It was a joint decision.

    3. CityMouse*

      My Dad discussed his Navy career as well as any deployments extensively with my mom. When it was too much for our family, he got out. I have a friend who was married to someone in thr National Guard and her husband sought after and signed up for a year long deployment without so much as telling her first. They are no longer married.

      1. nonegiven*

        My friend had a boyfriend who was a JAG officer, was relocated to Germany and completely ghosted. (This was way back before the internet.) She wrote to him a few times and never got even a postcard. She was like, “All he had to do was say he wanted to break up, he didn’t need to move to Germany for that.”

  15. paul*

    I can’t imagine not talking to my wife about something like a relocation or buyout offer. Or a major career change.

    A good relationship is a partnership and you discuss major stuff with each other. Everything I just listed can impact how our household runs, so it’s something she’d need a say in (and the reverse is true too). Will this impact our insurance? How will this impact child care arrangements, family vacations, etc? Is there going to be a temporary reduction in household income? All those things impact your partner as well as you, so yes you should talk to them about it.

    1. BeezLouise*

      Basically this. My husband is my partner, in every sense, and it’s not that he’s the decision maker, clearly I make all my own decisions, but anything that involved a major change would be up for discussion.

      We’ve only been together about five years, but we’ve taken turns prioritizing each other’s career goals, and I suspect that will continue for a long time, so if a shift is being made that means the priority may be shifting, that’s definitely something we need to discuss.

    2. JessaB*

      This so much and I’m very tired of it being considered by many employers as a BAD thing. It’s not asking permission, it’s not they can’t function on their own, but if you live with, have children with or are married to someone it matters.

      If I give up a job that carries the medical insurance and he is in a job that doesn’t have any, that’s a BIG issue and needs to be discussed.

      We don’t have kids, but we do have a cat, if I end up having to travel more, and his job needs travel too, we need to have our friends come in and deal with that. If we did have kids it’d be far worse – you can have your friend drop by every other day to check on the cat (normally every day but she’s demand fed and won’t die if the box isn’t done once in a while, she’s a solo cat, large box.) Kids on the other hand need 24 hour supervision. You can’t just have a friend stop in. Paid care is expensive and if there aren’t family near, it’s an issue. Especially if the travel is NOT regularly scheduled (like you’re always out Wednesdays.) The shorter notice to caregivers, the more it costs.

      Moving costs money and may cost the partner their job if they have no job prospects in the new location.

      It’s not acting like you can’t make a decision or take care of yourself if you have to ask someone whose life you’re about to uproot if they mind if you do that. Heck it doesn’t matter if you have a partner, if there are people in the world who depend on you and you’re about to switch up major things they need to be looped in. One of a family of siblings and Wed is your day to sit with disabled mom? Well sorry new job no longer gives you Wed off. That MATTERS and you don’t do that without making sure that at minimum you cover a respite care worker to sit on Wed if your siblings can’t cover it for you.

      My list is pretty much

      1 . major compensation changes downward, even temporary (including insurance and other benefits. We have medical issues even moving to a new company that would take over a year to recover FMLA accessibility could be a big damned deal to us.)

      2. moving

      3. a schedule change that requires a reorganisation of how things work – if we were working one nights, one days because of child care and we changed to the same schedule that would be a big deal.

      4. change in travel levels same reasons as 3

      5. and yes changes to danger level – which includes things like moving from being what they used to call a khaki officer in the cops – basically clerk and in building work, to patrol or detectives (which ultimately if you’re not a civilian (they use a lot of civs now,) and you want a promotion you’re going to have to.) It means changing military MOS from something usually done in the US to something done in a war zone, or something that is likely to increase deployment time.

      And ultimately none of the above means the partner has a veto, but it could mean that the partner if they hate it decides to no longer BE a partner whether through “see ya bye,” or divorce depends on what kind of partner. But the patriarchal attitude that has held over from the years when for instance women did NOT have certain rights to themselves (basically pre 1978 or so,) should not be holding over now to make employers look badly on people whatever their gender for saying this change effects more than just me. I have to talk to people

      1. Truth Teller*

        I am going to be brutally candid here: if I were interviewing someone who said, “I need to think about how this job affects my cat,” there would be no job offer extended.

        1. HB*

          I don’t think there was any indication that Jessa would mention her cat in an interview so this is needlessly condescending.

          1. JessaB*

            My point was the cat would not probably be an issue but kids would it’s the level of difficulty to fill a position. I can get care for a cat on shorter cheaper notice than I can get care for a child. No, I would not mention my cat, that wasn’t the point I was trying to make.

        2. Erin*

          I have a small farm with livestock. I have to think about how a job would effect my ability to care for my animals. But also this is my ultimate career goal to grow the farm big enough where I can be self employed. But this is also what I tell employers when they ask where do you see yourself in 10 years.

  16. Rat Racer*

    I adore my Spouse. He is my most favorite person whom I’m not blood-related to. However, I have learned through the years that if he offers work advice, my smartest move is to do exactly the opposite.

    1. Rat Racer*

      Note – I was thinking about this in the context of tactical work advice (e.g. navigating office politics, negotiating a raise, managing my team). For larger decisions that impact our finances or family logistics, of course we discuss in detail. I just couldn’t risk poking fun of this beloved person in my life, who despite notable success in his own career, gives the worst job advice ever.

    2. MK*

      I don’t think that’s actually relevant. The question wasn’t about work advice, but about consulting a partner about decisions.

      1. Fiennes*

        There’s significant gray area, though. Between day-to-day office issues and huge life-altering changes, there’s a whole field of questions. So I think it’s fair to raise this.

      2. Rat Racer*

        Your point is well taken. But I also agree with Fiennes that there are many significant questions (e.g. negotiating a raise, flex-time, reducing amount of travel) that fall in the in-between.

  17. anna green*

    I think it depends a lot on how much it will affect the other person. I live with my husband, so if I take one 9-5 job over another 9-5 job, it doesn’t really affect him at all, so that would really be my decision. However, if I am going to do something that will drastically change our schedule (working nights, travel, longer hours etc.) this will affect our whole lives, including who picks up the kids when, etc. So that really is something we both need to be on board with. Not that he would tell me “no you are not allowed”, just more that we want to work together to build a good life so its the smart thing to do.

  18. Managed Chaos*

    I would never tell a hiring individual that I needed to check with my spouse, but I always do if it is something that would impact us. We are a team, and we make most decisions together. If a new job is farther from home, a pay cut that will impact our lifestyle, or will otherwise change the life we have built together in a substantial way, I’m not going to make that choice unilaterally. He likewise would not make a choice like that without discussing it with me.

    1. Margali*

      There’s definitely a difference between “checking with” and “discussing with.”

    2. Nicki Name*

      You would hope that the HR individual is already assuming that if there are other adults in your household, you’ll be talking to them about any significant life changes the job would involve. (Though, after reading AAM for a while, it seems like reasonable assumptions don’t always hold!)

      1. JessaB*

        Yeh I still do not get why saying “big change, must talk with people who are affected by big change,” gets such a bad rep. I mean I get it, but I think it’s (argh, trying to find a non ableist word to describe what I think about it.) um assinine I guess. You think and you realise how many words we use to say we think something is not a bright idea are so darned abelist.

  19. EW*

    You have to take your partner’s opinion into consideration when it affects them. Whether through relocation, flexibility, hours, emotional energy, etc. Just cause you’re not doing the work doesn’t mean you aren’t being affect by the career move of your partner.

    That said, each individual relationship will vary on how much the opinion sways the final decision.

  20. MatScientist*

    While I would generally agree that most career decisions are individual decisions, there are issues that can require input from both sides of a couple. Location, childcare related issues, transportation issues, healthcare (if both are covered under a single policy), or even if one person will need to spend less time on something that requires input from both (i.e. their own business, etc.).

    For example, I’m at the end of a hiring process that would move me 2000 miles away. While my decision to take the job will be solely my own, I included my partner throughout the process, as requiring us to move 2000 miles or separate would be rather selfish. This also enabled us to ensure that the move would enhance both our careers, both had a chance to look for other options, and that we would be happier overall with this change.

  21. Giudecca*

    I am a married woman who built a career before marrying my husband. While I wouldn’t tell a hiring manager that I needed to discuss an offer with my partner, I most certainly do discuss offers of employment with him before making a decision. For the most part, this is just using him as a sound board, as the OP mentioned. However, when you marry someone, you have a partnership with them — if I want to make a career move that would require rearranging our life in some way, then I need to discuss that with him before I make the decision, just as I would expect him to do the same.

    That doesn’t mean he gets to decide, but it does mean that I value him and his opinion and I will consider it. For instance, if I want to take a role that requires much more travel or results in a big change in my working hours, or a much longer commute, then we would need to discuss how we would manage that (e.g. child care). Similarly, if I was interested in a position that resulted in a significant cut in pay that would require us to change how we manage our finances then I’d need to discuss that with him beforehand because bills still need to be paid and we’d have to figure out whether we’d be able to manage. My most recent job change didn’t really affect my pay, resulted in a much shorter commute with no significant change in hours and requires about the same amount of travel, so our discussion wasn’t really more than me saying, “I got the job and I want to take it” and him replying, “let’s celebrate!”

  22. Man*

    There is a difference between talking things over with your significant other and somehow losing your autonomy to make a decision about your career. When you are in a committed relationship (even more so one that involves kids and/or combined household), most bigger decisions would be discussed beforehand. That is a respectful thing to do.

    If all else is the same (pay, work hours, location, etc.) it may be just a “hey, I think I’m going to do this” kind of a thing. But decisions that would change any of the above, require returning to school, etc. do spill over into your personal life and your personal life is connected with someone else’s personal life – it is only fair that they are a part of the discussion; it isn’t just the matter of you actually “doing” the job.

  23. Mr. Rogers*

    This is a tough question because it really depends?? A career decision will likely affect both parties if they’re involved in a serious relationship, whether it’s hours, commute, money, or even dealing with a partner who is unhappy and unfulfilled vs a partner who loves their job (spoiler: the first one SUCKS). So it’s completely fair for someone’s partner to weigh in on the parts that will affect their life, or express concern for their partner’s safety.

    But of course no one is making anyone do anything in this scenario! Just by expressing your thoughts and preferences you are not inherently being controlling. The partner making the job decision can weigh the concerns from their partner and make their decision based on their priorities. Personally, I think even saying something to the extent of “I can’t be in this relationship long term if this continues” is valid–be it not staying with someone in a dangerous job, or someone who works crazy hours, or (as I dealt with) a partner who is unemployed altogether. You’re just stating what you need/can handle in a long term relationship and the other person can choose accordingly. It’s not about losing autonomy, but about having different priorities. Ideally outside of extreme scenarios though the partner not dealing with the career choice can find a way to express concerns while still being supportive, and the two can work as a team to get what partner A (the one with the career choice) wants out of life while making partner B feel heard and address their concerns.

    TLDR: There is no line where someone steps back and says “Actually, this is my decision” because it’s always their decision from start to finish. Their partners can express concern even to the point of desiring to leave the relationship without changing this fact. A serious relationship involves being a team and constant communication.

  24. A Teacher*

    I’m a single parent, my parents help me significantly with childcare logistics. I’ve said, I need to discuss it with my family–basically because I also want a sounding board and if it impacts childcare, I need my family onboard to help with that. I do have final say, but it does impact others.

  25. Anonygoose*

    If you are only changing between different professional 9-5 jobs in the same city, that will likely not have much of an impact on your partner and won’t necessarily necessitate a long discussion about whether it is worth it. But there are a lot of instances where a job change would have a great impact on your partner, and that needs to be discussed. For instance, if you change from working days to nights, you would only see your partner on weekends, or could have some childcare implications that need to be worked out. If you take a job across the country, you and your partner would either have to do long distance or they would have to move with you. If you take a pay cut, that could affect your joint financial goals or even your day-to-day budget. It’s not fair to your partner to not let them be part of the decision making process if it will significantly change their life.

    1. JessaB*

      But even a 9-5 change can have enormous effect. If you’re the one carrying the insurance and the new job has less or worse or more expensive that means a big deal. If the family out of pocket will go up higher than you can afford and one of you is diabetic or asthmatic etc. Heck even staying with the same job my husband always brings the open enrollment stuff to me because I’m better at figuring out which one covers more of what WE need. That’s our bug because we’re both disabled and have chronic illnesses.

      But there could be something else in it that matters. New 9-5 requires 2 hours more transportation? Kids in school? oops?

  26. Koko ¯\_(ツ)_/¯*

    Agree with others who said this really comes down to individual relationship dynamics. But many people view a healthy relationship as a partnership in which individual needs are subordinated to some degree to the needs of the partnership.

    There are some examples where the necessity of this is more obvious: If I’m miserable at my job and want to quit, but I have nothing else lined up and my partner and I can barely pay our bills as-is, then my deciding to forego my source income affects more than just me. It affects my partner, too, and many people would say that gives them a voice in the matter. Otherwise I’m unilaterally making a decision that will cause my partner hardship, and that makes me a pretty crappy partner.

    In other situations where the direct impact on the partner isn’t as obvious, you’re in more of a gray area. Maybe I decided to accept a promotion that requires extensive travel or overtime, or maybe I’m giving up a work-at-home job for a commute-to-the-office job, or maybe I’m choosing a high-stress job that’s going to make me more likely to be tired and irritable at home. Those things all potentially impact my partner, too. Maybe for some couples it’s “put up or shut up,” maybe for some that entitles the partner to have a voice but not final decision-making power, and maybe for some that means you need your partner’s enthusiastic support.

    An important thing to keep in mind is that in a healthy relationship the partners aren’t taking an adversarial stance against each other where one partner wants one thing and one partner wants another thing, and they duke it out over who gets what they want. In a health relationship, they’re both approaching the problem with a common interest in doing what’s best for both of them and working together to figure out what that is.

    1. Falling Diphthong*

      A partnership in which individual needs are subordinated to some degree to the needs of the partnership.

      This description of tradeoffs would apply to any functional workplace, too. Or to driving on the road with other drivers. If we’re going to cooperate in groups, some individual preferences get sublimated to the smooth functioning of the group.

    2. AvonLady Barksdale*

      All of this! When I quit my job with nothing lined up, it was at my partner’s urging. I’m the primary breadwinner, so this was a big hit to our lifestyle and I was in a job that made me miserable because the money was good for our household. The quitting didn’t happen the way I planned (I really didn’t expect to leave that day), but without his support, it wouldn’t have happened at all. And he had more faith in my ability to get something new than I did, and that’s part of being in a partnership. My new job meant some minor changes, like I was no longer working from home one day a week and I couldn’t bring our dog to the office, and I discussed those with him so we could work out a plan to make up for those changes.

      In a couple of years, my partner will be in a position where he will likely have to relocate (he’s a PhD candidate). We’ve been discussing it for a while. I don’t get final say on where we go, but I do get to weigh in, and we have also discussed the option where I stay here while he moves, like if he gets a post-doc that will only last a year or two. Our last move turned out to be a bit of a blow to my career (it’s back on track now), and he will take that into consideration when he starts looking.

      Of course, at the end of the day, I have the choice to walk away. We have no kids and no shared assets (though we do have our beloved doggy). But since we’d both be happier together than apart, our lives are about making choices that don’t alienate each other or clear a straight path to separation.

  27. fposte*

    I think this is as individual as fingerprints, and that this is about how each family works it out for itself. I also think that my desires on this aren’t even–I’m more defensive about my job autonomy than I want my partner to be, which obviously isn’t fair and is probably worth thinking about.

    I’m not wild of the linking of the GF’s height to the issue, because that suggests a paternalism that makes me raise my eyebrows. But even assuming there are no kids in the picture, I think it’s reasonable for a partner to have concerns about sharing a life with somebody who’s now going to be away 90% of the time, or who takes a massive paycut that affects the household, or who’s going into a line of work with a high injury or fatality rate. You don’t get to decide *for* your partner, but when you share your life your welfare gets intermeshed with your partner’s.

    1. CityMouse*

      Well height may not be an issue but if she is otherwise small, then yeah, she likely won’t make the physical strength requirements. This is not sexism, a lot of men can’t manage them and there is a reasonable basis for them. But to be blunt, gf doesnot sound like a great candidate. In most states there are huge applicant pools and they want to see a long and demonstrated interest, which she does not sound like she has. If she wants to take some classes and training, sure. But police departments are used to getting applications from dabblers.

      1. CityMouse*

        I will say my BiL went through a phase where he wanted to be a police officer at and I was not surprised at all when he got rejected because this was the latest in a string of sudden life changes. He could not figure out what he wanted at all, and it really showed.

  28. MuseumMusings*

    As a fellow single woman who’s never been in a relationship in her life, I think it makes sense to discuss major changes in your lifestyle with your partner if it’s going to affect them as well. For example, when my mom got an offer for a new job halfway across the county, she talked to my dad about the pros and cons and how it would change his life. Together, they took it into consideration and then moved. I also feel that if you’re in a serious partnership, you should be able to listen to your partner’s fears, but also know that they’ll support you if you decide to continue on their path. Basically, it’s a partnership: sometimes you make allowances for them and vice versa.

    That being said, I’m a little leery of your brother disregarding his partner’s choice just because he’s afraid she’ll get hurt (and I realize there may be more to this that you’ve not included or you’re not hearing, but I’m taking the letter at face value). She has probably already factored that into her decision and I think a serious heart-to-heart between the two of them might be in order. If there already has been and he’s still that upset, this might be the deal breaker.

    1. msmorlowe*

      I’m sure she has considered her safety, but it’s also something that impacts his life: if for instance it’s going to cause him significant anxiety worrying about her safety, or if their new work schedules are incompatible.

      I don’t share finances or live with my bf and I was still really annoyed with him when he took a (temp) job abroad without telling me beforehand because it impacted our relationship by making it long-distance.

  29. The IT Manager*

    I think the LW is a bit too opposed to discussing jobs and career moves with a partner. It does depend on how permanent the relationship is, but people who are in a long term relationship should discuss decisions that impact their partner.

    A person should not decided to take a job that requires a move without consulting their partner. Or even jobs that significantly alter their work schedule especially if there are kids and the change will require the partner to pick up the slack or alter their schedule. Or jobs with significant travel that mean the partners see each other much less than they used to. I’m not saying the partner should control their decision, but these decisions should be made in together with both people’s desires considered.

    As for her YB. I don’t think he has the right to demand his SO not pursue a job in the police. (We don’t know if he’s done that. He has expressed concern to his mother. ) I understand his concerns that this job is not the safest of careers, but I think he starts to veer into sexist territory bringing up her size and what could follow if he gets into women not being as strong as men on average.

    But people in committed relationships should allow their partner to weigh in on and influence career decisions that impact the couple/family. I wouldn’t say much more than “I have to discuss this with my partner before I can make my final decision,” but I don’t find that skin crawling or recoil worthy.

    1. JessaB*

      And as far as that goes, expressing concern to someone else (when not done as a sneaky tactic to have them intervene,) is okay. Maybe the partner wants to be supportive and gets that she wants to be a cop and thinks that expressing these fears TO partner would put an unfair burden on her. Maybe talking it out, outside the relationship is his steam releasing go to. We don’t have enough information here. But no it’s not outrageous for him to be upset, or vice versa if he were going into that business.

      1. AndersonDarling*

        Agreed, if the husband has concerns then he needs to speak directly to his wife. If he will be so scared for her safety that he will be unable to function while she is away at work, then he needs to lay that down. Then they need to discuss it and they need to find a solution.

    2. Ros*

      Yeah, but in this case discussing with his mother might be the worst thing he could do, since she’s clearly spreading it around the extended family.

      And, yknow… if my husband told me that he didn’t want me to join the police force because he thought I was too small and weak, it might be a point of discussion (… if he phrased it REAL tactfully). If I found out that my husband thought I was too weak to do something I wanted to do and that he’d told his mother that and so the entire extended family has been discussing it? Like, you would see that explosion from outer space.

      1. Foreign Octopus (LW)*

        My mother told me, her daughter. I’d hardly say that was the extended family.

        1. TootsNYC*

          And maybe the problem is that Mom needs to start realizing that she shouldn’t just share her son’s thoughts and worries and daily life, etc., with everyone else. He’s now a grownup, with a grownup girlfriend, and if he turns to her for support, she needs to remember that his stories are not HER stories.

          Maybe not even to his siblings.

          And maybe Younger Brother is at a point that he’ll want to figure out whether Mom is his best listening ear, if she’s going to treat his stories as hers to tell to anyone.

          I’m going through a bit of this transition now w/ my college and post-college kids. My worries about them are mine, but I have to be careful because talking about them w/ my support system means I’m talking about their grownup, personal business.

        2. Observer*

          To be honest, though, your mother probably means well, but she needs to put a lid on it. This is not your mother’s to share, even with you.

          And, if your brother hasn’t had this discussion with his SO, that’s even more true.

        3. Foreign Octopus (LW)*

          You’re missing the context of the last five years with YB. It has been extremely fraught and has drawn the family very close to the breaking point. His decisions drove my parents to near-divorce, my OB to not coming home for years, and a nervous breakdown for me. We’re all constantly on edge for signs that he could slide back down the hill of recovery.

          If this was a normal situation where his mental health was 100%, I’d agree with you about not sharing but it effects all of us when he crashes.

          I’d also like to note that his also wasn’t a special FT call. This was just a general off hand comment that lasted no longer than 5 seconds when the conversation turned to another conversation. The only reason it seems bigger than it is is because I used it as a framing example for my more general question, a decision I’m beginning to slightly regret.

          1. AWall*

            Don’t regret it! It’s actually a super interesting question – one that all people in serious relationships should consider.

            1. Foreign Octopus (LW)*

              Oh I don’t regret the question! I’m glad people are finding it interesting. I regret my use of the framing example of my YB :)

      2. TootsNYC*

        Being 5’2″ isn’t the same as being weak. There’s a significant loss of leverage that comes w/ shortness.

        Also, how much are these worries something he’s sharing with his own support system because these worries go on inside him (they must go on inside every spouse of a police officer), and how much are they him undermining her?

  30. NCHouston*

    I think it depends on the situation at hand. I would like to think that if the issue would not affect the SO, then decision making falls on the person it affects, though that person should be welcome to get input from others, including their SO (assuming the relationship is not toxic of course). If it’s something on the smaller side, such as a small salary change or a potential change in family roles/daily schedules, I’d involve my SO and hope it can be resolved through extensive discussions or couples therapy if necessary. If it’s something big like a complete career change or a move (or something that would affect financials/children, etc) there may not be a compromise, but the decision maker might find themselves weighing what matters most to them or what would affect them with the least collateral damage – again according to their priorities. If the LW, for example, REALLY wants to join the force, she might know that staying in the current career would actually be more damaging emotionally (i.e. she’d resent her SO for shattering her dream, or it would hurt their marriage in the long run), in which case involving a spouse in the decision becomes necessary. Same goes with moves – I know a couple where the husband accepted a great job across the country and the wife refused to leave her family on the east coast. The plan was to see each other on weekends but I just learned they are divorcing.

