Seeking Advice, am I ruining my career? What would you do?

Thank you in advance for taking the time to read. I am currently a recent MBA graduate working as a Senior Financial Analyst. I am currently located in the Midwest region and have been granted the opportunity to transfer to NY for better leadership and promotion opportunities. My wife and I currently have a small child ~2 years old and are basically by ourselves because family is on the East Coast and West Coast. Made the request to move for a few reasons:

  • Family Support
  • Better Opportunities/Better Pay
  • Future Job Prospects

Here's the Hiccup, my wife is also ambitious and had been planning on applying and attending graduate school. She has recently been admitted to Law school here in the Midwest (TOP 15 Law School) and wants me to apply to different jobs ruining my NY plans and trajectory, or we do distance where I am separate from my daughter and wife for potentially one to three years.

What would you do in this situation, would you take a chance on your career for your family? Would you try to convince your wife who has been at home with your child for the past ~2 years and is dead-set on beginning graduate school (applied for 2 years in a row) to give up and apply again?

I have my reservations because family is important to me, but I don't have a ton of relevant skills/experience because I'm a career changer from my MBA who has no finance experience, whose company took a chance in the first place in an industry where people are being laid off monthly at my current site.

To reiterate, thank you again for taking the time to read. I am open to all advice, please be as crude, gentle, honest and open as you like regarding what you would do.

Best regards,

Your fellow monkey

Comments (48)

Apr 29, 2019

That's a tough one, I would say take a chance on trying to find a new job. It would be one thing if you were dating but you guys are married and have a kid. There are a lot of fathers who aren't present for this stage with their children and they all always seem to regret not being a part of their lives for whatever reason.

Good Luck

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May 2, 2019
DontDiscountMyCashFlows:

they all always seem to regret not being a part of their lives for whatever reason.

For whatever reason hahaha

Apr 29, 2019

Dang that last sentence was kind of a jerk move. Legit I will knowledge, very obvious reasons why anyone, with a heart, would regret not being there for the early stages of life for their children.

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Apr 29, 2019

.

Most Helpful
Apr 29, 2019

As I read it, you laid out three options.

1) Stay in the Midwest and find employment in the city of your wife's law school. (Is this your current city? Or is the law school in a different Midwest city?)

2) Go to New York and ask your wife to come up with a different plan.

3) Your wife and daughter stay in the Midwest, you go to New York.

In #1, you sacrifice. #2, your wife sacrifices. #3, everyone sacrifices, including your 2 year-old. As an outsider looking in, for that last reason I wouldn't consider #3.

Which city your wife got into law school matters a lot in this equation, imo. If it's Chicago, then your odds of finding another solid finance opportunity are pretty good. Your timing for the job market doesn't get much better, so while it may not be the exact same trajectory as going to NY with your current company, with some hustle I'd think it's doable. Even if it's a step back, I doubt that in 20 years you look at this moment as when your chances at career fulfillment went off the rails.

If you're considering relocating to another Midwest city (where else are there top law schools? Ann Arbor? St Louis?) the calculus may change a bit. Whereas I view relocating blind to Chicago as relatively low-risk, your mileage may vary in other markets.

How did you get to this point where you and your wife were making future plans for yourselves that didn't exist in the same city? Whatever you do, if you're not already, get on the same page with your wife.

I think it's probably easier for you to find a new job when you already have your graduate degree than it is for your wife to punt and cross her fingers. But your wife needs to understand that your support comes with real personal sacrifice, and she needs to treat that with the respect it deserves. If she plans to make a career out of law and is dedicated to using her degree to contributing to the household, that's one thing. If this is a flight of fancy, or a way to figure out her passion, or if she wants the option of more kids and to be a SAHM down the road... maybe she should rethink sacrificing her time, money, and your current career path. If you go this route, she owes you a 100% commitment to making this the right choice for the entire family.

Same is true of you if you do go to New York. Be honest with yourself and your wife about why you want this move, including identifying what's good for the family versus what's good for you selfishly. Acknowledge the latter, and respect your wife's sacrifice for your personal benefit.

Act in good faith. A well-communicated "wrong" decision is way better than the "right" career/financial choice that builds resentment. Good luck.

