Murphy’s Love: Advice on Intimacy and Relationships
Advice on Intimacy and Relationships
Dear Stacy: I hate my job. I have hated this job for years. I am at my breaking point. The hours, the bad attitude of my coworkers, the indifference of my supervisors – I’ve pushed through this for years but now I’m over all of it. The only thing holding me back from quitting today is my wife and family. We live a very comfortable life due to my salary. I have looked for other jobs for months, but the only ones that would give me the same compensation are in my current field and would just be more of the same. I want to do something totally different – more nature-based, more flexible hours. My wife is 100 percent against this kind of change and keeps telling me that it would be too hard because we would have to downsize our house/lifestyle and the kids would be pulled from their schools. I know she’s right that it would be a big life change, but I am so unhappy and it seems like she doesn’t care at all. – Dead End Job in D.C.
Dear Dead End: This sounds really, really difficult. I am so sorry that you feel this way and that things seem so hopeless. Ok, the empathy part is over, so brace yourself for the tough love part of this response.
When someone says he has hated a job for years and adds the one thing holding him back is Wife and Family, that seems a little simplistic. Staying in a job that made you miserable and, perhaps, even clinically depressed, was your decision. People – often men – deny their feelings of sadness or inadequacy, pretending those feelings don’t exist in order to maintain a brave face throughout a really difficult time. The thing is, those feelings don’t just go away when you deny them. They metabolize in your body and become part of the way you interact with everyone, all the time. So for years, you actually have not “pushed through” anything, but rather, stockpiled your frustration and anxiety about your difficult work situation and allowed it to poison the relationships around you.
Major life changes like moving houses and changing multiple kids’ schools do not come without consequences. Asking Wife to do what you did – ignore her feelings and keep a brave face – will only result in more distance between you two. It’s not that you don’t get to have a new job and a new outlook. But when things are so dire that we think the “new thing” (a.k.a. job) is the only cure, we are setting ourselves up for disappointment. The first step must be getting yourself healthy (Read: counseling, antidepressants, healthy lifestyle) and rebuilding your trust and connection with Wife (this is where you get to talk about how you feel she doesn’t care). You need her to be on your team and make the next decision together. She’s not going to go willingly – she’s protecting her family and, accordingly, her defenses are strong and tall. The repair work starts with her.
Stacy Notaras Murphy is a licensed professional counselor and certified Imago Relationship therapist practicing in Georgetown. This column is meant for entertainment only, and should not be considered a substitute for professional counseling. Send your confidential question to firstname.lastname@example.org.