    I guess the short answer is (since I seem to have rambled) – it depends on the couple and the situation. I often ask my SO for advice on work situations that don’t affect him, and while he offers suggestions he knows ultimately that since it’s my job I’ll make the decision that’s best for me. But if it were something that would affect him or our marriage, it would warrant a much different type of conversation/resolution.

  31. Sue Wilson*

    If the job is going to seriously effect the promises and agreements you made to and with another person, then you need to tell them before you decide at least, and discuss it with them if these will seriously effect they way they live their lives. I don’t care what type of relationship or how long.

    1. Sue Wilson*

      I don’t think that means anyone else gets a veto, but I always think that everyone substantially affected should know the consequences, which you won’t necessarily know without giving or getting the information.

    2. AndersonDarling*

      I was going to comment that when I said “I do” what I was really saying was “I accept that I’m no longer the only person in my universe and our lives are now intertwined.” It’s not about me being autonomous or SO being autonomous, it’s about the commitment that we made to help each other. I feel like the question is more about marriage than about a career change. Not to make lite of it, but major changes can end a marriage if both partners are not committed to the change.

      1. TootsNYC*

        which see, Anthony Scaramucci

        I have an uncle who became divorced from his wife when she got tired of traveling around as the wife of a corporate CFO. There perhaps were other things, but what I’d heard was that she just didn’t want that life anymore, and that this overrode how much she wanted him.

        1. A Non E. Mouse*

          which see, Anthony Scaramucci

          If I were the first Mrs. Scaramucci, the one who divorced him in 2014, I’d have so much schadenfreude right now I probably couldn’t see straight. Like damn near GIDDY with it.

  32. ThatGirl*

    Because our jobs affect our joint finances and general quality of life, I definitely want to discuss these things with my husband – and I want him to discuss these things with me. I was laid off in March and in June I got an offer that was tempting to take, but some red flags came up – and I was grateful I didn’t have to make the decision myself; I also wouldn’t have wanted to decide unilaterally, because while it would have been A Job, it wouldn’t have been the right job. And he helped me to decide that (and then I knew he wouldn’t hold my decision against me!)

    Ultimately, my career choices are mine, but when they affect someone else, I think it’s fair to give them room to discuss and voice their opinions.

    1. ThatGirl*

      I should note that I probably wouldn’t say to a hiring manager that I had to talk to my husband. That does sound a little…old-fashioned, almost?

      1. TootsNYC*

        I wonder if this is part of the “ick” factor for our OP.

        In a way, this almost feels like info that’s too intimate.

        Suppose you were 23 and single; you wouldn’t say, “I want to talk with my parents.” We’d all holler “DON’T!!”
        Sure, you might discuss it with your parents, because they’re your best advisors. But you wouldn’t say that.

        So, maybe that’s part of it–maybe it’s weird to be so privy to an intimate decision-making process.

        1. Observer*

          I don’t think this is intimate, just an acknowledgement of reality. I need to talk to my parents / pastor / rabbi / therapist / other adviser is different because they are very specific, often untypical and really are just way tmi. But, a spouse or partner is the kind of thing that should have come up already and, when there is a partner in the picture it just normal to discuss it.

  33. anonymouse*

    My spouse and I don’t make major life decisions that affect each other and our family without discussion. Making a career change or even a job change without talking it over my partner – in my opinion, in my experience, in my family – would be irresponsible.*

    My wife has been impacted by my career – I work long hours, I have a lot of stress, I travel. I’m impacted by her career – she works weekends, she works weird hours, she travels. We HAVE to talk about these things.

    If I’m thinking about leaving my well-paying job with flexible work from home time that allows her to have more flexibility in HER career, for a job that pays less or a job that I have to travel more, or a job that would be potentially more stressful and therefore affect our quality of life at home, OF COURSE I’M GOING TO TALK TO HER FIRST.

    Couples discuss things. You’re not living in a silo when you’re married – your decisions affect your partner, their decisions affect you. If you have children, both of your decisions regarding career affect your children.

    I’m kind of taken aback by your ‘skin crawls’ and ‘gut recoils’ language about open communication in a partnership. My wife and I don’t control one another’s decisions, we make them together because we’re a family. Obviously we’re not talking about a controlling partner forbidding his spouse from working or whatever – that’s another issue entirely. But making career decisions as a family? Yeah, that’s normal.

    **obvious disclaimer, I don’t speak for anyone but myself

    1. Recruit-o-Rama*

      This is pretty much my feeling. I chose to marry my husband because he’s my best friend; he’s smart, he’s funny, he’s wise and he has life experiences I don’t have. I love his input because it always comes with a healthy dose of both reality and support. We have both changed each others minds about things over the years by bringing a different perspective. The BEST thing for us is that we have both taken leaps and risks in our lives and careers knowing that the other was there to catch us.

      A marriage or partnership with open communication is not about giving up autonomy, at all.

  34. Pup Seal*

    My boyfriend and I talk about our jobs and our career paths, and sometimes we ask for each other’s opinions. We both understand that in the end we get to make our own decisions. Recently, I have made a career change to a different industry and just left my 9-5 office job where I sat at a computer all day and hated the work I was doing. My boyfriend is a mechanic and finds his job rewarding. It showed me how I’m not meant to be in an office setting. So, yes, my boyfriend did influence my decision to change careers, but ultimately it was a decision that I feel that is best for me.

  35. ABL*

    Agree with whats previously been said here: relocation, changes to finances, benefits or working hours should all be discussed in the context of the household you line in.

    Personal example: DH is about to quit work to go back to school and will be living an hour away Mon-Fri. We’ve been discussing this for years and I fully support him but if he had unilaterally decided to do it without discussing how it could work for us as a couple, we probably wouldn’t be together…

  36. Hannah*

    I think there is a big difference between two partners discussing a decision about a career, and one person NOPING the other out of a career they want.

    I am also uncoupled, but I would imagine that in most (healthy) relationships, discussing the pros and cons is less like asking permission, and more like talking out the circumstances to see if it is going to work for everyone. Obviously, a job change that means moving or otherwise significantly changing the current lifestyle, can affect a partner, and so asking your partner how they feel about it is pretty much a must. And in this particular case, some jobs carry a significant life and death risk, and listening to your partner’s feelings about that is the kind thing to do, even if you ultimately still go ahead with your decision.

    1. Koko ¯\_(ツ)_/¯*

      Yes, the two examples OP gave are so different.

      I think OP is conceptualizing that taking a partner’s needs into account is a violation of her own autonomy and pursuit of happiness. But the thing is, when you love your partner, their happiness matters to you. You’re not thinking, “Oh, I would love to take this job but of course Fergus will never let me, so I guess I can’t take it because of stupid societal conventions that say my partner gets a say!” It’s more like, “Oh, this job sounds great, but Fergus is in night school right now and if I take this pay cut we won’t be able to afford for him to continue, and after giving it some consideration I’d rather keep looking for something that will give us the kind of happy life we want together.” The difference isn’t just semantics. When you love someone their needs genuinely become your needs.

      1. fposte*

        Though I do think there’s a gender miasma floating near this issue that makes me particularly…alert. Mostly because I feel that it’s more often women taking a restriction for the team than men.

        1. This is user name # 100*

          In my 20+ years marriage as well as in my last very serious (living together for 6 years/engaged) relationship, both men left the decision up to me. Almost always the prospective job required relocation, whether 100 miles or 3000. (or more…) In the latter relationship, while I appreciated, and yes, expected to be consulted, and totally was . . . honored? to be involved, it truly bothered me to be the decision maker because it affected his rise up the career ladder. He turned down a few offers because it would mean me leaving my family and friends. I really did feel badly about that, but he reassured me over and over and over that my happiness was more important.
          That said, I can’t imagine being in a relationship and not having some say in what transpires.

            1. This is user name # 100*

              Ugh. One more thing, re: relocating – the types of jobs (higher ed, retail, restaurant) I have held are pretty readily available wherever we would live. I like a full-time, permanent job, and have worked consistently since I was 14 years old except for when on maternity leave, but I wouldn’t say I have a “career”.

      2. Ramona Flowers*

        Not only that, but your priorities may be different.

        I love my job but it’s not the only important thing in my life.

    2. NoMoreFirstTimeCommenter*

      This is very true. If I make big decisions I want to hear what my husband thinks about it and we make decisions together. They affect us both. I’d still say that in work matters the one actually doing the work has the final word, but you can’t just announce you’ve made a life-changing decision on your own. Another reason to talk to my husband about work related stuff is that he has different experience than me, and more work experience in general. He knows things I don’t and in many situations he has a better understanding than me about what’s normal and what’s not. If there was something weird on a job offer or even a job ad I consider to apply to, I would discuss it with him just to know I’m not doing anything stupid. I might also discuss it with other people in my life who could in my opinion have valuable input to that particular question.

  37. stitchinthyme*

    I’ve been married 18 years, and we’ve been together 22 years, and we’ve both changed jobs a fair number of times since we got together. (I’m female, he’s male, and we’re both the same age — mid-40s — with no children.)

    We do always discuss job offers with each other, not to get permission or anything, but as a sounding board, listing the pros and cons to get each other’s opinions. Ultimately, the person who’s going to be taking the job (or not) gets the final say, but there’s never anything wrong with getting the opinion of someone you trust.

    In addition, some jobs have aspects that can affect one’s partner — and not just big ones like relocation (though we’ve done that twice as well, both times for me to take jobs out of state). Things like: Are your schedules fairly similar? Does the commute make your day a lot longer? If you have kids, who handles unexpected emergencies involving them? Can one or both of you telecommute in order to stay home (for repairs, service people, whatever) if necessary? Are your combined salaries enough to be comfortable? Is there paid time off (if vacations and travel are important to you as a couple)?

    A minor sticking point for my husband and me in my current job and the one before this has been my inability to work remotely. Since he can work from home, it falls on him to stay home when we need anyone to come into the house during work hours — I could do it, but then I’d have to sacrifice a vacation day, so it just makes sense for him to do it…and sometimes he gets a little annoyed about that. But he understands the reasons, and doesn’t expect me to leave my job just because once every few months he has to work from home, so we deal with it.

  38. Lissa*

    I think the example given here has the brother being kind of irrational – being a police officer is dangerous regardless of height, and if she isn’t in the physical shape to do it, she won’t get through. It seems to me like he’s using the height thing when it’s really that he’s worried about her as a woman doing the job, or her as his partner doing a job that is more risky than her previous job.

    That being said, I do think that if your finances are tangled up with someone else’s, you should take that into consideration. It’s not fair for one partner to “follow their bliss” by quitting their job to do something much less lucrative and force their partner to work much more/be financially unstable without consultation. And I don’t think that a partner just needs to “support or get out of the way” in a lot of cases – I trust my partner’s perspective and point of view, and if I really wanted to do something he massively wasn’t OK with, I think there’s a lot of room for discussion there, not just me saying “my way or the highway”. Sometimes it’s a controlling partner, but if someone’s normally non-controlling partner is not on board with a huge life decision, that can be perfectly reasonable. The reasons why are very important – values and priorities that are different should be discussed. I just don’t think I’d want to have my career be something my partner really disapproved of. It sounds like it would make everything in my life incredibly stressful. If I couldn’t get the partner on board, I’d either decide he made some good points and reconsider the job, or decide he was being completely unreasonable and reconsider the partner. Or find some way to compromise.

    But that’s about actual job changes and major life decisions – IMO, a partner interfering with a job like in the linked letter is *always* inappropriate. Bringing spousal (parental, sibling, platonic lifemate) drama to job and involving other people is never ever OK no matter what. If someone seriously disapproves of their partner’s career choice, they can either get on board, suck it up, or leave. Making it *anyone* else’s problem is incredibly inappropriate.

    1. Myrin*

      Only related to your first paragraph, not the meat of the letter:

      Potential police officers actually have to have a certain height in my country – a coworker at my part-time job wanted to be policewoman originally but she couldn’t get in because she’s a couple of centimetres too short (I also just checked and yeah, it’s indeed a thing). I’ve always wondered about this because I’d think general fitness, agility, strength, stuff like that would be the determining factors here, not height, but then again I have zero clue what being a police officer involves. But it never ceases to feel weird to me.


      1. CityMouse*

        There are sometimes height requirements for things like being able to reach latches in cars. I am a decently tall woman and some shifts in retail or food service I was the tallest and literally the only person tall enough to reach an important latch or zipper.

    2. nonegiven*

      We can’t tell from her height if she is frail, clumsy and weak or if she is a power lifter trained in Krav Maga.

  39. Trisha*

    I believe that this is also something you should discuss with your partner when you start getting serious (moving in together, thinking about marriage, etc.). Similar to a conversation about whether or not you want kids.

  40. VelociraptorAttack*

    My husband received a job offer yesterday and we certainly discussed it. We’re partners and a job change will make an impact so we discuss them, weighing pros and cons, acting as sounding boards, etc.

    Ultimately, the final decision rests with the person who would be making the change but we’re together because we make a good team and we trust each other’s opinions. When I changed jobs last year I was nervous about leaving an organization I really liked but he made a lot of good points about the stability of the new position compared to the one I was in. Indeed, my former organization closed a few months after I left. He was able to see the writing on the wall there that I was too close to see.

    Involving each other in those decisions and using each other as a sounding board doesn’t make either of feel any less independent.

  41. ms-dos efx*

    I agree that for the most part the decision is in the hands of the person who is going to experience the job on a daily basis. That said, I do generally consult my husband when I am considering job changes for a couple of reasons:

    First, I think he’s a smart dude and I genuinely appreciate hearing his advice and perspective, especially since my outlook can often be heavily colored by my mood/feelings. It’s helpful for me to get an outside perspective, and his is the easiest for me to obtain.

    Secondly, any decisions I make also impact him, since we live together and each relies on the other to pay their fair share of bills. There have been times when I was considering taking a job that would pay considerably less and result in us having to rely more heavily on his income for things like groceries. Actually, at the job before my current one, my hours were so bad that my paychecks barely lasted one week, let alone two. So that definitely affected him!

    In the end, I’m still gonna do what I’m gonna do. But I’d prefer to do it with a clear head, the support of the person closest to me, and the knowledge that my decisions will not be negatively impacting my family’s financial well-being.

  42. AnotherLibrarian*

    In my mind, when you have a romantic partner, they are, exactly that, a partner. Major life decisions need to be made somewhat collectively. That’s what is to share your life with someone. You have, by committing to each other, become a partnership.

    For example, if I chose to take a job which pays half of what I am making now, that will have an impact on the shared finances of the partnership. If I take a job with better health insurance options, that will impact the medical costs of the partnership. You owe it to the other person in the relationship to let them know what you are planning to do, because it will impact them.

    Now, sometimes a partnership ends, because one partner wants something and the other partner doesn’t or can’t accept that change. That can be over all sorts of things, not just job situations.

  43. Snarkus Aurelius*

    If a new job doesn’t involve a move, a pay cut, and/or longer hours, it’s not up for discussion with my husband. The decision is 100% my own.

    If a new job does fall into one or more of those categories, it’s a different story. But I’m not asking my husband for permission, which may be how you might be reading things, but rather it’s a joint discussion. He has to live with the consequences of what I do and vice versa. But above all, I don’t want to be the trailing spouse. That life isn’t for me, and it never will be.

    In my experience, a lot of this does break down on gender lines.

    For example, a bunch of us were asked to travel for several days to another part of the country. The men tentatively committed but needed to “check [their] schedules” first. The women freely announced they would have to “ask” their husbands before committing. (No idea, if they actually meant “ask” or having a mutual discussion about what to do.) It was definitely two sides of the same coin, but the men didn’t want to look like they needed to “ask” their wives for permission and the women don’t worry about being perceived as weak. The end result, I think, was the same: everyone that was required to go on the trip did and the families affected worked something out.

    Me personally? I wouldn’t do either. I say, “Let me look at what else is going on,” and then I shoot my husband an FYI text. We privately plan from there.

    I can’t find it online, but there’s a scene in “I Don’t Know How She Does It,” where Olivia Munn’s character lightly mocks Sarah Jessica Parker’s character for asking for permission to go on a business trip.

  44. Akcipitrokulo*

    I can’t imagine not consulting with my partner. Ultimately it’s up to me, but we tend to make decisons together. To me, i would feel it wasnt a partnership if we made unilateral decisions like that without talking about it. Besides, I need to talk it out ;) and value his opinion.

  45. Thomas E*

    Er… My most successful relationships have always been based on compromise and communication.

    Talking to a partner who you love and whose opinion you respect before you make major decisions seems very reasonable to me.

    Staying with a partner whose opinion you don’t respect enough to seek it out seem an odd kind of decision.

  46. FDCA In Canada*

    So, my husband is military. His job means that he’s away (in chunks) for roughly half the year, give or take, and usually with relatively little notice. For us it’s not an issue because he was in the military before we ever got married and it was a major point of discussion, but for couples when one member joins during the relationship it is absolutely something that needs to be discussed extensively and heavily with the other partner! Being in a marriage or serious relationship requires giving up some autonomy for the sake of partnership. There are a lot of positions where the decision could be “this job or this marriage”–sometimes it’s things like military, or it could be something like an ardent vegan married to someone who takes a position in a slaughterhouse, or any number of things.

    My husband and I function as a unit and an equal partnership. So major decisions–like careers–are a point of discussion. I can’t imagine it any other way.

    1. The IT Manager*

      I was planning to write a stand alone comment for just this topic. In the military family with a civilian spouse, I feel like, in general, the couple has to agree to the life style. The spouse does get to say if this is the life (s)he wants to lead. The trailing spouse (almost always the wife) has to sacrificing a career for the sake of following the military member’s assignments. The decision to stay in or get out should definitely be made jointly, but there comes a point when someone is in the military until retirement. Then the family decisions may be about whether to follow or live apart for remote assignments or to allow the kids to graduate high school.

      In in this case, both partners have limited options when the military says someone is moving or deploying. But there are decision points- before marriage, before enlisting/commissioning, and at certain points in a career when the member can separate from the military and those should definitely be joint decisions.

      1. FDCA In Canada*

        It does become, in a lot of ways, the family business. Both in the sense that there’s a career hit to the spouse almost always, and in the sense that in the officer lifestyle there’s a real requirement that at higher ranks the spouse will be the at-home support unit and contribute unpaid social and emotional labour (not only for her own family but the families of others). But even then, the other partner absolutely has the option to say no, that lifestyle isn’t for me–no matter what it still needs to be an object for discussion.

        1. Chinook*

          As a former military spouse and current RCMP spouse, I agree. I married DH knowing my career was going to be gone and I would have to leave family and friends. But, it was that or lose him. It was an easy choice that makes for a difficult life.

          We know the “family card” can be played but not abused but we are playing it for the next move to ensure we go some where I can have medical care (so no remote posting). But, using it to stop a dangerous posting or too many moves seems wrong.

          Luckily, I am self-sufficient and don’t mind finding a new job (or new hairdresser) but, if I did, then I shouldn’t have married him or should have spoken up when he changed careers.

  47. MHR*

    I think it is so weird that it would make someone’s skin crawl. I am married and my husband is a stay at home dad, so this is not a situation where I would EVER consider myself subservient to him. I would always discuss with him (and did recently) for a few reasons:

    1. He is our children’s caretaker. So if I came home and said “Surprise! I took a job with different hours and by the way I can’t pick up the kids anymore from school and oh boy there will be a LOT of travel!” it would be absolutely rude to not have discussed that with him, even though it’s my career and my decision to make.

    2. Not only are we partners, but my husband knows me better than anyone else. There is nobody else out there that would make a better sounding board and confidant. Recently I discussed taking a job offer with him, which would be more in salary, but ultimately less fulfilling. He offered great insights that someone who didn’t know our personal finances or schedule could not.

    3. He and I have different strengths. He is more of an analytical thinker, so if I say “honey! I could get a 10k raise!” he always grounds me with “okay, but what is their 401k plan like and what about insurance. Are you sure it is actually that large of a raise all things considered? Okay see after bonuses and 401k and insurance changes it would only be a 2k raise. It’s your choice but I thought you said you wouldn’t want to make a move for less than 5.” That sort of thing. Having a second set of eyes on an offer is always helpful even if you are not married or partnered.

    He would never “give/deny me permission”, but I would have no problem with him telling me something like “you accepting a job 5 hours away would be a dealbreaker in our marriage” if that was how he actually felt, and from there I could decide if that kind of career move was more important to me. Just as I would tell him the same exact thing once he has finished his degree and enters the workforce. Hes an adult and I wouldn’t be able to stop him from moving cross country to follow a dream, but it would be unfair to him not to know ahead of time that that plan wouldn’t include me.

    1. anonymouse*

      Your relationship with your husband sounds a lot like mine with my wife! I’m like “hey here’s an idea!” and she’s like “ok here are all the details you may not have thought about, let’s discuss.” :)

    2. Mayor of Llamatown*

      Same. When I was job searching for my current job two years ago, I included my significant other (soon to be spouse, but not engaged at the time) in all my discussions. It was never in terms of needing their permission to accept a job offer, and they would never have put the brakes on a truly good opportunity for me, but having the support and agreement of someone with whom I intend to spend the rest of my life, and who is important to me, was a crucial part of the decision making process.

      For example: One job I interviewed for very successfully would have involved a commute of over an hour, without the option to work from home. My partner was supportive but expressed concern about the length of the commute. The choice was still mine, but their input was important to see from the view of someone who cares about me.

      In the future, decisions I make will effect our home life, including child care and cost of living. For me, it would be more disrespectful of me to not discuss that with my partner/spouse than it would be to ask for their input on the decision.

      I don’t want to be a pearl-clutcher, but I think you need to sincerely rethink how you are approaching candidates who want to discuss with partners – it shouldn’t make your skin crawl.

  48. BlueWolf*

    It really depends on the relationship situation. As others have mentioned, if you are living together/married/otherwise have intertwined living situations and the job is significantly different in some way to your current situation, then it makes sense that you would want to discuss it with your partner.

  49. LNZ*

    As far as YB worrying, a friend of our family is both a cop and a woman who is at most 5’2 (i think shes exaggerating her height). Shes on the bomb squad, the unarmed swat team and would have gone to to the Atlanta Olympics for Judo if she hadn’t blown out her knee a few months before the event.

  50. TheSockMonkey*

    I think you are assuming people talk to their significant others to ask permission. That may not be the case. A job change affects my family unit so the decision needs to be made by taking my spouse and child into account. We would need to weigh salary, benefits, work hours, etc to make sure every part of a new job is doable. With that being said, in an interview I would normally ask for a few days to think about an offer and wouldn’t normally mention my spouse.

    I think this is hard to fully understand if you haven’t been in a serious relationship/felt like part of a partnership before. It’s not just about you when you are married or are a parent and you have to make choices accordingly

  51. Lady*

    I once read a great quote that said that civilization (in theory) works because a large group of individuals collectively give up some of their rights, and the trade-off is a much better, harmonious, and enjoyable live. Partnerships are the same way. We give up some of our “rights”, as do our partners, because the trade-off is (in theory) a rich life of companionship.

    So, of course partners do/should have a say. My partner and I both have made “sacrifices” for each other (though I’m loathe to call them sacrifices). I took a pay cut to relocate to be near them (though in a field I had really, really wanted to get into). They, as a result, will be staying longer term in their current role, despite it not being “the dream job.” Money, travel, and fulfillment all play into relationship dynamics, so of course there should be a say.*

    *All of this, of course, is in the context of a committed couple who are healthy, happy, and want the best for one another.

    1. Lady*

      To add, I also think that the line of work DOES matter. Police work is quite dangerous, so if my partner wanted to transition from an at-home/office job where a paper cut was the biggest potential risk to a job where they risked injury and death daily, I would have A LOT to say, and it wouldn’t be supportive.

  52. Jean*

    I think it depends on the relationship. If it’s the sort of relationship where the partners are functioning as a single economic unit in some ways (sharing things like finances, household responsibilities, childcare), it makes sense to approach job decisions as a team. The job applicant/employee takes the lead and has the final say, but both partners are included in the discussion and decision-making process.

    1. Jean*

      That said, I do understand the skin-crawl reaction. For me, it’s because “I need to talk to my partner” can come across as “I need to ask permission from my partner”. Women having to ask their husbands for permission to work is not that uncommon of a story (historically and sometimes currently), so it brings up some squicky feelings. YB is allowed to feel however he feels about his girlfriend’s possible new career and has a right to express his feelings and concerns respectfully, but he shouldn’t be controlling about it (examples might be badgering her about it and constantly bringing it up once she’s made a decision, or making the conversation all about his wants/needs without really listening to where she’s coming from, or demanding that she not pursue the career change).

  53. Health Insurance Nerd*

    It’s important to delineate “talking to my partner” from “asking for permission”. The fact of the matter is that once you’re in a serious, committed relationship, career decisions affect both of you. If I wanted to pursue a career or role that would require relocating, or some other sort of upheaval, I wouldn’t make that choice unilaterally, nor would I expect my husband to do the same. It’s not about foregoing your independence, it’s about being a true partner, in every sense of the word.

  54. RPL*

    My wife and I discuss every career decision, mostly because changes like that affect our household income, insurance, etc. Also, we both have a tendency to get caught up in the pros of a situation rather than looking critically at the cons, so having someone else say “Wait a second, have you thought about…?” has been invaluable.

    Honestly, the way I think of it is, I don’t get a say in my wife’s career, but I do get a say in how that career affects ME, if that makes sense. For example, she went back to school to get out of “retail hell,” which was a decision that I guess was prompted in part by me telling her “You’re miserable and complain about the same things, for hours, every time we talk. It’s draining me just listening to it, and I don’t want to keep doing it, especially when my listening and offering advice isn’t helping.” Whether she stayed in retail or left to pursue something else was ultimately her choice, but the way I was being affected was my choice–and I said something about it.

    If a job impacts your relationship, I think you’re more than entitled to express an opinion. NOT on the job itself, mind, but on its impact. You can’t say “Don’t take this job,” but you can (and maybe even should?) say “If you take this job, I’m worried about how XYZ will affect us”).

  55. Rincat*

    Like others have said, if the decision is major enough to impact your partner, you should discuss it with them. When I was job searching recently, I certainly didn’t ask for permission from my husband to accept a job – I found one I thought was a good fit so I went with it – but I did want his input for my final decision. Though the job I found was an internal transfer at my university, it still had an impact on my commute and childcare arrangements, so I definitely wanted to talk those through with him since they affected him.

    The ultimate decision was always up to me, just as his job is his decision. But because we are partners, we want each others’ opinions before making these types of decisions. Even if I’d found a new job that had zero affect on his routine, our finances, etc., I’d still tell him about it since we’re such a huge part of each others’ lives.

  56. Falling Diphthong*

    (Framing: I have been married 27 years.)

    I think discussing major life changes with your partner that will affect them is normal and to be expected–to not do so is weird and disrespectful. If a decision one of us makes about work will affect income, or scheduling, or free time, or where we live, or public interest in our lives, or anything else that comes under ‘change’, then of course we discuss it. Even if our mutual default is “make the choice that’s right for you, I will support you”–there is a big difference between trusting that the response is probably going to be that, and going ahead and taking a job across the country because you feel like probably your partner would say yes if asked. My husband asks me about trips–which I can easily manage at home without him–on the well-founded understanding that if I have any negative input it’s going to be something that matters to him. (For example, most recently that he should move the proposed trip by a week one way or the other or he would completely miss our daughter when she came home. So he did.)

    And it’s not just work. If my husband were considering spending a lot of extra time on his preferred sport, for example, I would expect him to discuss it with me. Now that we don’t have tiny children, I would almost certainly say “This sounds great and you should do it.” But I don’t expect him to come home and say “Hi, I decided to be gone for a month.” Even if I would encourage him to do it, I expect to hear about it before and not after.

  57. stitchinthyme*

    To address the specific example given, I think the OP is being too hard on her brother. Police work has some inherent danger, and his fears are not unjustified. That doesn’t mean he should have the right to unilaterally prevent his partner from pursuing that career, but he’s entitled to his feelings about it. However, the person he should be discussing it with is his partner, not his mother.

    1. B.*

      Agreed. Deciding to become a police officer is a big deal, and will require a lot of training, and a daily job that is literally life threatening. I don’t know how I would react if my husband decided he wanted to become a police officer, and I would absolutely expect him to discuss it with me and to take my feelings into consideration.

    2. Persephone Mulberry*

      Ehhhh, if my spouse were considering a drastic career change, especially one with a dangerous element, I would absolutely use my mom as a sounding board while I got my thoughts and feelings in order.

      1. Falling Diphthong*

        Yeah, I think if you have doubts about something (not only your partner’s career choices) then it might be reasonable to talk over your knee-jerk concerns with an outside person who isn’t as emotionally invested, before you make your case to the actual main person. Maybe speaking it out loud is enough for you to work through “but then maybe it’s okay too, and that’s just my reflexive change-is-bad instinct sounding off, and now that I’m past the first phase I see more positives.” Or maybe they point out that you say the problem is X but all the details you give suggest it’s really Y.

        Depends on the individual relationships, obviously, but it’s often only bad if you never talk over your fears with the person central to them.

      2. TootsNYC*

        yeah, I’d rather talk it out with my personal support system first, instead of burdening my spouse/partner with all my visceral and unfounded panic.

        The problem I see here is that Mom is sharing Brother’s innermost thoughts and intricacies of his relationship with Sister. That’s where I think the error is (though, it brought us an interesting discussion!).

      3. Observer*

        Not if my mom had a habit of discussing this with other people – even my siblings.

        Getting some feedback can be really good. But, it’s REALLY important to choose your advisers carefully.

        1. TootsNYC*

          agree wholeheartedly on the need to choose your advisers carefully.

          But we don’t have any indication that there’s any problem for our OP’s brother.

    3. Turtlewings*

      Agreed — it’s not at all unreasonable for him to be concerned about someone he cares about going into a dangerous line of work, especially someone who will be at a physical disadvantage in a fight and likely to face bad reactions from some people just for being a woman. None of that means she can’t be an extremely effective police officer, and none of that means he has the right to veto her decision. (They’re not married, and even if they were, it would still be her choice, though I feel he’d have a greater right to be involved in the decision.) But it doesn’t sound he’s trying to control her, just… having negative feelings about her choice and possibly hoping to change her mind.

      (Also, while you’re right that he needs to have this discussion with his partner, talking to a trusted third party about your feelings and concerns is often wise and helpful in preparing for an important discussion like that.)

      1. stitchinthyme*

        Good point about having a sounding board. The sister should just stay out of it, though, unless the brother asks her opinion directly. Not her business.

        1. Foreign Octopus (LW)*

          Hello! OP here.

          I wasn’t asking how to get involved. I’m very happy not involved. It is just a situation that made me think more generally about relationships and decision making and since I enjoy AAM, I thought it would be a good question to throw out on the open thread at the weekend.

          I have no plans to talk to my brother about this ever.

          1. stitchinthyme*

            Don’t blame you for not wanting to get involved. But, lots of interesting comments here on the subject! (My general comments on the topic, not specifically related to this situation, are somewhere above. :-) )

  58. The Green Lawintern*

    Another that might be at play here is the specter of sexism – is he worried purely because of her height, or is it because of her height AND her gender? Worries related to the dangers inherent to working as a police officer are valid, worries that start with “because you’re a woman…” go into sketchy territory.

    I think, in addition to the excellent points made above, women are generally more on guard when it comes to discussions about career, because that’s one of the places controlling behavior can start manifesting.

  59. Artemesia*

    It is a real challenge for a couple to both have professional careers especially if one has limited job prospects that involve moving to where the jobs are; double that if the other spouse has a job where being in one place is critical (e.g. lawyer). To have a partnership marriage in such circumstances is difficult.

    We decided early on jointly that there would be one big move for my job; when I was ready we would go somewhere where he could also establish a career. I had job offers in Edmonton Alberta and Birmingham Alabama; he could not work in Canada and as he put it ‘I don’t know where the new south is, but I am pretty sure it is not in Birmingham.’ I then had a job offer in San Antonio but it didn’t have good long term prospects and we had to make one jump. Eventually we ended up in Nashville where he ended up unemployed for a year.

    He had been in a partnership situation and had been sought after where we were living at first; it was a shock to find it so difficult to start over in his career, but he never complained and he managed first to work for the state and then in private practice and we made a good life there. My job disappeared in a merger 3 years in and I had to cope and did so because although I had opportunities to move, I was not about to suggest we uproot his non mobile career a second time.

    So yeah — you can’t build two careers without some understanding of taking turns and trade offs and both have to be in on those decisions. BUT when it comes to the particular career or job, I think a spouse should be hands off except as a sounding board. I got some good advise from my husband about negotiating workplace issues when I asked for it and visa versa.

    The one exception to the hands of particular job rule, is when one career completely shuts out family life and family responsibilities. Some couples privilege one career, usually his, and she takes up the slack and does what she can with her own career — which is fine if that is the deal that works for them. Often in those circumstances, he has a lot less time for family. For us time for the family was important and my husband chose his partners who also felt that was important.

    So hands off his job or her job, but negotiation around things that affect each other.

  60. B.*

    I wouldn’t say to the employer that I needed to discuss it with my spouse, but I would say that I needed time to consider the offer, and of course I would discuss it with my spouse.

    As so many people above have said, by getting married/partnering/seriously cohabiting, you’re committing to including someone else’s interests and concerns in your life choices. I wouldn’t ever veto my spouse’s decision, unless it was something really crazy, but I would think twice about our partnership if he didn’t discuss it at all with me.

    Also, in my marriage, and I would imagine in most others, we’re there every step of the way with the new job search, application process, interviews, etc. My husband had an interview on Friday and is waiting for an expected offer. I’ve provided feedback, support, encouragement, and a sounding board at every step. I fully expect he’ll discuss the offer with me, and I’ll encourage him to consider the options and make what he thinks is the best choice for his daily life, his career plans, and our family. And I know that when it’s time for me to make a career move, he’ll do the same for me.

    It’s fine to want complete autonomy, but it’s good to know that about yourself because partnership would be very difficult.

    1. Red Reader*

      That’s where I come down. Would I discuss it with my fiancé? Absolutely. I’m interviewing (tomorrow, gulp) for an internal promotion that would have me likely working in an office again after three years of working from home, and since he works second shifts, me taking that position would both mean a huge promotion, and that we would pretty much not be at home and awake at the same time except on weekends. Bet your behind I’ll talk to him about it, if it comes to an offer. But I wouldn’t tell the HR folks that I needed to discuss it with anyone in particular, because my discussion process in my personal life isn’t relevant to them. All they need to know is that I’d like to ponder the decision overnight and get back to them before thus-and-such time tomorrow.

      And that said, if it didn’t mean such a drastic change to our household — I probably wouldn’t involve him in the decision as much. I told him when I interviewed for my last promotion, and generally kept him in the loop, but since the ways the change would affect him were largely minimal, I don’t recall if I even told him I’d gotten an offer before I accepted it. (I accepted the offer as it was, since they offered me more than I expected already and it was an internal promotion, so I didn’t bother to take time to negotiate or consider further.)

  61. I'm Not Phyllis*

    I don’t generally keep my family informed of my career decisions unless it’s something that would impact them (change in location, change in salary, time away from home, etc). For me personally, I tend to seek my career advice outside my home but if my partner was in a similar career I may feel more inclined to discuss the details? I’m not sure.

  62. HisGirlFriday*

    When I was working in recruitment, a lot of candidates said that they needed to discuss the offer with their partners as well.

    My gut reaction is to recoil from that. My skin crawls whenever anyone mentions talking to significant others about decisions like these. I can see using them as sounding boards, but ultimately I believe that the decision is up to the person who is going to have to work the job.

    This really stood out to me. There is no reason your gut reaction should be to ‘recoil’ from that. There’s no reason your skin should crawl when someone mentions talking to a significant other about a decision that affects both of them

    When my DH interviewed for and ultimately accepted another job, we discussed it as a married couple because it was a slight pay cut (about $2K annually), but came with substantially better benefits, PTO, holidays, and working hours than his previous job. Also, the new gig covers our daughter 100% on his health insurance, which automatically saved us that $2K since we didn’t have to put her on my (crappy, high-deductible, high co-pay) plan.

    You say you’re single and happily so — and that’s great. But don’t judge partnered up people (married, dating, living together, same- or opposite- sex couples) for making a life choice that isn’t the one you made. They have chosen their paths, just as you have chosen yours, and that path for them includes having a partner to make decisions with.

    1. Emmie*

      A Recruiter would never know if that person is consulting a partner about the job offer, or buying time. Assume positive intent. Don’t judge someone for discussing a job offer with another. (I think OP may cringe since it can be a delay tactic for some folks.) It’s actually pretty helpful to have a significant other on board with these decisions.

      1. Trout 'Waver*

        There’s nothing wrong with using it as a delaying tactic either. Large decisions should be made with ample consideration.

  63. Just J.*

    Dear LW: It’s called respect. I am a fiercely independent woman and I do not like anyone telling me what to do, how to do it, or when to do it. The ONE person who gets leeway to do so is my husband. And it’s because I respect him and I respect his opinion, and he respects me and my opinion.

    It’s also because, in the give-and-take of any relationship, there would be no way I would want him to make a life changing decision without talking to me. Therefore, if I want to have that “take” on his life and his actions, then I need to “give” the same back and confer with him when my career choices (and career dreams and career disillusionment too) have the ability to affect him in any way.

    Healthy discussions about what you and your partner want from life are exactly that: healthy. They should in no way make your skin crawl.

  64. the_scientist*

    Your “skin crawls” when someone tells you they need to talk over a job offer with their partner? That is……a weirdly extreme reaction?

    My partner and I are a team. We both have jobs and long-term career goals and we work with each other and support each other, because the idea is that we’re working *together* and building/maintaining a partnership. If one of us gets a job offer that requires re-locating, do you expect us to take it without talking it over with the other person? I can’t just demand my partner quit his job and uproot his life for me (or vice-versa).
    Even if it’s a job that doesn’t require a move, there are other things to think about that impact both of us: how does this job affect the team’s finances? retirement savings? benefits? division of household labour? leisure time (e.g. job that requires a ton of travel or overtime)? Would we need to buy a vehicle, which would have a big impact on our finances? Is it a particularly dangerous job, and how does the other person feel about that? Is this job going to result in a long commute, and how is that going to impact our home life? What about childcare arrangements (if applicable), or uprooting children?

    There’s nothing wrong with wanting to prioritize yourself and your career and make decisions free of external influence, but I think you have to accept the fact that this sort of lifestyle may limit your ability to have a long-term committed partnership. Similarly, I think it’s only fair to recognize that part of being in a partnership is giving up some of that freedom in favour of joint growth. Just because someone says they need to talk to their partner about a job doesn’t mean they are going to be any less committed to the job, or that they are less ambitious than a single person- I feel like that might be where your visceral reaction is coming from, and you need to do some work to get over that.

  65. Janelle*

    I’d say a better response would be “I am going to think this over” rather than talk to my partner. Talk to whoever you want. However I see nothing is weird about this. New jobs can mean schedule changes, less money, different benefits, childcare issues…

    It is completely reasonable to figure out with your spouse if this will work for both of you.

    1. tigerlily*

      If it’s not a weird thing, I don’t see the reason to hide that I’m doing it by using alternative language.

  66. Ann O'Nemity*

    My husband and I discuss career decisions before making them. Especially for things like relocation, work-related travel, and major salary changes. I probably wouldn’t tell a recruiter that I needed to talk to my spouse about an offer – but I totally would talk to him before making a decision. I’m not the only person in this relationship, and big changes in my career affect my husband and our kids.

    In regards to the OP’s brother, I don’t blame him one bit for being upset. Being a cop’s partner is HARD. High divorce rates, high depression rates. Dangers on the job, erratic work schedules. I can’t think of many professions where there’s so many spousal support books and support groups just because it’s so hard to be with someone in that line of work.

  67. Jennifer M.*

    In my view, discuss with my partner is not equivalent to it’s up to my partner. As someone without a long term partner, I’d see valid topics of said discussion as:
    -How does this work with our budget – sure it’s my dream job but it’s a 30% paycut and we have a mortgage or have to save up for college tuition for our 4 kids.
    -How does this impact partner on day-to-day (if we share a car what will this do to his/her commute? Does it change who has the primary job of picking up kids from daycare/school/activities)
    -If we’re in a regulated industry, does this cause a conflict of interest? Or if one of us has security clearance (I live in the DC area) could this be impacted?
    -If we’re talking international move (in my industry), can my partner work remotely from new country or be eligible to get a work visa in new country?
    -If we’re talking domestic move how does this impact partner’s career?

  68. animaniactoo*

    I discuss with my husband every decision that will have a significant impact on him and our shared life together, and he has input into those.

    I discuss with my husband decisions that have much more of an impact on me than him and for those, I will work to address his concerns. But it’s about addressing his concerns and trying to help him be more comfortable with it, not about him being able to change my mind. If he has significant reservations, I’ll listen to them and see how I feel and take into account things I may not have thought of that he’s raised (and that’s part of why I talk to him, for another perspective), but in the end I’m listening and evaluating and making the decision myself and he respects that.

    He tries to do the same for me in return, but he grew up in a different family culture and so there are things that he thinks are obvious (“I’m really unhappy at my job” => “I’m going to quit”) are not at all obvious to me, and things that he’s spent so long defending in terms of boundaries with his mom that it carries over into defending against me – even when acknowledging that as his partner, somebody he CHOSE to be his partner and allow the things that affect him to affect me, I have a right to know/discuss/etc. such things. So he’s fighting his own impulses to make that happen for us and now and then it goes very awry.

  69. Alienor*

    Well, when I was married, I did talk over most career-related things with my husband, just because he was my husband and we talked about everything. The point at which I would have given him veto power would have been the point at which my career move directly affected him. Just switching to a new job with similar hours, commute, etc=my decision. Taking a job that required moving to a new state/country, or that paid significantly less and meant a big lifestyle change, or that was 75% travel and would have left him on his own to take care of our daughter=joint decision. It’s only fair for people to have a say in things that can potentially upend their entire lives.

  70. Amber Rose*

    It should always be a conversation. Especially for dangerous jobs. If Husband wanted to join the police I’d never have the gall to forbid it, but I’d want to feel like I could express my concerns and have them listened to and talk them out. Husband has in the past become very sulky and passive aggressive when I do things he perceives as dangerous. Things have been better/less resentful since we just started talking about stuff first.

    Also since I straight up told him just how angry I was getting. Passive aggression was going back and forth a while. It was like being stuck in the worst romcom sitcom.

  71. Decimus*

    At one point I took a job just far enough away from our home I’d spend the week in an extended stay hotel. I discussed the pros and cons with my wife in great detail, and we decided it was worth me doing so. After three months in that job, we discussed it again and decided me keeping that job was harming our relationship, so I left the job despite not having another job lined up. It wasn’t about her being “controlling” it’s about what will be the best decision for us, emotionally and financially.

    As it happens I’ve contemplated law enforcement myself, and my wife has told me she would worry far, far too much if I decided to take a job in law enforcement. But it’s not her telling me what to do, it’s her telling me how she feels, and me deciding I do not want to make her worried constantly.

    It comes down to communicating with your partner, really.

  72. Ramona Flowers*

    When you share your life with someone they are going to be affected by your job in all sorts of ways. You don’t just go to work and go home leaving work in a work-shaped vacuum!

    My friend is married to a paramedic. This means he works all kinds of odd shifts and sometimes comes home coping with the aftermath of some of the more upsetting things they see. How could this not have any effect on his partner?

    My husband works in the music industry. He works weird hours. I commute and get back fairly late. This isn’t an issue for us but when I took a job with a long commute after previously working from home I did discuss it with him.

    Work isn’t just about what you do on your own when you go there. It also affects your life outside of work. I don’t see how it couldn’t. That doesn’t mean letting them dictate what you do, but they are a stakeholder in the decision.

  73. Deirdre*

    I am have been married for 30 years; 22 years my partner was in the military deployed for long periods of time and I loved it. I am independent, successful and have no problems making my own decisions. When he retired, we talk about his options and how those decisions would impact our life. In my work, I love bouncing ideas off him. He is a fabulous critical thinker and will help me think through anything I might be missing; he helps me weigh the pros and cons, assess any potential changes to our long term goals, and overall challenges my assumptions. We both look for ways to say yes to things each of us want to do (major purchases, travel with friends, hobbies, etc). It isn’t that I HAVE to, it’s because I WANT to.

  74. Lunchy*

    I think the fact that the gf wants to go into law enforcement is relevant, especially. What if the department she wants to go into is dangerous, where there’s a possibility of her routinely dealing with situations which could end up with her getting hurt? If my boyfriend suddenly said, “Lunchy, I’m going to quit IT and become a police officer,” I’d say “WOAH TIME OUT! I did not sign up for this!”

    In my opinion, someone’s occupation is something that can also decide whether or not you want to be with them. I’m the anxious type, and I wouldn’t be able to deal with being at home, night after night, wondering if my partner is okay. It’s the same if he were in the military – am I okay with him being deployed and possibly killed? Or having to move often? Would I be okay with him being a rock star and touring a lot, rarely being home?

    Some people don’t want that. To suggest that someone suck it up because the circumstances and norms of the relationship have done a 180 is not cool.

  75. I GOTS TO KNOW!*

    I have never asked a significant other for permission for anything in my life. Nor will I. And the vast, vast, vast majority of the time, that isn’t what people are doing when they say they need to discuss with their spouse/partner.