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Apr 29, 2019

Thank you for your response. I was thinking and balancing a lot of what you've said and I really appreciate how you articulated the choices, because that's essentially where we are. Some additional information to help fill in the gaps:
Started in the same Midwest city(not Chicago) agreed on moving to NY. Everything in place for the move and found out news from the law school. She had originally given up on the idea of it before it worked out.
Finding a job has been difficult (even during MBA program) due to ability to really break into this particular city. Reason why we agreed to take a role with a company that had a headquarters in a larger city. Joined the company and found out they had a hiring freeze for everything with the exception of my current position(which is a leadership program where everyone has struggled to find graduate role unless they are cool with relocating(my issue at hand)
The sacrifice piece is huge, we both have acknowledged how difficult every situation would be. I think we both believe that we can have our cake and eat it too, that's what makes this so hard. I am all about family support and stability and have always made my choices with that goal in mind. Got into better MBA programs but went where I got the most money so we could prioritize the debt management for whatever degree she wanted. I have let go of investment management/banking pursuits to be a better parent. I worked partime during business school because she didn't like her job so I could give her the out to quit before I started my post mba graduate role. I take pride in my ability to be (for lack of a better word) clutch. It was assumed that I would just find another role. I have always been a bit more concrete, and she has a tendency to be a flight risk. I dont want to resent her for being indecisive when I know that I can be dependable. I hope I don't sound like a complete a**hole but I have been fighting to be in a place to provide and we are finally here. I can catch her if she fails and be there to support if she changes her mind .. again. I don't want us doing that pre mba pay check to paycheck living. We even saved over 20k in the few months we've been working(getting paid well over market) and will get a raise with the relocation. I know it might sound like insecurity but I guess it kind of is fear. I want to do my part to deliver on that promise of providing a good life with the best of my ability

Apr 30, 2019

The real thing you want to make sure is if she really wants to go to Law school given how indecisive she is before making this decision.
While only prioritising your career ins't the best option (#3) above I am sure that you could find a suitable compromise (ie moving to Chicago) whereby you'd get better ops and still wouldn't be too far.

May 1, 2019

Holy shit. Tony Robbins, is that you?

Well thought out. Well written. Sage words..

Apr 30, 2019

You should stick close to her and support her imo. Top 15 Law is pretty good and she needs a lot of support at this time to get on the Law Review. Also, if she is thinking of getting into corporate law, she will probably out earn your current career trajectory. It seems like her degree is ranked higher than yours. The best thing to do for your family is to foster her development as 1L (first year of law school) is going to kick her ass, as well as the realization of becoming a lawyer after graduation (usually 1-2 yrs into corporate law, lawyers realize the box they have put themselves in and want to shoot themselves). Sure, some loooooove law and reading ancient cases all day that mean nothing, but it's also good to know her motivation for going to law. If she doesn't 'loooooove' law, then when 1L is kicking her ass, you either have to support her fully and help with meals or something or get the fuck out of that city for another career opportunity if you're not willing to take the on site abuse.

"If you always put limits on everything you do, physical or anything else, it will spread into your work and into your life. There are no limits. There are only plateaus, and you must not stay there, you must go beyond them." - Bruce Lee

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Apr 29, 2019

All pride aside, her school definitely outranks mine (undergrad too). She's not sure if she interested in corporate law but to be honest I know she would at least appreciate the option. I realize that I will end up being the go-to parent moving forward(for the rest of our marriage probably). For what its worth, I have been considering other opportunities that would allow the situation to work for the most collective benefit. I'm not going to be a stay at home dad, but I have already locked down, all things cooking, cleaning, parenting and bills (even tho shes a stay at home mom) because she struggles balancing in general. I appreciate the advice, I will move forward taking everything said here under serious advisement.

Apr 30, 2019

Any idea where she'd like to practice? If she ends up doing BigLaw (questionable given the family constraints?) she might end up in NYC anyway.

In your specific case I'd do the distance thing for a bit. Not for all 3 years, mind you-but long enough to gain the finance skills/experience you'd need for a more fruitful job search down the line given your anxiety. Maybe give it a year or two at the most. Then find a gig wherever she ends up.

May 2, 2019

"but I have already locked down, all things cooking, cleaning, parenting and bills (even tho shes a stay at home mom) because she struggles balancing in general."

lol whatta sucker

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Apr 29, 2019

I'm not the type to start a fight, with that being said i'm going to assume you're not marriage material or even in a functional committed relationship. If you were you would understand that a relationship is give and take, and its almost never even. If I know there is low hanging fruit that is easy for me to handle, I handle it. I have a child that hangs in the balance so petty eye for an eye or chore for a chore BS doesn't dictate my behavior.

