Spouse Series: The Talk by Janet Farley Contributing Editor
ooner or later, you will be having The Talk. Not the one where you reveal that yet another baby is on the way or where you nonchalantly mention that your mother is planning an extended visit to your guest room, but The Talk, where you and your uniformed spouse figure out what you’re going to do in your post-military life. Your talk may happen according to your carefully pre-planned schedule. The date may have been circled in red on your calendar for years. Game on. Or not. Maybe your talk is forced upon you due to any number of unexpected life and/ or Congressional events hell-bent on changing the course of your own personal history. In the end, the timing of The Talk is irrelevant. The important thing is to have it in the first place and use it as a starting point for making your career transition together a successful one. It doesn’t have to be a complicated
conversation, although it certainly helps if it is an honest one. You might be pleasantly surprised to learn that The Talk can be drilled down to answering and prioritizing three basic questions: • Where do you want to live next? • What do you want to do professionally? • What are your salary requirements? If you want to have a little fun in the process, first answer the questions solo and then get together and compare your answers. Any surprises? Are your answers in harmony with one another or is it simply a miracle that you’ve remained together this long? Who’s sleeping on the couch tonight? After you get past the initial shock or high-fiving of it all, start to discuss your answers on a more in-depth basis. Delve into the finer details and try to get a good grip here. Why did you answer and prioritize those questions the way you did? Were they realistic answers based on fact and logic, or whimsical ones based on wishful thinking?
Don’t worry. There aren’t any wrong answers. There are only your answers… and your spouse’s, too, of course. Taking it to the next level… If you’ve ventured this far in the process, kudos to you. Don’t stop now. Live on the edge and do a little more research. Ask yourself these kinds of questions: • What is the estimated cost of living for the place you want to live? How do you know that for sure? Did your check out at least three cost-of-living calculators and/ or touch base with the local chamber of commerce? Have you talked to others who may actually live there for a boots-on-theground perspective? • What about that next job? Is it similar to the one you’ve been doing or is it totally different? What is the potential market for the types of jobs you want to do in the area where you want to live? After all, you might want to relocate to the beautiful Alaskan wilderness, but if your chosen profession involves maintaining outdoor swimming pools, you could have a problem. Find out about the job market before you decide to move somewhere.
• Let’s not neglect to talk about your future salary, either. Do you truly understand how much you need to make in the civilian world in order to maintain your current standard of living? Did you run the numbers? Have you looked up the going salary ranges for someone with your experience and expertise in the geographical area you’re targeting? Now what? Now that you are armed with this newfound intelligence, go back and revisit those three basic questions. Can you be more flexible if need be? Can you cast a wider net in order to increase your chances of finding a good, well-paying job in a place you would be willing to call home? Janet Farley writes about career and workplace issues. She is the author of “Quick Military Transition Guide: Seven Steps to Landing a Civilian Job” (Jist Inc., 2012) and “The Military Spouse’s Guide to Employment: Smart Job Choices for Mobile Lifestyles” (Impact Publications, 2012). Follow her on Twitter @smartjobchoices and @mil2civguide.