I am getting excited about the “open source career coaching” possibilities, as my friend John Fritz recently called the “Jon the ballplayer” series.
So here is a juicy one for your input. I am withholding my opinion on this first (for you Tom 😉 but will share my view once I read yours.
Says Gentle Reader “Dave”:
I imagine I’m not the only one in this situation.
- I want to be an independent coach and also run my own projects.
already have a couple of clients and several more leads and would like
to quit my day job now to make room for growing that business.
- My wife is going to try to change employers (she is a teacher) and
the prospect of neither of us being in a stable job is too much, so she
wants me to keep the day job.
So there’s the tension. I want to quit now. She is afraid that that would be too much stress and instability.
We have enough money to easily cover a year’s worth of expenses,
I’ve proven the ability to get clients, and my day job (where I work
with my uncle) is about to shift me into a new role which would be a
real problem if I abandoned it shortly thereafter.
I feel confident that it would be best to make the move sooner rather
than later, but my wife sees that as inconsistent with supporting her
and mitigating the risk of her job search which she rightly feels that I owe her at this point.
have failed at an attempt like this in the past which led to her
supporting us for several months. We both agree that this is different,
however, and that what I have learned has changed things. We are 24 and
25 years old.
I would be interested in your thoughts on the situation if it wouldn’t be too much trouble. Thank you for your time.
After I asked if I could post his question, he clarified here:
I want to make sure my wife’s concerns are represented fairly, and of
course, my email slants toward my side a bit. So, forgive me for adding
to the length here, but I want to be considerate of her viewpoint.
She is supportive and cautiously optimistic about my new venture,
but she feels like as though I ought to be willing to support her as
she did for me during the previous attempt. I am willing–I see that as
entirely consistent with my desire to do my own thing, supporting her
She’s big on the idea of at least one of us having a “steady job,”
and she also wonders what other people will think if I go trying to be
independent again despite the previous failure.
necessarily need to include all of this, of course, but for us to get
the most value out of the exercise, I want to make sure I’m presenting
as close to the full picture as possible.
I’m probably the wrong person to give advice on this; I’m not particularly security-minded. My immediate thought was – “twenty-four and twenty-five!! That’s plenty of time to take risks and rebound.
I am 42 now and wish I’d taken many more bold steps much earlier. Retirement is only getting closer.
Such a great blog, and I love this post. All the ideas generated and options given are fantastic.
It all returns to communication and clarity. Talking about it, getting straight what each of you needs/wants, and working on possible paths.
I’d also love to hear from Pam and from Dave on what he and his wife did.
[…] Relationship advice for an aspiring entrepreneur […]
OK – Pam said she would withhold her opinion, but I think it’s time to hear it, don’t you?
To be so considerate of each other at 24 & 25 says a lot about you both. You will surely make a great life together regardless of the decision you make here.
If I could show you how my life has changed 180 degrees every few years over the last decade, you would be flabbergasted, but each change brought my life to new heights. What enabled me to make these changes was having a spouse that respected, supported and believed in me.
Opening our first business was the toughest. It took a lot of courage and planning, but 5 businesses later, we count our blessings every day. We’ve closed or sold 4 of the 5 business and haven’t looked back and continue to build our lives in the fashion that we see fit for us.
Regarding what other people think: Don’t let your insecurities stand in your way. It really doesn’t matter what anyone thinks except the 2 of you. At the end of the day, no one will live you life for you, pay your bills, and love your spouse for you. All these things are your responsibility, therefore, only your opinion matters. Besides, the naysayers are usually folks who have never had the guts, talent or resources to open up their own businesses. You know that saying, misery loves company?
