A little later in the fall, I was offered a job. It was a job that I had, in a bit of frustration with my current job, applied to. I sent my resume off into the dark black void of the internet and didn’t think I’d hear anything back. I only applied to the one job and I did it on the spur of the moment. There was no planning, no trying, no redoing the resume… I just applied. Well, shortly thereafter I received a phone call from someone with the company saying they’d like to meet with me and discuss the position. I thought, what can it hurt? So I said sure. I went for a 20 minute meeting with the individual that supervises the position and about 4 or 5 others in the department. I didn’t try hard, I just answered their questions politely, thanked them for their time and I was on my way. It was really informal and I left thinking it went well and that it was a good experience. I chalked it up to just seeing what’s out there and staying in practice for interviewing (should I ever truly need to get serious about finding a job).
Well, within a day I had a job offer. I thought to myself how incredible this was to have not even tried and here I find myself with a wonderful opportunity. With so many people struggling these days (The Ex included) in this poor economy, I found myself very blessed to be caught between two great situations. Stay with my current job (which is really great despite the occasional frustration) and this new, exciting opportunity that also came with a much larger salary and more opportunity for advancement.
Well, I took a weekend to weigh the pros and cons, think every angle through, figure out how much change would be required in my life for me to take the job offer and decide if I was alright with the change. I was in the middle of planning a wedding and a new life with someone and so I was allowing that to factor into my decision as well, I mean how much change did I really want to take on at once? The Ex and I discussed it a good bit and he seemed supportive of whichever decision I made. He seemed to genuinely be excited for me. I felt a little guilty talking it over with him since he had not yet had any luck with getting his career off the ground and here I was getting a job offer so easily. But I kept trying to tell myself, that this is what life is and this is how a relationship is supposed to be, we support each other through all successes and failures and he should be able to handle this as long as I approached it considerately and respectfully.
Despite all the wonderful pros to the position, I did decide at the end of the weekend that there was too much change going on for me with the upcoming wedding and marriage and so I politely declined the offer on Monday morning. Then, not 24 hours later, I received another call with another offer, a sweeter deal. They upped the salary, the vacation, told me how flexible the schedule could be, etc, etc, etc… I must admit, this was completely tempting. The salary alone was twice my current salary and I thought of how much I could save for a future home and property, for future children’s college tuitions, for retirement, etc… I also thought about how quickly I could pay off The Ex’s debt. So I asked if I could think about the new offer overnight. They generously agreed.
As I’ve mentioned before (see post), The Ex was bringing a lot of debt into our marriage. School loans, car loans, credit card debt, and there turned out to be even more that I did not even find out about until right before the end. As I do in everything in life, I was ready assume his debt, I was ready to fix everything. Just let me get a plan together and I’ll make it work. I want to make our lives good and easy and so I’ll get it all figured out. I’m a problem-solver, a fixer, an individual that too easily gets wrapped up in other’s problems and quickly takes control of the situation relieving the person with the problem of all responsibility whatsoever. And I was doing this in this situation as well. After initially turning the offer down, I was reconsidering after receiving an even better offer because I thought I could solve The Ex’s debt problems. Thereby, in my mind, I would be helping myself as well since we would be joining our lives together in less than a year. Sounds reasonable, right?
As I chatted with my mother that night about the higher offer, I casually mentioned how great it would be to have the higher salary to pay off The Ex’s debt faster. And then she said it best when she told me that I could not just take a job because I felt complete responsibility to provide for the relationship. That if I did that now, it would set the tone for our entire marriage and I’d always be the more responsible one to carry the heavy burden of providing for us, that I would allow the opportunity for us to never be equal partners. And, she said, I should only take the job if I really and truly felt I was doing it for myself and the change and opportunity that it would provide me was acceptable to me. She continued to say that The Ex should take responsibility for his own debt and be actively considering and exploring ways of alleviating as much of that as possible before we were married. And that even after the wedding, he should be the one with the higher concern about paying it all off. She mentioned that it was fine for me to be supportive and to even help to some degree, but that he had to realize his debt was HIS debt and HIS responsibility and that he couldn’t expect me to take care of it.
She was right. She’s a wise woman. The only part she didn’t really cover as deeply is that I have to learn to let go and let other people be in charge of themselves, their actions, and their responsibilities. Without me letting go, The Ex (or anyone else I become entangled with) will never learn how to do it for themselves and they will always use me and take advantage of my abilities to resolve their outstanding issues. Then, they’ll come to expect me to do it and if I falter, I fail them. They can then blame me. I will then be at complete fault since I absorbed complete responsibility. It’s a nasty cycle. This bad habit I have also prevents me from seeing one’s true character. If I’m planning everything, taking care of everything… then I never get to see what the other person can do (or can’t do OR more importantly, WON’T do) and then I find myself being blindsided by the truth that lies beneath when it finally does surface.
But I also don’t really think he expected me to take care of it (at least not at this point), but because I am such a responsible person, a planner, a problem-solver, I did make it easy for him to not care as much. Because I was constantly brainstorming about how to pay down the debt, he didn’t have to and I do think he got pretty comfortable with that. This trend continued to grow, he already had become very accustomed to me doing everything else (planning trips and outings, selecting dinner, planning the wedding, etc…) and he had backed off of providing ideas, thoughts, plans, solutions, or even, at times, topics of basic conversation. He was showing very little motivation in anything and I was becoming frustrated.
I declined the job offer for the second time, but with hesitation. I didn’t know if I was declining because of all the change in my life that was going on already or because I had the words of my mother echoing in my mind or simply because I was comfortable at my current job of 12 years and the thought of taking a risk and going elsewhere was a little scary. It was probably a mixture of all three. But nonetheless, I declined. Goodbye bigger salary, goodbye new experience, goodbye opportunity – maybe I’ll see you around again one day…
But I really felt at peace with the decision overall. It did make me realize that I’m a pretty marketable job seeker and I’m worth a good bit out there in the world with the unique skill set I have developed over the years. And it never hurts your confidence when a job offer comes your way, so I was happy with the decision and it proved to be a good learning experience as well.
The Ex though, started to struggle (or maybe I just started to notice it more). I don’t know if it was my decision not to take the job (despite the fact he was encouraging me to stay at my current job) or simply the fact that I had better luck in the very same job market that he had struggled with for years and then to add insult to injury, it was an offer at a much higher salary than he would probably ever be able to pull in by himself. Either way he was becoming uneasy. His lack of motivation to help me with things started to be glaring moments of discordance between us. His moments of sweetness were becoming fewer and fewer and being replaced with more and more moments of sensitivity, jealousy, and an underlying frustration and anger that I was only beginning to truly experience… to be continued…