Spousal Issues with Success
January 11, 2017 at 10:16 am #1435326
My hopefully last exam is next Wednesday and instead of focusing on studying I'm worrying about my husband and his pipedream of going to law school. He will be 40 in July and he seems to think that his 15 year career as a police lieutenant is demeaning and he should pursue his dream. When he first brought this up he had planned to finish the masters degree that he is currently doing (paid for by the police dept), but now he just wants to take the LSAT and get going lol. Problems with his plan are that we have two children, one headed to college next year, the borrowings that come with law school-most likely out of state tuition!, and the fact that I’m sure he can’t work at all first year and we don’t have the savings to cover that kind of loss. I’m sure that I will receive a raise upon passing the exam but it will be nominal and not enough to cover his salary, the other choice is to find other employment which is difficult in our area because it involves commuting and our other child will only be 8 so not really an option. His plan past law school gets even better, he wants to immediately open his own office, problem with that is he has NO self motivation so the income stream will not be anywhere near lawyer income. Over the 20 years that we’ve been married he’s come up with some ideas, but this one beats all the others. Anyone else have a spouse or significant other that has questioned their own career path as you’ve advanced in yours?January 11, 2017 at 10:26 am #1435340
This is really tough to respond to…and I sure don't have any easy/good answers!
My father went to law school later in life – mid-30s – but I think it was cheaper then, and I think he may have had support from his job (I'm NOT sure) as a teacher. I know he was able to take a sabbatical for at least one year. He took night-law school. Maybe that's a compromise?
FWIW, he stayed a teacher and practiced only a little…but it was a great achievement that made him happier, and he made some extra $$$ in retirement.
My wife comes up with stuff that I poo poo now and again…she's the risk taking, creative one…I'm the dream killing pragmatist. In the end…I will support whatever she wants, but we also don't have kids and she has a safety net. She encouraged me to take a pay cut and do the CPA prep/accounting, but I spent, all in, maybe 15k for the extra 36 credits, exam prep, books and exams. I probably lost another 40k in salary. That may get you through a semester at most law schools.
I guess I'd try not to squash his dream, but I would continue to be practical. Check to see if there are some cheaper law school options. I would have probably done law school rather than accounting if the investment wasn't SO extreme.January 11, 2017 at 10:40 am #1435356
@aaronmo I'm the same way with my wife. She will come up with these ideas about this or that and I'm the one that has to bring her back to reality.
@cpasomedaymaybe This really isn't an easy one to answer and I know that my situation fails in comparison to what your's. My wife was in school to become an LPC (Licenses Professional Counselor). Her dream was to work with teens, battered women and addicts. However, she had to quit that because of some personal reasons. It killed me to see her not being able to go after her dreams; however, she has provided me with the best support that I have ever gotten through this hell (the CPA Exam). I guess see if there's a way to balance out the two would be my guess. There's some schools that do night school or maybe see if he can do I haven't personally been in this situation. I would have done medical school for a pharmacist rather than accounting but just way too steep of an investment. Hope this helps.January 11, 2017 at 10:50 am #1435361
But here's the thing…sometimes her ideas are really, really good, and she just needs fine tuning…and her nature let's her do things I can't do. It's not one partner being practical and the other being crazy…it's two people with different strengths helping one another. Eventually I'll have my own practice, and I guarantee you that it will make more money because of her.
I wouldn't have done the CPA/accounting switch without her encouragement. I wouldn't have completed it without her either.January 11, 2017 at 10:52 am #1435365
I am having a hard time with this also, don’t want to tell him no straight out, but trying to keep him focused on the pros and cons of the situation. I really just want him to be happy, but realistic about the whole situation. His original idea, which I was fully onboard with, was to finish the Masters in Public Administration paid for by the PD and continue to work while getting a PHD because his ultimate goal was to be a professor. I thought that was a great idea because he could continue to work while in school, which would mean less loan funding, and it would give him either residual income while working or a new career if he so chooses. Right now he is in line to be the training Captain at the police department, but to get to that gig he must wait for others to reach retirement and get their spot. I understand that he’s frustrated, but my practical side really wants his LSAT score to fall short or his applications to the two most local law schools to fall through so he has to go with his original plan.January 11, 2017 at 11:00 am #1435368
And for the record, he's been very supportive through all my studying and griping. I don't know what I'd do without him. He's a wonderful person both inside and out, I would love for him to find happiness in his career path, I'm just looking at it from the accountants perspective and payback/opportunity costs don't seem in line at our point in life.January 11, 2017 at 11:09 am #1435373
The opening up a practice out of law school is probably the most unrealistic piece of this.