When you operate as a team you do what it takes to make it run like a well oiled machine. Every team has a starting player that at times carries the team, a James Harden, a Michael Jordan, a Lebron James if you will. They carry the heavy load and other members of the team contribute what they can to win. Arrogance aside, in this case I need to score 40-50 points every day to make sure we win, that's what needs to be done so i do it. I don't whine or B***h like a little punk because its not fair.

Grow up, and if that's not good enough advice for you, come at me bro, it would really make my day.

May 2, 2019

I see what you're saying but marriage isn't supposed to be like that - one person carrying. Historically, men and women usually had equally weighted responsibilities. From what I'm gathering, you getting shorted. But modern society is a b**** isn't it?

May 6, 2019

I like how you compared your parenting to Harden/Jordan/Lebron lol. Can you give some players your wife is like in the team? That would make my day

Funniest
May 6, 2019

JR Smith lebron

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Apr 29, 2019

I would but the comment below but the post by @Synergy_or_Syzygy beats anything I could possibly share.

May 7, 2019

Jesus christ dude. So you, at every stage, change your job and location so that you can give her flexibility to be a "flight risk" or quit a job early or go get a degree without any idea what she wants to do? And, on top of that, you do all of the work at home because she can't "balance"? This sounds like a recipe for disaster and a lifetime of resentment. Every married couple makes sacrifices and that is exacerbated by having children but this is ridiculous.

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May 1, 2019

Somehow my original post got deleted.

Beta, for one you should not be looking for advice from a bunch of college kids and 20-year olds.

If you follow this path, you will not end up being happy, you will have a wife you never see, kids you never see and probably not a great family life. I have no idea how old you are but I am guessing late 20s.

The following advice comes from a married 30ish-year old with 2 kids under 3 years old who broke into his current field after a lot of fucking around in life having fun. Also because of this I have a wife who was thrown into similar "midlife" career change due to her chosen profession being phased out. We both needed to have future proof jobs with stability.

FIRST, you have a kid together. All your dreams come to a halt, you have to put the kid first. Sadly that could include her dream of a top 15 law school. To put it in perspective you have a job and she does not. Yes, she adds a lot of value taking care of the kid, I didn't work for a small period so I look care of my then 1 kid, it was not easy. So I don't think childcare is a lesser goal. BUT your goal should be making the decision that would put your family in the best situation. That is you all moving to New York to for the better career.

Here is why NY is the better career move, you have a more secure position within the company, you have extra support through grandparents which is invaluable, and did I mention there is a potential recession on the horizon.

Her dream of a Top 15 law school is extremely risky. I know too many statistics from friends younger siblings that finding a high paying career in law is tough. So not only is she taking a huge risk, that risk is not mitigated by going to the best school. Even at a good law school like ND 50% of the student body has an extremely hard time finding internship, like good paying internships which would translate into careers able to pay off the massive amount of debt you and she are about to undertake. As a compromise I would suggest her trying to apply to a law school in NY. We have Columbia, Fordham, Benjamin Cardozo, etc. All very good schools, all with great networks in NYC(where you plan to live). Ostensibly, if she could get into a top 15 then Columbia is a reach and Fordham should be the target.

Then there is the amount of homework and studying. You will be a single father for the next three years, law school is extremely rigorous and that is where her focus should lie. Although if she were in a law school in NY then the grandparents could come and help, making both of your lives easier.

Then comes what from your words is your job at your current location. "people are being laid off monthly". How are you going to support your family and 200k of debt without job security.

In my mind this is the most pragmatic approach which will yield the best outcome for your family.

Apr 29, 2019

These are my sentiments exactly. My worries are that if for whatever reason she does like it, or realizes its not for her we are both at a loss. I don't want to resent her for a decision that she has every choice to make. I like the idea of being stable. I don't know how corporate law would work but after a bit more time in my career i will have enough experience to take a back seat if necessary. I'm totally okay with that, i don't have the pull at the moment to just drop and find something new.

For what its worth my wife and I have done distance before, I didn't like it but i survived. I was in business school at the time and she stayed behind for a job that she thought she would like (didnt like it) and ended up getting terribly sick. Found a growth in her body and thought she had cancer for the first half of business school while we were apart (had celebrated our first year of marriage the month before we found out). It was a terrible year and traveled a ton to make it work.(took a three week leave after her surgery to help with recovery) and still made it work. She recovered and we closed the distance.

I know what we are capable of, i understand my child hangs in the balance here which is why many people feel so strongly about it but we both to some degree have committed to the possibility of it. We have family support and even approval is just our local community, friends and church community that think we've lost our minds.