    What I do is have a discussion about how any changes will impact us as a couple, as parents, as a family, etc. I listen to his concerns and take them into account. It is still my decision, but making it without thinking about how it affects my partner is not right. I don’t think you can call someone a partner if you aren’t including them in the discussion and considering their input when making a decision. If my commute is longer that means my daughters see their mom/step-mom less and our balance of household duties is likely to change. If I am making less money, our budget changes.

    Every relationship is different. This is just how mine works and how I personally think of partnership.

    I think you need to adjust your reaction to hearing this, OP. You are passing a lot of judgement on a completely normal aspect of being in a relationship.

    As someone mentioned above, it can be a stalling tactic to get more time to consider. In some cases it could mean “asking for permission” but that is most definitely the exception and not the rule. More often than not, it is just normal consideration for your partner.

  76. C.*

    Well, I mean, if you’re in a serious partnership and contemplating a job offer that would change your life in some way that’s impacting others (your salary, location of the new job, if health insurance will be offered, etc.), then I think it’s a critical conversation to have with your partner. My boyfriend and I have been together for over 5 years, have lived together for 3, and plan to get married at some point–he is a very important factor in my life and so I want to keep him updated and included on where my head is or will be at 40 hours a week. It’s not so much the type of job that I would be applying for that would ruffle his feathers; it’s how the change in workplace could (and would) ultimately affect him as well as I.

  77. Tangerina Warbleworth*

    encroaches on my autonomy./i>

    I think the main difference here is that marriage or a partnership in and of itself would feel like giving up autonomy to you. This is NOT meant as an insult, it’s just recognizing who you are. I get it, to a degree — my husband and I are what happens when two lone wolves get together. When you commit, you must keep their well-being in mind as well as your own. That doesn’t mean one partner gets to control the other. It means that, since my husband is on my health insurance, if I were to up and leave a job without discussing it with him, that snatches the rug out from under him and his health concerns, and BANG there went the trust that a relationship needs to build on.

    Autonomy is capital-I-important. So is maintaining trust, in whatever form that takes, with a partner.

  78. Backroads*

    This came up just recently. I have been musing about going to part-time, and there are some pros and cons to that. I was offered a part-time job that did seem great for me. Talked it over with the Husband, giving him the pros and cons. He gave pros I hadn’t considered, brought up cons I hadn’t considered, and really just gave another voice to a truly family discussion. It ultimately boiled down to schedule and benefits to not accept the job, but it was a couple decision.

  79. LaniT*

    Been with my now-husband for almost 10 years, and we have always discussed our career options as a team of equals. Usually to the tune of determining whose job will carry the health benefits, and if we can “afford” to make a leap at a given moment. There’s been some “turn taking” – for a long time, I carried the load of the “company job” with good benefits while he was looking for a good fit, then when he settled in and my good benefits were rolled back, he carried us while I made a career shift.

    Right now, we’re both in a good spot (knock on wood), and if a dream job fell from the sky for either of us, we’d talk about it a lot.

    But the initial question about YB’s girlfriend’s desire to enter the police force, and that gets at a question about “letting” the other person in the relationship do something. In a team of equals, there’s no “letting” there’s just adult people doing their thing with thoughtful consideration of others. My husband is a rock climber. I don’t “let” him rock climb, he just climbs. He agrees with me that free-soloing (climbing without safety ropes) is right out, and he will never do that. Similarly, he doesn’t “let” me go to rallies and political events, I just go after we’ve coordinated our schedules for who’s picking up the kids.

    If YB’s girlfriend wants to join the police force, then she doesn’t need anyone’s /permission/, but it’s thoughtful towards her partner to discuss it with them.

  80. Suzy Q*

    I’m a single woman, too, but I also think major life changes (new job or quitting job, major elective surgery) or major purchases (home, car) should be discussed between SOs. Anything that really impacts both people.

    Also, my BFF’s daughter is 5’2″ and has been a police officer for two years. She loves it!

  81. Spouse Ghost*

    In addition to all the great things above there’s also some jobs where a person spouse is a visible presence. My spouse is a pastor so there’s some level of involvement from me expected. Before accepting a new position, my thoughts and feelings would definitely be taken into consideration.

    I’m sure there are other positions where this might be similar.

  82. Xay*

    Career discussions with your partner/spouse don’t necessarily mean that person has veto power. But it is logical to discuss jobs and career moves with your spouse to make sure they are reasonable and doable. My SO took a job in another state for a year – considering that meant I was a single parent except on weekends, yes we had a conversation about it. Similarly, when I was offered a job that involved international travel, we had a conversation about how that would affect the household, our child and other considerations. Work and home/family aren’t separate – working longer hours or choosing a high risk profession can have a huge impact on your relationship and it is worth discussing at least so your partner knows what to expect.

  83. LadyKelvin*

    This is a very interesting question and I can definitely see how someone who isn’t in a serious relationship would think that someone should do what they want whether or not their partner approved. There is a big difference between my husband calling my boss to resign for me and us having a serious conversation about whether or not I’m going to take a job that would require us moving from the East Coast to Hawaii, him giving up a lucrative job for mine which pays half of what his does, and fully derailing his career path so that I can further mine. We moved and haven’t regretted it. But now we are talking about him finding a new job that will also be a pay cut because despite the ridiculous COL salaries are below the national average here and it is definitely something I have a say in but is ultimately his decision because it is going to impact my quality of life and our ability to pay the bills as well. So I think that’s where the difference lies, absolutely you should discuss (and your partner have a say in) job decisions that are going to impact both of you, whether it is joining the military and requiring long periods of LDR or moving to another location, or even jobs which will significantly change your income or amount of time you spend working. There are certainly jobs that I would tell my husband he has to pick between me or the job because there are some places I simply won’t move, and I’m also not willing to give up my career to fuel his because there are some many places we both can have fulfilling jobs that don’t require one of us to make a huge sacrifice*. I would actually think that in most cases (ones that do not involve abuse) not discussing a job offer, or change to a current job without talking to your spouse or significant other would be a red flag, because that suggests that there is a possibility of conflict between the job and family later on because the family isn’t necessarily on board with the decision.

    *The sacrifice my husband made to move to Hawaii with me was one of income not necessarily of career path, as he’s not entirely sure what his career path will look like while mine is fairly straightforward in my field.

  84. AtomicCowgirl*

    I think it is generally accepted that good partners in relationships tend to discuss things like job offers with their s/o’s. Even if the changes a new position might bring weren’t significant, I’d at least like to go home and talk to my partner, if only to have an opportunity to clarify to myself whether the offer was the right one for me.

    The broader question to me is less about whether or not I would say something like this personally or notice it when someone else says it in an interview, it’s that this is a great example of why managers and HR partners need to constantly vet their own thoughts and reactions during interviews and staff interactions.

    I think the LW could benefit by recognizing this as a conscious bias that could cause her to eliminate good job candidates without meaning to. I think it is especially important as a manager to remind myself that the life choices my employees make that are contrary to those that I would personally make are not necessarily wrong nor do they reflect negatively on my employee’s performance potential. In today’s world it is very reasonable to expect a wide variety of lifestyles and belief systems within even a small work group. Even in my small administrative staff there are vast differences in age and experience. Each has value, and it’s my job to make sure we work in harmony together. I can’t do that effectively if I’m exhibiting bias against someone who is more conservative than I, or conversely by showing favoritism for those whose personal beliefs more closely align with my own.

  85. Anon4Now*

    Every couple has things that are important to them as partners, its not about a spouse controlling or influencing the other’s career decisions, its more about discussing opportunities as a team; and how the details of an offer will affect them individually and as a couple.

    Since my spouse runs their own business and takes a salary out of only the deals booked (sort of like a commission) its very important to us that my job provides benefits, namely medical insurance and retirement planning etc.
    I’ve been offered various opportunities in the past year but if the insurance program is crap, there’s no way I’d take it. It just wouldn’t work for our set-up; that sort of thing may not even be an issue at all to some people who both work corporate jobs and have benefits available through both employers.

    These type of things that should be discussed don’t have to be huge like in the case of moving, a change in shift hours, or salary cuts…small things like the tax implications of a salary increase could be a deciding factor as well. The OP may be taking their candidates too literally when they say they want to discuss an offer with a partner, their likely not looking for permission, its more about determining how the details of the offer will affect them both.

  86. Maya Elena*

    Hmm, to the extent YB and that girl are committed to each other (living together, planning to get married), I think he has standing to know about major decisions on her part (e.g., going to school, changing careers, going off birth control) that will materially affect their income, lifestyle, routine, etc. as a family. If it’s some girl he recently started dating, he doesn’t have as much standing.

    Also, I’ve used that “consult with spouse” line as a polite equivalent to “I’ll look it over before I give my response”.

  87. Nicki Name*

    I second everything here about discussing significant life changes with your partner. However, it sounds like the situation in the letter is not about income or schedule or moving, it’s about YB being concerned that his girlfriend won’t like police work or is a bad fit for it. That’s something she should be given space to figure out for herself.

  88. New hiring manager*

    I mean, I think this is one of those things that each couple kinda has to “define” when they get there (or before, if they’re excellent communicators).

    For me, once I got married, career moves definitely became something we decided together (before that, we used each other as a sounding board but made decisions independently). But now, something like a change in hours, location, income, etc. would directly impact both of us. And beyond that, we view ourselves as a partnership, so we make most big decisions together (although we generally default to “I support whichever decision you make.”).

  89. LS*

    A lot of what I wanted to said has already been covered by other commenters, LW, but perhaps it makes more sense framed this way. If you are in any type of partnership, marriage, living together, business, or something else, it’s thoughtless and counterproductive to make decisions that impact on the partner and partnership without any discussion. If you had an HR consultancy with another person, and they decided unilaterally to work a different schedule, take a 3 week vacation, work from home every day, move to another city, take home a bigger salary – those things would impact you and the success of the partnership. I would find that unacceptable. It would send the signal that the partnership was not all that important and by extension, I am also not that important. This doesn’t mean handing over the decision making to your partner. But it means be considerate and thoughtful of how your decision impacts both of you.

  90. Victoria Nonprofit (USA)*

    Everyone is going to have a different understanding or expectation on this question. But I’m pretty sure that the OP is an outlier in feeling so strongly that these decisions should be made independently.

    I’m married, and in my marriage decisions about jobs are absolutely within the purview of both of us. Because each other’s jobs affect us both: how much income we have; where we will live; how much time will be spent away from home; how much physical and emotional energy we will have for each other after a day at work; where we will get our health care; how and how much we will save for retirement; what kind of vacations we will take; who will be the primary caregiver of children and pets; etc. Most of how work affects people affects the people around them and in getting married we agreed that we got to weigh in on that kind of stuff.

  91. MommyMD*

    We all have to do what our heart desires. We discuss with loved ones but if we have a calling, we follow it. Unconventional careers do affect our private lives greatly and it’s important to have a supportive partner. An angry or begrudging partner would be a deal breaker for me.

    From the other point of view it’s very valid if someone cannot or does not want to handle a partner in law enforcement, firefighting, medicine, law, or the military, to be honest and move on. These are professions where life is never going to be 9 to 5 normal.

  92. MK*

    OP, I think you are imagining so e scenario where the applicant asks permission from their partner to accept a job. But what is really happening in a healthy relationship is a conversation and “this is is my decision” is not the end of it; the partners then have to see how this decision affects their lives, and the other partner might have to make decisions of their own based on the new situation. For example, if one partner decides to take a job working 12-hour days and one week per month traveling, the other partner would be well within their rights to decide not to move in together/buy a house/have a child with them, because they aren’t willing to shoulder practically the sole burden of housekeeping and childcare. But ideally it’s not two people trading ultimatums, it’s about making a joint decision.

    Another way to think about it is that, sure it’s the applicant’s decision, but to make an informed one, they need their partner’s input. How do you make a decision, without examining what this will mean for your life as a whole?

    1. doreen*

      This is exactly what I have been thinking- what if I take that job without discussion only to regret it when I find out that my partner is so strongly opposed to it that the relationship is over? At least if I have the discussion, I know that’s the choice I’m making.

  93. Lillian Styx*

    I’ve written about this in comments before but my spouse has done 4 complete career changes and a few more inter-career job hops in the last 7ish years. Each time I supported him completely. There’s only one time I wish I hadn’t.

    The only thing you really need to debate as a couple is whether the change in salary or schedule is going to affect the household and if so, what other changes need to be made. I already trust my spouse to know (or at least firmly believe) that a career leap will make him happier.

  94. Sandy*

    I once accepted a job in a war zone without clearing it with my partner first.

    My thinking was that it would have very little impact on his day to day life, since he couldn’t come anyways, we didn’t have pets or kids at the time, our house would stay the same, etc. And he WAS the first person I told once it was all official!

    …yeah, I still hear about it occasionally, a decade later. Don’t be like me.

    1. AvonLady Barksdale*

      I am waiting for the day when my partner does one of the following:

      1. Gets accepted into the astronaut program
      2. Accepts a fellowship/post-doc in a developing country
      3. Takes an amazing internship opportunity in another city that will only last about 5 months
      4. Decides to go to Mars with Elon Musk

      He will come home all excited, and I will give him the side-eye and shake my head for at least a decade. I imagine we’ll still be together at the end of it, though!

  95. Amy*

    Currently going through this…I would make sure I talk to my boyfriend, we live together and own a home, because the hours would be different, possibly the pay. If it’s out of the norm or current industry it’s worth talking to them, like you said not for approval, but to offer their support and opinions. For example we love to go away on short trips on the weekend. This new job would require me to work Saturday am…and all I wanted to know was that it would still be doable, we could leave late and that they were OK with that. The benefits are also different, there is unfortunately not as many vaycay days. are they ok with it? …sometimes people are so happy to change a job they will take a small pay cut… And that should be discussed as well. It’s so important to be supportive and the partner might think of things that you might not of to help sway your decision for the good or bad. :)

  96. Metal Husband*

    I don’t know… I think if my boyfriend wanted to go from teapot maker to police officer I would be anxious. That’s a job that could get dangerous, and personally, I would be stressed out about it whenever he left for work. I also have anxiety issues, but I kind of understand YB’s concerns.

    I think the height comment is a red herring. He might just be scared she’ll get hurt and is trying to make a (somewhat misguided) excuse.

  97. Nacho*

    Assuming you’re in a serious, long term relationship, a carrier change is going to affect both of you pretty drastically, and should probably be discussed at the very least. Extreme examples: High priced lawyer who makes most of the family’s money suddenly decides he wants to be a painter. Painter decides he wants to take a dangerous job as a trapeze artist. Trapeze artist decides he’s going to join the Army.

    That said, YB is over reacting. Police work is actually pretty safe, though the hours can be long.

  98. Clodia*

    Married 10 years now and have gone through multiple job changes on both sides.

    We talk when 1) We’re considering changing something and 2) There’s something potentially actionable happening. We discuss it and come to the solution that we both agree is best for both of us, which will include things like both of our jobs, location, social needs, economic needs, and potential for the future.

    We identify the things that could be dealbreakers – I’ve half jokingly said that I don’t want him to work in a lab anymore because I don’t want him to have to shave off his beard. He’s not thrilled with the idea of me going to grad school more than three hours away from him. We’ve both acknowleged that both might have to happen temporarily, but we try to work around it. I refuse to move to a small town that’s more than an hour away from a real city.

    There’s no firm NO without an understanding from both people as to why. If something is important to one of us, we talk until we find the crux of the issue and how we can work together.

    At this point, we pretty much know what we want, what we expect, and what our limits are, so there aren’t curveballs. If one was thrown to me or him, we’d tell the other and talk about it when there was something real happening.

  99. Fiennes*

    A slight aside: I’m not sure it’s kind to lambast OP so much for the “skin crawls” language. Yes, that’s an extreme reaction–but some people have very valid reasons for reacting strongly to a loss of autonomy. You don’t even need a reason to simply prefer that.

    1. Junior Dev*

      Yes, I understand why people are defending the idea of discussing career changes with one’s spouse but I think that can be done with an understanding of why the OP is uncomfortable with it.

      Especially given that:

      * There’s a gendered dynamic here–someone pointed out above that they rarely hear men explicitly say “I have to discuss this with my wife” (even though they may go home and do that)

      * Women are pressured to base our self-worth around being in this sort of partnership; a lot of us are more autonomous than that but it can be frustrating when people casually assume you’re aiming to get married (and assume that means you’ll be in the sort of marriage where you lose autonomy)

      1. sunny-dee*

        I have frequently heard men say they have to discuss something with their wives, on everything from business travel to teaching a class at church. Other people may not have heard that, but that’s an anecdote, not science fact. Even the OP said that she has commonly heard people say they need to talk employment decisions over with their partner, and she didn’t limit it to women.

        I’m just going to say — you’re stretching to say that women are pressured to become Stepford Wives. Some women may feel that pressure or impose it on themselves, but I live in a southern state and belong to a relatively conservative religious community and work in a male dominated field, and I had zero pressure to get married into a subservient relationship — most especially in professional circles. My experience is not universal, but neither is yours.

        1. Junior Dev*

          And I think you’re stretching to say that I said anything about Stepford wives. This whole thread is full of people enthusiastically defending the idea that marriage means compromising your autonomy, which is a legitimate decision to make, but it’s also legitimate to be uncomfortable with that dynamic. And I’m saying there’s a lot of social pressure for women in particular to take on that kind of autonomy-limiting relationship regardless of whether that’s actually what we want. I’m glad you haven’t felt that pressure, but I have, and ao have many of my friends, even in a fairly liberal part of the country.

          1. Zahra*

            No, I mentioned Stepford Wives in relationship to “having it all”. And I had forgotten about the subservient dynamic at play in that concept. Remove the Deference to the Male and keep the perfect home, responsible of making sure household chores are done, responsible for anything regarding the children, responsible of all social calendar stuff (including in-law birthdays), add the perfect career with progression and that’s pretty much what “having it all” means.

            Some of it is imposed by default (unequal share of household, child-rearing, social calendar tasks, and mental load pertaining to all of those). You just have to see the numerous surveys about free time/time spent on unpaid labor at home in couples to see it or at calendar offerings at the end of the year to get it: there are “Mom calendars”, very femininely themed, that allow you to track the family’s activities, commitments and appointments.

  100. Literary Engineer*

    I’m married and there are a lot of times that my wife and I discuss our jobs/prospects. It’s natural to discuss because commute, business travel, and income effects both of us. If one of us feels stagnant or really frustrated about our jobs we vent to each other too then plan what we can do to change it. If it required a move out of state then both of us would look at the pros and cons before we make any choices. It’s a lot of emotional labor to put all these major choices on one person so we share that sort of stuff.

  101. Cookie*

    “I need to discuss this with my partner” means (for me) that I’m waiting on other offers and I need an excuse to delay accepting for a couple of days. “I need a couple of days to think this over” doesn’t sound as good as it implies a lack of enthusiasm (even though most sensible people need time to think things over even if they’re enthusiasic.

  102. Accountant*

    I think it depends on the relationship. I am married and have children. Anytime there is a job change in my household it effects 5 people! When a decision you make can effect others so greatly you have to have a discussion. We also operate as a team, that means one of us would not just tell the other they could not do something, but we would have to discuss, if a change was going to happen, how it would happen, what the impact would be financially and schedule wise. I could not imagine just changing careers without a discussion or my spouse changing careers without a discussion.
    If a couple is casually dating/don’t live together/don’t have children, this is a completely different situation. Then you are a single individual essentially and can do as you please.

  103. Stephanie (HR Manager)*

    I always discuss my job changes with my husband. It’s not about asking permission, it’s because we are a unit together, and this is a decision that affects our whole family. If I change careers, that may change my hours, my stress level, my income, my travel or commuting time, or even require relocation. If none of these are affected, I would discuss them with my husband anyway, but his input would have less impact because the decision has less impact on him. For example, if I was up for a promotion, I would probably talk with him about it, but more in a, “Guess what I’m applying for, isn’t this exciting?!” kind of way, where if I apply for a job in another state, we talk about the pros and cons of relocation, what affect it would have on his job, on our kids, schools, buying/selling houses, etc. If I change careers, I would use him as a sounding board and get his input on reliability, sustainability, professional growth, etc.

    Again, it’s not about permission, it’s about changing the family dynamic. With family comes responsibilities, and with a partner (spouse, s/o, etc,) that responsibility is shared. I believe making unilateral decisions that would affect my spouse to be irresponsible.

    Knowing this, it’s always possible that we may come to a line in which we cannot meet. I am GOING to take the amazing job offer in Hawaii, and you REFUSE to come with me. There are repercussions to the conversation going that way, just as there are repercussions to coming to a conclusion where you coordinate your actions to remain together.

    In HR, I hear often that they need to discuss an offer with someone. It may be that the other person is the one that tracks all the financials, and they need to know if the numbers work, or it may be that the shift might conflict with their s/o, and they need to see if they can make it work with childcare, or it may be that they simply make all decisions together. It even may be that they have a dom/sub relationship in this aspect. I’ve even used it as an excuse because I had another interview the next day and I wanted to see how that went. It’s really none of my business so long as they give me an answer in a reasonable amount of time.

  104. Thin Blue Noose*

    I’m a “police wife”. It is a job, one that in some cases greatly impacts my lifestyle and puts me under pressures and scrutiny I wouldn’t be otherwise. This is on top of MY job and other responsibilities…. my husband explained to me (to a degree) what I was getting into when we dated. Anyone with a profession with such extreme family impact should do the same.

  105. Tuckerman*

    What if you and a friend planned an independent single ladies summer European hiking trip? What if you paid for airfare up front, with the agreement that your friend would cover the lodging throughout the trip, and then she bailed at the last minute to go on scuba diving trip? Suddenly you would be out the cost of the ticket and have to come up with more money to cover lodging. It wouldn’t matter how independent you are, this would be an inconvenience and potentially make the trip cost prohibitive for you.
    All relationships require consideration for others. In a romantic relationship, decisions can affect both individuals for a long time. Ultimately, thoughtfully considering how our decisions affect others is in our own best interests, as it preserves relationships. Even strong single women have relationships :-)

    1. Foreign Octopus (LW)*

      An analogy I can understand! Honestly, despite agreeing with everyone that has written above, this makes perfect sense. Thanks, Tuckerman!

  106. Video Gamer Lurker*

    Single here, but I live with my 70-year old grandmother at this time (community college student, and I don’t drive, so mutually beneficial living situation). If I am at the stage where I have an interview, I go back over the job posting I applied for and discuss with her the posted aspects and run a mock-plan for what my days and such will look like based on the information posted. Then I’m going in with how my days will likely work to make that part of the interview easier for me (not that my employer woyld care too much, but I did get an interview for a halftime mornings and four days a week [public school district hours] job where the interviewer mentioned the post was generally a step-in-the-door post with a higher turnaround rate. I said that the hours weren’t as much a deterrent for me because I would take afternoon classes as I worked on my associates degree.)

  107. Allison*

    “When I was working in recruitment, a lot of candidates said that they needed to discuss the offer with their partners as well.My gut reaction is to recoil from that. My skin crawls whenever anyone mentions talking to significant others about decisions like these. I can see using them as sounding boards, but ultimately I believe that the decision is up to the person who is going to have to work the job.”

