Is Giving Up Your Career For Your Spouse Ever A Good Idea?

The problem with being married to a politician or someone who has political ambitions is at some point you may have to give up your own career so as to avoid possible “ethical conflicts.”

In 2004, Maria Shriver asked to be let out of her NBC contract because she felt that she could no longer perform her job as a journalist and maintain her new position as the First Lady of California without somehow entangling the two. She also, although being on the other side of the political spectrum of her husband, Arnold Schwarzenegger, wanted to devote more time to her husband’s ambitions and administration.

While there’s a lot to be said for anyone who would give up their career for that of their spouse, one thing is for sure, it’s definitely not selfish. In fact, it’s one of the most selfless things a person can choose to do. When the Schwarzenegger scandal broke earlier this year and Shriver’s world came tumbling down, one couldn’t help but ask: “Was it worth it?” Is it ever worth giving up your career for the sake of someone else?

Following in the steps of Shriver is Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist Connie Schultz. After almost 18 years at The Plain Dealer in Cleveland, Schultz announced this morning that she was resigning from her position so her husband, Democratic U.S. Senator Sherrod Brown, can seek another term.

In 2006, Schultz took a leave absence from the paper when her husband then ran for Senate. Her reason for doing so was that no matter what she wrote about, she may be accused of taking her husband’s side, and in not being able to write about politics, her topics were going to be limited. She then joined her husband on his campaign across the state of Ohio and shortly thereafter published …and His Lovely Wife, about her experiences.

Now five years later, Schultz is calling it quits for good citing that it had become “painfully clear,” that there would indeed be a conflict of interest if she were to continue to write the for the paper that would be covering her husband’s campaign.

Although Schultz isn’t giving up writing entirely–she is writing another book–she is giving up something. Eighteen years is a long to be in a position and to have garnered a devoted readership. That’s a large percentage of one’s life.

Perhaps, not every politician is like Anthony Weiner or Schwarzenegger, nor is every husband, or wife for that matter, going to cheat on their “lovely” spouse, but one has to consider is it ever worth it to give up your career for someone who, in the end, might betray you? Humans are flawed, granted gorgeously so, but flawed just the same. Nothing is set in stone and there are no guarantees. I just wonder how long these women took to make these decisions before giving up such an essential part of them. And if it does backfire, will they be able to look themselves in the mirror and convince themselves it was, indeed, worth it.


Karin Hildebrand Lau /



You can reach this post's author, Amanda Chatel, on twitter.
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    • Rachel

      Interesting article. My husband and I have juggled these issues for the past 2 years as I am trying to accelerate my career and he is moving towards expanding his as well. Neither one of us would have to “give up” our career for the other, but with the job situation as it is, one of us having to move for an amazing opportunity would greatly impact the others’ resume.
      I think it’s an issue all couples that are in love with each other, and their potential careers has to deal with their whole lives. It’s not a case of one cheating on the other and leaving you with regret, it’s more realistic that there are “dream jobs” out there for both of you, but in the same city/region?

    • Angeline

      What an interesting topic. The thing with love and marriage is that it is always a risk, regardless of what is on the line. It could be your career, it could be your finances, it could be your friends.

      Another thing to consider is whether these women feel like they’ve actually given anything up, or whether they’ve welcomed the changes. For Schulz, it seems like it’s opened up a whole new set of doors, and it doesn’t seem to have hurt Shriver’s future prospects, either.

      I’ve quit my job and moved twice now for my husband’s career. We knew before we got married that his chosen profession (academia) was not as flexible as others…we will never be able to choose where we want to live and focus a job search in one area, but we will always be at the mercy of where jobs are available. On the other hand, my chosen profession (writing) is extremely flexible. The truth is, without his job and salary, I would never have been able to pause at this point in my life and try my hand at freelance. It’s all give and take. You may give something up, but what are you getting in return?

      • penny white

        I hope your decisions work out for you.
        The scary thing is – your husband has much more power in the relationship than you do. The compromises you make for his career inevitably lead to compromising your self-expression within the relationship, because you need him more than he needs you for simple survival. You both know that, and it affects the way you relate to one another.
        Love your husband, but don’t forget to love yourself, too.

      • Angeline

        Thanks, Penny, for your thoughts. It does sound a bit one-sided, but I guess I left out part of the story…for the bulk of our marriage, it’s been the opposite: I was growing my career and he was still figuring life out. The timing worked out well, too…the company I worked for was starting a steep slide down just as I left, and it was getting to be unbearable.

        I may have quit my job, but I have not paused my career at all. The work I’ve done to establish my career and the business relationships I have built and cultivated enable me to have the freedom of freelancing today. If freelancing doesn’t work out as well as I’d like, I have many other options in our new city.

        Like I said before, it’s give and take, and not just from the woman’s end. I would be wrong to say that my husband has not made sacrifices in his life for me (I got to nix any potential job openings for him where I really couldn’t imagine living, for example, Anchorage, AL, or Idaho…I’m a city girl through and through). Power in marriage doesn’t have to be a struggle, and it’s not always tied to money (money is so not important in the long run). Unwillingness to compromise so often leads to the demise of marriage these days that some people forget that there are other options.

        And yes, thanks for the reminder to love myself…I’ve actually taken advantage of my more flexible schedule to get out and do things for myself, like finding time to exercise, volunteer, travel, and build new relationships in this town. I am no housewife. :)

    • Annie

      This is a topic that my partner and I struggle to discuss about. We both met while leaving in London, now he is back in his own country and I moved back to mine for healthcare reasons, after discovering that I have stage 1 breast cancer. Now that I am recovering, we discussed about the issue of relocation. He is building his career now and wants to be in his country, whereas I feel that I am more comfortable in my own country because it is English speaking (whereas his is not). I can’t come to terms that I have to give up so much of myself, and prior to this we thought about marriage but now I’m not so sure – thinking about moving to another land with foreign language and culture scares me a lot more after cancer. I am still trying to figure out if I should move and give up the comfort that I am now relishing in my healing period, or to jump into a whole different culture, lifestyle with no friends and family just for his careers’ sake.