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« Passions of philosophers outside of philosophy -- Marcus Arvan | Main | 2nd CFP: 5th Annual Philosophers' Cocoon Philosophy Conference »

04/14/2017

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Sara L. Uckelman

My biggest piece of advice is to know your limits. My husband and I realized pretty early on that we just don't do very well being apart more than two weeks. He had to do a semester abroad during his PhD and I spent a week with him during the first part and we met up at a conference (and took a short vacation afterwards) during the second part. When I spent six weeks abroad while pregnant, he visited for the middle two weeks.

We know many people with very happy, very satisfying long-distance relationships (we know of more than one couple here the two couples live in different countries and have no intention of trying to work their way into the same country); we also knew that this was not the sort of people were, which is part of the reason why ultimately my husband turned down a post-doc in Singapore while I was still working in the Netherlands, 8 years ago. It would've been a fantastic position for him, but we knew it wasn't worth it for us, personally.

Anonymous

It's a tough one. My husband and I have been having the 2-body issue for over 10 years and it is still unsolved. You either will have to put up with long-distance relationships, which was not something we wanted but YMMV, or one of you may end up putting their career on the backburner. I got a job offer for a tenure track in the US but ended up turning it down because - even though the university had secure lecturer (non-TT) positions - they didn't want to offer a spousal accommodation in one of those (and it only paid 30,000 for 8 courses, hardly a royal offer). Several years down the line, with us being in various postdocs (where long distance is not an issue because you don't need to show up that often at work for a philosophy postdoc), he has a VAP at the same institution as me (I have a permanent position outside the US). Soon that VAP will end. That means, because we live in an expensive area, that money will soon become very tight. My partner is geographically limited in his career prospects. But we do have 2 children. So, my sense is unless you're a superstar from an elite programme with stellar pubs, it's going to be a balancing exercise: geographical distance or maybe not the career one (or both) of you wanted to have.

anon

This is truly a very difficult issue. My partner and I are feminists, so we seemed to feel the pain all the more, as our values did not mesh well with how things played out. We ended up moving a number of times for my career. At one point the "solution" becomes self-perpetuating, as my earning power made it challenging for us to change course, especially since we really did depend on my income. This continues to be an issue in our relationship. It helps, though, to be honest with yourself and your partner about the situation.

Lucky lady

What anon 4:39 says seems exactly right to me. One person's career will very, very often have to suffer, and if you want to stick to your commitments, I think it helps immensely if you set yourself up to avoid hard decisions that will tempt you to do otherwise. My (male) partner and I are also both philosophers and also both have feminist commitments - and we also worried that what it would mean if we both went on the market at once and were forced to decide between two different options, each of which favored one of us. So, we basically decided we wouldn't do that. He took a 3 year postdoc when I still had a year to go on my PhD, and we decided that only I would go on the job market for the first two years, so that we wouldn't even be tempted to take something that was good for him and that might be bad for me. Luckily I got a TT job ABD that arranged a spousal accommodation for him, so it worked out well for both of us - but it easily could have not worked out well for both of us, and if things had gone a bit differently, it could have been really easy to let my career take a back seat to his.

Another perhaps more hopeful suggestion - "less desirable" jobs (not R1s, in less in-demand parts of the country) are often a lot more willing to work out spousal accommodations in hiring. Because they can't offer prestige or location to keep you, I get the impression that they often treat spousal accommodation as the best card they can play.

Lauren

I have a question as someone going on the job market with a spouse who is (reasonably) flexible about location, as long as it is in a city. We are both American, but are considering options in other English-speaking countries. How difficult is it to get spousal visas that allow spouses to work in countries such as Canada, the UK, Australia, etc.? We lived together in Canada before, and although my spouse wasn't able to automatically work, he did get a spousal visa automatically and then was hired by a company that sponsored his work visa, so we would be open to doing that again, too, as long as the situation wasn't such that no one would want to hire him because of the necessity for visa sponsorship. Anyone with experience of foreign two-body issues want to weigh in?

anon

Hi Lauren,
You must get an answer from a USA citizen who has moved to the specific country you are moving to. I am not a US citizen but moved to the US, and will be moving elsewhere soon. Each country is different, and it differs significantly with respect to what country of citizenship you hold. It also has profound implications for money that you hold in other countries.

anon

Hi Lauren,

your Canadian experience is different from my own. My understanding is that, if you land a TT job in Canada, your spouse will almost automatically get an "open" work permit. (Perhaps you were not employed as an assistant professor back then, or things have changed in the meantime). I know this because my wife moved to Canada with an "open work permit" (which means that she can work in almost all fields expect health care and education).

Lauren

Hi anon, I may have characterized the situation wrongly, as it's been a few years--the visa my spouse got did allow him to work, I think (it certainly did allow him to apply for any and all jobs he was qualified for, and he had no trouble getting a recruiter to take him on). But he did get a second visa when he was hired--I think the difference may have been that his second visa was linked to his own employment, not to my visa (i.e., so with that, he could have stayed on in Canada on his own, even if I had left). At any rate, his initial visa was in no way an impediment to him getting a job, as far as I could tell.

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