Dear Rabbi and Susan,
We have an opportunity to increase our family income by double. We currently make about 40K a year between my husband and I.
I was accepted into a one year program that would give me the skills and connections to make between 50-80k a year myself excluding my husbands income. We would have to move about 500 miles away from our families and where we were both born but only for a year and then we could decide where to go after that.
My husband doesn’t want me to accept. He isn’t one for change and hates California, he doesn’t want to live there even for a year… I want to honor him and I understand that making more than him could cause some strain on our marriage… am I wrong for wanting this? I’m trying not to be bitter… but I’ve always been a bit ambitious and the idea of turning this opportunity down has caused me some internal struggle.
You sound like a sincere and sensitive woman who is trying her hardest to cope with a difficult challenge. Our usual disclaimer applies even more to you and your dilemma: Since we don’t know any of our ‘Ask the Rabbi’ letter-writers personally we can hope only to raise discussion points that will be helpful along with perhaps a few considerations that you may not have yet contemplated. We also have great confidence in our readers and know that they often contribute valuable comments. We always read them with great interest.
You clearly recognize many of the valid concerns involved, including some that conflict with one another. You are aware of the need to respect your husband and of the potential threat to your marriage that earning more than he does can impose. You are also aware of the importance of every individual, man or woman, making the most of his or her talents, abilities and opportunities.
A number of things are unclear from your letter. You mention that between you both, you earn $40K. Is that half each? Or is it mostly your husband’s earnings or mostly yours? A joint income of $40,000 doesn’t go very far these days, yet you don’t suggest that you are struggling. Is your husband on a path to higher earnings or is he content with things as they are? Do you feel that you are more ambitious than he is?