How to Support Your Spouse Through a Career Change

Changing careers is daunting. No matter what stage of life you’re in, a career change can be especially disruptive to your normal routine. Depending on whether you’re making a major job change or starting an entirely new career, this situation can look different. It won’t be the same for every couple.

If you need help supporting your spouse through a career change, we’ve got you covered. The most important thing is to stick together through the process. Now, let’s jump into how to do that.

1. Set Realistic Expectations Early On

You and your spouse need to expect that making a career change can be difficult and that it might not go as planned. You’ll need to consider how much time it could take to make this change. In many cases, a complete career change requires some kind of additional education. So you’ll need to understand things like:

  • Roughly how long it’s going to take to prepare for the change
  • How much time your spouse will need to spend in school or training for this career shift
  • How much your spouse is going to be able to continue working, or whether they can continue working at all
  • How you’ll split up your household and family duties during the transition, since they may need to hand off everyday duties to you
  • Whether your spouse will need to step away from recreational activities or other obligations, or whether you might also need to consider the same for yourself
  • How long it could take your spouse to get another job after they’ve completed any required professional development training or school
  • Whether your spouse plans to start a business and how long it might take to get that off the ground

The time frame and the expectations of a career change tend to look a lot different than what you expect. Don’t go into this season with an idealized view of how things are going to go. Be as realistic as possible and anticipate that this could be a bumpy road. Obstacles are going to come, and if you’re prepared for them by expecting the possibility, you’ll both be able to weather this change with grace.

2. Make Whatever Preparations You Can

How might you and your spouse get prepared ahead of time for them to make a career change? Sometimes, changes come without warning and with little to no preparation. But if it’s possible to prepare, you should do so.

Preparation can look like saving money or paying down debt. It could be making arrangements for childcare or applying to college or grad school. Whatever you need to do – or can do – to make the transition smoother, figure that out together.

We understand that not everybody’s situation looks the same. Some people will not have the ability to prepare for in advance, for one reason or another. You might be embarking on a career change because you’re unable to save additional money, and you need to improve your financial situation. Either way, communicate and be prepared as you take these next steps together.

3. Be Realistic About Your Spouse’s Capacity

It’s important to understand that a career change is going to require a lot of your spouse’s attention, time, and energy. This is a very important point to keep in mind because for a little while, things may not look like they have in the past. Until your spouse gets settled in their new career, things could be a lot different.

Keep communication open. Try to be open and transparent with one another about what’s happening along the journey. Do your best to exercise patience with your spouse as they make these changes because when you’re in the midst of a career change, it can be tough to see the benefits on the other side of the challenges.

Ultimately, though, your spouse is making this change to give both of you (and your children, if you have them or plan to) a better future. It’s important to support their change and this vision for that future. Remember: you’re working together through all this, and you’re a team. You’ve got this.

If you need tips for solving time-related problems during this new season, take a look at our book, Your Time-Starved Marriage. It’s a practical resource full of tips for how to negotiate time and activities in the midst of a busy schedule. Get your copy here.

Have you supported your spouse through a career change? How did it go? What did you learn in the process? Leave us a comment and let us know.

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