Saturday, October 15, 2005

"How Can You Let Her Take Such A Big Pay Cut?"

If I had a nickel for every time I've heard that question in the last 3 weeks, my wife wouldn't be taking much of a pay cut at all.

To bring everyone up to speed, here's the deal. My wife is leaving her cushy (if unrewarding and somewhat dead-ended) job, to pursue a career that is limited only by her ambition, creativity and capacity for hard work. And yeah, she's going to start at less than half of what she's currently pulling down.

As her final day at the old job (this past Friday, the 14th) approached, even my co-workers were asking me the above question, and it's bothered me every time. Bothered me not because the question hits close to home (which it doesn't), but because I never wasted too much time figuring out other people's attitudes about money. The question bothers me because to ask it means you don't really know me or my wife very well despite 4-5 years working together, and it means you don't understand our relationship, either. I don't let my wife do anything; we do things together, figuratively speaking. Decisions were made and discussions were had, the same as would happen when deciding on a restaurant or whether sex is on for tonight.

So Friday comes, and I show up at the wife's office to join in her Big Send-off. After all, this is also my last day to have regular contact with these people I've known for years. Are her (now former) co-workers gonna miss her? Absolutely. She definitely leaves an imprint wherever she works, and not just through her work ethic (which is spectacular) or her generally pleasant demeanor (which runs the gamut from funny to firecracker).

But, rather than focus on how sad they were that Sandy was exiting the job, they instead fell right in line with just about everyone else and turned their attention and queries to me.

How can you let her take such a big pay cut?

Let me be clear on this: We're both huge fans of money and the kind of ridiculous things you can buy with it. From Hello Kitty Laundry Baskets to buying 2 copies of the same comic book just because they had two different covers, we can blow through money with the best of 'em.

And really, neither one of us are so idealistic as to say things like "you should only do a job you love." But to be confused as to how I can blithely put my wife's happiness and personal growth and satisfaction ahead of Big Money is befuddling, to be honest. I can't recall any moments in my own work or school history that make me feel as content or as fufilled as watching the results of my wife's hard work pay off in what seems like minutes. The salary was the last question I had when she broached the subject of taking a job in her field of study (and I'm not even sure I actually asked it), after watching in awe as she willingly signed up for 14 hour shifts of Day Job/Night Class/Studying. After watching her get offered a job 8 weeks before she could even get professionally certified to do the job. I certainly don't see the catch in jumping into a career where the sky's the limit, even if the money's not great in the short term. Hell, if her enthusiastic work to this point is any indication, she might be my Sugar Mama a year from now.

How can you let her take such a big pay cut?

How could I not?


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