    I work in recruitment too, and I hate it when recruiters recoil at this. Look, I get it, you want to fill the position, either to get your commission, ensure a long-term partnership with the employer, or just get that damn requisition off your plate because you’ve been losing sleep over it. But come on, if you were offered a job and you were married or living with a partner, you honestly don’t think your job change would impact them? They don’t “control” your career, but when you’re serious about someone to the point where you live together and share finances (or you’re heading in that direction) things like how long you’re away from home, how much money you contribute, where you need to live for work, and the benefits you get from your job (insurance, retirement plan, vacation, etc.) can impact them, and you should consult them before making any final decisions about that stuff.

  108. asfjkl*

    There are a ton of small details that can come into play as well. Single car households and respective commutes, who picks up from childcare, if you are on the same healthcare plan (I know a woman who wasn’t able to change jobs because the cost of her husbands medication would quadruple). Even things like letting the dog out or chore shifts around the house. When you share a home and a life, you just need to rope the other person in. My partner ultimately has no say in my career, but he is affected by it.

    1. always in email jail*

      YESSSS to this and the above poster. It may be “oh man this puts me half an hour further from doggy daycare so my husband will have to pick the dog up every day, I have to make sure he’s cool with that” or “I need to see if my husband’s specialist is in network for the insurance with this new gig” or “I would love to take this job but I’m going to have to cut out having maids and landscapers and I need to see if my husband will help me take on some of that responsibility”. There’s just so many things to consider when your life is connected to someone else’s, it’s not unreasonable to say “Let me take a few days to think this through and talk it over with my spouse”

  109. Foreign Octopus (LW)*

    Hey everyone,

    LW writer here!

    I thought I’d weigh in after having read all the comments so far (and thanks to Alison for posting it). You all seem to be falling on the it depends end of the spectrum with regards to my more generic question and having read through everything, I can agree with that.

    Let me give you a little more background to myself (because there have been a few comments that I’d like to address) and my brother’s situation in general.

    Firstly, clearly my word choice of skin crawls was bad. I apologise. I also wasn’t responsible for hiring anyone. I was sort of front line recruitment for a recruitment company that did initial stage recruitment for larger companies that then took over in the final stages so I was never hearing “I need to discuss it”. It’s when I read it here on AAM that it takes me aback but considering some of the letters where that has come up, hopefully that can explain my feelings towards that.

    About me, whilst I’ve never had a serious relationship (and I think Paul was right up the thread that I’m not in a place right now for one), I have had issues with people in my life looking to control my decisions that has affected me a little, and clearly has skewed my perception on things and made me a bit more jealous of my own decision making. I did like what someone said up the thread about it being an adult-child syndrome and not liking to share. That’s accurate!

    With regards to my younger brother (and no one in my family or network reads AAM so I’m okay sharing some of this) and his girlfriend, a little background.

    Most of you are using long term relationships, marriages, and children as the bench mark for these decisions and it makes so much sense to me to discuss these types of career moves if you’re in that situation. The reason that I wrote this question is that YB and girlfriend have been on-off for the last year in a slightly emotionally intense relationship. YB doesn’t really do casual. He has a few problems that he’s working through very, very well but a lot of his self-worth is tied into whether or not women find him attractive (but he’s working on that with a therapist and I’m very proud of him for recognising that he needs help). They don’t live together, their finances are separate, and there are no children involved.

    For me, because I have the context and history of YB, this seems like another irritating thing that he does but it did make me think about the question more generally, hence the submission to Alison.

    I hope this gives a little more context to my situation and my apologies again for my poor word choice in the letter. I wrote this late at night and clearly should have proof-read it before I submitted as I get dramatic when I’m tired!

    1. Foreign Octopus (LW)*

      Also, I no longer work in recruitment. I’m sunning myself up in Spain as an ESL teacher and have been for nearly two years now!

      1. Dankar*

        Oh, jealous! I would love to do TESOL work abroad, but (ironically) that’s something that’s been tabled while my partner gets his career up and running stateside.

        Thanks for clarifying. It’s not really career advice, but I would strongly suggest not wading too deep into your brother’s relationship dynamic. Whether you’re right or wrong, vocalizing a strong opinion when it’s not likely to change his mind can really adversely affect your sibling relationship. If you think you can gently express that his girlfriend has every right to explore this career without offending, I would do it one time then back away from the topic. (I speak from experience!)

        1. Foreign Octopus (LW)*

          Very ironic! When you get the chance, do the work! It’s very interesting and Spain is a delight.

          And believe me, I know not to get involved in their dynamic. My older brother just had a four-year relationship end with a woman I didn’t like but I stayed well out of that and learnt a lot fromy my silence. The only reason I know what’s happening with YB is that my mum is incapable of not gossiping.

          1. Dankar*

            Oh, mothers. Haha I hear quite a bit of family gossip from my mother, as well, but sometimes it’s critical stuff that I really should have heard about earlier!

    2. Snark*

      Thanks for clarifying. Your original letter came off as very judgmental of the whole concept of checking in with a partner about major life changes.

      1. Foreign Octopus (LW)*

        Poor word choice. For someone who works with the English language every day, I should be making better choices :)

        1. Snark*

          And please disregard the snarky tone of my reply, because I disregarded what I’ve asked others to do when they’ve misunderstood me – which is give you the benefit of very generous doubt! I apologize.

          1. Foreign Octopus (LW)*

            There’s no need to apologise! I’ve been here long enough to know it’s not personal.

        2. Aunt Vixen*

          Not to completely skid off topic, but if I’m right (based on your spelling and some word choices) that you’re in the UK, might that not be a safer place to be a police officer than the US? Just based on the relative prevalence of privately owned guns, is all I’m thinking.

          Anyway. Glad you’re following the thread and having thoughts, LW. (And glad I kept reading rather than skipping to the end and adding my tales of Discussions With Uncle Vixen, which at this point would be repetitive and add little.)

          1. Foreign Octopus (LW)*

            You’re right. I’m British but live in Spain (don’t tell the Spanish though; I’m hoping to pass as a native by the time Brexit rolls around).

          2. TootsNYC*

            On the UK being a safer place to be a police officer–it’s not the U.S.’s most dangerous job.

    3. a Gen X manager*

      It’s actually great that this is coming up before they’re married – YB can decide whether or not he wants to live this way. So much better than if she decided this after they were married (obviously)! Not everything can be planned, but I hope YB will make a decision that he can live with long-term. I know a lot of firefighters and officers, but I wouldn’t marry one because it would be such a mismatch for my need for routines in my life.

    4. Snark*

      “The reason that I wrote this question is that YB and girlfriend have been on-off for the last year in a slightly emotionally intense relationship. ”

      So this really changes how I interpret your “what’s the line” question, so maybe I can contribute to that more constructively. Obviously, if kids and rings and dogs are in the mix, that’s a thing. But if you’re wondering where’s the line as far as “how committed to an SO do you have to be to need to go discuss a job offer with them” goes….yeah. Still depends, but I think “on the outs half the time and embroiled in intense drama the other half” is not obviously a partnership for the ages.

      1. Snark*

        On the flipside, it could be. In which case, “I want to become a police officer, and I need you either on board as my partner for this, or we’re donesies, but either way it’s time to stop playing footsie” could be a totally legit convo to have.

      2. Foreign Octopus (LW)*

        That’s such a better way of phrasing my question. How committed should you be?

        1. Snark*

          I think the line is, “When people invite the person and their SO to events in the plural.” :D

        2. paul*

          That’s going to be really variable. But if they’re off and on again…I don’t know, I’ve never understood that type of relationship at all myself. But I wouldn’t base major life choices around someone I occasionally date/sleep with for a few months at a time or something.

        3. Not So NewReader*

          When a couple makes plans that are going to take years to carry out, such as house or kids plans or just a commitment for the long haul. Or when they share something of value such as loans or real estate. And if one person is dependent on another person for the long run, in a practical way, such as the couple agrees, “You can go to school and I will support us.”

          If a person does not know if they will even be a part of a couple next week, then I think go about your life and do what is best for you.

        4. Red Reader*

          My rule of thumb was always that I’m not going to make hard concrete plans for longer in the future than I’ve been with the partner. Like, if we’ve been dating for three months, I’m not going to make solid plans for more than 3 months out unless a unique situation comes up.

          (But I’ve been divorced twice, so take my relationship thoughts with a grain of salt :) )

    5. Metal Husband*

      Thanks for following up! You seem to care about YB a lot. If he were to join the police force would you be concerned about him?

      For some reason that really stuck out to me – I think I would be upset if my SO wanted to go into a dangerous field (or what I perceived to be a dangerous field, like law enforcement). It obviously is entirely their choice, which I would support and respect – but it just would rattle me that they’re putting themselves in harm’s way daily. Even though YB and his partner have been on again/off again, he might just care about her and be a little worried about this particular career track? He might be struggling to express that in an open way? I could see myself jumping the gun and being upset about the news at first. But since I don’t know him, this could also easily be another irritating YB move. You’re the best judge of that, but just trying to see it from his perspective too.

      1. Foreign Octopus (LW)*

        When YB had issues to do with mental health a few years ago, I was the only member of the family in the country and so the bulk of making sure he was okay and looking after him fell to me. Not something I resent but it has made me a little overly critical when it comes to his choices in a way that I’m not with my older brother.

        If he wanted to join the police force, I’d be delighted because I’d view it as him getting his life on track and taking responsibility. I actually believe he’d be fantastic training police dogs because he’s like Dr Doolittle with animals, so I’d love it if he found something like that to do.

        Maybe it’s a perception but I don’t view the police force as a dangerous profession. Again, context is important here – I’m from the UK in the sleepy South West, think Cornwall, Devon, Somerset region – where crime is not as high, nor as dangerous, as the bigger cities. I’m sure I’d have a different view if I was from London, or Manchester, or the US.

        I think you’re right that he’s struggling to express himself correctly. He’s got better with therapy and medication but I do sometimes forget speaking openly is a problem for him.

        1. Metal Husband*

          Well, I’ve seen Hot Fuzz and I know that the seemingly sleepy areas can get rowdy :P. But that makes sense – I live in a major city in the US, so that is where my perspective came from.

    6. LadyKelvin*

      Thanks for clarifying Foreign Octopus, this actually makes a really big difference. Since they aren’t in a situation where they are planning their future together, then I absolutely think she should make the decision on her own. It’s not that she shouldn’t listen to your brother’s concerns, but she can’t let something that “may be” influence something she really wants. I was in a similar situation with a previous long term (4+ years) boyfriend who said constantly how we were going to move to Detroit so he could work in his dream job after college and somehow that was ok but me saying, but I want to move to the south to pursue my career (and nothing in the world could entice me to stay where it was cold and wintery) was unacceptable and that was just not what our plans were. Sometimes you have to realize that despite liking or loving someone something else, like your career, is more important to you. And that is a good indication on if this person is someone who you should be planning the future with.

      Joke’s on him by the way, he failed out of his program and still lives in my hometown. I did move south after college and am very successful in my career, living in Hawaii where it is never cold. :)

      1. Foreign Octopus (LW)*

        I’m glad it worked out for you. I am incredibly jealous that you;re living in Hawaii! I’ve always wanted to visit.

    7. NYCJessa*

      I will just say these two things, specifically regarding becoming a police officer, to try to help your brother. My boyfriend graduated the police academy last year so I have a little bit of insight.

      #1 He shouldn’t be any more afraid for his girlfriend than any boyfriend would be about her general safety. Any of us can leave the house today and get hit by a bus or shot or any other freak thing, or get sick, police are definitely exposed to more risks but in general she will probably spend most of her time bored out of her mind writing police accident reports or feeling helpless writing domestic violence reports. Or if she’s in a sexist command they will stick her behind a desk where she will be even more bored. Every day when I say goodbye to my boyfriend I fear never seeing him again because of his job, but that is not a good enough reason for me to not want him to do it because it is irrational. More often than not he comes home with a couple boring stories and nothing else to report. If your brother’s number one reason for not wanting his girlfriend to be a police officer is fear, that is not a good enough reason.

      #2 The police academy was BRUTAL. Many people quit within the first week because they couldn’t handle the stress. I hope your brother’s girlfriend is one tough cookie, because otherwise she won’t make it. She will need your brother’s support through this to graduate, it is a lot of strenuous physical exercise and hardcore studying/memorization, and a lot of silly seeming rules and regulations. She won’t make it through without him. I know I wouldn’t be able to do it, I used to constantly ask my boyfriend how the girls were doing and rooting them on from behind the scenes, and I was so proud of all the girls in his class who graduated. If your brother’s girlfriend does decide to go through with this, I hope he will be able to support her, because the pay and benefits are incredible and if she really wants to help people she should be able to at least try for her dream job without him standing in the way. Plus, in 20-25 years she will be done and able to retire on a pension if she wants, it really is an amazing career for people who can handle it.

    8. librarylass*

      Hi, LW. I am also a habitually single woman who places a lot of emphasis on personal autonomy as well. I love my family and friends who are in relationships, I love their spouses and partners, and their kids (where applicable.) Despite this, I find myself thinking how much I would HATE sacrificing the independent decision making power that I see them giving up every day. I see people leave jobs they love because a spouse needs to move for career advancement and I see them give up hobbies they enjoy because their partner doesn’t enjoy it. I see them argue over retirement finances and parental inheritances and who can do what with which pot of money. I see them apparently not minding that someone else uses their computer or eats their snacks without replacing them or constantly shrinks their clothes in the wash. And I get it, but I don’t GET it. No one I’ve ever met has been worth that to me. It would… make my skin crawl. So I feel you. Just wanted to say that.

      1. Foreign Octopus (LW)*

        Thank you Librarylass. That’s exactly how I feel but you’ve been able to put it into words. I agree with everything you’ve said, 100%. I haven’t met anyone worth it. I’m not discounting the possibility but I’m also not bothered if I don’t.

        Glad to meet a kindred spirit.

      2. Jack*

        “No one I’ve ever met has been worth that to me. ”

        That doesn’t mean you won’t meet someone who is. I was a very independent single person, and then I met my wife, and we now have two teenagers. My life has been so “not my own” for almost 20 years now. Sometimes it does drive me crazy, but it’s been so damn worth it.

      3. Gazebo Slayer*

        Chiming in as a third person of this type! I’m very much an introvert and also stubborn, disorganized, and just plain odd. I very strongly want to do what I want to do when I want to do it. And I must drive anyone who has to spend long stretches of time with me bonkers.

      4. x.*

        And a fourth! I have never been in a relationship precisely *because* I can’t imagine any universe in which a relationship would retain its value to me in the face of those myriad little daily grindings-away at my ability to order my personal priorities and make my own decisions. (Though I’m probably on the extreme end of things; ferocious introversion aside, I’m ace, prone to sensory overload, and in a career that requires 3-6 hours of solitary personal maintenance daily – music is a weird profession.) I understand perfectly why people feel the need to consult partners on work-related decisions (and I agree that, in any good and lasting partnership, it would be irresponsible not to discuss decisions by one party that will have any significant impact on the other) – but intellectual, general understanding is very different from personal, emotional understanding (which is where I, too, get the smothered, skin-crawling feeling of “but why would you ever let someone chain you up and cut whole parts off you like that?”). There are so many things in the world over which none of us have any control; I can’t imagine letting anyone else in on the few and invariably personal things I do have control over.

        1. Foreign Octopus (LW)*

          I am so glad that I’m not the only one. All of my friends are coupled up and have these daily decisions. Fortunately, my closest friend says that she’s not bothered by me being single because she knows that I’m happy that way. Just like I’m not bothered with her being in a relationship because the relationship makes her happy.

          It’s still nice to hear other people who feel the same as me.

    9. Observer*

      So I have a very different answer to this than I would have had to the original question.

      I think that Snark framed it well. And I suspect that you YB’s relationship is not where it needs to be for him to appropriately weigh in too heavily.

      The other thing, and something that I would say in relation to the original question, as well, is that he needs to get over how “tiny” she is. If she’s any good, her size is not going to be much of a problem and / or she’ll find a position where it doesn’t matter.

      I’ll never forget the sight of two SMALL female police officers frog marching some big (must have been 6’+ and reasonably fit looking) guy on a subway platform. I don’t know what he did, and I didn’t see the arrest, but they apparently managed to get him without getting mused up at all. My father commented that they obviously know how to fight.

      1. Foreign Octopus (LW)*

        That sounds like a hilarious visual.

        And knowing YB as I do, her size is going to be just a cover because he doesn’t like anything that changes the status quo.

    10. TootsNYC*

      Regarding the “on/off boyfriend/girlfriend” thing–I think a big chance like going into law enforcement is something that should be shared.

      And a girlfriend or boyfriend can worry, and can decide to fade out if they don’t want the stress. But it’s also OK to say, “I don’t know how I’d do as the partner of a police officer; it might affect how serious I am about this.”

      I do agree w/ you that a not-fully-committed sweetheart doesn’t get to tell someone they can’t take a job. But I think they could say, “I worry about how your height would affect your safety.”

      And then I’d get to answer them.

    11. Doug Judy*

      The difference between let’s say discussing with someone’s significant other a career change or a job offer is that the two people in the relationship discuss it and how it impacts them and make a decision on what’s best. The other examples you gave were where the SO was contacting the employer about things and injecting themselves into the actual work. Once I’ve taken a job my husband has little knowledge of my work other than travel schedules or funny stories to share.

  110. tink*

    My partner and I (no kids) discuss things that would change our “status quo” (shift differentials, salary cuts, commutes over 50 min in one direction, etc.) but otherwise just keep each other generally appraised of any job hunting we’re doing? If one of us was considering a large career change we’d probably sit down and talk it out after some initial research, and we talk before applying about positions that would require us to do more than maybe relocate across town to a different train line. Something like one of us wanting to go into a first responder situation would be something we’d definitely discuss because of a combination of “life in danger on a semi-regular basis” and “would probably disrupt everything in our status quo except paying bills.”

  111. Snark*

    “My gut reaction is to recoil from that. My skin crawls whenever anyone mentions talking to significant others about decisions like these. I can see using them as sounding boards, but ultimately I believe that the decision is up to the person who is going to have to work the job….I suppose my question is, where is the line drawn with partners and career decisions? At what point does a person have to step back and say, actually, this is my decision?”

    That line depends on the couple/family and their dynamics. Sometimes they do just need that sounding board. But….is it really not obvious to you that accepting a job can sometimes mean a new daycare, a longer commute, more hours, a physical change of residence, a shift in insurance policies, rearranged chores and responsibilities in a household, and a whole cascade of small, important changes to a household’s routine, finances, and schedule that directly affect a spouse to the extent they have a legitimate stake in the decision? Even if you’re single and not in a LTR, it’s not this hard to put yourself in the shoes of those who are. But regardless, please try to be kind to those who do have to factor in a spouse and possibly kids into major life changes, and not recoil in disgust from their consideration of their partner.

  112. Chatterby*

    My vote is that when a personal choice will affect another person, you should discuss it with that person, regardless.
    The extent of the discussion, and the weight their voice will be given varies greatly by their relationship to you and the degree to which they’ll be effected.
    If you decide to take opera lessons while you live in your apartment, a heads up to your neighbors is warranted. Now, they definitely don’t get veto power, but they can make reasonable requests such as “no practicing before 8 am or after 10 pm” and you can choose to comply, or face the relationship consequences of ignoring their voice.
    Changes at work, especially big ones like career switches, will effect the lives of one’s family, and so family needs to be told and their voices considered. Family is only allowed to complain about the bits that will directly effect them, though, and must otherwise be supportive.
    In the case of the LW’s brother, the part which will directly effect him is the increase to his worry and anxiety levels. His girlfriend should listen to his concerns and make a decent-human level effort to address them. Examples of this would be to promise to follow the full safety protocol exactly every single time and then following through, or texting him at lunch so he knows she’s ok, or never talking about work so he doesn’t have to worry, or taking extra hand-to-hand or gun training and maybe inviting him along. In exchange for this consideration, he needs to be otherwise supportive of her actions.
    If either party finds the other is making demands they are unable or unwilling to honor, then the relationship will likely end or become dysfunctional.

  113. a Gen X manager*

    If you’re married (and I’d argue even engaged), all major life decisions are shared in healthy relationships. It’s not a matter of the spouse making or approving the decision, but talking through the *impact* on the relationship and household, etc. It’s respectful to involve your spouse since it involves them too. This goes hand-in-hand with the key benefits of being married – you’re in it together. If this idea feels subservient or something, then there is probably a bigger problem in the relationship.

    1. Hedwig*

      ” If this idea feels subservient or something, then there is probably a bigger problem in the relationship.”

      Yes to this. In a healthy long-term partnership, these kinds of conversations will feel natural and normal. If they feel oppressive, there is probably a larger issue, either where someone is actually trying to exert too much control or where maybe you are not truly seeing each other as partners anymore. Each couple is presumably going to find their balance of information sharing and shared decision making in a somewhat different place, but ultimately if you are partners and not just roommates you are going to need to do more than a little bit of sharing.

  114. anon24*

    I want to talk to my spouse not because I need permission, but because as someone who I committed to marry I trust his judgement and want his opinion. We think very differently and so we consult each other about big decisions just to get a different point of view and to bring up things the other might not have considered. I have had jobs where I’ve said “if this interview goes well and I get an offer I’m accepting it” and I’ve had moments where I’m asking him what he thinks. I don’t “need” his permission for anything that isn’t going to strongly affect him (and he doesn’t “need” mine), but part of being in a partnership is that you sometimes willingly give up some of your independence because you respect that person. I honestly wouldn’t care if he came home today and announced he was taking a job in another state and we needed to move right now, but I know he wouldn’t do that to me because we respect each other.

  115. saffytaffy*

    The partners I’ve had who wanted details of my professional life invariably wanted to give their opinion, and then wanted their opinion to be MY opinion.

    Partners who were less interested in details and more interested in my happiness have tended to present their opinions while making it clear that the decision is mine. The fellow I’m with now is that type of guy. If I decide to move back to China (or just an hour away) I will want to talk to him about it and we’ll figure out what works for us. If I want to take up a 2nd job or change my line of work, I will keep him updated about it. And he might say “hey, that seems like a lot of work” and I’ll listen like I would listen to anyone who knows me well, but the decision itself won’t be mutual.

  116. Jenn*

    My husband once accepted a job 5 hours away without asking me…3 weeks after our daughter died. It started as a shorter contract and then grew, but I found out that it would be over a year at a family barbecue, not via a private conversation with him. Not cool. The impact on me was that I was left running our home Mon-Fri alone, bereaved. (He was bereaved too, obviously.) And the thing is…probably I was _less_ lonely and upset because things already sucked a lot at that point.