As far as getting your wife on board, letting her know that you cherish and respect her opinion above others is vital. However, remember these few points: 1) you only gain a lot if you dare risk alot 2) very successful people make decisions quickly 3) you have only one life to live and you certainly don’t get do-overs, so DECIDE how you want your life to be, write it, live it 4) you have a year’s worth of living expenses which is way more than most folks, however, get more funding in place because you most likely will need it and since you have money in the bank, it’s easier to get a line of credit (especially in these tough economic times) when you have money 5) TIMING is everything
I know you will both make great decisions together…Good luck and here’s to a prosperous 2009 to you!
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I can relate to the apparent dilemma.
I spent 28 years in the corporate world and got married in year 27 to my spouse.
Year 28 result in me being given a choice to stay or leave the firm with a financial inducement. I took the inducement and took time to discern my next step.
I made the decision to respond to a deep, inner yearning and have been pursuing my entrepreneurial vision which has been the best thing for me.
My spouse revealed that part of her decision to marry me was because I was “Steady Eddie – Joe Corporate!”
Not the first and not the last.
Do what you gotta do, otherwise you are likely to be one miserable unhappy camper.
In such situations of confusion, its best to follow your heart. Just do what makes you happy, don’t think too much and don’t be too practical either.
I always support the idea that everyone can get out of the situation what they want – it’s all in the planning 🙂
So, your wife wants that one of you has a stable job (actually she probably means herself as she seems to think that yours won’t be that stable) – any way, how long might it take her to find the new job? has she started already? How much time does she give herself for this transition? realistically it should not take her more than several months – if it takes longer than it is not “I am changing my job” than it is more like “I think I should look out for an opportunity”. Let’s assume she is really looking for a new job – if you could agree that you wait with your transition for another 3-4 months giving her time to find a new job than you can start pursuing your business once she has her new job.
You mentioned you work together with your uncle – why not mention to him that you are contemplating developing your own business and ask him not to move into the new position? Or ask him if you could work part-time (or let’s say 4 days a week)
What I am trying to say here – try to break your situation and all the components into parts and then look how you can combine them in an unconventional way … look at your situation as being in a flow so that ou can exchange each “ingredient” through a different one, break the order of things in time …
Hello – just came across your excellent blog at Escape from Cubical Nation. Fantastic! I have added it to my blog roll and I hope you might check out me blog too. Thank you!
My first thought?
Find out from your wife what she wants in exchange for the green light for you to switch to coaching.
My second thought?
You might have to put this off for another year. If you’re married to someone, you absolutely have to have their (*sincere*) buy-in. It is just too hard otherwise.
Additionally, there’s the sex role thing. Women look to men to provide for them and if the guy fails at this, so might the marriage. It’s sexist and irrational, but it’s also one of those deep-seated things that (unless you want a lot of trouble) it’s best to just work with. Even if the person agrees there might be other problems later because they had to work against their gut and now their id is freaking out.
I think that you can have this, you’re just going to have to negotiate with your wife. She wants you to be happy, and she’s probably realistic about the fact that she can’t make you hold off on your dream forever. Set a deadline or an amount of savings or whatever is needed and work on it. You might have to have two jobs and no personal life for a while.
Whatever the solution, the real question seems to be evaluating costs and resources and negotiating them. That’s really hard to do in this format. It might be helpful to call in a pro for this – not because you’re not getting along, but because a trained negotiator will know how to ask the right questions and help you produce a plan that’s actually workable.
Pam, Dave, thanks so much for this opportunity to comment. Marriage and work are both topics I get passionate about.
Dave wants us to pick between the two options he and his wife have laid out, to support his view or convince him of her view. In any dispute, there is only one marriage-supporting choice, and that is the one that lets you give your spouse the moon and the stars without giving away whatever you need for yourself.
As soon as one of you objects to the other’s proposed solution or proposes another, it’s a dead giveaway neither is the one you are looking for. You need a third alternative.
A third alternative is one that satisfies each of you as much as your preferred option, without causing the problems for you of the other one.
Dave and his wife need a solution that (1) gives his wife the financial cushion she needs to take her career risk without feeling constant fear or embarrassment and (2) lets Dave avoid getting locked into a position with his uncle that would prevent him from enjoying the fruits of his success with his new business.
