Married to the Profession

When you hear the term “married to his/her job,” surely there are people that come to mind. It isn’t uncommon, especially in public service, to find people who are extremely passionate about and dedicated to their careers. In the case of local government managers and others in the profession, it is all but expected that there will be late nights at council meetings, exhausting budget seasons, and crises that occur without warning. For managers with families at home, this makes it crucial to have understanding children and a spouse or other support system that can be flexible and supportive.

In addition to the long hours, a local government manager is married to the profession in other ways. There is an expectation that he or she become part of the community–patronize local businesses, attend community events, and often live within the city limits of the community they serve. While the reasoning behind this requirement is sound, it can make for some difficult decisions when you have children in schools and/or a spouse with a career. Many opportunities are passed over because of school districts, housing costs, or proximity from a spouse’s current place of employment.

Many couples face a particularly difficult challenge–dual local government careers. We all know or have heard of couples who both serve in executive management in local government but the instances are few and far between. Being married to someone in the same field makes sense in many respects – similar interests and priorities in life, mutual friends, and professional acquaintances. This may not be incredibly difficult in some professions, but city management can make it near impossible. When your job requires residency in a particular city, it can be a bit difficult for your spouse to also consider jobs that would require residency in a different city. Even when a residency requirement can be waived, it can hinder your career if you aren’t able to fully commit your family to the city in which you serve–where your children attend school, where you shop, where you find a church home, which city’s holiday festivals and events you attend (because of course they will usually fall on the same day); the list goes on and on.

One of the best decisions in my life has been to marry someone I met at a TCMA conference. We will surely face difficult decisions as we continue to advance in our careers but it’s worth it to both of us. We’ll be heading back this June to the place we first met–the TCMA conference in South Padre Island. Gabe and I look forward to attending TCMA conferences for many years to come.

(Article submitted by Cori Reaume, Regional Training Center Administrator, North Central Texas Council of Governments. If you have interesting news or helpful topics to share, please submit them to Kim Pendergraft at [email protected]. Please keep the information to fewer than 300 words.)