Do unhappy careers contribute to unhappy marriages?

“My job is ruining my marriage.” said Alan, a sales rep for manufacturing company based in New London County, CT. “I’m on the road a great deal. I’m under pressure. I drink too much. I’m grumpy all the time.” he continued. 

I realize that some career coaches would take a tougher approach and tell Alan that he had to take personal responsibility for his marriage.  To a point, I agree. But I also know that jobs change people.  In Alan’s case, he had been a fun loving guy who didn’t snap at his wife. He now was a stressed guy who did. To his credit, he realized that he was to blame, not his wife. And, to his larger credit, he realized that he had to change jobs because he couldn’t figure out how to be happy in his current job. 

Alan’s case made me think of a great guy I knew in college. Always smiling, positive, and kind-hearted. When I see him at reunions, he’s not that guy anymore. At our last reunion, he approached me because he had heard that I wrote a book on career issues. “I’ve been stressed for 15 years.” he said. “I don’t know what to do. It is affecting everything, including my marriage.” 

I realize that “change careers” is too simplistic an answer. But if your unhappy career is ruining your otherwise good marriage, then there is no other choice.