May 1, 2019

She needs to really consider if it's worth going to Law School. Like it or not, she's a mom and you're a dad. That comes with sacrifice, and if she isn't going Big Law, then she really shouldn't be taking on any debt. There's an over-abundance of lawyers already. It's only going to get worse, and she could handicap your family with debt.

You need to have some tough conversations about expectations and future roles because that kind of debt takes 5 years minimum to overcome and that's if she gets a high-paying job after law school.

Apr 29, 2019

The debt is the whole reason why i'm holding on, i know its going to be super heavy and i won't fuss about that i just don't want to give away my best chance to help. Its not simply a pride thing. I know what my chances, ability and opportunities are and right now i don't have many. I don't even care if she changes her mind after the three years and huge debt. I don't even care if she comes out making 45k a year "saving the people" as long as I maintain. This way i can help, and create a less pressured environment for her to succeed.

May 1, 2019

I don't know if you're comprehending that she will have 250k+ in debt AND not be working during that so she'll need her expenses covered for 3 years (minus any internships/summer stints). That's too large a burden to take on realisitaically. That's why most folks go into law school unencumbered (unmarried and single). It's tough but she really needs to do the math on this. Your loans start accruing as soon as you incur them. That's 2+ years after the first loan is taken, and most law schools (T15) are 60k+ per year, often much more.

If she can honestly take on 250k in debt like that without considering you or your child, I'm just thankful I'm not married to her. I know people who go to Harvard Law (Top 3?) and didn't get Big Law. This is a pure gamble on your family, and I wouldn't risk it.

I'm not downplaying you or her's ability to make it work. That's a given at this point, but you (as an MBA grad) need to do the math dude. It's just not feasible, especially if you want even more kids or if she doesn't like Law School/her job post-school.

Let me also say T15 =/= T5. Bottom tier T15 struggle more than you think, and there'll be over 100 other people in her class, often hundreds. Ugh. I cannot tell you how many friends of mine graduated law school to make pennies.

May 1, 2019

when i was a kid, both my father, and my best friends dad had jobs far away, and we lived separately for a few years with mom. grandparents helped the essentially single parent for those years. Eventually, the dads progressed in their careers and the family reunited.

You both should prioritize your careers...take the kid with you to NY (essentially be a single dad for 2-3 years), and allow the grandparents (and perhaps a nanny) help with the young kid. Let your wife focus on law school with minimal family distractions...and then reunite after she graduates. She can get a job in NY and rejoin the family after law school. Young kids are able to cope with this just fine. You'll visit each other for holidays and when school is not in session. Many have done this...most kids won't remember much from their years before 7-8 yrs old. Not to say that these development years aren't important...but grandparents can help out a lot in these years..and so long as the kids have attention from family who care, they will be just fine. In the old days, lots of kids were raised by grandparents while young parents worked long hours to progress their careers. This is only for a couple years...totally doable.

just google it...you're welcome

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Apr 29, 2019

Everyone talks about how "we need to sacrifice" this is the sacrifice. The distance from the spouse to provide a better future for her, child (and future children). I don't have a rich uncle, no inheritance, we don't want to settle or mediocrity. We should just give up on our dreams because we had a child, nah. What kind of message would that send to our child/children. We understand the cost to the family and are hoping that because our child is young that she would barely remember. Honestly its gonna hurt us more than it would effect our baby. We are being mindful of that part of the equation. Thank you for your message, I appreciate the suggestions and honestly the support.

May 1, 2019

would the east coast grandparents/family realistically be able to help (time) significantly?

just google it...you're welcome

May 3, 2019

I lean more towards this. You move to NYC with kid. She gives the law school thing her best shot. You guys go visit each other as often as you can. You only live once. Although student loan debts are terrible, the statistics are statistics, she is positioning herself for her life. You might bicker but three years will finish and you, her and the kid will walk across that graduation stage. And life will continue. I think the best marriage is when you are free to take some risks to further yourself. Do it now.

When you have two kids under age of 5; that's tricky. One on one with kid and nanny/grandparents, you got this.

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Apr 29, 2019

Thank you for the very encouraging message. My wife and I have had more time to talk about it. This is the option that we are going to pursue. I'm hardly afraid of picking up the slack, her parents are excited about having their grandchild in house and i have never had any problems with her parents(awesome people). Yolo, i already have no regrets, i'm just working on making sure i find ways to encourage her from a distance and help her keep her head in the game. She's a bit emotional already (reasonably so). I've already begun reminder her that we will probably be harder on ourselves about the situation than our child ever could be (will barely remember this phase).

Buckling up for the wild ride that's about to ensue, super dad here I (be)come!

