Q: I was laid off from my job several months ago and quickly realized that I want to pursue a new type of job, rather than continuing what I’ve been doing for the last decade. But my partner says now is not a good time for a career transition and that I should stick to my current industry to better compete for available openings. This is becoming a growing source of tension between us. What can I do to gain his support for my transition plan?
A: While you don’t want to base your decision on other’s perceptions or the need for their acceptance, you do want to remain open to suggestions from people who know you best, especially your partner. These points of view can help to generate ideas, provide perspective and give food for thought to assess the merits and potential outcomes of our options.
One of the important words in your question is “plan.” It is critical that you define a realistic goal for your transition and establish a solid plan of action. Anxiety and frustration can escalate when a lack of clarity and direction contributes to a sense of lost time and status quo.
If your partner has a clear understanding of your goal and the steps involved in the process, he is much more likely to support your efforts. Then collaboration can replace potential friction. Here are a few points to consider:
Involving him in the creation of your transition plan will allow you to convey the level of thought you’ve put into your strategy, while reinforcing your partnership. This also gives him a chance to address some of his questions and concerns. It is natural for him to be thinking about how your plans will impact him and your life together and issues including financial implications, longer work hours and more travel.
Maintain open lines of communication with your partner and don’t shut him off or assume he knows what you’re thinking and doing. Discuss what is going through your mind—your ideas, fears, obstacles, information gathering and strategic planning—and truly listen to his reactions. Remember that active listening is a major component to communication. By keeping your partner in the loop you reinforce the value of his continued support.
Update your personal marketing materials and line up the resources needed for your exploration and search. This demonstrates that you are serious about finding a new career role. Then routinely ask your partner for his input surrounding the weekly activities involved in your action plan. You will likely get genuine buy-in from your partner if you elicit his feedback.
Make time to share your successes, no matter how small. When you have a good day, make a solid connection or uncover a promising lead, acknowledge the progress. By sharing and celebrating the accomplishments along the way, ideas become real, your plan is further validated, and you remind yourself that a goal is in fact within reach.
Be aware that your drive and passion can quickly turn into a fixation. Remember it can’t be all about you, your needs and your goal. Make time to share and discuss what is going on in your partner’s work life each week. Again, this reinforces your partnership and open communication.
If there are other underlying issues causing tension in your relationship, don’t be afraid to seek assistance from a professional. A qualified counselor, one experienced in counseling LGBT couples, can help sort out critical issues, assess behavior and put the two of you on a path toward understanding and positive change.
Consider these resources for additional perspectives: