New Careerfilter: You used to work with your SO and now you don't
September 15, 2016 8:17 AM   Subscribe

I'm excited for a possible career change over the next few years. I currently work with my SO. Snowflakes inside.

I'm excited to possibly move to a new career field in the next few years. My SO is staying put. We currently spend a lot of time talking about work, our field, our colleagues, etc. Soon, I won't be keeping up with my former field as much, won't know the same colleagues, and won't be in the day-to-day work details.

If you've been in this situation, how did you transition your personal relationship after the working relationship ended?

For people who have never worked with your SO, how do you fill your time together, if you are both very committed to your careers and "live to work" type people?
posted by 3491again to Human Relations (8 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
My partner and I don't work together, and our fields are wildly different. So we have things we have in common that aren't work. Do you and your SO have anything outside of work that you enjoy in common? I'd start concentrating on that, or maybe building some things that are possible for you to start doing/talking about together?
posted by xingcat at 8:31 AM on September 15, 2016

I met my husband at work. We weren't on the same team but on the same floor (I could see his desk if I was standing at mine). We went to work together, we had lunch together, we commuted home together. We talked about work on the way to work and we talked about work at home. It was a LOT of our conversations because we knew the people, the office politics, context so it was easy to have that conversation with each other.

This was for 3 years during which time we got married. Then I got a new job. It was a super exciting opportunity for me but I did joke with my husband "What if working together has been the foundation of our entire relationship and we have nothing to talk about once I leave??"

This is the transition as best as I can remember:

- We talked about his work (my old work) a lot because I still understood the context of the conversation.
- I found that I had to make a lot more effort to talk about my work because I had to give him a lot more context. I have to admit, it was kind of annoying to have to explain so much background information and I found myself not even talking about some things because I couldn't be bothered to explain the history.
- His work talk started involving new people and situations I wasn't familiar with, which kind of made me... sad? Maybe not sad sad, maybe more left out? Like I felt I was no longer part of a community we had in common.
- Then he got a new job. I'm not sure if he went through point 2.

There were no deliberate changes in behaviours. I think we have a very solid relationship (married 5 years and besotted) and I realise it isn't the jobs that we had in common, it was the way we talked about work and our similar values and attitudes that we had in common.

We are now fully in the "couple who don't work together" situation. We still talk about our jobs to each other but I think we talk about other stuff a lot more now - news, music, tv shows, family, planning trips, what to eat for dinner, etc... We talked about those before but now the spread of topics is more balanced instead of work being the dominating subject.
posted by like_neon at 8:43 AM on September 15, 2016 [7 favorites]

I knew my husband for years as just a co-worker, then years as a friend, then years as a boyfriend who I worked with, then husband. This is like 8 years that we worked together. Then I got a new job and we suddenly no longer worked together. I was scared that it was going to change our dynamic too much, that our working together played too big of a part in our relationship and that taking it away was going to do major damage.

Fast forward a year, and yeah... nope. We're good. We still have plenty to talk about in the evenings/weekends, still have plenty of shared interests and things in common. I think it could have been a problem if we didn't have so many other things in common to fall back on, but luckily we did. We still talk about work, only now we have even MORE to talk about because we have two offices and two sets of issues to discuss. Before there was so much overlap that there wasn't a lot of stuff to really discuss since we both already knew. We also still meet up for lunch every so often. We still email each other throughout the day. So my advice is to not worry about it so long as you and your partner have other things in common.

The only things that changed with my switching jobs are:
- I make a lot more so our financial reality has changed quite a bit.
- I have a more demanding job so there are times where I have to work on the evenings and weekends.
- I have the ability to work from home whenever I please and this has made householdy things a lot easier. Things like waiting for the cable repair guy to show up or expecting a delivery. Weirdly those things were always a bit of a big deal for us, but now its just a non issue. I work from home that day/afternoon/morning. Bam. Solved.
- I'm a lot happier at my new job, and that has resulted in a happier household and happier life.
- I'm now in charge of going to the grocery store when we need anything since my office is close to a grocery store. He is in charge of doing all the Costco shopping since his office is close to the Costco. This has become a fairly clear "That's your job" division that we're both pretty happy with. (I effing HATE going to Costco.)
posted by PuppetMcSockerson at 8:57 AM on September 15, 2016 [5 favorites]

My SO and I don't work together, and work in very different fields. We talk about work a lot, *because* it's a thing that the other doesn't experience. He's not a spreadsheet guy, I don't teach, but the concepts of "good/bad day", "big win!", "silly coworkers", "I just can't with ...", "burned popcorn in the microwave!" are found in most lines of work.

You'll have to start giving a bit of background before sharing stories, but eventually that background becomes known.
posted by kimberussell at 9:01 AM on September 15, 2016 [3 favorites]

Oh PuppetMcSockerson makes a really good point. One of the biggest things we had to get used to was our morning and evening routines changing

Morning routine changes: We had to go through an adjustment on alarm times because one of us worked closer to home than the other.

Evening routine changes: We could no longer talk about evening plans together on the way home so we now coordinate over gchat or whatsapp about an hour before we leave work (we have similar working hours).
posted by like_neon at 9:03 AM on September 15, 2016

I dated someone I worked with. After a year they left that workplace and felt weird about leaving so didn't want to hear about it much any more. We had to work really hard to find new things to talk about. We took on some new hobbies (videogames, cooking, camping) to fill the gap. It was rough for a while though.
posted by pseudostrabismus at 10:02 AM on September 15, 2016

My partner and I work in the same field but in different organizations. When we first got together we didn't talk a lot about work. We were still dizzy with the limerence of it all and had lots of non-work things in common.

And while we were in the same field, we had quite different specializations. So while we had general knowledge about each other's job responsibilities -- it was not very broad/deep.

More recently, one of us has taken on a new role in the area the other is more experienced in...and now work stuff is a much more frequent dinner topic. It's fun and interesting, but we still talk a lot about other stuff.
posted by Lescha at 10:59 AM on September 15, 2016

I met my husband through work. I moved in with him quickly after we started dating, and we worked the same shift in the same area, so we were together 24/7 for nearly two years. When we both eventually started new jobs in different fields, it was a big change. It turns out we were both much more motivated to get stuff done as a team and very lazy on our own - so we ended up losing a lot of time in the day waiting around for the other person to come home to take out the dishes or sort the laundry. We still struggle with this 6 years later. On the other hand, working together we had sort of hit a conversational plateau because we already knew everything going on in each others' life. It was great to have novel things to talk about and really widened our social circle. We still talk to each other about work and will hang out with our coworkers together, but we also talk about politics, movies, household stuff just like everyone else.
posted by galvanized unicorn at 11:05 AM on September 15, 2016

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