So, Dave, can you turn down the next phase with your uncle and stay in his employ? If not, do you have the skills to quickly move to another full-time job, perhaps a sales job, where you could gradually reduce your hours and pay as your new business succeeds, or where you could leave without harming a family member? You need to stay employed only until your wife has made her move or your business has taken off.
Alternatively, could you leave your uncle’s employ and invest 75% of every workday for now in helping your wife secure her new position? You two would need to decide in advance how many weeks to invest before you switch to spending that 75% looking for your own next job if she hasn’t found what she’s looking for and your new business isn’t yet bringing in an income she’s comfortable with.
If it’s too early for her to start looking for new teaching jobs, can she help you line up and serve coaching clients, so you can add more clients before you make the leap to self-employment? Or can she help you cut expenses enough that the year of savings becomes 18 months worth?
Two heads brainstorming together on a single problem is a much better use of your minds than dreaming up ways to convince each other your own goal or strategy is the right one.
First of all, and no offense meant, but who cares what others might think about your making another attempt following a failure? Their thoughts are merely opinions (much like ours are). What do YOU think about it?
Isn’t it a good thing to try, try again? So you failed before. Do you stay down, or do you get up, dust yourself off, analyze what went wrong last time, and take another wiser stab at it?
Most of the big successes failed several times before they made it. Failure is not the end of the world. It’s an opportunity to learn and grow.
I can understand your wife’s fear: it’s risky. But is it a calculated risk? Are you truly passionate about this venture or doing it for some other reason? Might the uncle be willing to give you a leave from your job long enough to give the new venture a go, and should the worst-case happen, allow you to return to work? That would be a nice backup plan and might ease your wife’s mind.
All of these are questions to ask yourself. Personally, I’d say if your gut is screaming at you to do it now, listen to it. Yes, it might go to heck. But what if it didn’t? What if the doors to your success will ONLY open AFTER you’ve left your job and taken a fully-committed step toward your dream?
Much success to both of you–keep the faith! Dream big.
I was awed by the response my son Jon received in his quest to make a change. I was so impressed by the compassion, interest, and encouragement from the responders. That turned my negativity around. I am thrilled to respond to your letter and I hope that you will find your answers as well.
My husband went into his own business as soon as we married at 22. I worked for a state University – I had the “steady job” I provided the excellent benefits for the family. Basically that was the most important reason that my husband was able to stay self employed throughout our 37 years of marriage. It worked because I knew that my husband would not be content working for someone. He was much too creative. Looking back now I know it would have been a huge mistake if he worked for someone all these years.
You are both so young.
This is your time to take risks.
I’m assuming you don’t have children. Once you have kids, you will be more cautious and conservative and you might not have the same opportunity.
I understand your wife’s reluctance. I am been there many times myself but it’s up to you to prove that you can make it work. If you believe in yourself – work hard – it will work.
I think you both have to support each other. There is no reason that you wife can’t make a change. Teaching positions tend to be a little more secure. She should make her change this way she doesn’t feel neglected or feel that she is still waiting for “her time”.
Before you make a decision — talk to you uncle. It’s fortunate that you are dealing with a relative and hopefully that will make it easier if you have to return to the job. Be honest. Tell him you would like to make it work but leave the door open. Your wife will feel better that you have a fall back if things fail so the risk is minimized.
You obviously feel that this is your time. That means that you will work hard to prove it – to yourself – your uncle- and your wife. Do it now while you have the desire. Your wife should make her change as well. It will work because your young and have time to make changes.
I wish you both success
I was playing fast and loose with the language and I guess I didn’t make my point clear. Kelly – sorry for the icks. When you ask, “How is supporting your wife’s vision in the short-term less manly than pursuing your own?” I have to cringe since I obviously gave the exact opposite impression than the one I meant to give.
I thank Kelly for her comment since her enumerated points express exactly what I was trying to say.
