Thursday, February 22, 2007

Academic Couples

So we all met our significant others in grad school, right? What a mess we've gotten ourselves into! I know that some of my friends out in the blogosphere are married to or partners of other academics and that some of you are currently dealing with long-distance relationships. Most of the other academic bloggers I read do not have kids- including some of the LD-ers. My husband and I are VERY fortunate to be in tenure-track jobs at the same university (and both on track to get tenure next year). So why in the world did we go on the market this year? And what do the outcomes of these searches mean for our family and careers?

To answer the first question, I will remind everyone that we are an interracial couple (with a biracial child) living in a SMALL TOWN. Our daughter is one of the only non-white kids in her school and, as some of you already know, she's already encountered racism at school. Another issue is that all of my family is about 2000+ miles from here, so we see them about once a year (Almost all of H's family is on another continent). You can see how Small College Town has lost it's appeal over the last few years. So, when we saw several job ads in my Adopted-Home State, we said "what have we got to lose?" Our attitudes have shifted to really wanting to move now, so the results of our interviews are weighing heavy on us (we could hear next week).

However, some unintended issues have come up. My interview #1 has no job for H and I was told they don't really do spousal hiring. This job is a place I've dreamed of working since grad school. H has already said that I should take the offer if I get it and that he would stay here. I am completely opposed to this idea. I just don't know that ANY job is worth splitting up our family (for who knows how long), even if it's in a wonderful place and near my family. At the same time, I shudder at the thought of having to turn it down (IF I do get an offer). What if we stay here for the rest of our careers and regret it? Isn't it worth moving if it means better opportunities for D? At this point, I almost hope that I don't get an offer, because I don't want to make that decision. I can't fault H for not wanting to give up near-tenure and move to an uncertain career future, either. I am pinning all of my hopes on Interview #2 at this point, because H interviewed at the same U! If we could both land jobs there, we'd take it in a minute!

This whole process has been so much more gut-wrenching than I ever imagined. I've got myself so psyched up about leaving, that I haven't been considering what happens if we stay here. Would it be the end of the world? I guess not- we could move closer to Major City and commute (and buy a nice big house that we'd NEVER afford in Adopted-Home State). I guess I need to keep my mind open about everything. I wanted to blog about this to see what other's experiences have been on this issue. It's tough for everyone, I know and I hope those of you currently dealing long-distance relationships don't think I'm a spoiled brat for even trying to get out! I just feel that academic jobs are so permanent once you get tenure (which obviously has its advantages!), and our opportunities to live elsewhere will be very limited after that. What a can of worms we've opened up! Please share your thoughts/experiences- it would be great to hear about how others deal with long-distance relationships.

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Arbitrista (formerly Publius) said...

Long distance is extremely difficult - Brazen and I did it for the first year of our marriage. When Brazen was finishing up her PhD and was applying for jobs I took a long hard look at the possibility that we would be able to get jobs in the same town (.01%), my desire to live apart from her (-1000000) and my declining interest in an academic career (1) and decided it just wasn't worth it. So I'm finishing up my PhD but am now content to follow her all over the country.

I know that probably isn't very helpful. Your circumstances are exactly the ones I was sure would happen had I remained committed to the academic track. In the end one or both of you is going to have to compromise something important, which is never an easy thing.

Best of luck!

Addy N. said...

Arbitrista: Thanks for the comment! I'm so glad that you & Brazen found something that works for you. Things are trickier for us, because we are both very invested in our academic careers at this point (almost getting tenure!). We've both also done our share of compromising: I did my entire dissertation long-distance to be with H when he got his first job, then he gave up those early pre-tenure years to start over at our current U (this is his 8th year as an asst prof!) So, we're somewhat stuck. I know of other couples who did something similar to you & Brazen- one person decided to forgo the academic life, since they realized that it would be tough to stay together (or one person's career became secondary). We've been so lucky to be in our current situation- it's mainly just where we are that we'd like to change. btw- I think that we all need to have a blogger meet-up one of these days!

Dr. Brazen Hussy said...

Blogger meetup is long overdue!

medieval woman said...

Hi Addy N., I just wanted to make a quick comment - I came over from New Kid's place. I'll be beginning an LD relationship with my husband this summer (I got a job far away). I wanted to say that I agree with all the things you guys and NK are saying - it's about finding a situation that will work for you as a couple/family. It might not be what works for others. And achieving that workable situation takes compromise for both people - it's tough, but as long as you're both willing to do it, I think that's great...

Good luck with your job prospects!

Twice said...

My husband and I have had similar dual career issues. I was in a tenure-track position and he was in grad school 600 miles away for most of the first five years of our relationship (we met because his college friends were my grad school friends). I took a leave of absence and took an administrative job when he took a tenure track offer, and once we lived together again, we couldn't go back. I was unhappy in administration, so I got a new faculty job again, but it was overall a blow to my career (higher teaching load, lower salary, less time for research, giving up tenure, etc.).

Now we are on sabattical at a place that benefits me way more than him - an attempt at cosmic balance.

Good luck whatever you decide. Long distance isn't easy, but it can be done. Five years of it was more than enough for us though!