How did you decide whose career was more important?

I found this question on several Wedding Forums.  Let us know what you think.

On a lot of waiting, engaged and long distance threads, I see over and over again the vital importance of discussing important life decisions and values with your partner before you get engaged/married. One of these topics is inevitably around careers, place and (re?)location.

Particularly for long distance couples, when you and your partner had these talks, how did you decide whose career was more important? As in, who gets greater weight in deciding where to move, what opportunity to move for, who will take on housework/caregiving roles, decisions about child raising, etc. Was it an intentional decision based on salary, personal ambition, and/or other factors, or was it more of a “we’ll see as we go” type of approach depending on what opportunities arise? Did you ever decide, ok, for now I will follow you, but later you have to follow me? Is it ever that tit-for-tat, or is that a generally terrible way of making decisions?

Personally, my career field is such that I will pretty much always earn less than what my SO will make, unless something drastically changes like he decides to go back for a PhD (which he is loosely considering someday in the future). Hence, I don’t have a lot of leveraging power there. We are both equally ambitious, but there aren’t many places where both of us would have ideal career opportunities. I can see the benefits of playing things by ear and seeing how things go, but SO really wants to settle down somewhere affordable where we can buy a house within the next couple of years. So we are at this crossroads of making a decision. At this point we are also committed to each other and I would find it very odd to leave someone I love simply because of location. Also, even though he earns more than me, he also has debt, which means we cannot afford to not be not be a dual-income household and still maintain a semi-decent standard of living.

For all the dualy career-driven, ambitious (and at some point maybe long distance) couples out there, how did you decide whose career was more important? Are you happy with your decision? Were there unintended consequences? Were you surprised at the outcome (pleasantly or otherwise)?


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