    Our marriage survived for a lot of reasons – it was strong, lots of love, but also because it was such a rough time I eventually was okay to forgive him…plus he supports me in lots of things. But it was somewhat borderline. I felt he had made a move that could have set us on a road to parting ways, because he moved out of treating me like a partner in his life.

    So from that learning and years of other decisions…partners should consult with each other. And by that I mean, talk it over, weigh the pros and cons, and seriously listen to each other about the impact. It’s not about permission; that’s a parent-child mentality. It’s about respect and communication. It’s not because we “have” to. It’s because when we have a healthy relationship, we want to — each other’s daily life is important to us, joyfully.

    This particular job change is a huge one; first responders not only take on a lot of risk and crazy schedules (lots of lonely nights), they also are very likely to end up with life-changing conditions like PTSD. So OP, I think you have the wrong angle of approach on this.

  117. Chalupa Batman*

    This was an interesting question! I always consider my husband’s thoughts and needs when considering a job opportunity, but the decision has ultimately always been mine, and vice versa. I even told an HR person once “I’d like to talk to my…you know what, I know I’m going to say yes, so let’s just make it official.” However, when I recently saw a posting for a position that would mean an out of state move, I didn’t even apply without talking to him about how open he was to the idea, and if he hadn’t been ok with it, I wouldn’t have applied. It’s not because he tells me what to do, it’s because in a relationship, no trumps yes. I think to be happy in a relationship, one does have to be ok with the idea that your decisions aren’t all your own because by definition of the relationship they will impact someone else. I think it’s smart that the OP understands someone who values and prefers the autonomy of singledom so strongly might not have the full perspective on these types of statements and asked for other views when she noticed that it annoys her.

  118. Ellen N.*

    Your question is interesting. I’ve been married for 26 years. I always discuss any career move with my husband and vice versa. We don’t have veto power over each other’s career decisions, but our opinions carry a lot of weight with one another. There are many reasons:

    As our finances are entwined we stand to gain or suffer financially as a result of each other’s career choices.
    If a new job entails a lot more time at the office and/or commuting it will impact the time we get to spend together and the time we can spend taking care of our house and pets.
    We respect each other’s wisdom so we believe that we gain deeper prospective from consulting each other.

    In the case of your brother, I believe that he should rethink his view. If his girlfriend can’t pass the physical tests, she won’t be eligible to be hired as a police officer. Being small she may make up in maneuverability what she lacks in brute strength. If she becomes a police officer in the U.S. she will be armed and trained in how to use her weapon.

  119. Sup Sup Sup*

    No doubt there are lots of valid points explaining the merits of sharing your daily life with your partner and including them in decisions that may impact their own life. There are also valid points on how one shouldn’t let others dictate what is best for them. There are ways to compromise/collaborate/share/discuss if the relationship is solid and healthy. Though, gotta say, I find the LW’s perspective really odd. I am also a proud single woman and although I LOVE my independence and autonomy, including a partner in the decision making isn’t surrender. It’s including someone that you may love and respect in your personal life. And while such an action may not work for you, the perspective that those who engage in such activities automatically means they’re relinquishing control over their life speaks more about the LW’s feelings about a mutual relationship than it does about those she writes about. Discussing the major moments of our lives and seeking the support of loved ones is probably one of the bravest things we can do. It’s a vulnerability that demonstrates a willingness to learn and accept from not only ourselves but those around us. I think it’s unfortunate that the LW dismisses it as some kind of unequal/chauvenistic/antiquated role playing.

  120. Anonymous Pterodactyl*

    The timing on this post is pretty neat – just last week one of my partners and I had a conversation about whether ‘partners’ is the right term for us (answer: yes! squee!), and the question of “discussion and consultation for major life events” was a major component of that.

    It’s a base prerequisite, for me, of considering someone a partner – are they going to talk to me about major things that come up as they come up, or am I going to be informed after the decision has already been made? “There’s this amazing job opportunity for me in Alaska and I’m thinking about applying. This would majorly change our relationship, so what do you think?” is completely different from “Yo, I just took a job in Alaska and I’m moving in 2 weeks.” And this really goes for almost any major decision, even ones that I’m actually totally on board with, or which affect my partner a lot but me minimally. Partner wants to apply for a promotion at their current workplace? I’d feel hurt and excluded if I only found out after they did or didn’t get it – even though it’s absolutely their decision and something I’d be completely supportive of.

    Partnership, to me, includes having a chance to weigh in on major life changes like that. If I were dating someone who preferred the latter approach, that would ultimately be fine and I could work with that, but we would not be *partners*. I don’t expect to have a chance to weigh in on major decisions for more casual relationships or platonic friends.

    But… none of that means that I actually get to *make* a decision for my partner, or convince them to decide how I want them to. I want them to acknowledge that there is a change, acknowledge that it may affect me and I may have feelings about it, and I want to be an important enough consideration that they will take that into account. But even if my reaction to moving to Alaska is “Hell to the no, not in a million years, not ever”… they still get to decide to do that if they want. It might be without me, and it might mean renegotiating what our relationship looks like, and it might mean not living together or being married (if I were married), and it might mean feeling sad for a while. That’s still their call and they get to have ownership of it.

  121. Anon today...and tomorrow*

    For me, I discuss with my husband because I’m not a single anymore. Decisions I make about myself impact other people I live with. I handle the finances in my household, I also handle all the decisions regarding medical insurance. My husband knows that he can’t blindly accept a position without first discussing those two things as a couple, no matter how he might want to take the job. It’s not about permission or submission to another person – it’s about compromise, cooperation, understanding, support, and commitment.

  122. That Would Be a Good Band Name*

    In our house (married for 16 years, 2 kids), we would discuss anything that impacts our life. No one “asks permission”, and I’ve definitely accepted jobs right when they’ve been offered because I already knew that the impact would be non-existent (no change to how we handle child care/finances/etc) or because it fell within the boundaries we’d already discussed.

    When I was laid off in early 2016 we knew that I’d have to go from a work-at-home job to most likely working in an office 45-60 minutes away. That was a change in how our household ran. There were logistics to work out such as how to handle school mornings when neither of us could be home until the bus came (thankfully very few of those) to less important things like where do we send packages that must be signed for. Not to mention that I just went from being at home the majority of the time to being gone no less than 10 hours a day. It’s all about being considerate to the person you are living with. I couldn’t imagine him coming home and just announcing that he’s taken a job that is going to require longer hours and have me picking up a bigger share of the household responsibilities and I couldn’t do that to him either.

  123. Us, Too*

    Honestly – I’m struggling how to justify labeling someone a “partner” if you aren’t going to be talking about something as major as a job change with him or her.

    Entering into a partnership with someone typically implies a level of trust in that person and their judgment as well as an understanding that you will consider their needs and wishes in addition to your own. Otherwise, I don’t see how it’s much of a partnership at all. ?????

    In any event, having just relocated our entire family across the country which meant a ton of upheaval and my partner changing his own job path… of course I spoke to him about it before I accepted. Moreover, I gave him absolute veto authority as well since, you know, it’s his life too.

  124. TotesMaGoats*

    While I certainly discuss any job/major life change decisions with my husband and he’s involved in my decision making process, I wouldn’t ever say to a hiring manager “I need to talk with my partner and get back to you.” I’d say I need to think or whatever. It feels weird to me. Partnering or lack thereof isn’t something the hiring manager needs to know.
    I think this situation is different from the normal job searching. Any job where your life is going to be on the line, merits a major and joint discussion in my opinion. My husband has often talked of wishing he’d joined the military. My immediate response what that you should’ve made that decision before we got together. Him joining the military now would throw our lives into chaos. (Thankfully, his deep seated fear of air travel prevents him from joining.)
    But the same conversation would hold true if you wanted to move across country or start over in another field at the bottom of the ladder.
    It’s part of partnering, in my opinion. How much say the partner has is between the couple.

    Slightly related-My mom insisted upon writing my dad’s retirement letter and the first line was “My wife and I”. All I could think was that no one cared that it was a joint decision and that’s super weird to put in a retirement/resignation letter. He still retired and enjoys his new role at home.

  125. NYCJessa*

    I will just say these two things, specifically regarding becoming a police officer, to try to help your brother. My boyfriend graduated the police academy last year so I have a little bit of insight.

    #1 He shouldn’t be any more afraid for his girlfriend than any boyfriend would be about her general safety. Any of us can leave the house today and get hit by a bus or shot or any other freak thing, or get sick, police are definitely exposed to more risks but in general she will probably spend most of her time bored out of her mind writing police accident reports or feeling helpless writing domestic violence reports. Or if she’s in a sexist command they will stick her behind a desk where she will be even more bored. Every day when I say goodbye to my boyfriend I fear never seeing him again because of his job, but that is not a good enough reason for me to not want him to do it because it is irrational. More often than not he comes home with a couple boring stories and nothing else to report. If your brother’s number one reason for not wanting his girlfriend to be a police officer is fear, that is not a good enough reason.

    #2 The police academy was BRUTAL. Many people quit within the first week because they couldn’t handle the stress. I hope your brother’s girlfriend is one tough cookie, because otherwise she won’t make it. She will need your brother’s support through this to graduate, it is a lot of strenuous physical exercise and hardcore studying/memorization, and a lot of silly seeming rules and regulations. She won’t make it through without him. I know I wouldn’t be able to do it, I used to constantly ask my boyfriend how the girls were doing and rooting them on from behind the scenes, and I was so proud of all the girls in his class who graduated. If your brother’s girlfriend does decide to go through with this, I hope he will be able to support her, because the pay and benefits are incredible and if she really wants to help people she should be able to at least try for her dream job without him standing in the way. Plus, in 20-25 years she will be done and able to retire on a pension if she wants, it really is an amazing career for people who can handle it.

  126. overcaffeinatedandqueer*

    This one is thorny! You need to take your partner into account if you’re living together and/or have shared finances, but at the same time my wife rarely wants to influence my decisions with work, as long as we’re financially afloat and work isn’t driving me insane. She would even let me go abroad for work, (Some legal work in my niche is in German which I speak, and I would get paid well to work in Berlin or Frankfurt for a few months), as long as she can come and see me once or twice, or come with as she works remotely, and our pets are cared for!

    I do chafe sometimes at the lack of autonomy in time and spending (she’s no dictator, it’s just we both have to do house stuff, and may not always have enough money for me to spend too freely), though- so it’s good to have freedom in my work. We discussed it recently, and so in the past few months I have gotten comfortable doing social things alone, gone to activities and meetings by myself, and made new not-shared friends.

    I’ve never been totally on my own in life, and only lived alone for a year or so, less if you consider all the time I visited my now-wife and stayed. And my parents were controlling and…well, micromanaged. They mean okay, but my mom still was telling me at 27, to not eat certain things when I stayed with her for a holiday, or to pack clothes a certain way. She still asks me weekly what I am up to, more often if something changes at my work. I had to show all grades in college, and mom said I was lucky she didn’t make me give up my student portal info so she could check each assignment grade, like a friend of hers did with her kid. She was joint on my debit card account all through college and would yell at me for getting coffee or Skittles with it-when that was my only bank account. During the year on my own, she would text daily and visit me every two weeks or so.

    When I got married, even though I loved her and she was much kinder, I still didn’t have the autonomy i wanted (though more than before) because we were simply broke and busy. Simply put, how can you have the kind of social and financial autonomy one wants when you can’t spare $5 and have to spend time rather than money on things? Even the fees to maintain two bank accounts cost too much.

    Now I’m finally financially secure enough and dealing with my anxiety enough to put aside money as just personal for me, and be comfortable doing things alone or going to events where I don’t know anyone. And I feel so much happier and well-rounded as a person!

    If that’s what happens for personal autonomy, it stands to reason that allowing a partner to retain professional autonomy would have similar good effects on them and their career. Don’t interfere unless their choices are immoral, will make you broke, or will be terrible for the partner’s health. That’s my general standard.

  127. Snargulfuss*

    Most people have referenced marriage, co-habitation, serious committed relationships, etc. In that situation I think the responsibility is on the person seeking the change to confer with their partner and have a discussion about what the change means for the partnership and each partner individually.

    However from OP’s update it sounds like the relationship isn’t at this stage. In that case, I think the responsibility lies more with the non-change partner to decide if they want to be in a relationship with someone who works as a _______ or who is moving to _________. Of course you can still have the same type of discussion as the one mentioned above, but in this case, as I see it, the non-change partner has to say to him/herself “The package deal of being with this person = xyz. Is that something I’m willing to accept?” If not, then that’s a determining factor as to whether or not the relationship will continue.

  128. NXM*

    To OP, it’s not a big deal, it’s just marriage. After being single my entire life, I married in my mid-40s, I couldn’t fathom, discussing any decision with anyone. It just happens because you care about that person and the relationship. Ideally, you want wants best for each other, and you each work towards that. But I’ve never felt I’ve lost any autonomy or freedoms, they just include the husband.

  129. smokey*

    My husband and I are super independent but I’d still discuss a career or job change with him as a topic of conversation, and would still literally seek his okay if the new job would change our finances, insurance, or where we live.

    Some of that can be pre-interview, but the finances and insurance are probably post-interview discussions.

  130. I heart Jared Dunn*

    I think the main reason to discuss a major job decision (or any other main decision) is because you care about your partner and the impact this change will have on them. My now husband made a big career decision completely autonomously, to use the OP’s wording, and it very nearly broke us up. At the time, we were planning to get engaged (I believe he already had the ring) and move in together. He got a job offer that started in 2 weeks in another state and took it without discussing it with me. He eventually confessed to makin the decision without me and also to withholding the fact that he had a second, higher paying and local job offer that he was planning to turn down. Not only was I devastated by not being included, but HE was devastated because he knew how much he hurt me by acting the way he had. After the fact, we sat down to discuss the decision, made a pro/con list and it turns out the only con on the list was me being in a different if we weren’t in a relationship, the move would’ve been a no brainer. So I would have supported him moving, taking this job, if he had asked to discuss it because we would have figured out a plan for me to move (ultimately what happened). Instead, I got literally sick and was so incredibly resentful for a long time over what I saw as hardships that He imposed on our relationship, because I didn’t make he decision to bear them. I can say now that the decision was absolutely the right one, but not at least having a discussion caused so much hurt on both sides. I believe we have finally moved passed it, but it took years.

  131. Lies, damn lies and...*

    Someone may have mentioned this above, so apologies if it’s a repeat –
    Talking with your spouse/partner/doggo/whoever prior to making a major life decision is par for the course. If you are partnered, you typically discuss the comings and goings of your days with your partner (“Surprise I’m off to my new job this morning!” isn’t normal and doesn’t mean you don’t have autonomy, it means you communicate). Discussing a new job offer with your whoever is a reasonable expectation – this just happened for my husband and it’s looking at salary, benefits, timing around daycare, commute, and is this really a good thing or is there something crazy going on that he’s missing. Big caveat – telling a hiring manager that you need to talk it over with your family, husband, kids, whatever is not necessary as they probably assume that’s the case when you respond to a job offer with “Thanks, I’ll look at the formal offer/benefits and get back to you, is x days ok?” If someone said “I need to check with my wife” it wouldn’t be a red flag, just a slight propensity for oversharing.
    All that to say, maybe LW is getting frustrated by hearing people say this in work convention where it’s not needed, rather than conceptally the activity.

  132. phedre*

    I always talk to my husband before I take a job, but it’s not a permission thing. It’s more – this is a change that affects you in terms of how much disposable income we have, hours I work, what are the benefits look like, etc. – have we thought this through? Do we need to adjust our budget? Does this make sense for us? He’s never once said “no” or had concerns, but for things that affect him I do need to keep him in the loop. And I would expect him to do the same with me. I’d be PISSED if he changed jobs without at least talking to me. It’s not that he needs my permission or I would tell him no, but we need to at least talk about it.

    We can’t unilaterally make big changes (like, hey, I’m suddenly going to work nights! Or take a 50% pay cut! Or I took a job across the country!) without talking with the other. Because we’re not single anymore – it’s a partnership and we both get some sway, especially when it’s something that affects the other. The cool thing about choosing the right partner is that they won’t abuse this power. My husband has only ever been supportive and excited for my career opportunities. He wouldn’t just tell me “don’t take that job” so if he did have concerns, I’d really hear them out because he’s proven to me that he doesn’t interfere in my career.

  133. Sarah*

    Every job offer I’ve gotten has involved relocating, so discussing it with my spouse was required — one doesn’t decide to move across the country without consulting the other person who would have to leave their job, move cross-country, and find a new job! Even with a more local move, presumably the job would involve a different salary, different hours, etc. — various things that would influence our shared life together. I don’t feel like my husband has a veto on my career, but of course I’m going to discuss big stuff that will impact him in major ways — as I would expect him to do with me. Just like I wouldn’t go out and rent a new apartment or buy a new car without us talking about it first.

    Now, I personally don’t think this extends to girlfriend/boyfriend relationships to the same extent (unless this is super long term, headed to marriage in the near future). While I might discuss this sort of thing with a boyfriend, just to get their opinion, I wouldn’t feel the need to “consult” them in the same way since presumably my decisions impact them a lot less. And, you know, I wouldn’t be asking a boyfriend to move cross-country for me — I would assume we’d break up or do long distance. Then again, if both people are comfortable with that level of consultation, I think that’s their business how they want to organize their relationship. The problem would become if it becomes unbalanced, where one partner is feeling stifled or controlled. You don’t say anything about how the GIRLFRIEND feels about this whole situation, and actually I think her feelings are the most relevant here.

    1. Falling Diphthong*

      More than once, I have seen advice letters that went:

      Dear Columnist,
      I accepted a new job/school 1000 miles away. When I dropped this on my significant other–who already moved once to be with me!–they said they won’t move again unless we get engaged and have concrete plans for a wedding! They’re being totally unreasonable, amirite?

  134. Kelsi*

    I feel like there are two COMPLETELY different things covered by saying one is going to talk to their partner about a job opportunity/change of career.

    First, the totally normal and okay thing: I haven’t fully made a decision, and my partner can help me work through the process/provide some additional perspective/remind me of factors I’ve forgotten/etc. This may be similar to talking it through with a non-romantic close friend–ideally, your partner should have your best interest at heart and advise you to that end!–or it may be something more intrinsic to a partnership, i.e. “Can we afford it if I take a pay cut” or “Will we still be able to arrange child care if my schedule changes” and similar practical concerns.

    Second, the thing that makes me squirm with discomfort: absent the practical concerns, asking a partner’s PERMISSION to change jobs, or inviting their emotional reaction to overtake all other decision-making points.

    Nothing weird or worrisome about asking your partner’s opinion/advice/assistance on the decision-making process. But the potential job-holder should be making the final decision, without coercion of any kind.

  135. nnn*

    If the brother’s concern about GF being a police officer is truly that she’s tiny, that would be a self-correcting problem. There are physical fitness requirements for police officers, and physical training requirements that they’d need to pass which should include things like self-defence, keeping physical control over a suspect, etc. If the girlfriend can’t do these things, she won’t become a police officer. If she can do these things despite her small size, that means she’s capable of doing the work of a police officer despite her small size.

    As for discussing job offers with one’s partner, I think a big issue is that any significant job change affects the partner too, even if just for purely logistical reasons. If the new job makes less money, the household will have less income. If the new job has worse benefits, the partner will also be affected by the reduction in benefits. But what if it’s lower salary but higher benefits? What if it’s more pay but longer hours? What if the work schedule or the new commute affects getting the kids off to school? It would just be inconsiderate to make a decision like reducing your partner’s vision care coverage or making them single-handedly responsible for getting the kids onto the school bus without first running it by them.

  136. FormerHoosier*

    I think this is entirely dependent upon two individuals’ (or more if in a polyamorous relationship) relationship. What works for one relationship may not work for another.

  137. Continuity Man*

    Oh, OP – I agree with the comments that you are overreacting to an applicant needing to talk over an offer with their partner. At a previous job our site was being closed. We discussed all the possibilities in advance: would you be willing to move to Atlanta? What if they lay me off? What if I can work from home? When I was recruited for my current job we had discussed all the possibilities again – what if they offer x? What if it’s y? When I accepted the offer immediately the HR person asked “Do you need time to discuss this with your partner?” (gay marriage wasn’t legal and my man is self-employed, so partner benefits came up) She laughed at my reply: “You are hiring me for a continuity planning position, we already discussed all the contingencies prior to this meeting!” He makes more money but it isn’t consistent. My corporate job pays the mortgage and provides our health coverage. It’s very much his business what job I take, just as a major change to his company that effects us is mine to weigh in on.

  138. Manders*

    My tiny female friend is a fantastic police officer! Her department has taken to calling her Bilbo. Apparently it’s actually pretty handy to have someone on the team who can fit into small spaces, and she can diffuse tense situations because she doesn’t look too intimidating (although she absolutely can turn on the big scary police officer voice when required).

    I actually did have to put my foot down once about my partner’s career choices. He wanted to be a professor, which would have required a lot of moving around for post-doc work and chasing tenure, and he would have had to spend a significant amount of time in countries where I don’t speak the language and probably couldn’t find employment. I didn’t forbid him from anything, but I did have to tell him that there was a limit on the number of times I was willing to move for his career and the types of places I would move to. In that case, part of the problem was that the career path he was wandering down would have required me to be both the breadwinner (because his pay would have been very low, close to poverty level) and the trailing spouse (because he would need to move frequently for a distant shot at a more stable job). I explained to him that I could be one of those things but not both, and that moving frequently and not having a steady income would reduce our chances of ever buying a house, having kids, and all the other stuff he wanted to do that takes money and stability.

    Fortunately, he switched career paths to teaching in private high schools and got an excellent job in town. He gets to teach, which he loves, without the stress of research, which he hated (and he was planning to specialize in an extremely depressing subject–quite a few people in the field have committed suicide after doing this kind of research). We just bought a condo. He’s having far fewer panic attacks about money and work, and I’m no longer hoarding cash out of fear of a sudden cross-country move. So it all worked out, but if he’d just decided to move without consulting me, things would have been pretty rough for both of us.

    1. Not So NewReader*

      People commit suicide after doing this kind of research? Okay. You got my attention. You probably can’t say what the research is. Maybe you can throw down a hyperlink clue?

      1. Manders*

        I can, actually–he studied treatment of civilians by occupying forces during a pretty nasty period in East Asian history. The stuff he studied was mostly regarding Japanese forces occupying Korea and parts of China. I’d say I have a pretty strong stomach for violence, and some of the very brief excerpts of victims’ statements he showed me kept me up for days.

        He fell into this weird funding black hole where history departments didn’t want to talk about war and military historians didn’t want to talk about war crimes. Plus, at least one other person studying the same subject had his visa applications mysteriously get lost after he published his research, which was apparently a known hazard of studying this subject but it could totally tank an academic’s career.

  139. JaneB*

    Not married, if that matters. And in my workplace in person interviews happen once at the end of a selection process, so it’s my only time of meeting them.

    I think if you consider yourself a single unit with your partner, of course you should discuss any decision that affects that unit, and make it to some extent jointly. However, like the letter writer, I am put off when people talk in interviews about having to talk to/consult their spouses.

