Dear Carolyn: I’ve been thinking of asking my girlfriend to marry me.
The other day, for the first time, my girlfriend expressed that she really didn’t like that I work at home. I freelance and really love it.
She said she couldn’t understand the perspective of someone who didn’t go in to an office every day and who didn’t have to bear the burden of working under a boss. She made it clear that she wouldn’t care if I made less money, only that I had somewhere to go in the morning and that I wasn’t my own boss.
Her lack of respect for what I do has made me reconsider whether I want to marry her. Is career disrespect a deal-breaker? – Confused
Lunkheadedness sure is, or at least ought to be, and that – to my own home-based-careerist mind – underlies her lack of respect.
Undercuts its importance, too: Truly, she’d prefer that you demote yourself because she loves a man with a big commute? The value of her respect is in free-fall.
Tell her you’re grateful she said this out loud, since you should be; just imagine if she kept harboring these doubts in silence.
Then, spell out your confusion. “I’m struggling to understand. You would like me better if I ended my successful career and took any new job, as long as I had to leave home, work for somebody else and experience the discomfort of these two things?”
Unless she stunned you into silence with her initial pronouncement, I imagine you did a version of this already.
If so, then do it again – “I know I’m belaboring this …” – and listen very carefully to the way she responds now, several days after the fact.
Do this because, depending on her response, you might have nothing left to say to her but this: “I can’t date someone who would ask me to change my fulfilling life just to meet her arbitrary standards of manhood.”