Dear Penny: Do I Owe It to My Husband to Support His Endless Job Hopping?
My husband cannot stay at one job long enough to benefit him. It seems like every six months to a year, he is finding a new place to work.
I know why he does it. It’s to make more money now, or he isn’t happy with the people he works with. He always comes home and talks about the person he doesn’t get along with. Most of the time, I think he overdramatizes things and takes stuff out of context.
It really stresses me out because I know he is a hard worker, but it’s frustrating to wonder if it will get him fired or the grass may not be greener on the other side. It could really put us in a financial bind one day.
I’m happy that hasn’t happened yet and he is in a field that is always hiring people, but I know that day may come. I really want to be his support and a person to talk to about how he feels. But he vents more about other people and what they did wrong instead of seeing the whole picture.
It is getting to the point that I want to tell him that I don’t want to hear about his troubles at work, but I don’t want to push him away either. I have my own agenda I have to deal with, and I feel like right now we are on completely separate paths to our future. What do I do?
You don’t say what you do for work, but you have a full-time job as your husband’s unpaid therapist. You’re clearly exhausted.
I think the job hopping and constant complaining are two separate problems. Both pertain to a much bigger problem, which is that you’re married to a really difficult person.
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Let’s address the job hopping first. Your financial concerns are valid. Though job hopping no longer carries the stigma it once did, particularly in the midst of the Great Resignation, having nothing but six-month stints doesn’t look good on a resume.
Job hopping often does result in a higher salary, but switching every three to four years tends to be best for maximizing pay. Plus, it sounds like your husband burns bridges instead of building relationships. I doubt he has a professional network he could lean into if he found himself out of work.
But I don’t think this is about money. Not for you and not for your husband. He could find a job that pays triple or quadruple his salary, and guess what? He’d still be unhappy. Even the best-paying jobs come with colleagues who annoy us from time to time. And no amount of financial security will change the fact that you’re sick of hearing the broken record that is your husband night after night.
You can’t change his actions, but you can change the way you react to him. Specifically, you can refuse to be his 24/7 sounding board.
I’d try approaching him when he’s calm and not complaining. Be honest and tell him that you’re drained by hearing the daily blow-by-blows of his troubles at work. Tell him that you’ll give him 10 minutes to vent each day. That’s it. Set a timer.
When he goes over, change the subject. When that doesn’t work, leave the room. Or go for a walk. This is going to be a difficult line to draw, especially since your husband believes the world is against him. But you’re not an unsupportive spouse if you put limits on how much you can take.
It might be helpful if your husband can define what, exactly, he hopes to get out of work. Does he really think a job exists where he’ll never be annoyed by a colleague? Is there any salary that would satisfy him? If so, what financial goals does he hope to accomplish if he were actually able to earn that much?
Some people chase the biggest possible paycheck or they take penny pinching to the extreme. Yet they never pause to ask themselves at what point they’ll actually be happy.
If your husband is willing, I’d suggest he talk these issues over with a therapist. You might also benefit from talking to a therapist on your own. I keep circling back to the end of your letter where you say, “I feel like right now we are on completely separate paths to our future.” It’s worth unpacking that further.
Is it really enough for your husband to stop complaining and stick with job? Or do you want out? Because I have trouble believing that your husband’s issues are limited to the workplace.
I certainly don’t begrudge anyone for quitting their jobs, whether it’s because they have a better opportunity or their current job is a nightmare. But if your husband finds that every job is a nightmare, he needs to look at the common denominator. In this case, that’s him.
Robin Hartill is a certified financial planner and a senior writer at The Penny Hoarder. Send your tricky money questions to [email protected].
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