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May 2, 2019

Use your income to invest into businesses that would generate healthy cash flow (Mainly Dividend) to supplement your wife/kids. Buy some more assets that would eventually lead to you not really needing your day job. By the time your kids start needing your attention more (teenage years), you would be there for them. Trust me, a 50k bump won't really make you rich. Double Income from MOM and DAD in addition to other sources of income from stock, real estate and local businesses would really allow you to enjoy your life.

Have you consider temporarily downsizing to save whatever cost you can while still focusing on the kids. The saved money can be used to A. Pay for Law school or B. Invest.

Cash and cash equivalents: $7,286
Financial instruments and other inventory positions owned: $313,129

Apr 29, 2019

Thank you, that is an idea that my wife and I have in the works. I really appreciate this feedback and will absolutely look into this. Good luck with your ventures as well!

May 4, 2019

Take the job in New York, let your wife go to law school. See it as an investment in the future of your family.

But unless you want to avoid this situation again, make sure you and your wife really see eye-to-eye so that the next time there is a similar conflict affecting your careers, you are able to solve it without living apart.

Apr 29, 2019

Preaching to the choir, have already established this is the end of the road regarding similar arrangements in the future.

May 5, 2019

It isn't worth staying in the Midwest for your wife to go to Northwestern... move to NY and she can go to NYU or CLS or something. Be closer to the rest of family

Apr 29, 2019

I think the hope is to transfer(hard to do and not guaranteed), would totally delay but wouldn't want to eat up more time to start her career while being unproductive. She would want to have more children in the meantime and feels like it would make it even harder moving forward.

May 6, 2019

EDIT: I'll leave my exhaustion-fueled rant below but it doesn't fully reflect my current thoughts on the situation.

So I'm actually in IBD and a dad of a 2 year old daughter and have a working wife in finance so I'm pretty fucking qualified to give my opinion. Don't split up by any means necessary.

Fuck, fuck, fuck. Dude whoever is telling you to split up your family is totally insane and definitely doesn't have kids. You will be irreparably harming your child for $ peanuts when you should just come to a conclusion about who's taking the hit and stay together as a family. The three years before kindergarten are an incredibly crucial time for learning and development, and that will basically determine the trajectory of their life. You owe it to them to give them two parents.

Jesus, man, even if you were divorced I wouldn't recommend moving out of state. I'm irrationally pissed off that you and your wife would even consider it. It's like a Chinese migrant worker family life where the dad has to move thousands of miles away because that's his only job opportunity, and the wife / kid literally are not allowed to move there because of legal restrictions on relocating families / schools for migrant jobs. In fact it's worse than that because in that scenario the wife is typically stay-at-home so the kid at least has a full time parent. Nobody would willingly choose to have that unless your absolute survival as a family was in jeopardy.

Your upside of this plan is not fantastic - ok she has a high powered job (that you're going to relocate for? or not? what if her only job opp is still in a different city?) and has lost 3 years with her only child. Meanwhile the downside is immense - 3 years lost with your child, tons of debt, no job / not a great job / only a job in a different city, and you're back to less than square 1 with a kid that has lived without her mommy for more years than has lived with her mommy. Do you have any clue how sad those fucking Facetime calls are going to be? (I don't even like missing dinner and bedtime with my family and I see my daughter every single morning and weekend). And how much pressure your wife will be under now that the entire plan revolves around her school and job performance while not being around for her daughter? Your wife after spending 2 years full time with your daughter is going to buckle after a month without much less years; her day-to-day is going to get totally upended and she will have no husband or kid nearby for support. Not to mention the pressure you will be under taking care of a kid as a single dad / only breadwinner and supporting law school debt; imagine how much fun your future performance reviews are going to be and if you fuck anything up in the new NYC job. Woof, fuck me, I personally would much rather relocate and work as a retail banker than be in that scenario.

Neither of you should resent each other over career opportunities. Life throws curve balls, your dreams sometimes need to fit reality, and that's ok. Most of us have peasant ancestors who didn't have "career prospects" but at least spent time together and lived a humble and happy life. It's amazing to me how our society fucks us into believing that this modern material lifestyle is necessary. Trust me your daughter would rather grow up in a studio apartment with two parents working trade school jobs, and in fact so might you.

Compared to this ludicrous split idea, it's so much laughably easier for you to simply just recruit to any other relevant job in the city where she is going to school, or alternatively for her to apply to another school in NYC. Your decision but it's not one I could make in good conscience for my own family.

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Apr 29, 2019
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