    Just say you’d need time to consider the offer! I have no interest in how you make that decision, whether you discuss with others, toss a coin or consult the entrails of a spaghetti squash. I am interested in hiring YOU and you ALONE, NOT your domestic unit. Saying that at a time when I have very few data points makes me wonder if I’m going to be hearing about your spouse constantly, if anything you’ve told me about say availability to travel is actually reliable or will change according to the spouse’ views, why you haven’t talked to the spouse before, etc. Yes, those are not entirely reasonable thoughts, and I try not to let my decision be affected by them.

    But really, WHY do people give this unnecessary information? Am I NOT allowed to take time to decide because I don’t have a spouse, but want to check my numbers, talk to a friend or my blood-related family, or just sleep on a decision? Do I have to tell a potential employer why I need a little time? No, I do not. So why do partnered people feel they have to drag their partner into the workplace right from this early stage?

    1. AvonLady Barksdale*

      I am so with you here. My partner is not the only person I discuss these things with. I don’t think it’s a terrible thing to say “I need to discuss this with my spouse”, but it’s also unnecessary. You need time, that’s all anyone needs to know.

    2. Observer*

      I hear you, but you really are over-reacting in one respect. It is so common to mention talking to a spouse / so about accepting a job that the idea that it’s a flag that you won’t stop hearing about it is just not reality based.

  140. MadMadAlwaysMad*

    I have been married for 37 years and while I certainly discuss offers/changes in employment with my spouse, I would NEVER say to an employer that I had to discuss an offer with my husband AND I would look askance at a candidate who said that to me. Sends all of the wrong messages to my ears.

  141. azvlr*

    While I totally get that partners should be included in major decisions, I think it important to acknowledge the flip side of this coin.

    I had dreams of teaching overseas. Around the same time, he had lost his job and had no real career aspirations. Following my dream would have meant uprooting him and the kids (or the compromise I suggested – just the kids). Since it involved the kids, it sorta did require his permission. He severely balked at the idea. It really stung because dammit I had a dream and he wasn’t exactly doing much with his life. This was one of several nails in the coffin of that relationship. Don’t be dream-killer.

    1. EmKay*

      Saying “Fine, you stay here, I’ll just take the kids overseas with me.” is hardly a compromise though.

      1. azvlr*

        I get that now, but I couldn’t understand why he had to be such a hardass about the whole thing. My current SO would say, if that’s your dream, we’ll figure out how to make it work.

    2. Manders*

      I was in a place similar to your husband, although I did have a job and I probably wouldn’t have been able to find a job overseas in a country where I didn’t speak the language. Overseas moves are tricky–there are just so many different moving parts that you need your partner to be 100% on board with that choice.

      In my case, I’ve since warmed up to the idea of spending some time overseas, and I’m considering taking that leap in the future when I’ve got savings and I’m not so worried about being around for a currently sick family member. But not everyone comes around to that idea, and it’s a big ask on both sides.

  142. Ophelia Bumblesmoop*

    The point of a partnership is to support and encourage each other in a variety of ways. If you go about your life without consideration of how it affects your spouse, you probably won’t have a spouse for long. It’s a partnership, meaning decisions are made together. That’s not to say that approval is neeeded, but when a new job means a change to picking up and dropping kids or pets, increased or decreased transportation costs, etc, your partner should be consulted. How would you feel if you came home to your partner saying they took a new shift in direct opposite hours to you and would need you to handle additional duties with the household? Wouldn’t you have concerns? Wouldn’t you prefer to be involved in a discussion regarding your own schedule?

    At OldJob, I was getting stressed by inadequate pay and a supremely micromanaging boss. I let my partner know about my dissatisfaction and my desire to job search, which could result in smaller paychecks for me as I was an hourly employee with no sick or vacation benefits, so any interviews would require me to lose hours. This would affect our household income and my ability to contribute to household bills. It took a few months before I found a job and put in my notice, with numerous interviews and such during that time.

    Even when I had the opportunity to switch to a new position within this employer, I spoke with my partner about it. My pay and hours would change, my health benefits would increase, but my sick and vacation balances would start from scratch, meaning he would be responsible for taking time off if our son was ill. It impacted him, so I showed him respect and courtesy by including him in the process. If he had said he wouldn’t be able to take time off work because of a huge project or what not, we would have to do a risk/benefit analysis on a job change. That’s what this information is.

    It makes me nervous to think that my future manager’s immediate reaction to me taking time to weigh all sides of an offer is to “recoil” and it makes their “skin crawl”. If I knew a future manager was having that reaction to me saying, “let me talk this through with a trusted person who is highly impacted by this”, I would almost certainly turn the job down because I cannot trust the manager to be reasonable when it comes to emergencies. There will always be an aspect of “is she saying that because she believes it or is she saying it because she thinks that’s what she’s supposed to say to follow policy”. And yes, I’d be wary of retribution for taking time… which is CLEARLY my own hang up from poor managers who did those things to me in previous positions.

  143. Dr. Ruthless*

    When I took my current job, I had to involve my husband in the decision because he’s my husband, and taking this job required moving halfway across the country. And oh yeah, he’d just finished following me for my previous job (that I was only at for a bit over a year before this one fell in my lap). Do you want to leave this city that we really love? Are you up for another job hunt? I needed my husband to be on board with all that, or else it didn’t make sense for me to take it.

    I think that he just accepted the job he was eventually offered here, though, because it was a good job and him being employed here was the unambiguous goal for both of us. We didn’t really need to talk about that one.

  144. Sally*

    If you are making a life decision that affects someone else, and you care, then you discuss it with that person in advance and take their well-being into account. If you don’t give a crap that it affects them, then make your choice in a vacuum, but you need to be prepared that your choice may affect YOU.

  145. EmKay*

    For a semi-serious to serious relationship, something that puts your life at risk needs to be discussed with your partner. I’m not talking about someone you’ve been on a couple of dates with, I mean a long term relationship of any kind.

    My last boyfriend expressed interest in trying skydiving. My response was Hell No. He didn’t see what the big deal was. I said I wasn’t comfortable with him throwing himself out of a freaking plane, and if he felt really strongly about it, we needed to talk it over. He didn’t feel that strongly about it.

  146. nonegiven*

    Toughest, smartest cop I ever met was maybe 5’2″ in shoes. Little feminine looking woman dressed in street clothes, but wearing a vest, in uniform, with her hair up, she looked like a small tank coming at you.

    My husband was driving down the street one night and saw her and her partner each throwing much larger men up against a truck. Her partner was a big guy but she had no trouble keeping up with him.

    1. Manders*

      Yep, if you’re diligent about training, you absolutely can learn techniques to take down a larger person. Plus, YB’s partner might not be a patrol officer forever; despite what Hollywood might lead you to believe, detectives don’t spend much time wrestling with suspects, and there are other specialty law enforcement jobs out there too.

  147. hankypanky*

    So what I see here is an issue between YB and his girlfriend that LW sibling is making judgments on third-hand. In my experience, these sorts of judgments rarely end well.

    From what I’m reading here YB started dating one type of girl and in the course of dating she made a decision that she wants to radically change her life focus and he is having a hard time dealing with it. Both persons in this romantic partnership need to understand that if their relationship is to survive this change (and lets be honest — no one has ever been in a successful romantic relationship where acceptance of change has not been required) then someone is going to give. That means either he has to get comfortable with a policewoman GF or not. She needs to decide if it is a deal-breaker for him is he worth more than that dream. This is basically the fish or cut bait point of their relationship. Ultimately, in strong relationships that weather Big Change, the person giving up something becomes or is okay with it after some consideration and discussion. So yeah, they need to talk it out.

    LW — you have partnerships where you lose some of your autonomy all over the place (workplace, government oversite, family dynamics, friendships). No one wants to be a doormat to another, but it seems to me that you have a rather strong aversion to romantic partnerships and perceive them to be dysfunctional if one person is considerate of the others feelings enough to ask their input.

    I’m not losing my autonomy by talking to my husband about what’s going on at my job — I’m being considerate of his feelings and working through any kinks together. That kind of relationship is awesome and well worth “missing out” on a little autonomy (for me at least).

    However, if you like your lifestyle, more power to you. Let your brother make his own decisions, right or wrong. Believe me, you’ll have more peace that way :)

  148. Green Tea Lover*

    I would only talk to a partner if he is my fiance/husband – that is, someone who lives (or will potentially live) with me and could be impacted by my decisions.

    I agree with some of the readers that this is not about asking for permissions. The thing is, I’m sharing a life with this person, and I think I have the obligation to let this person know that this is what I plan to do and this is how it would potentially impact us. He should get a chance to voice his questions/concerns/opinion.

    I would not want my husband to take a job that requires relocation without talking to me first. This goes the same way.

  149. CityMouse*

    My spouse and I have been together since college. Decisions about where to live and when to time graduate school were pretty crucial. I just made a decision at work that restricts the amount of time I can telework, and you bet that affects our decisions on where we live just in our city. Taking things through with him does not mean I am giving the decision over to him, but, for instance, when I was the only income source his sabbatical so he can get his PhD finished, you bet he made sure I was okay with it first.

  150. TootsNYC*

    from the OP: “It’s not his life”

    Except, if they share a life, it is too his life. Or rather, it is his life too.

    It’s a delicate dance. What job I take–its hours, its workload, its pressure, its pay, its benefits, its opportunities for advancement–absolutely affects the single entity that is our family.

    Of course, there’s also the “how much it makes me happy” part, so that’s important as well. And it might override the pay, or the pressure, or whatever.

    Also–for our OP’s brother: you can feel upset or worried, and still allow people their autonomy. And we don’t know for sure that the brother is pressuring his girlfriend–he may just be sharing with his mom.

    also, talking it over with your spouse doesn’t have to mean “get their permission.” In many marriages, one’s spouse is the person who knows you best, and they may have insights, or just be the person you think out loud in front of.

  151. Liz T*

    No one has 100% autonomy.

    -Sitting at this desk 9 hours a day makes me less autonomous than when I was a freelancer, but I’ve traded that autonomy for better pay and benefits and not having to scramble around to find work.
    -Running a queer theatre festival makes me less autonomous, because it eats up free time/energy and requires me to handle difficult people and situations, but doing it makes me feel passionate and productive and engaged.
    -Being married…so far limits my autonomy the least of these. We both probably work harder at non-exciting jobs than we would if we were both single, but it’s still cheaper than living totally alone–and with roommates, you’re still not quite autonomous (and you get a lot fewer perks). It’s true, if I lived with roommates and got a great job out of state, it’d be pretty easy to get a subletter and take the job. But a marriage plays out, ideally, over DECADES, so the average amount of autonomy can’t be measured by looking at one moment or one decision or even one year.

    Hell, my cat limits my autonomy, now that she’s gotten older. Anytime you care about ANYTHING, that thing has some sort of power over you.

    But yeah, probably don’t SAY you’re talking an offer over with your partner. The employer isn’t interested in your partner.

    1. Manders*

      This is a good way of putting it. Wanting to stick with my partner and build a life with him has definitely shaped my career choices over the years, even if we’ve only had a few outright conversations about whether I should take a certain job.

  152. sometimeswhy*

    I’ve been in a bunch of different scenarios where this has come up.

    I’m in a long-term relationship, we have older children and, yeah, not a single step is made by either of us without talking it allllllllllllll the way through but I would tend more toward the, “I’ll need some time to comb through the details and think about this, can I get back to you by [date]?” over explicitly saying that I need to talk it over at home. In part because I’m a femmey lady in a super technical field and I do literally everything I can to keep my peers, reports, and bosses from thinking about me in anything other than a technical/professional capacity. In part because it just feels better. What my partner or our kids think would be relevant to ME and my decision making process but I don’t see how it would be for an employer.

    – Was a military dependent and bounced around at the whim of the government with minimal consideration to why my folks wanted (though they did manage to keep them stationed together while they were both in)
    – Was military and bounced around at the whim of the government without consideration to what I or my family wanted.
    – Was a military spouse. Bounced around at the whim of the government etc…
    – Was in a long-term relationship, started looking at a career change that I was pretty sure my partner would object to (for lots of good and valid reasons) and when it turned out I wanted the thing more than I wanted the “us”, it ultimately ended the relationship. It was sort of a surprise to me but not so much to them and in retrospect makes more sense when you consider that I’d spent the previous umpty years unable to make a single decision on my own behalf. I ended up not pursuing the change and we were both better off out of the relationship.
    – Spent many years as a single parent and had to take factors beyond how much I liked the job and how much it paid into consideration (like proximity to existing support network, benefits package, schedule flexibility, proximity to available childcare) so that was there even when a partner wasn’t.

    But no, not in any of those situations would or did I say I needed to talk things over with my family, even when I did.

    1. sometimeswhy*

      OH OH and I missed one:

      – Was living with a close friend who came home one day and told me they’d quit their job without one lined up and without sufficient resources to cover their expenses but that they’d keep the house and be my childcare until they found something so I could offset by cutting that expense. I kept the childcare and covered their expensest right up until the end of our lease a few months later. And then I moved. We weren’t even romantically involved and the lack of consideration for our shared responsibilities was so astonishing, it permanently damaged the friendship.

    2. TootsNYC*

      “What my partner or our kids think would be relevant to ME and my decision making process but I don’t see how it would be for an employer.”

      I like this.

  153. GaranceMalone*

    Just chiming in to add a perspective on a more casual relationship. A few months into our relationship, my bf had a job opportunity that would involve moving across the country. He discussed it with me. I in no way had any sort of veto power or anything of the sort, but he wanted me to know “I’m going to be out of town for an interview, but I am not interested in moving for a variety of reasons including not wanting to leave my friends or family which include you”. We were still early in the relationship, hadn’t exchanged any “I love you” or thoughts about the future at that point, but that he took the time to outline and discuss something that would mean we either broke up or went extreme long distance was a good sign for being a partner down the line who wanted me involved in his life. He did not take the job, and we’re all sorts of swoony and serious at this point, and when I met with a recruiter, I discussed it with him. Even an early relationship can be impacted by a job change, and could be worth discussing with a person that you care about and want to have in your life. Granted, it’s not something he would have said to a recruiter.

  154. Barney Stinson*

    Um, when you’re part of a team your actions impact them. It’s a kindness, at the very least, to make sure your choices aren’t killing your teammates.

    Example: If I took a job right now that was 100% travel, at the bare minimum I’d be putting my partner on full time status of taking care of the home and kids, without him having much say in the matter (if I didn’t discuss it with him first).

    You don’t do that to people you love.

  155. Bea*

    My partner is strong on the “does it make you happy? Then that’s what you should do.” and I’ve supported his career moves as well, there’s discussions mostly on logistics because his career path has moved us twice already.

    I think you may easily misinterpret someone saying they need to discuss life changing decisions with their partner as getting permission from them. Huge difference. Having someone else look at a job offer with you and seeing if it’ll fit your lifestyle or what changes may need to be made effect both parties is part of being a couple in for the long haul. You intertwine your lives, it’s no longer just a “I do what I want!” scenario any longer

  156. LeisureSuitLarry*

    When being an auditor became entirely too much for me, I told my girlfriend (15 years at the time) that I wanted to quit my job and learn to be a software engineer. The only thing she asked is if I had enough money saved up to pay my part of our bills. I had 6 months, not including tuition. She said, “Go for it.” She never doubted for a second (that she let on at least) that she thought I wouldn’t be able to make the career change. When I took my first job in my new career, she thought my new company sounded shady (it was) and I agreed, but she also said I should take it. When I got my second offer, she let me buy the bar a round of drinks.

  157. AW*

    That’s such a better way of phrasing my question. How committed should you be?

    I think, minimally, two people should be looking at making a life together and making concrete progress toward that. You definitely should discuss job decisions once that affects the other person other than just emotionally. Actually, I think I heart Jared Dunn’s story is a good example of right where the line is. Had they been less serious, IHJD may have just been sad that their relationship had become long distance but because they were planning to move in together it mean that they had decided *for* IHJD that they were going to move.

    So that, to me, is where the line should be. If making the decision would essentially be making a decision for the other person (ex. *I’ve* decided *we’re* living on 8% less income) then it should be discussed first.

    As for your brother, based on your follow-up it doesn’t sound like that’s the situation he and his girlfriend are in. I’m sure there are existing resources for folks whose significant other is in a dangerous job. He could find a message board where he can vent his worries and get advice or even talk about this with his therapist. It would be reasonable to let her know he’s worried but not repeatedly in an attempt to guilt her out of it. But this isn’t a situation where she needs him to be OK with it first.

  158. Julia Gulia*

    Because the OP mentions police work: I am not interested in a life of endless stress and sleepless nights. I would not date someone in the military, law enforcement, fire rescue, personal security, or similar professions. If my current spouse decided to change into that type of profession, it would be cause for serious re-evaluation of our relationship. It isn’t about not respecting his autonomy, it’s about not being willing to get involved in a high-risk lifestyle. I grew up with a dad in the Marines, and it isn’t a lifestyle I care to continue.

    Most other career fields: if it affects us as a unit, it should be discussed. If it will involve a move, a major change in responsibility and time spent, a financial change, et cetera, it should be discussed before a final decision is made. That said, if one party’s behavior in this type of situation is odd enough that the OP finds it worth writing to Alison, I’m probably going to side-eye the people involved. This type of conversation in my life has always been mutually respectful and relatively drama-free.

  159. kiwidg1*

    This isn’t about autonomy, it’s about understanding the ramifications of the decision. Whenever there’s another person in your life who will be affected by the decisions you make, it’s the mature, adult, and responsible thing to discuss major life decisions with them. Marriage, children, career changes, relocations all affect both people involved in being a couple, never just one. Good relationships discuss concerns and find ways to deal with them.

    While the ultimate decision is up to the girlfriend, she needs to understand her partner’s concerns and be prepared to deal with the results of her choice. If she goes ahead with being a cop and he can’t deal with it, the relationship may not last. On the other hand, if he understands why she wants this and gives her his full support, they may live happily ever after. But they can’t do either without communication. And lots of it.

  160. Amy*

    Part of being in a serious, committed-partner style relationship with someone is that you work together to make big life decisions. Because of the partnership, person A’s big decisions now directly affect person B’s life, and person B’s big decisions affect person A’s life. That’s normal and expected in a committed long-term relationship (and is part of the point of that relationship–you don’t have to deal with your life stuff all on your own, you have a teammate to help handle it).

    The exact line on what counts as a ‘big life decision’ is a little hazier, but career changes often count. If a job or career change involves a major change in compensation, location, or work/life balance, that would affect the job changer’s partner just as much as the job changer. If a person was making that kind of decision without their partner being OK with it, I would really wonder about how much longer the relationship will last.

    In your brother’s case, there’s the additional factor of police work being a relatively high-risk job for injury or death, especially compared to making and selling art. If something like that were to happen, it definitely would affect him. That doesn’t necessarily mean he gets to unilaterally forbid his girlfriend from making this change, but it does mean that they should talk it out! Maybe she can reassure him that it’s not as risky as he’s thinking, and he’ll adjust to the idea. Or, maybe he really can’t handle having a partner in a high-risk line of work, and she’ll have to choose between dating him and her desired career path–that would be really unfortunate and hard, but I think it’s kinder for her to get to know that and make her choices accordingly than to be surprised later when she’s already started and he still can’t handle it.

  161. Undine*

    I never accept a job on the spot. Noteven if I want it. I like to sleep on a job decision, just to make sure that I’m really solid with it. If I felt pressured to make a decision right away, and I had a partner, great excuse to postpone the decision.

  162. A*

    All I know (also a single lady) is if I was MARRIED and my spouse took a job that would require me to relocate in order to keep the marriage together, I’d be livid and devastated.

    Also, having previously worked law enforcement, there are certain realities that can’t be ignored. Many people are engaged in behaviors that they are socially acceptable but technically illegal. Or illegal on a federal level but not state. Going into that kind of field can have very real lifestyle impacts on your family.

    Just as I don’t want my life dictated by another, I also wouldn’t want to dictate my spouses life. It’s all about compromise, otherwise it’s “my way or the highway” ultimatums.

    1. A*

      To clarify: I meant if my spouse/significant other took a job requiring me to relocate WITHOUT DISCUSSING IT WITH ME FIRST, I’d be upset. I don’t want to come across like it’d be off the table for discussion :)

  163. no one, who are you?*

    My husband and I discuss all purchases of over $50 with each other, so you can bet we also discuss job offers or even possibilities of job offers with each other too.

    We are also not very well off, with huge amounts of student loan debt (mostly mine), so we’re not in a position to be cavalier about money. I imagine if we were more stable it might be less important to check in first.

  164. Happy*

    Many people will say they will discuss an offer with a significant other A/V and I think Alison is right in her comments that most people mean that they are just letting the other person in their life know what happened and to see what they think. As a married women I think I would have a serious conversation with my husband if he ever wrote a decision to my boss about anything work related. Even if it if da family decision it is one I have to give over, not him. The only time a spouse should ever talk to a boss is in an emergency situation.

    1. Observer*

      You should look at the comment section on that letter. I don’t think there is a single person that disagreed with you.

      That OP’s response was rather “interesting”

  165. wealhtheow*

    I would be pretty unhappy if my partner (together 25 years, married almost 20) made a major life decision like changing careers or quitting a job without discussing it with me. That doesn’t mean I get veto power (or vice versa), just that we’re partners so we don’t make unilateral decisions about major things that affect the whole family, and also our household income is close to 50/50 so it matters enormously if one of us is suddenly going to have no income or take a major salary hit.

    I left a long-term employer a few months ago to go freelance. Before doing that, I had approximately eleventy billion discussions with my partner about it: would I really like it better, where would I work and how would I find work to do, what level of income was realistic, etc., etc., etc. None of it was *his decision* — indeed, his refrain throughout the discussion was “whatever you decide, I’m behind you 100%” — but all of it was talked through with him because we’re a team and this was a major life change.

    In my old job I did a fair bit of hiring, and often heard people say they wanted to discuss an offer with a partner. It’s always seemed totally normal to me that a big decision like a job offer, promotion, or relocation would require some level of consultation. and if you don’t have a partner, it can still be super helpful to discuss a big decision like that with someone a bit outside the job situation — they’re not invested in it the way you are, so they can be slightly more objective.

  166. Shadow*

    The more committed and the more it will affect the spouse/partner or their family responsibilities the more you involve them.

  167. OhBehave*

    Ultimately, it is the person’s decision. However, being in a relationship, whether it’s marriage or living together, means that you share important decisions with each other. Accepting a new job is a major life event. If you don’t want to share such things with your partner, then you have a room mate, not a relationship. If someone is just dating, then I don’t see that it is necessary. Every relationship is unique though.

    Think about some scenarios in which someone SHOULD talk with their partner. The person desperate to leave a toxic workplace may accept anything they can get without truly sitting down to compare pros and cons. Someone who doesn’t have a long commute is considering a job with a long commute and may not be thinking of all the what if’s that come with that kind of travel (you hate driving, remember?). Making these decisions is helped by using a partner as a sounding board. “Am I seeing this for what it really is?” “What have I not thought of?” IMO, no matter what, a decision of this magnitude should be discussed with a partner.

