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Jon & Kate: Would You Give Up a Job for Your Marriage?

When the divorce of Jon & Kate Gosselin of Jon & Kate Plus Eight was trending on Twitter, one of best reactions I saw was:

Jon & Kate should have quit their show before they quit their marriage.

I agreed with the sentiment and have said before that you couldn’t pay me enough to do a reality show of my life (maybe to be on someone else’s show for a specified period…). Yet what Jon & Kate did in keeping their show even when it seemed to be exacerbating the strain on their marriage is the same thing that many Americans do every day. It’s just that most Americans do it at their ordinary jobs, rather than on national television.

It seems to me that the Gosselins kept their show because they wanted two things–security and celebrity (or perhaps celebrity and security). And while most of us don’t want (or get, anyway) celebrity, we do want security and we want to succeed. At the root, we share the same motivations that kept them on the show.

So, what is it that keeps you in a job and how far would you go to get/keep one?

Celebrity Through Work

We’re not all celebrities, but most of us want to be successful at our jobs. We may define success differently–some want to climb to the top of the organization, some want to be celebrities in the field, some just want to retire early.

The drive to succeed has ruined many a marriage, often through sheer neglect of the relationship. One spouse, or both, puts in more and more hours, the couple sees less and less of each other and the marriage dies.

What drives people to put so much work into their job that they neglect the rest of their lives? I think it’s a combination of factors, probably different in every case. But at the root are the association of a person’s job with their personal worth, a need for success and recognition, and a feeling that by succeeding at their job they can guarantee safety for themselves and the people they’re supporting.

Security Through Work

I think it all comes down to an issue of security and a fear of scarcity/poverty. Jon and Kate, for example, have eight kids–including sextuplets. While many families have raised that many kids, it’s rarely been with so many clustered in the same age group. Often older ones have been able to care for younger ones.

In ending their tv show, the Gosselins would have cut off their children’s main financial support. They would have cut off their own financial support. This money could perhaps have started college funds for the kids. It could have prevented spending money on childcare–a drain on families with even one or two kids. And perhaps it will, since they plan to keep the show running even after they’re divorced.

Is Getting Security Through Work Bad?

No, our jobs do provide us a certain amount of financial security. There are times when keeping a job really may be the best thing for a marriage in the long run, even if it strains in the short term. When a job starts causing trouble, it’s important for a couple to look at the situation together and evaluate the benefits and the costs.

It’s great to excel at your job. It’s great to get promotions and raises that help you care for yourself and your family. But the Gosselins remind us that too many people stay at a job and don’t change their approach even when it’s become quite clear that their relationship is in danger.

How far would you go to get a job in this economy?

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Good Reading This Past Week » JoeTaxpayer
July 12, 2009 at 8:03 am

{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

Adam July 6, 2009 at 9:32 am

Since I am going to be about 2 1/2 hours away for my job starting in August, it is going to be a big strain on our new marriage. We know it’s going to be tough and we have talked about it a great deal. That is one of the main things to keep in mind. You must be in constant contact with your spouse so you know if something is wrong.

If the job that I am taking hurts our marriage, I will be working very hard to get a transfer or find something closer to home. If it comes to it, I will quit rather than risk our life commitment to each other.

Adam’s last blog post: We’re In Debt: $150,679 In Debt To Be Exact

Vered - MomGrind July 6, 2009 at 1:37 pm

Money is important. I agree with you that choosing money over a relationship is a mistake, but I can’t blame people for making that mistake.

Vered – MomGrind’s last blog post: Retouching As An Act Of Kindness

Vikki C July 6, 2009 at 2:38 pm

I am (was) a huge fan or the show, but I am very disappointed in the decisions they made. Of course, we don’t know everything that was involved, but it does seem like they chose money over their marriage. They received so many free things on the show, I am just surprised that marriage counseling was not one of them. My minister always says that there is nothing wrong with having money, the problem is when money has you!!

Vikki C’s last blog post: Save Money: Macy’s One Day Sale

Kristia July 7, 2009 at 1:41 pm

I believe once we realize that God is our “source”, not our jobs, when soon discover that the money will come. While working to support yourself and your family is important, like everything else, it’s temporary. Even at our best, we’re replaceable. Time away from family is time lost. Quality time with family is priceless. We should never put our employers before our loved ones…they don’t.

Kristia’s last blog post: Raising Talented Kids

Dan Holt: Laid Off July 7, 2009 at 7:43 pm

I would never give up my wife and sons for any amount of money.

However, I think the show was not enough of a factor to divorce. They were incompatible, and it seemed that John was strained more by the Kate plus eight than the show. Thus the John plus girlfriend.

Zella July 11, 2009 at 3:00 pm

I would absolutely choose my career over marriage. Ultimately, I have to look out for me, and my career is going to afford me the fiscal independence that I need, married or not. Anyone who is going to hold me back is not going to be with me for long.

Zella’s last blog post: Metal and Marriage

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