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Couple living, working apart needs to choose between careers, baby

Adapted from a recent online discussion.

Couple needs to choose between both careers, baby

Long-Distance: My husband and I are in inflexible industries, in terms of geographical location, to say the least. I'm in the military; he's in academia. We live about four hours apart, so we see each other on the weekends and vacations. We've been together for 12 years, married seven, and we've made it work — mostly by working hard when we're apart and making the most of our time together.

The thing is: We're both in our mid 30s and we're thinking about having a child. I just don't know how it would work. I can jump in the car and head out for the weekend, but packing up a child to see his father only on weekends will be difficult. And it will cut into the limited time that my husband and I already have together. We both now live within a six-hour drive of parents, who are not retired. They could maybe help us some, but not on a daily basis.

We've both already made sacrifices to get as close to each other as we are. At this point there aren't any opportunities for either one of us to get geographically closer.

Is it ridiculous for us to even think about having a child? When I was in high school, I did see my father only on weekends because of his job situation. So I know it's possible. But that put a big strain on my mother and the family as a whole, and I don't know if it's as workable with small children. And I don't want the stress of raising a child mostly by myself to harm the relationship that I really value with my husband.

I have a friend who says that I, as the woman, should stay home anyway. But I don't like that argument; the child will be in school most of the day from age 5. And why should either one of us have to give up what we've worked hard to achieve, and work that we enjoy? Do you see any possible answers here?

Carolyn: Yes, I do. Reconfigure your life, or don't have a child.

You ask: "Why should either one of us have to give up what we've worked hard to achieve?" The answer is: You don't, if that's what your priority is.

But if you're going to have a child, then that child deserves to be your priority, and that means, because of your particular circumstances, one of you sets aside your career to give your baby both parents.

It doesn't have to be you because you're female — that's ridiculous — but it has to be one of you.

Since toxic seems to be the word of the zeitgeist, I'll throw in that the idea we can have everything we want at once is extremely toxic, not to mention persistent, despite abundant evidence that it's a crock.

Sure, some people have love, career and baby all at once, but if you look closely even at the people who make it all work, there are still sacrifices.

There have to be.

And in your case, because you chose love with someone whose career is geographically incompatible, there will be bigger sacrifices than most. Call it unfair, but babies don't give a (dirty diaper) about fair.

Couple living, working apart needs to choose between careers, baby 04/13/09 [Last modified: Monday, April 13, 2009 4:40pm]
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