With his job, he likely knows many attorneys. I'd try and set up a dinner party…or connect him with…attorney mentor-ship so that he gets a realistic picture of cost/opportunity. It's also VERY different when you enter these paths later in life…you're competing with a whole bunch of conventional path kids that are more clear fits. I'm not sure what your job environment is, but here…lawyers are a dime a dozen, and many are struggling. The ones doing well are conventional path, made law review, and/or had connections.
I really wanted to do law school…I had the LSATs to do what I wanted at a top school…but an honest appraisal said bad move.January 11, 2017 at 1:32 pm #1435533
My wife is by far the more conservative of the 2 of us. Any change scares the hell out of her.
Have you tried putting pen to paper with him to show the sacrifices you and the kids would have to make in order for him to achieve this goal? As a husband and father, the possible effects my decisions have on my family can make me much more conservative than I'd like to be. He likely loves you and the kids and doesn't want you to suffer for his dreams.
Also, is it possible that your recent success has him a little jealous? Just a question. The male ego is more fragile than we like to admit. Early in our marriage (also 20 years) my wife made more money than I did while I was finishing my undergraduate degree. I hated that feeling.January 11, 2017 at 1:46 pm #1435544
I wish my brother in law had a bit more shame and a more fragile ego…he's been a lay-a-about deadbeat for 7 years while my sister works her tail off and brings home the bacon.
There's NOTHING wrong with being a stay at home dad, or mom, but maybe you should do some dishes? Clean? Cook? Contribute SOMETHING. Sheesh.January 11, 2017 at 2:09 pm #1435560
It's his life let him do what's REASONABLE. (lol) You have to focus on your goal to where his situation doesn't become a road block for delay or procrastination, you have come too far. So hear him out (conversationally) then get back to study. He knows what he want to do, sometimes when the other spouse is pursuing a career or education, it ignites a vision for the other. He has to count the cost of education and time and not just a want. So wish him luck, spell out the pros and cons and move on….listen attentive when he wants to talk but get back to that last exam. Best wishes.January 11, 2017 at 6:05 pm #1435748
Law enforcement is a very demanding career, at any level. I've known very closely people that worked levels from the new guy that just started the day before to the lieutenants and up to the top-dog (Chief/Sheriff). It's constant physical risk, and also constant mental strain. I can't blame him for wanting to look into something else, especially as he gets older, and law is a logical related field if you've been in law enforcement.
Does he get to draw retirement in another x years? It seems like I've heard of retiring after 20 or 25 years on the force being fairly common. If he has something like that just around the corner (say 20 years), it might be worth holding on for.
Otherwise, I'd say it sounds like he needs a change, so encourage him as he looks for a change. Consider what changes you can afford, but if you can't afford it, don't try to make him pick “no”, but try to find a way around it. So, let's say you can't make it without his income for a year, and that's the biggest problem at the moment. Plan out how you could. Could you move to a smaller house? Could you embark on an aggressive savings plan and chart out your progress towards having enough saved to go 1 year without his income? Etc. “Yes” and “No” often aren't the answer that needs to be given, but “here's how”.
If you can sit down together to honestly plan and see it's not going to work, then you can start looking for what else might be a satisfying career change for him. Perhaps becoming a paralegal, and working in a law office for awhile, while watching for new options for law school? Etc. etc.
Hopefully you can find a way to get him what he needs (change) and wants (law), while still making sound financial decisions. 🙂January 11, 2017 at 10:23 pm #1436001
Back in the 1990's, I had a high school science teacher who quit at age 38 to attend Columbia medical school. And when I did jury duty in 2000, one of the people said his friend graduated law school at age 41 and was working as a public defender.
That being said, college was way cheaper back then. It's a lot easier to get a doctor job than a lawyer job. And the public defender lady had to move to the middle of nowhere in CA to get that position.
I would be against law school with only 20 work years remaining. You'll only break even on salary lost those few years and the loans you have to pay back. It's 50K/year at the top law schools.
But at end of the day, it's his life. He may value the degree more than any profit.January 12, 2017 at 6:29 pm #1437383
Thank you all for your input and observations. For now I'm just going to let him ramble and when I do pass my last exam I will prepare a financial analysis for us to look over. Hopefully by spreading it out he will see that he does not need to be a lawyer to be successful, he just needs to find his happiness in a way suited to his strengths. I am not opposed to him venturing into a business with proper planning because I think his true goal in life is to work for himself, we need to find that niche together because lawyers are a dime a dozen here as they are everywhere.
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