His Low Career Drive Upsets Her

Q: I've been married for 12 years and have two daughters, 8 and 4. I love that my husband is a great family man, both responsible and loving, but what I don't see is the professional drive he used to have when we first met. We're both attorneys, I'm on hiatus now to be with the girls, and I'm fully aware he's been carrying the major financial load.

My concern is that he seems to be content where he's at, and I think at 42, he's in his prime earning years, that we have our later years for "contentment." Our colleagues are all advancing, as he should be, given the track he was on. I love him and I'm not prepared to end my marriage over this, but I think I've lost some respect for him on a professional level. — Beth, 40

Dr. Susan: Who we think our mates are when we first marry them often turns out not to be who they are a decade later. You must feel extra pressure because your husband is working for both of you, in a manner of speaking, as you're staying home now. And because you're in the same field as he is, you are sharply aware of what he might be achieving career-wise.

You need to consider, however, that your husband is content when many other men with his skills feel driven to put in extraordinary hours at work. Even beyond that, you seem to think it's possible, even advisable, to postpone contentment for some much later date. Your husband has found a balance that works for him now, providing the family with pretty good financial backing and himself with the satisfaction of blending work and family time. I'd consider respecting him for not being driven by materialistic goals to the exclusion of everything else. Meanwhile, discuss with him which joint plans for the future you believe may be impacted by his actions or inaction.

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