Unfortunately manliness has become often viewed as negative. When I said REAL man, I meant it in what I think is the proper way – like in a man who would swim through shark-infested water to bring his woman a glass of lemonade (I know, I know “his woman” has taken on a negative connotation too, but I’ll recklessly use it anyway).
Any male who thinks selfishness is manly is not a real man.
I am not writing now to defend myself since I deserve what my writing gets me, but I wanted to explain to make it clear to Dave that for what it’s worth I am another vote for what Kelly expressed so well.
You can wait a bit to help your wife feel better, and in the process you get REAL “real man” points.
I agree with Andy, it is better to take the risks now then 10 or 20 years down the road when you have more obligations.
If you can support yourself for a year then i say go do what you want.
I applaud you for being such a genuine person. It takes a lot of courage to discuss challenges of this nature in the open.
Human tendency is usually to focus on something that he/she is passionate about. It is never easy to strike a good balance between pursuing what is important for you and doing what is best in the interest of the people you love and treasure. It gets more challenging when you have to slow down simply because your actions could potentially be conflicting with your spouse’s aspirations. Here are the things you could consider doing,
1. Convince yourself that you are not going to pursue this right now if you both are not on the same page. I can only imagine how hard this could be when you seem to be so passionate about something. But remember, it is not always about you and your passions.
2. Once you are absolutely sure that you can put her interests ahead of yours find a good time to engage her in a healthy dialogue
3. Take the time to explain to your wife how much you value her career and ambitions.
4. Make sure that she understands that you truly appreciate day in and day out her support you have enjoyed ever since you both have been together.
5. Now this might be hard to swallow, but, you have to be practical. Since you enjoyed your turn when you tried it the last time (of course with an unconditional support from her), I think she deserves a chance to take a shot at her goal this time around. You owe it to her in ensuring that she can pursue her mission in a single-minded fashion.
It certainly looks like she has made up her mind with regard to the level of stability in her family life. So, by trying to convince her further that you both can pursue your goals in parallel, you are only forcing her to compromise with her belief system.
Bottom line is… I think it helps immensely to put yourself into her shoes. Good luck!.
Ah, the compromise of marriage.
Ick on “what would a real man do?”. Ick and double ick. This is about the choices of a TEAM and not an individual. That’s marriage, or at least a succesful one. How is supporting your wife’s vision in the short-term less manly than pursuing your own?
I agree on the fact that you are young and it is time to take risks. However, you also have the stamina to grow the business on nights and weekends to provide your wife with a bit more security and comfort in the long-term.
My suggestion. Set a goal date:
1. You will stay put for 3-6 months (less or more as you determine) while growing the business at nights and on weekends. Coaching is easy this way!
2. Your wife will devote her days, nights and weekends to pursuing the new job.
3. At the end of the time period you will re-evaluate and likely decide you can quit.
Worse case scenario? You’ll be not as happy for 3-6 months, your wife will be and then you’ll be happy again after that. And you’ll collectively be 25-26 and will still have invested the time into your joint ventures.
Can’t wait to hear the decision!
You’re a brave human being. #1 for asking the question and saying yes to public advice, and #2 for having the courage to love yourself enough to be conflicted, and loving your wife enough to be generous.
Here are a few questions both of you could answer without intervention from gurus, and getting experience in having these kinds of conversations is such a great thing to begin at 24 and 25.
What are your personal values around work and relationships?
Which value would you like to lead the process with?
What are the tolerable risks?
What are the intolerable risks?
If it’s yes to Dave, what agreements do you both need to make?
If it’s yes to Dave’s wife, what agreements do you both need to make?
There’s your DIY starting point. If you still need help, call in the expats, I mean experts…
These are great comments. They’re maybe the best group of comments and commenters I’ve seen.
