New Post has been published on http://sheiselsewhere.mosdave.com/2014/06/04/the-two-body-problem/
The two body problem
I am a scientist who is married to a scientist, and this situation, which is not uncommon among my peer group, causes what is known as the two body problem. The sad truth is that you don’t get to pick where you live when you’re a PhD in a specialized field because, well, there just aren’t a lot of jobs for every specialty in every region of a country. I mostly hear this term applied to the academic job hunt, where if both partners want to be a professor, chances are they would have to work at the same university, thus requiring a lot of maneuvering by the hiring department to get a job for the “trailing spouse” in their appropriate department.
What I didn’t necessarily consider is that this is equally true of PhD jobs in non-academic positions. Here’s an interactive map to illustrate that point. I am in the medical sciences, which according to the map, means I have a way better chance of being employed on either coast. However, my husband is in conservation science, meaning that he has a better shot at employment basically anywhere but the coasts. Also, he does work in large urban areas, so by process of elimination you might be able to figure out where we live given that he has an amazing job that he loves, and I’m struggling greatly to even find things to apply for.
My husband is infinitely supportive of me, and we have generally made decisions based on prospective income vs. cost of living, but because he’s a few years ahead of me in his career and he has a penis, I don’t have great odds of coming up with a job offer that would be good enough for us to move away from a job he loves, where he makes more money given that if we move to a geographic region that is more suitable for me, he probably will have a hard time finding a job. It just doesn’t make any sense financially. I had an opportunity to move to one of the coasts for a job that seemed like a good starter job, but didn’t pay a salary that could have supported both of us, so I didn’t take it. Sometimes I regret it, some times I don’t, but at the time it made sense, because I still had my post doc at the time. Soon, the math might look very different.
The first time I tried to publish this post, it had a very different ending. It was about me feeling trapped here, and I finished the last paragraph basically bawling my eyes out. However, things are looking up potentially.
BUT I am on the precipice of receiving a job offer from a university in the place where my husband grew up. It is not on a coast and is actually in one of the places where he has a better chance of finding a job. It’s actually a really cool position: basically a science liaison between the library and university researchers to solve their data problems. I don’t know the specifics of the offer yet, but it’s technically a faculty position with all the associated benefits etc. I imagine that there will be some hard conversations coming up about our future. I think we’ve both already agreed that I will move out there alone for a time, possibly living with his parents, but I’m hoping that he will be so jealous that I get to live in his homeland that he will follow close behind.
I’m so glad I waited to post this until I had a better ending to this story.