Monday, March 2, 2020

Should She Take the Job?

Carolyn Hax ponders the question of whether a woman should take a job. She is the family breadwinner. She married a slug. Currently, they both work at home, but she received a job offer for a better paying and more prestigious position away from home. She will be required to dress up and to commute.

Her husband is not a world beater. Fair enough. Nowhere in the letter does she suggest that getting pregnant might be more difficult with a long commute and longer hours. Nowhere does Hax seem to recognize the issue, so I will also ignore it.

And yet, Hax ignores the salient point, namely, that the woman has already accepted the new job. She is not trying to choose whether or not to take a job but whether or not to renege on a commitment. One should understand the difference.

Anyway, here is the letter:

I work from home in a position I absolutely love — I would happily stay for at least a few more years. However, due to my education and experience, I am qualified for much higher-level jobs and applied for one on the advice of a former academic adviser. I got the job and accepted the offer. It comes with a prestigious title, 50 percent raise and decent job security.

I had a full-on anxiety attack when I got the offer letter, and every time I think about it, I feel nauseous and anxious and want to throw up. I feel like I'm ruining a good thing. This new job will be tougher hours, have a commute, require professional clothing every day and be very visible politically, all things I currently enjoy not having in my life.

I'm also married and hoping to start a family soon. My spouse also works from home, but at a fairly low-paying job — in a field they love — and they haven't applied for a single new job since we met. They have progressed career-wise, but aren't as motivated as they like to talk up. I'm tired of, "Next year I'll get a job that pays well."

I have a lot of built-up resentment. I feel like I have to take this job to pay for our rent and a child and our lifestyle. On top of all of it, I do the vast majority of chores and emotional labor, and I'm just tired of it all.

I guess I'm asking, is there another perspective on all this? I think logistically I have to take the job, so how do I get over the anxiety and resentment? It could be a wonderful fit, and I could love it, too; if I decided not to take it, I'd always wonder.

And is it a bad idea to bring a child into this? It'll all get worse, won't it?

— Anonymous

As noted, she shows no awareness of the fact that a more demanding job might make pregnancy more difficult. And she does not recognize that her slug of a husband might not make a very good mother.

What does Hax have to say?

Either take the job or don’t take the job because that’s what you want; don’t take the job because you feel cornered into it by [counting on my fingers] your spouse’s inertia, your lifestyle, your family plans, your rent, your ex-adviser, your education and experience, your frustration over broken promises, that side-eye you keep getting from your cat.

Obviously, this is vapid. The woman should consider the problems that attend some pregnancies and the issue of who is going to care for the child. 

True enough, Hax is correct to say that she should put some time into her marriage. But, will her new prestigious job help or hurt her marriage. Will it make her husband feel more like a worthless slug or will it inspire him to set out on a new or better career path?

Similarly: Your spouse’s inertia — and your frustration, money concerns, family planning, and domestic and emotional labor imbalances — are all reasons to turn your attention to your marriage. Clearly you need to renegotiate the division of labor; an arrangement that breeds resentment is not sustainable. And if you’re upgrading your job only because your spouse won’t, then that needs due airing.

It might be that the current arrangement works best for both spouses. Hax suggests as much and she is correct to do so. Not because of the best way to pursue happiness, but because the rather tenuous marital dynamic will surely be undermined by her new, better paying, more prestigious job.

However, it’s not so clear what else has to change, if anything. What happens if you both stay in these lower-paying jobs you love? Does happiness count?

One last note: the letter write is sufficiently woke to refer to her husband with the gender neutered plural pronoun: they. As you know, I heartily disapprove.

Happily enough, one individual who wrote a comment to Hax’s column also disapproves. Allow him or her this thought:

Unless a guy has more than one wife, using "they" to describe her makes him appear uneducated. It doesn't matter who says it is okay, because it is not. It is bad grammar, and the feelings of those who don't care that it is are no more important than the feelings of those who do care.

I will immediately stop reading anything that misuses "they" like that. No loss to either of us.

As though to prove a point, this commenter assumes that the letter writer is a man. I assumed that she was a woman. After all, if the writer was a man taking a higher prestige and better paying job outside of the home would not have been problematical. The letter writer feels anxious and nauseous, which reads like signs of morning sickness. She says that she is going to try to start having a family. No man speaks that way about pregnancy. All women do.

But, I take the commenter’s point. People who confuse their readers by using incorrect pronouns should be ignored. 

Dare I mention that Hax rejects these protestations. She buys into the illiterate culture of wokeness.


Sam L. said...

The writer is stuck in a quandary, and has no key and no ladder with which to escape it.
Hax doesn't have them, either.

Mike Riley said...

Reading the letter in full, I have a hard time assuming that the spouse is a male. I can imagine this being written by an image conscious person experiencing the reality of imbalances in relationships but does not want it to be considered that such things could also exist in the same sex realm.