Reading all your comments helped me clarify mine. First off, kudos to you for reaching out. That’s a great step. You have a good future with that mindset. And kudos for being attentive, caring, supportive for your spouse and her concerns. I’d agree with:
Three points I didn’t see covered were:
1). You’re 24 and 25. You have your whole life ahead of you. Now is the time to take risks. Now is the time to pursue your dreams. It will be VERY expensive to look back and think…I wish I’d made that leap. Now we have kids and mortgages, school….THIS is a near ideal time in your life to take a risk like this.
2) She supported you for 3-4 months. Ok. And? If you’re planning on a life together this will happen again. For you both, one for the other. Will it be a bigger issue next time? “This is the 2nd time I’ve supported you for 3-4 months?”
3) The last commenter’s question “what would a real man do”…gets to the heart. I’m not sure about the phrasing here, but, if we were talking privately, I’d phrase it the same. Here, I’d phrase it “What would a leader do?” You see the vision. You see the possibility. You see the opportunity. Your excitement has driven your success. you’ll encounter obstacles and doubters all along your path. Now’s the time to learn how to communicate your vision to engage them in its creation. “Win or go home” becomes “share your dream or stay in your job. Communicate your vision or stay in the job. The one you hate. ”
Take the worst-case scenario/GoTH approach. Show her how even in those situations you have options, resources, and security. But be sure to keep sharing your dream, your vision, what it means for you both, for the two of you.
Then talk with your Uncle. Worst case there is he’s annoyed at what it means for him, but respects you.
And at some point, you may have to lead. Change is tough. But that’s where you find truth.
Good fortunes. You don’t need wishes of good luck. You sound like you’re ready to go. You’ll get there.
Don’t screw your uncle over, but put your wife first.
You know there is a way to work out a deal with your uncle so you can give your wife some breathing room. You are young. You have plenty of time to give a few months for the woman you love more than anything, right?
Ignore the specious arguments about whether you owe it to her (you probably do anyway), or whether she believes in you enough (she does, but she’s justifiably nervous), or what other people (her parents?) will think, or whether you should use the financial cushion you have wisely created (I say no).
Concentrate on who has/might have what stress.
Waiting to make your leap might cause you stress, but you can mitigate that by using the time for more prep (don’t you dare say you are fully prepared). Dealing with your uncle will cause you stress, but if he is sensible, one good conversation with him might make that issue melt away (if he’s not sensible, don’t worry about him).
Changing jobs will cause your wife stress. Her reasonable concern about your simultaneous leap would multiply that stress. You have the power to lessen that stress for your wife (remember her – the woman you love more than anything?)
So let’s say we boil it down to your discomfort or hers. Despite my near-rabid feminist upbringing, I’m tempted to ask you to ask yourself, “What would a real man do?”
I gotta go with talking to the uncle. Is he open to a “transitional” position? Is he open to taking you back, perhaps part-time, if things don’t go perfectly? (Or perhaps a compromise would be a part-time job for a while at current job.)
If you don’t like your options, see if there are more options.
We should chat. I just went through this EXACT same scenario. It’s a tough balance and one you will always need to strike.
Ping me and would love to connect.
Either way, sounds like you have a good woman there!
Pam, thanks so much for the gold-plated invitation. In the interest of fairness, I purposely have not yet read the previous comments so as not to influence my answer. I actually wrote about this very topic in a recent post because it’s coming up frequently in my practice.
First please understand that your entrepreneurial desires are most likely bringing up your wife’s fears and whatever she has expressed is no accurate indication of the probability of your success.
That said, if I were coaching you, I’d get permission to coach you both in a session individually and then a joint session. You both are way too close to this for your to see all of the possibilities for resolution. An objective third party could help you both feel much better about your eventual decision.
I hope you get some good approaches from this exercise but a good coach would begin by asking a ton of questions. So my best advice is invest some of your reserve and get professional help.
Intuitively it feels as though there is room for compromise here. Both you and your wife may be able to get what you want by working a process of identifying non-negotiable requirements and then seeing how far apart you really are.