    OP is reacting in such a strongly negative way at those who say they want to talk with their partner before accepting an offer. I sincerely hope this doesn’t color the attitude towards those people OP encounters or may have power over.

    I was laid off in December. Of course I told my husband. A friend was looking for an experienced admin for his company and hubby passed it along to me. We talked about what it would mean to the family. We talked about if he was ok with me interviewing. When I was offered the job on the spot, I accepted with the caveat of talking it over with hubby. I’ve been in my new job since February.

  168. The Strand*

    OP has not considered what it’s like to be a military spouse, or a cop’s wife or husband. I am the former, two friends are the latter. It is incredibly hard. It’s not just that they’re risking their lives, but that you are not able to take direct action. The feeling of helplessness, when he was in acute danger, was the worst thing for me.

    Sometimes you fall in love after they made their commitment, but that still doesn’t mean you should just shut up and let them decide everything without a discussion.

    We knew a guy who picked a remote duty station without giving two ducks about his heavily pregnant wife. He didn’t even tell her until the orders came through.

    And the system is not set up to help partners and family (cue “If the army wanyed you to have a wife…”) A Marine I know and admire was almost killed by an IED. Despite his injury, before he went into surgery he insisted that he call his wife and let her hear from him, and that she be surrounded by support. He was afraid she’d be worse off, have a heart attack, if she received the typical notice.

    It is worse when your partner is in law enforcement, I believe. Instead of ramping up for a deployment, you worry every day throughout their career. Even if they’re big and tough like my friend’s husband, who has PTSD and injuries from his time as a cop.

    It doesn’t make someone a jerk if they don’t want to be married to a bomb disposal expert or Navy SEAL…or rock star, vulcanologist, taxi driver, MMA artist… If you’re married or serious, it bears talking with your partner.

  169. Augusta Sugarbean*

    Something that I think hasn’t been mentioned before but is a benefit to discussing an offer/new career with a partner: if it is a matter of job vs relationship, sometimes it can be the relationship that wins. Now the employer has to start all over again with the hiring/training process. If the person has discussed the offer/career thoroughly with the partner/spouse, the chances of the person quitting later on is reduced. Lessens the chance of “I have to quit because I didn’t realize the impact this would have on my family”.

  170. Sara*

    For my career, I discuss the salary and location of the job with my husband if I know it’s going to change drastically from my current work. I’m not asking permission, but rather wanting to discuss the impact it will have on us if I’m making less, or how it would impact our single car household if location is further or more difficult to get to. (We both value short commutes). For his career, his industry can be unpredictable/unstable, and contract work is the norm, and moving cities/countries is common. We discuss the impact of the move and the length of contract and work out if it’s desirable for us. I don’t really weigh in on his actual role, as it’s his career choice, but the impact of his contract work will affect our life, so we discuss the move and if it’s desirable to us, the ability for me to find work in my career choice, lifestyle and how it will affect our plans for the year.

    If I’m not keen on a role, and the hiring manager/recruiter is pushy, I drop the “I need to discuss this first with my partner” because they can’t really try to overcome objections in that instance.

  171. Puffyshirt*

    Very interesting thread… I believe every couple has to negotiate the relationship in a way that works for them. No one knows what goes on behind closed doors, but those two people so I find it bizarre that outsiders are so critical about someone else’s relationship.

    I was single and a diehard commitment -phobe until I met a man that was worth me reconsidering my bachelorette status. Now I’m the woman who spends time discussing big life decisions with my husband. We moved once for my job, but you can believe I gave him one last chance to throw a flag before I accepted the offer. A year later I had another potential offer in a huge metro market and I threw it out to him like “how would you feel about moving to …?” He said “absolutely no way!” And I laughed and dropped it bc I know he’d be miserable there. He doesn’t look at jobs or cars or houses, etc. without speaking to me, too. It works for us- why should that bother anyone else??

  172. OrphanBrown*

    Married for 6 years, recently interviewed and was offered a job that the boss wanted me to jump for immediately (without salary info to boot – red flag #1 that it wasn’t the right position for me). He wanted me to start the following week, while telling me this at the end of the day on Friday. I said I needed at least 2 weeks because if I took the job I’d be leaving my regular freelance gigs in a pinch. He pressed me more, then I said I needed to discuss it with my partner because of needing to arrange for childcare. He sounded completely miffed by this one statement alone.

    To me it’s really normal to need to discuss things with your life partners. If he wasn’t my husband, or domestic partner, perhaps I wouldn’t have mentioned him in the conversation.

    In the situation in the OP, I think just being a girlfriend/boyfriend but not on the way to some kind of permanent status, means that yes you can discuss these things but in no way does your vote count in the long-run. BF can state his opposition, GF can do what she likes, and if BF doesn’t like it, he can decide if it’s worth ending the relationship.

  173. Stellaaaaa*

    Besides the general relationship concerns already mentioned, I think there are specific issues pertaining to wanting to be a cop. It’s a job that puts you in harm’s way fairly often, and it also puts you and your whole family (via last name) in the public eye sometimes, in a way that your family members might not want. Additionally, the conversation surrounding police work is heated right now, and I admit that I would have a certain kneejerk reaction toward anyone who told me that she wanted to participate in that. YB might not want to lose control over the outward perception of his own ideals. If I were married to a liberal who suddenly started making facebook posts in support of conservative policy, that would reflect poorly on him and on me as well. Does YB’s girlfriend want to be a force for positive change in the police force? Or is she on board with the status quo? This isn’t like a teacher quitting her job to go work at a non-profit. We’re talking about someone leaving the implicitly liberal art world to join an organization that, at the moment, has a terrible reputation for treating people poorly. A long and serious conversation is definitely warranted, and YB has the right to decide that he doesn’t want to be adjacent to something so controversial.

  174. Landshark*

    As a married woman, my thoughts on the matter are that you and your spouse should discuss career moves when they impact the two of you. I’d say YB is right to talk about his worries for his SO’s safety, but not to the point where he is allowed to hold her back. Couples should have a discussion about these things, but the ultimate decision should be made by the partner taking the job.

    1. AWall*

      I totally agree. When you enter a serious relationship you do, to an extent, become a unit. A career change can mean a total change of lifestyle (location/income/security/hours etc.) and so it is reasonable to expect there to be discussion around a job change. This becomes even more true when there are kids involved; a couple with no children can be a lot more flexible (and the older the children are the more flexible you can be).
      I don’t think there is a one-size-fits-all answer for where the line lies between normal and controlling, each couple will need to navigate that themselves. In this case I think YB is right to raise his concerns so long as he isn’t ultimately stopping her.

  175. I Like Stripes*

    We started making joint decisions about two years in, at 20 years old, when we discussed these 3 things:
    1. What kind of shared life we want to have and experience together?
    2. What our values were (Do I value being working mother? Yes. Do value being a stay at home mom? Yes. Those conflict. How can we reconcile that? Does he value working at a soul sucking company so he can earn a higher salary? Also yes.)
    3. How can we meet our individual passions while still being to our financial situation, our shared vision, and the needs of each other.

    We’ve done this since we were 20 or so and it’s been going pretty well for the past 6 years. We have relocated twice and gone through many career switch considerations. So far we are still both on our first careers. But we frequently talk about if our values change or we desire different shared experiences, how can we make that happen and what job-wise will we need to alter our plans.

  176. LilySparrow*

    First off, I can’t imagine being in a serious long-term relationship with someone if I didn’t value their opinion and perspective. My husband and I ask for each others’ input on all kinds of things because we trust each other’s judgement and have a very pragmatic understanding of each other’s strengths and weaknesses.
    Second, some job changes are lifestyle changes, not only for you but for your partner. If a new career is going to involve travel, relocation, significant financial changes, an big alteration in schedule or free time, etc, then it impacts your partner and to make those choices unilaterally would be incredibly unfair and disrespectful to the relationship.
    But beyond that, there are some careers that are personal callings and require a huge emotional commitment from your family, such as being in the military or a first-responder, being in the clergy, even going to med school. Being a significant other or spouse to someone in those careers is a calling of its own. If that’s not what you signed up for, then the terms of the relationship are being renegotiated from the ground up.
    It’s not about the spouse giving permission. It’s about respecting the spouse’s autonomy and life choices, too.

  177. just another manager*

    YB needs to meet the Chief of Police in Aurora IL. She can’t be much more than 5’2″ herself, and she is a powerhouse. That’s not to say policing is for everyone, but size is only one of many factors to consider.

    And that’s relationships/jobs in a nutshell to me. You’re not there to tell the other person what to do, or give them the green light to take one job or another. You’re there to support your partner’s development as a person, including making career decisions. I’m sure there are a lot of different ways that couples navigate this – if OP was in a serious relationship, her expectations and boundaries might be very different from mine. But it’s generally good to discuss what’s happening with work on an ongoing basis to make sure you’re on the same page with your SO. And yes if I leave a job or get a new job offer I do talk it through with my spouse, but it’s not like I’d take a job without sleeping on it anyway.

    Read more about Chief Z here:

  178. Marina S*

    I could interpret this either way, depending on the context. With the context you’ve provided, I think you’re probably right that this is not a healthy relationship and your YB wants to control his girlfriend’s choices because he’s afraid of change. But in a healthy relationship, I could also definitely imagine someone venting to his mom and saying, “Of course I’ve told my girlfriend I’ll support whatever her career choices are, but between you and me I wish she wouldn’t and I know I’ll be worried about her all the time.” Being a police officer isn’t a 9-5 job that you leave at the office, it’s non-stop, all of your life, dictates where you live and what family pictures you post on Facebook kind of job.

    In the broader general sense… I think if someone is at a point where they are willing to say to their partner “This is my career decision, and you can take it or leave it,” they’re not in a relationship. Anyone who says that needs to be fine with their partner saying, “Okay, I’ll leave it.” Ultimatums are bad for relationships. A healthy relationship is one where each person can say, “Here is what I need–how can we work together to make sure I get that while you also get what you need?” The working together part is what makes it a relationship… the needs getting met is what makes it a healthy relationship.

  179. Nikki*

    Hello, a married woman with kids here. Sometimes, my husband or I might say, “Let me talk to my partner (about an offer,” to a hiring manager, just as a non-threatening way to buy some time before giving an answer. We usually talk about job stuff way before it even gets to the offer stage, but my husband is an only child, very independent, relaxed/chill type of person and likes high autonomy (he had a very dominating mother, and always recoils the moment he feels threatened with anything that could be taken as an ultimation). I, on the other hand, grew up in a large blended family and am the 2nd oldest, and was kind of like the 2nd mom. Also, I can be passionate and task-oriented with a tendency to over-communicate (ramble, tangents, side-stories, etc). We trust that we both want what is best for each other, and our family, so talking things over has always been easy when we keep that in mind. If there is a sense of feeling “threatened or dominated” we always talk about our relationship before we talk about a major decision. This is because if the trust in our intent is not there, nothing else really matters. And we take our marriage really seriously having come from failed marriage households, so we both take strides to understand and support each other. This past month we both started new jobs, my hubby landed a dream job that is 2 hours drive away, but I landed a dream job where we live (but only for a year contract). We are both very supportive of each other but before we accepted the positions, we did have a long conversation of what the next year would be like if we accepted them, especially for the kids. And at different points in the convo (he stated it first) we both offered to turn down positions if it would make things easier for the other, but we found a way to work, and will re-evaluate next summer (when my contract is up). I think that as long as your relationship is healthy that having conversations around any major decision (including career) does not feel so burdensome (but we also place more of a priority on family than a career. We each had an A-type career oriented parent, that we had to work through relationship issues with, and not saying that we’re perfect in parenting, but realistically I don’t think either one us would choose a job if we knew the result would be harmful to our familial values and goals).

  180. Jenny*

    For people in relationships, if one of them changes jobs, it can affect the other. I think in most cases “Let me talk it over with my partner” means they need to discuss things like how the pay change will affect what they can afford, will it require a relocation, will the commute interfere with childcare, will the hours interfere with family time, etc etc.

  181. I am not a lawyer but,*

    Two law enforcement points: Even as a “mature” divorced person, the prison would not hire me without confirmation that my family (all adults & out of state!) was on board. I now work with police officers and the worst schedules go to rookies, and they are the worst schedules because they can change daily. Noon to 8 one day, 7 to 3 the next, back in at 11 that night, … whenever they need you. Every weekend, every holiday. My 2 favorite officers are an average-sized male and a 5’0″ female. Either could talk anyone into being happy to surrender peacefully.

  182. Hey Nonnie*

    Just to reassure the brother, her size will matter less than her skill, training, and competence. I have a friend who is a police officer in a major city PD, who is 5’3″ and maybe 115 pounds soaking wet. She is also the biggest presence in the room. I repeatedly forget how small she is until I hug her and see that her head comes up to my collarbone.

    She also helped her friend rescue his cats from a raging, drug-addled, 6-foot roommate who tried, and failed, to throw her down a flight of stairs.

    As for discussing job opportunities with a partner, partners generally share some mutual goals, which a job prospect can affect. It makes sense to talk out what those affects are and if they’re a net positive or negative for their shared goals. Figuring out a job’s affect on your goals/plans is something an unpartnered person would be doing, too; it’s just that in that case there’s no one else to share those goals.

  183. bex91*

    Surely the biggest factor is whether that decision will affect both parties or just one. For example – if the girlfriend will earn the same money, work the same hours and generally not have to change much about their lives together if she works for the police then it is really none of the boyfriend’s business. If she will be earning half as much and he’ll have to make up the short fall in rent while she starts working lots of shifts so they rarely see each other then the boyfriend has a right (especially in the money example) to have an opinion on those things. And I think where money is concerned then partners should make a decision together.

    Personally I like a sounding board for all important decisions but often I’ll choose 2 or 3 people who will have different outlooks to get some varying opinions. However I’m a freelancer and so I discuss pretty much every business decision I make with my partner because at the end of the day if I make a crappy choice he’s the one who’s going to be stuck bailing us out. He’d never put pressure on me to do something I was unhappy with (even if it meant less money) but I’d rather feel like he had the chance to say something was a problem than leave it until it blows up.

    1. Becky*

      I have to disagree slightly–it isn’t just the financial or time concerns–there are also additional stressors involved with police work that can be significantly different than what this woman was doing previously that can highly impact a relationship. In all honesty, not everyone is cut out to be spouse of a law enforcement officer (or military, or medical etc). Though I hate the trope, there is a reason so many cop shows rely on relationship with spouse drama.

  184. Nox*

    I periodically encounter this in recruitment. For me it’s based on how it’s framed to me. For example when I get an email exchange that uses words like “my husband wants”, “my husband approved/said it was ok to work 2 to 10” or anything like that- I honestly get really turned off and 9 out of 10 times if we bring a person on board that’s very reliant on the partner making decisions find that it never works out for us.

    A good partnership is one on equal footing and collaboration heavy. There’s a difference between talking things out to make things work and asking permission or dictating the terms of employment on someone else’s behalf.

    1. Kirsty*

      Very well put! I agree that phrasing and how they approach it is different. Although I’d discuss it and ultimately make the choice that would benefit us both I’d never allow my husband to tell me if I could or couldn’t do something.

  185. Delta Delta*

    I guess it depends on the relationship. My spouse and I talked to each other for what felt like ages before either of us made a serious career move. But, that’s because that’s how we are and that’s how our relationship functions.

    I’m acquainted with someone whose spouse left one industry (high paying but stressful and had very odd scheduling) to go in to police work. They talked it over and felt the good outweighed the bad. Stable work! Government benefits! Turns out they didn’t talk about the fact that new cops get terrible schedules. Because Spouse’s “weekend” fell on a Wednesday (but sometimes not at all due to overtime opportunities), and Spouse worked nights, there were several weeks when they saw each other only for an hour or so at a time. Also, my acquaintance didn’t anticipate worrying every time the phone rang when Spouse was working because they didn’t know if it would be a call saying Spouse was hurt, or worse. Last I heard, Spouse was enjoying police work, but the relationship was suffering because of their disparate schedules and issues related to that. That’s not to say this happens in every relationship where someone goes in to law enforcement. It’s just an example of a situation where the job is good but maybe isn’t a fit in the person’s larger life.

  186. Kirsty*

    I’m married and couldn’t imagine not discussing a choice with my husband that would be life changing for the both of us, whether professional or personal. Their your partner and supposed to offer, support, advise and reasoning to things, both ways. I’d be beyond upset if my partner suddenly decided to change careers and didn’t even mention it to me.

  187. Marie*

    I would agree with Alison personally, but I know everyone’s relationships are different. I know that when I was offered a new job I asked for a few days to talk about the pay, benefits, etc. with my partner and make sure that it made sense for us financially, as a team, and for our future, not so I could ask for permission to take the job. And my partner does the same with me when it comes to job searching and job offers, so it all balances out. We work together to make sure we are making the best decisions for each other. Ironically, my partner is just about to join the police force and we have had long discussions about what that means for us, financially and otherwise, but they’ve never asked my permission to do it, and I wouldn’t want them to. I hope things work out for the LW’s brother and his significant other, good luck to them!

  188. The Other Dawn*

    If it’s life-changing in that it involves moving, taking a pay cut, putting life plans on hold, taking a dangerous job, etc. then yes, it needs to be discussed with my husband. I feel the person taking the job is the one who decides; however, there should be input from the SO in the cases I mentioned above. But still, it’s ultimately the decision of the person taking the job. I’m someone who highly values independence–both my own and my husband’s–, so that’s where I’m coming from with this.

  189. bopper*

    In Jimmy Carter’s book “A Full Life” he describes how he made decisions on his career without consulting his wife…something that baffles him now. For example he quit his Naval career after his dad died without talking to Rosalyn about it…she was furious at the time of course.

  190. Jam Today*

    This seems like a really peculiar objection. I can’t imagine making a big life decision (and taking a job is a big life decision) without discussing the impact with my partner, whether you are married, living together, or just dating seriously. Jobs can affect salary and available cash for expenses, living situations, the other person’s career or education plans, free time for each other and outside interests, and in the case of the police officer referenced here — a person’s *life*. How can a partnership thrive if one person unilaterally makes decisions that can have a major impact on both?

  191. Greg*

    This letter made me think of the famous story of Valerie Jarrett and the Obamas. For those unfamiliar: Jarrett interviewed Michelle for a job at City Hall, and Michelle said that before she could accept, she wanted to have Jarrett meet with her fiancee, who was skeptical that she should take the role. She and Barack hit it off, and the rest is history.

    What I always found interesting about that story is that, in another context, it could come across as creepy or controlling (kind of like those cutesy stories about the guy who kept asking a girl out until she finally said yes, and they lived happily ever after.) I can’t imagine my wife having me speak to her future boss, or vice versa. It’s only in hindsight that we’re able to find it amusing.

  192. Kira*

    It’s so, so important for my parter and I to discuss and come to an understanding on career moves. Mine have all been easy (this local job I want pays more), but his involve cross country moves for our family. I can’t take a job in my home town, because he doesn’t have any potential employers there. And if he gets an offer on the other side of the country, we have to decide if it’s worth me quitting my job.

    If he just took a job and left, we wouldn’t be together anymore. Is that what you mean by “get out of their way”?

  193. Rose*

    I think it’s important to share because this person that you’re sharing your life with is supposed to be the person that you can share your stresses, troubles and worries with. As much as we might want to try to leave work at work, some days are awful (or maybe you just have an idyllic job unlike me) and you might want to come home and just say “I had the worst day ever” and even if you don’t want to talk about it, you need your partner to understand and be there. In the same way, it’s nice to know that your person will be there cheering for you if something awesome happens, like getting a raise or getting something really special done in your career. When you stop sharing, you stop being intimate – like in the Freedom Writers movie where the teacher became so engrossed in her work, that her husband became left out, he was no longer included in her decisions, she didn’t want his opinion, and he left. Dramatic example, but I get it. People need to be heard in their relationships.

  194. Wintermute*

    I think any major change needs a conversation, especially in a serious relationship. The answer may not change but you can’t just dictate terms at each other and maintain a healthy relationship, and you need to find a way to work around things.

    I have a long-term girlfriend of 10 years or so, I was offered a phenomenal chance to work 4 months on third shift to cover for a gap in personnel after some promotions. It lets me learn a new facet of our business and network and make connections more widely within our department, plus it’s a huge favor for my boss. I was fairly set on doing it.

    But I still asked because it would mean significant adjustments to my schedule, my days off, my sleeping schedule, and so on. I would see a lot less of her and even on days off it would be tough to spend time together just us. I owed her at least asking.

    Now sometimes, especially in a shorter term relationship it could be a “I’m going to do this I want you to know in case it’s a dealbreaker”, if it’s an opportunity you’d never forgive yourself for losing and a relationship that you wouldn’t have that same level of existential dread of regret over, but I think you still have to have the conversation.

  195. Chinook*

    OP I am late to this post but DH and I did have this discussion when he chose to be a cop. It should definitely be a couple decision if your brother is committed to the relationship because his girlfriend’s new job would affect his life. It is a job with unpredictable hours and makes the cop change how they view the world (because they deal with the worst side of humanity constantly). It is more than just wondering if today you get the call they aren’t coming home. It is realizing you can’t go to certain restaurants because she arrested a member of the kitchen staff. It is them having to leave you to fend for yourself during an emergency because they are needed elsewhere. You have to become self sufficient in many ways that you don’t expect you would have to when married.

    If YB’s s.o. does go for it, I recommend the book “I Love a Cop” by Elle Kirschman. It was recommended by the RCMP training school for the spouses of all trainees. It explains well the psychology of what happens to the average person when they become a cop.

  196. Cringing 24/7*

    Every major decision I make for myself still affects my wife (or our partnership or dynamic) in some way or another. I don’t get a job offer and then look for her permission, I get a job offer and look for her perspective. As my partner, she knows me just as well as I know myself, yet she has an outsider’s perspective that I lack no matter how objective I try to be. She keeps me from making the wrong decision for myself and for us.

    I was going to make the point that I’ve never had a potential employer verbally or subtly indicate to me that they were concerned I was going to check with my wife before accepting or declining their offer, but I’m not certain I’ve ever actually phrased it like that to them. I ask for 24 hours (or 48 or what have you) to consider their decision and then I have the conversation with my wife – it’s not their business how many people I consult before making my decision, in my opinion. And maybe that’s been socialized into us by (well-intentioned, but) gender-biased nurturers – that women need to explain why they’re not immediately acquiescing or that it’s less acceptable for men to use this as an excuse than women – if this is the case, I can see why OP is concerned about this if it’s only ever women from whom she hears “Let me talk with my spouse,” and never men, because that comes across much more as asking permission. (Again, that last part is hypothesized – I have no proof that there is a gender disparity in people who do or don’t talk to or mention talking to their spouses RE: job decisions).

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