Challenges of benching career for family when following a partner overseas

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After a successful and challenging career as a Psychologist in the area of trauma and abuse, and helping others survive their situations, Stefanie met her French husband in her home country Australia and decided to follow him back to Europe. Although excited about the new adventure, the arrival of their 2 children often left Stefanie struggling with missing her career and being a stay-at-home mum, which led her to taking a less stressful and demanding job. Below, she details some of the challenges that people face when sacrificing their careers for their partner and family, whether they changed to a new profession, or stopped working completely.

StefanieS

StefanieS

Hi I'm Stefanie and I live in France with my husband and two children. I lived in various countries with my parents before settling in Australia. That's where I met Frenchie and after continuing the expat life with him for a few more ...

Drop the guilt-trip and own it

Nobody else, other than yourself, judges you for giving up or benching a career in order to put your family’s priorities first. You didn’t fail because you’re holding a degree you’re not using nor did you waste the last 10 years to just become a house wife/husband. What we did before moulds us into who we become today, and that will never change. We are our own harshest critics and those who do judge us don’t know our story and therefore don’t deserve our guilt either.

You can’t have your cake and eat it too

Of course there are many couples who still have a career whilst raising beautiful and happy children… it is possible! Having a career does not mean unhappy family life and children, but it’s only realistic to acknowledge that one can’t flourish without impacting the other. The scales change from day to day as we balance our priorities where needed. It doesn’t mean everything can’t be great… it means we just can’t always have it all.

Let yourself feel the occasional resentment, just don’t drown in it

There’s nothing wrong in feeling that bit of bitterness from time to time. I sporadically have pangs of resentment when seeing single friends go out for a nice dinner or when my husband takes on an exciting challenge at work. I’m no longer the career girl with crazy hours who enjoys an after-work drink with friends without having to plan it a month in advance. Every day I rush home from work to jump into ‘mommy mode’, but when I come home to my kid licking the window while the other one is laughing hysterically at her feet, I wouldn’t want it any other way. I think we all look back at certain moments in our past with much fondness, but nostalgia doesn’t mean we’d want to do it all over again. And of course, having kids does not mean you have to become a total shut-in, because that too, is a choice.

Sacrifice is a team effort

There is usually not one party sacrificing more than the other and the most important aspect is to be part of a team. Before making one of the biggest changes in my life, my husband and I chose to rank our jobs and make a conscious decision about which one to prioritize (future opportunities, financial input, location, etc.). We opted to follow his career while I put mine on hold, but the decision was made together. Where I have given up a lot for him, he has most certainly given up a lot for me as well. Certain situations might call for more flexibility from you, whereas other times will depend on the efforts from your partner. It’s a quid pro quo game and keeping count will only build resentment and competition. Being part of a united front helps you battle the challenges together as each part counts…. no one needs to be the martyr.

For me, I know I won’t exactly have the career I had before. Combining it with my new priorities and objectives as a mother, it’s just not something I could sustain. However, I know I have more to offer still and this isn’t the end of the road just yet …exciting adventures lie ahead. I’m taking on more challenges as my small children continue to grow and become more independent. In the meantime, I’m going to enjoy these little rugrats and the bearded lover who is the absolute cheese to my macaroni, and be grateful for all that I have.

I might not have it all, but it’s more than I need, and for that I feel like the luckiest one.