Somewhere there is an optimum agreement that you’d both feel better about honoring. Work to construct that agreement.
It sounds as though your wife needs some assurance from you that you can deliver. Most likely you’ll have to prove more to her than your ability to secure a couple of clients and I’m betting that you can do that.
The one thing I don’t like about this situation is the impending deadline in your day job. Might your employer be understanding if you came clean and shared your situation so you would not be moved?
If not who would it be damaging to, you or them? It sounds like in order to get what you want, you’ll need to experience some discomfort temporarily. But don’t let that stop you.
Deep down your wife knows that self-employment is actually the more secure work. Seek to understand one another. Look for the win-win; it’s there.
Thanks for the opportunity to contribute!
I see two issues here: (1) the timing of leaving the job and the associated perception that if you do this you are not providing equitable support for the wife’s dreams and (2) the wife’s concern about what people will think about your trying again after a past failure.
Regarding the latter, the risk of repeat failure exists only if you learned nothing from your past experience. What others think is immaterial; it’s what you do that matters.
Success in business requires resilience when one discovers approaches that don’t work and persistence when one encounters obstacles.
These do not exist to keep us from our dreams but rather to provide us with an opportunity to know just exactly how much we want them to become our reality.
With respect to the negotiation about leaving the day job… you say you have a year’s worth of expenses covered. Perhaps you can make a deal with your wife where you will return to a full-time job if you have not acquired a certain number of clients/level of income within 6 months. This must be an iron-clad promise.
And with respect to the family biz, perhaps you can explore the possibility of continuing to work there 2 days per week leaving 3 days a week for pursuing your own business interests.
It might even be feasible to ramp up i.e., month 1 you go on a 4 day week, month 2, a 3-day week, month 3 a 2 day week (during which time you’ll train your replacement). There are always startup and business planning tasks that need to be done to launch a new biz but these don’t necessarily require 5 days per week effort.
By the time 6 months have passed, you’ll have monitored your progress against plan and you will know if you can replace your full-time income with revenue from your coaching practice.
A lot of things in life are timing. We do not know for certain what tomorrow will bring which is why it is important to live in the now.
Wishing you the best success!
Linda M. Lopeke
The SMARTSTART Coach
thank you for this initiative. What an awesome idea, helping people this way! It motivated me to look up the difference between open sourcing and crowdsourcing as I was a bit puzzled by the boundary between the two. What you’re doing may be closer to crowdsourced career coaching. The difference is slim: according to the crowdsourced Wikipedia, quoting a scholarly article,
“The difference between crowdsourcing and open source is that open source production is a cooperative activity initiated and voluntarily undertaken by members of the public. In crowdsourcing the activity is initiated by a client and the work may be undertaken on an individual, as well as a group, basis.”
I know, this was not initiated by the “client” but by you, so a third alternative would be to maybe call it “community-based career coaching”.
One way or another, doesn’t matter what you call it, kudos on a brilliant effort and thank you for the education and inspiration.
Thank you all for the insightful comments and suggestions so far.
My wife and I will be reviewing these together later today and talking it over. Having already ready them by myself, I’m amazed at how well you have articulated much of what I left unsaid on both sides.
Just to set up the angle I’m coming from: I and my wife are volunteer marriage mentors and have been married for 33+ years.
Your wife is expressing concerns that boil down to stability, but it isn’t just monetary stability. What I hear in this is a relationship stability question, “I supported your dream. Are you committed enough to me to support my dream?” One way to answer this question without necessarily giving up the career shift you want is to put together a rock solid GoTH plan. What will you do if everything Goes To Heck*? How will you respond in a way that protects not just your family’s finances, but your wife’s career change and (more importantly) your relationship? The key is to demonstrate that you are committed to her and the relationship.
*Yes, I know it’s not really Heck, but hey you get the point.
