How to Discuss Career Relocation with your Spouse

Moving is one of the top five stressors in life. Add to that, starting a new job and relocating to a new city, you have several extremely stressful life events happening all at once that not only affect you but your entire family. Whether you intentionally applied for a job or are being transferred, effective communication with your spouse will help make the transition smoother and can decrease strain on your relationship brought on by stress. Here are some tips for approaching the career relocation discussion with your spouse.

Go over your relocation package together.

Dive into this possible adventure as a team. Know all the details about what support package the company has to help your family transition before you talk. Once you know what your company is offering, go over the package with your spouse to discuss pros and cons. Figure out why the job matters to you and how the move could benefit your spouse and family. Don’t be afraid to ask your employer or potential employer for a few weeks to make a decision, relocation is a huge step and affects your entire family, so don’t rush into it no matter how amazing the job sounds.

Remind your spouse that they have a voice.

Open the door for discussion by saying something like, “They offered me that job in Seattle. What do you think about that?”

Acknowledging that this is a joint decision lets your partner know that their opinion carries equal weight. If your spouse agrees to move, they would be considered a trailing partner (those who have moved primarily because of their spouse’s new job or life opportunity). Trailing partners can find themselves holding on to resentment when they don’’t feel like moving was their choice. Do everything in your power to keep all communication as open and honest as possible to avoid any resentment, which can be rooted in blame and powerlessness. Encourage your spouse to make all of their concerns clear before making any decisions.

Suggest a trip

If you are seriously considering accepting a relocation offer, then taking a trip with your spouse to visit the city is a must. Create a priority list – easy commute to work, hip restaurant scene, local church, professional sports, good schools, etc. – together before the trip of what you’re looking for in a city or neighborhood, and try to locate those things within your city. Visit your potential hometown, investigate the job market, check out schools, figure out which neighborhoods you could see yourself living in. Do some test runs on commutes to the office from potential neighborhoods you’re considering. Get a sense of what life would actually be like. Don’t make the mistake of assuming you would love a city or a neighborhood based on other’s opinions.

Take your spouse’s career into consideration.

The term “trailing spouse” is real, and if you are asking your partner to consider relocating, remember to keep their careers in mind as well. If you’re a trailing spouse, you may be able to get job placement assistance from your spouse’s employer when the company relocates your family. Discuss what the options are for your spouse. Are they going to look for a new job? Are they willing to uproot their career? What do their career opportunities look like once you’ve relocated? Is it possible for them to work remotely? If they are not able to work in your new city, what will that financial adjustment look like for your family? Most importantly, acknowledge they are agreeing to a huge change in their careers and/or lifestyles if they agree to relocate and realize that this is as much of, if not more of a transition for them as it is for you.

Career relocation is not a discussion or decision to be taken lightly. It uproots you and your family from comfortability – what is safe and known – but it also provides new experiences and opportunities to grow. Communication, honesty, and empathy are the key factors that will enable you and your spouse make the right decision for your career and your family.

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