Wow, this post hit close to home. For two years I worked as a business coach for a local firm in central Iowa. The job was great, the pay was secure yet limited, and there was no room for advancement. I am a big picture-entrepreneurial type of guy so I began looking at other options.
For how passionate and confident I was in my ability, I needed to know my wife was on board and comfortable with my choice, which at first she wasn’t.
Like your business, your success with your spouse is going to come down to vision and doing things that are inline with that vision.
Marriage is a partnership and both parties are working for the same organization (family) or at least they should be. When they stop working toward the same vision . . . for the same purpose . . . for the same organization disconnection occurs. I don’t need to remind anyone what the divorce rate it.
My advice would be to sit down with your wife and create a three – five year family vision. Dream together. Let her know what is important to you and you learn what’s really important to her. Now, people always say “we know this about each other”. GREAT! It’s more than knowing it . . . it’s living it every single day.
Include in your vision you career, financial, and family goals. Talk about what needs to happen to get your desired results.
My point . . . starting something with both of you in agreement is a great foundation for success and be a point of support if things don’t go as planned . . . because you’re a team and you’re in this together. If there is not 100% agreement the potential for disconnect and disagreement is that much greater.
Marriage is a challenge. Shared vision is absolutely necessary!
That’s my two cents!
One of the biggest challeges can be balancing you job, your new business, and your family. One key is that you and your family must be on the same page. Anything else is a recipe for disaster. If your spouse doesn’t support your move to full time it is usually one of several issues:
-You have done a poor job selling it to her.
-You have a track record of under-delivering on your comittments.
-Your business idea needs more work.
I usualy recomend doing your business on the side until you can show:
-That you can make enough to support your family well.
-That the business is sustainable. Make sure it isn’t a one hit wonder!
-That the business is scalable. Just because you make $25k for 10 hours work doesn’t mean that you’ll make $100k full time.
That’s a tough one. The wild card seems to be the expanding role in the uncle’s business. Since it’s family, it would seem like he could be open with the uncle about the situation, and hold off either expanding his role or agree to stick in for x months to find and train a replacement should he decide to leave.
That would buy a “grace period” while his wife changes jobs. See if the wife will accept maybe a 3-month transition period to make sure she’s settled into the new position before he makes his move. He might lose a potential lead or two but he says gaining leads is not an issue. That they have money in the bank should minimize the trauma of either her career change or his, but both at the same time is probably going to be more stressful than their relationship can easily manage.
What they have going for them is the openness and understanding he expresses in his emails. Both seem to want the other to be fulfilled, and if they can manage one career change at a time, they’ll both be in incredibly supportive situations as they face their individual transitions.
Wow, what a tricky situation. It sounds like you’re feeling pulled in many directions, with loyalty issues thrown in to make things even more complicated.
It sounds like you’re already doing the most important thing, which is communicating openly and honestly with your wife. You’re even communicating openly and honestly with all of us random people on the internet, which shows that you’re open to listening. It sounds like you understand your wife’s concerns and point of view, and that’s really important, too, because my first piece of advice is:
Get on the same team.
Find common ground. When you talk about this decision, first talk about what you agree on before talking about what you disagree on. What do you and your wife completely agree on? Do you both want your family to be financially stable? Do you both want each other to be happy and fulfilled? Do you both want to feel secure, loved, and well taken care of?
Take some time to talk about these things. It will help when talking about the things you disagree on, because they can all be discussed in terms of what you agree on. For example if you disagree on the best job choice for you but you agree on all these more basic things, the disconnect has to be somewhere in between. Perhaps it’s in differing estimates of risk or success. Perhaps it’s an emotional issue under the surface that makes things scary or brings up resistance.
The second piece of advice I’d give you is to talk about the worst-case scenarios. Tell stories. Imagine what might actually happen if you made this career decision or the other one. What would you do if you couldn’t get any clients? What would it be like? Spend some time talking about it and imagining it. The fear of an unknown badness is much worse than the fear of a known one, no matter how bad it is.
Hope this helps! (: