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Learning, Sharing, and Teaching => Ask a Mustachian => Topic started by: adam on October 17, 2013, 08:34:28 AM

Title: What are you supposed to do with someone who just can't be happy in their job?
Post by: adam on October 17, 2013, 08:34:28 AM
To try and make a long story short, my wife spent 6 years in school and a lot of money to eventually get a Masters degree in a particular field.  What they didn't tell her is that the field in question does not need a master's degree, and it basically means shit.  Oh and its dying due to automation and other technological advances making her position obsolete.  The MS program at the school she graduated from closed down the year after she got out due to this.

Most of her coworkers ended up being high school graduates with some tech training for a certificate.  So basically she doesn't feel like she is getting the respect that she deserves for her education, and I keep telling her that its not going to change because of that particular career field.  She is at her 3rd job in 4-5 years and its the same thing over and over.

I have told her to quit the last two times (and she did).  The second time was when she was working part time at her current employer, they ended up coming back and offering a full time position, which is where she is now.

Bottom line is she is making $22/hr with no benefits.  Her last job paid her $28/hr with benefits, and she hadn't gotten a raise in the 2 years she was there (even though it was 'promised' when she interviewed).  She loves what she does when she is allowed to do it, but hates how this employer treats their employees (and how half of her time now is basically being a secretary).  I want to tell her to quit again but thats really going to screw up our debt repayment plan.  I wonder if she expects too much and will just never be happy in any job?  We're still paying off 3/4 of her $40k student loan for graduate school.

All things being equal I'd rather her be at home and be happy then bring in any money and be miserable, but with all the uncertainty with the government lately (my employer), and the effect of furloughs and sequestrations and all that bullshit, I don't trust that my income alone can carry us.
Title: Re: What are you supposed to do with someone who just can't be happy in their job?
Post by: galaxie on October 17, 2013, 08:41:34 AM
Study Hacks (http://calnewport.com/blog/) has an interesting discussion of what makes people happy in their jobs.  Cal Newport argues that autonomy, competence (including feeling that you have an impact on something outside yourself) and relatedness to/being valued by other people are needed for a person to enjoy a job long-term.  It's kind of changed the way I think about my career planning.  Maybe your wife could think about which of those is lacking and how to get it?
Title: Re: What are you supposed to do with someone who just can't be happy in their job?
Post by: brewer12345 on October 17, 2013, 09:31:52 AM
adam, I would suggest that she spend some time doing a bit of navel-gazing.  Are there skills from her graduate program/profession that would transfer to another field?  Is there a way for her to use some of her skills (or develop new ones) to set up a small business?    If she is in a dying field, she will need to figure out what comes next and the sooner the better.  A few sessions with a good career counselor may help, as they deal with these issues all the time.
Title: Re: What are you supposed to do with someone who just can't be happy in their job?
Post by: Frankies Girl on October 17, 2013, 09:38:05 AM
Is there anything else she could do with her degrees? Technically, just having a masters opens some doors regardless of the field of study...

With that much in debt over the degree itself, if it was me, I'd just keep working until the loans were paid off and then look for something else that might make me happy.

I've worked at places where I was miserable, and I really had to have a serious sit down talk with myself about how the situation isn't changing any time soon, and the only thing I could control is my attitude towards the job, and I could choose to be unhappy and disgruntled or I could choose to see this as a growth opportunity. The attitude adjustment did help make the job bearable.
Title: Re: What are you supposed to do with someone who just can't be happy in their job?
Post by: StarryC on October 17, 2013, 10:53:16 AM
I don't know your wife or her field, but maybe instead of waiting for the raise, she needs to go ask.  I wouldn't tell her to quit, because the devil you know and all that.  But, go in, and say I was promised a raise after X amount of time when I was hired. I have done XYZ to improve the company.  I manage C% of the company budget/department/ people.  The median salary for this field for someone with my education is A, and I'm making B with no benefits.   The cost for health insurance for myself will be $D beginning in January.  Therefore, I am asking for an X% or $Y an hour raise to begin November 1st (or January 1st if that seems more reasonable for some reason.) 

If they say "no" then ask what would need to change to make that salary realistic- more responsibility, better output, better performance, etc.  If they say- "no one is getting paid that much here, and it will never happen," then she should look for a job. 
Title: Re: What are you supposed to do with someone who just can't be happy in their job?
Post by: Argyle on October 17, 2013, 11:05:54 AM
I certainly wouldn't encourage her to quit without having the next job or plan lined up.

A lot of degrees are not particularly helpful in a vocational sense.  Almost none of them win respect for just the degree.  Generally some years in the workforce and some accomplishments are needed before "respect" comes through, as defined by greater opportunities, higher wages, etc.  One thing that's been noticed by a number of people is that people starting out these days often consider that degrees and talent should start them halfway up the ladder, rather than them having to start at the bottom.  It's still not that way unless your parents own the company.  So she may be at the same place anyone would be at this point in their career, whatever the value of her MS.

The last two times, you told her to quit, and you're the one posting about her job.  Does she expect someone else to decide what's best for her, or to give her a promotion her (rather than her going about making it happen herself)?  Often we women succumb to an idea that "If I just work really hard, someone will notice and reward me."  But that's not really the way it works.  Alternatively, is it possible that you are being a little bit over-assertive in telling her to quit, posting about her problem, and being frustrated with her situation?  Maybe it's something she needs to do for herself, or not.  ?
Title: Re: What are you supposed to do with someone who just can't be happy in their job?
Post by: Bruised_Pepper on October 17, 2013, 11:19:16 AM
While it sometimes takes some "shopping around" before you find a place that you enjoy working and that appreciates your particular talents, I'd consider how her constant job moving is coming across on her resume.  3 jobs in 5 years is a lot for someone who has an advanced degree, though her particular circumstances may explain this away--age, timed assignments, industry.  Recruiters/managers are looking for any excuse to disqualify a candidate and moving around constantly brings up a lot of possible red flags: bad work ethic, only in it for the money, cannot form solid working relationships, etc.  Not that I think your wife has any of these, but these are the kind of things a volatile work history could suggest to the powers that be. 

If she can get something that she'll enjoy, she should take it, but understand that at some point, she may have to pick a place and "pay her dues."
Title: Re: What are you supposed to do with someone who just can't be happy in their job?
Post by: Tyler on October 17, 2013, 11:26:13 AM
According to Dennis Prager, Unhappiness = Image - Reality. 

http://www.prageruniversity.com/Life-Studies/The-Happiness-Equation.html#.UmAb7BAgpAo

Along those lines, it sounds like there are two issues involved here:

1) The personal image of where she should be relative to her peers because of the effort put into her Masters degree may never be satisfied.

2) Unhappiness with the reality of the job itself.

Each issue requires different approaches to address.  Quitting may help #2, but if it doesn't simultaneously address #1 it won't necessarily make her happier.

Title: Re: What are you supposed to do with someone who just can't be happy in their job?
Post by: adam on October 17, 2013, 12:28:04 PM
.  If they say- "no one is getting paid that much here, and it will never happen," then she should look for a job.

This is the case.
Title: Re: What are you supposed to do with someone who just can't be happy in their job?
Post by: adam on October 17, 2013, 12:33:34 PM
I certainly wouldn't encourage her to quit without having the next job or plan lined up.

A lot of degrees are not particularly helpful in a vocational sense.  Almost none of them win respect for just the degree.  Generally some years in the workforce and some accomplishments are needed before "respect" comes through, as defined by greater opportunities, higher wages, etc.  One thing that's been noticed by a number of people is that people starting out these days often consider that degrees and talent should start them halfway up the ladder, rather than them having to start at the bottom.  It's still not that way unless your parents own the company.  So she may be at the same place anyone would be at this point in their career, whatever the value of her MS.

The last two times, you told her to quit, and you're the one posting about her job.  Does she expect someone else to decide what's best for her, or to give her a promotion her (rather than her going about making it happen herself)?  Often we women succumb to an idea that "If I just work really hard, someone will notice and reward me."  But that's not really the way it works.  Alternatively, is it possible that you are being a little bit over-assertive in telling her to quit, posting about her problem, and being frustrated with her situation?  Maybe it's something she needs to do for herself, or not.  ?

I'm not pushing her to do anything.  I'm trying to get her to decide what is best for her and basically saying that I will support whatever decision she wants to make.  I had to tell her it was OK to quit before because she was afraid I would be mad at her for leaving her job, and that is not the case.

I can't tell if her calling me in tears once a week about whats happening at work is how she deals with stress, or if it is a serious problem and I need to force the issue.

Two of the three jobs were changed due to moving to a different city/state, so she can explain that fairly easily on a resume.
Title: Re: What are you supposed to do with someone who just can't be happy in their job?
Post by: Bruised_Pepper on October 17, 2013, 12:49:31 PM
Two of the three jobs were changed due to moving to a different city/state, so she can explain that fairly easily on a resume.

Not to ride the issue into oblivion, but why did she move away from these two jobs?  Usually when a company hires someone educated at the master's level, they're thinking fairly long-term--part of the reason they ask you questions like "where do you see yourself in five years?"  They want someone that they know can make a commitment. 

Basically what I'm getting at is that the hiring process is a very messed-up process, and for anything you have that could be taken as a negative (no matter how absurd it is), you need to have a darn good excuse.  Job-hopping is a big issue for companies now and they're on the look-out for it. 
Title: Re: What are you supposed to do with someone who just can't be happy in their job?
Post by: adam on October 17, 2013, 01:02:52 PM
Two of the three jobs were changed due to moving to a different city/state, so she can explain that fairly easily on a resume.

Not to ride the issue into oblivion, but why did she move away from these two jobs?  Usually when a company hires someone educated at the master's level, they're thinking fairly long-term--part of the reason they ask you questions like "where do you see yourself in five years?"  They want someone that they know can make a commitment. 

Basically what I'm getting at is that the hiring process is a very messed-up process, and for anything you have that could be taken as a negative (no matter how absurd it is), you need to have a darn good excuse.  Job-hopping is a big issue for companies now and they're on the look-out for it.
Well its not going to look much better if she quits and doesn't have ANY work for a while either, but I told her no job is worth her sanity.
Move 1 was from out of state so we could get married (and she got a $10k raise).
Move 2 was after being married 2 years and we moved back to my house (which I couldn't sell) so I wouldn't have to drive 160 miles a day to work any more.
She hated both of her old bosses and complained non-stop about them while working there, but looks back with rose colored glasses.  Now she hates her current boss just as much.

Do women cry a lot at/because of their jobs? Is that something normal that as a guy I just don't get?  It makes her crazy, which makes me crazy.  At this point it doesn't seem like she or her employer is going to change, so what is she supposed to do?
Title: Re: What are you supposed to do with someone who just can't be happy in their job?
Post by: MrsPete on October 17, 2013, 01:05:40 PM
What they didn't tell her is that the field in question does not need a master's degree, and it basically means shit.  Oh and its dying due to automation and other technological advances making her position obsolete. 
Whose responsibility was it to tell her that she'd chosen a poor path for her Master's Degree?  Isn't it incumbent upon the student to choose wisely? 


Study Hacks (http://calnewport.com/blog/) has an interesting discussion of what makes people happy in their jobs.  Cal Newport argues that autonomy, competence (including feeling that you have an impact on something outside yourself) and relatedness to/being valued by other people are needed for a person to enjoy a job long-term.  It's kind of changed the way I think about my career planning.  Maybe your wife could think about which of those is lacking and how to get it?
Interesting website.  I'm going to peruse it more thoroughly later. 

I know that I was never raised to expect that I'd love my job, that I'd find ultimate fulfillment through work, or that one perfect and ideal job existed for me.  Instead, I expected to like my work . . . but I always expected it to be, you know, WORK.  Something I wouldn't do for free.  However, I've found that people only slightly younger than me DO tend to buy into this concept, and that's the false ideal against which the author of that website is railing. 

I'm not sure about one thing on that website though:  One of the blogger's concepts is that people want autonomy in the workplace; that is, the opportunity to be in control of their work.  I think a lot of people do want that, but I don't think it's universal.  I see quite a few of my students who want to be told how to do something, when to do it, and that's it.  They do not want to be made to think.  And I'm thinking of a co-worker from long-ago -- she was the receptionist:  Her dream job was to work at the DMV.  Why?  Because she dreamed of a job where she just did the same thing over and over all day long without any variation.  I personally can't imagine a worse job, and I suspect many readers of this blog would agree . . . but some people DO think this way!   


I can't tell if her calling me in tears once a week about whats happening at work is how she deals with stress, or if it is a serious problem and I need to force the issue.
Perhaps it'd be helpful to encourage her to learn to compartmentalize her life.  I think this is discouraged by today's "find your passion, do what you love and you'll never work a day in your life" mentality.  Encourage her to give work 100% while she's there . . . but when she walks out the door, to leave the day's problems and stress behind her.  I know I used to "carry home" problems, and I used to become very worked up over issues at work, but as I've grown older, I've genuinely learned to leave work at work.  It makes life so much easier. 

Title: Re: What are you supposed to do with someone who just can't be happy in their job?
Post by: Norrie on October 17, 2013, 01:16:21 PM
It's hard to know what's really going on without hearing from your wife. Is she generally a mature, responsible person? Does she seek drama in the rest of her life? Is she a negative Nancy at home?

Your generalization asking "do all women cry a lot" probably isn't going to win you a bunch of friends, but I may just being sensitive. Because I'm a woman.

No, I don't cry at work. No, I don't cry weekly about work. Yes, my job is sometimes stressful and unsatisfying. Yes, I'd be much happier working for myself, but that's not an option right now, so I do what's best for our family. Yes, that means that I often have to suck it up, even if I don't want to.

From the little that I've heard, it sounds like your wife needs to get into another field. It also sounds like some time with a career counselor would be a great thing.
Title: Re: What are you supposed to do with someone who just can't be happy in their job?
Post by: gooki on October 17, 2013, 01:35:27 PM
Do women cry a lot at/because of their jobs? Is that something normal that as a guy I just don't get?  It makes her crazy, which makes me crazy.  At this point it doesn't seem like she or her employer is going to change, so what is she supposed to do?

What's her job/role?

My wife did once or twice, but that was as a Senior HR Adviser.
Title: Re: What are you supposed to do with someone who just can't be happy in their job?
Post by: StarryC on October 17, 2013, 01:46:34 PM
.  If they say- "no one is getting paid that much here, and it will never happen," then she should look for a job.

This is the case.

Did they say that or does she think that?  I ask, because I'm female, and I often "THINK" that there is no way I will get something I ask for at work, and that I'm not that important, and they would NEVER give a raise out of cycle, etc. But then I hear someone else got one.  If she has asked, that's one thing, but if she is just "assuming"  that's another.

I think the "crying" question is highly dependent.  I almost never cry about work, or anything.  But I may be an emotionless automaton.  I know many women who cry at least once a week about something.  I think the question is why is she crying?  Is it stressful (too much work/ not enough time/ impossible demands)?  Are people openly hostile/ mean/ demeaning/ yelling at her?  General depression that her life is not what she wishes it was and her job is not "satisfying"?  Does she feel stressed about home duties conflicting with work duties?  There are different solutions to these problems. 

Why does she hate her bosses?  Some people hate having bosses.  There is no immediate, easy solution to that problem.  Some bosses are jerks, who are unkind, unreasonable, or outright rude.  Getting a new job or reading "How to Deal with Difficult People" might help.  Some people hate their bosses because they feel that their job is dumb and the boss takes it too seriously (See, Office Space), and an attitude adjustment might fix that.

On the other hand, she might not want you to solve this problem.  Maybe ask her if she wants to solve this problem, or just wants some commiseration.
Title: Re: What are you supposed to do with someone who just can't be happy in their job?
Post by: brewer12345 on October 17, 2013, 01:50:33 PM
I'm at the point of tears at least once a week, sometimes about work sometimes about other things.  She is in a frustrating situation and is human.
Title: Re: What are you supposed to do with someone who just can't be happy in their job?
Post by: adam on October 17, 2013, 02:29:55 PM
Your generalization asking "do all women cry a lot" probably isn't going to win you a bunch of friends, but I may just being sensitive. Because I'm a woman.

No, I don't cry at work. No, I don't cry weekly about work. Yes, my job is sometimes stressful and unsatisfying. Yes, I'd be much happier working for myself, but that's not an option right now, so I do what's best for our family. Yes, that means that I often have to suck it up, even if I don't want to.


I don't mean that in a demeaning way at all, I just know that different people handle stress in different ways.
Title: Re: What are you supposed to do with someone who just can't be happy in their job?
Post by: adam on October 17, 2013, 02:38:57 PM
Quote
On the other hand, she might not want you to solve this problem.  Maybe ask her if she wants to solve this problem, or just wants some commiseration.

I struggle with that a lot.  Trying to identify when she just wants me to listen, and when she actually wants me to do something about it.

She works in a pathology lab in a privately run hospital.  She was just denied a raise and went to the lab supervisor after talking to her immediate supervisor and was told thats just the way it is and "if she doesn't like it she can just quit and they'll get someone else who won't complain".

She lost ~$2/hr when she went from part time to full time.  Now they're talking about taking more money away because there was a glitch (for a fucking decade) where some people were getting a $2 differential pay for time worked after 3pm.  She stopped getting it when she went from part time to full time (so now we're talking -$4/hr for that time period) while her counterpart was getting it all along.  They told her it was a mistake, and NOBODY should get it unless they worked at least 4 hours after 3pm.  And that since some people have been getting it for 30 min-2 hours past 3pm, they might now have to go back and recalculate and take that overage out of their next few paychecks.  Recalculate, in her counterpart's case, for the last 9 years.  Lets just say she won't be too popular for bringing that up if it happens.

I should also point out that her counterpart there actually has the same degree as she does, and is apparently starting to question if she even still wants to work there and put up with the work environment any more.
Title: Re: What are you supposed to do with someone who just can't be happy in their job?
Post by: Bruised_Pepper on October 17, 2013, 02:43:56 PM
She lost ~$2/hr when she went from part time to full time.  Now they're talking about taking more money away because there was a glitch (for a fucking decade) where some people were getting a $2 differential pay for time worked after 3pm.  She stopped getting it when she went from part time to full time (so now we're talking -$4/hr for that time period) while her counterpart was getting it all along.  They told her it was a mistake, and NOBODY should get it unless they worked at least 4 hours after 3pm.  And that since some people have been getting it for 30 min-2 hours past 3pm, they might now have to go back and recalculate and take that overage out of their next few paychecks.  Recalculate, in her counterpart's case, for the last 9 years.  Lets just say she won't be too popular for bringing that up if it happens.

What the--!?  How can they take money away from people when it was the company's mistake?  Geez, it's a good thing you're on the mustache forums...can you imagine how this would derail a consumer sucka who's living purely paycheck-to-paycheck?
Title: Re: What are you supposed to do with someone who just can't be happy in their job?
Post by: Norrie on October 17, 2013, 03:53:36 PM
I ask about her maturity and normal emotional state, because I have a co-worker who cries about once a week, but she's a drama llama, and it's not usually about work. If she's usually a pretty solid, stoic person and she's crying once a week at work, I'd say that a change is definitely in order. Hell, in her shoes, I'd apply for seasonal work at Target, and bail soon.
Title: Re: What are you supposed to do with someone who just can't be happy in their job?
Post by: Frankies Girl on October 17, 2013, 03:58:34 PM

Do women cry a lot at/because of their jobs? Is that something normal that as a guy I just don't get?  It makes her crazy, which makes me crazy.  At this point it doesn't seem like she or her employer is going to change, so what is she supposed to do?

No, they don't. She sounds like she's really in a bad place, and probably needs some counseling to work out why this is effecting her so much, and maybe work on coping methods. That's really terrible for her to be feeling so hopeless and trapped that she cries frequently over it.

I got hired for a job that was absolutely awful, and hated every minute I was there (really awful boss/business owner), but felt like I had to stick it out because of our financial situation. Then they let me go as the person I was supposed to be replacing decided that she didn't want to leave and came back after I'd been there 2 months. I walked out of there happier than anything and went home to tell my husband, and he said that despite the fact that I was (temporarily) out of a job, I had a giant smile on my face... so it was a godsend. Just saying sometimes it is the right answer to quit or leave a horrible job.




Title: Re: What are you supposed to do with someone who just can't be happy in their job?
Post by: lifejoy on October 17, 2013, 04:51:32 PM
I just want to point out how great it is that your wife has a supportive husband that cares more about her happiness than money.

Thanks for being such a good partner to her! :)

-me, who wants to cry at work, and is too afraid to quit even with my partner's support.
Title: Re: What are you supposed to do with someone who just can't be happy in their job?
Post by: Argyle on October 17, 2013, 05:51:49 PM
It is not normal to cry so much.  It sounds to me as if she is not skilled at coping with stress.  It's certainly stressful being in a less-than-optimum job, but frankly, it's not unusual.  Most of us find ways to cope.  We make a long-term plan for our careers, and meanwhie we try to set up a lot of good things we like outside work (meetings with friends, hobbies, going to the movies, fun vacations, whatever).  We try to figure out what we can change about work, even if it's just little things.  We figure out fun things to do during lunch hours.  We get through it.  I can see griping a lot -- within reason.  But long-term griping and crying, over the course of three separate jobs, sounds like larger problems with coping.

My guess is here that you need to be the voice of calmness -- for yourself.  Deal with a certain amount of crying, suggest therapy.  But you need to take care of yourself over the long haul, because this may well happen with every job or situation she comes across, until she decides to take a look at her own coping mechanisms.  You need to find a way where you can be sympathetic but not let it rattle you.  I don't think you can wait until she's happy before you're happy yourself.  And by taking care of yourself you'll have more calmness to help settle things down.
Title: Re: What are you supposed to do with someone who just can't be happy in their job?
Post by: Dee18 on October 17, 2013, 06:08:53 PM
"She hated both of her old bosses and complained non-stop about them while working there, but looks back with rose colored glasses.  Now she hates her current boss just as much."

This raises a red flag for me.  Talking with a professional counselor might help her sort things out.  You have emotionally supported her through two job changes, with no improvement in her work happiness.  Doing the same thing a third time will probably have the same result.   
Title: Re: What are you supposed to do with someone who just can't be happy in their job?
Post by: oldtoyota on October 17, 2013, 06:17:04 PM

I've worked at places where I was miserable, and I really had to have a serious sit down talk with myself about how the situation isn't changing any time soon, and the only thing I could control is my attitude towards the job, and I could choose to be unhappy and disgruntled or I could choose to see this as a growth opportunity. The attitude adjustment did help make the job bearable.

The above says it so well.

+1
Title: Re: What are you supposed to do with someone who just can't be happy in their job?
Post by: Zaga on October 17, 2013, 06:31:08 PM
I haven't read everything, but wanted to comment about your wife crying frequently.  This may sound like an odd question, but is she on any medications?  Specifically birth control or anything that impacts her hormones?

I ask because I used to be like that, virtually anything could set me off!  After I got off of the meds, I have been emotionally very stable.  Not that I don't get upset from time to time and cry, but it's something like once or twice a year at the most instead of several times a week.

Really, the crying being that frequent is a red flag of some kind.  It bears looking into.
Title: Re: What are you supposed to do with someone who just can't be happy in their job?
Post by: SwordGuy on October 17, 2013, 08:48:53 PM
I haven't read everything, but wanted to comment about your wife crying frequently.  This may sound like an odd question, but is she on any medications?  Specifically birth control or anything that impacts her hormones?

I ask because I used to be like that, virtually anything could set me off!  After I got off of the meds, I have been emotionally very stable.  Not that I don't get upset from time to time and cry, but it's something like once or twice a year at the most instead of several times a week.

Really, the crying being that frequent is a red flag of some kind.  It bears looking into.

My wife went thru a very early menopause.    Neither of us had a clue why she was nice one minute and Lizzy Borden looking for an axe the next.   Neither of us had a clue it was happening.  It was bad enough that I figured she hated my guts and wanted a divorce, but just didn't want to bring it up yet.

She was due to take her final Masters oral and written exams in about 5 months when this started, so I begged my boss for an out of town work assignment until she passed her exams.   I didn't want to contribute any drama to a bad situation and make it harder for her to graduate.   At the end of the five month stretch she went to the doctor and got diagnosed for her condition.  She went on hormone therapy and presto! my loving wife was back.   Scary times, I can tell you.

If she's ok except about her work situation, it's probably not a hormone issue.

You're probably too young for the situation my wife and I faced, but hormone imbalances can really mess folks up.  So I though I would share in the hope of helping someone reading this...
Title: Re: What are you supposed to do with someone who just can't be happy in their job?
Post by: Noodle on October 17, 2013, 08:52:20 PM
From my point of view as a manager, three jobs in 5 years wouldn't necessarily be a big red flag...a lot of people have short term jobs for one reason or another, especially considering the recent recession. What I would get concerned about is the pattern of hating three bosses in a row. That does suggest someone who isn't well-matched to the field or stage of work they're in. It's possible that she just ended up with three real stinkers, but more likely that something's going on with her.

The crying once a week is a signal of something...whether it's physical, need of different type of work, a different attitude toward the current job, etc is beyond what we can figure out from here. And it sounds like it's beyond your ability to provide helpful counsel and support on, since this is going on for awhile with no resolution. Talking to someone else, whether a therapist or a career counselor, could be a good next step.
Title: Re: What are you supposed to do with someone who just can't be happy in their job?
Post by: adam on October 18, 2013, 07:16:28 AM
I haven't read everything, but wanted to comment about your wife crying frequently.  This may sound like an odd question, but is she on any medications?  Specifically birth control or anything that impacts her hormones?

I ask because I used to be like that, virtually anything could set me off!  After I got off of the meds, I have been emotionally very stable.  Not that I don't get upset from time to time and cry, but it's something like once or twice a year at the most instead of several times a week.

Really, the crying being that frequent is a red flag of some kind.  It bears looking into.

She had been on birth control up until last month, she will not be back on it for the foreseeable future... ;)

For a while I thought it might be her coping ability, and maybe she was blowing things out of proportion (RE: her bosses), but when we would go to company functions everyone would be talking about how shitty the boss/management was in all three cases.  So yeah, I have to believe her after hearing more than one person back her up every time.

Part of the problem (I think) is that she will not let things slide that she thinks is wrong.  Well, not that that is a bad trait, but sometimes I will let things slide at work so I don't have to get into an argument about it, she will not.  When they cut her pay the first time most other people in that office would have been like "Well at least I still have a job".  My wife thinks more along the lines of "I'm underpaid as it is, and I'm doing three people's jobs now, I want that money back."  And she's not wrong.

But constantly seeing the ... injustice? and not being able to let it go?  Thats what I think the main issue is.  And what do I do, tell her "Well dear, life is not fair so you should just get used to it?"  That makes me feel like an asshole.

She wasn't crying when she came home last night, but she said after the meeting about the differential pay that day her counterpart was also in tears because she was so upset.  Her husband apparently calculated that they would owe $9k in back pay if the hospital pushed the issue, and that she would have to quit before they tried to get that money back.
Title: Re: What are you supposed to do with someone who just can't be happy in their job?
Post by: rockstache on October 18, 2013, 07:39:34 AM
I have been at my current job for 5 years and have cried exactly twice at it. Both times were because someone was actually personally mean to me and had nothing to do with being overwhelmed or frustrated with work stress itself (and both times I contained myself, went to the restroom and let it go before coming back to my desk composed). I probably cry 2 or 3 times a year on average.

As to the part about the rest of the coworkers....I don't mean to sound accusatory but I have never worked at a company where the employees didn't trash the management behind their backs. It's what workers tend to do (not all of them, but a good disgruntled majority). I work at a company now where the pay is decent, the management is friendly, and the job security is totally solid, and still you hear people crying and complaining because really...they don't want to be there at all. I guess what I am saying is that you can't necessarily gauge the company based on what the workers say when they all get together.
Title: Re: What are you supposed to do with someone who just can't be happy in their job?
Post by: adam on October 18, 2013, 07:51:39 AM
I have been at my current job for 5 years and have cried exactly twice at it. Both times were because someone was actually personally mean to me and had nothing to do with being overwhelmed or frustrated with work stress itself (and both times I contained myself, went to the restroom and let it go before coming back to my desk composed). I probably cry 2 or 3 times a year on average.

As to the part about the rest of the coworkers....I don't mean to sound accusatory but I have never worked at a company where the employees didn't trash the management behind their backs. It's what workers tend to do (not all of them, but a good disgruntled majority). I work at a company now where the pay is decent, the management is friendly, and the job security is totally solid, and still you hear people crying and complaining because really...they don't want to be there at all. I guess what I am saying is that you can't necessarily gauge the company based on what the workers say when they all get together.

I was referring to specific incidents, like the one above where she was told if she doesn't like the fact that she's not getting a raise she could just leave and they'd fill her position in no time (essentially telling her she is worthless).  That's not just generic management bashing, thats backing up a specific story where management was particularly rude to my wife specifically.  But I know what you're saying.  My point was that some of the more outlandish things my wife has told me were verified by 2-3 other people each time. 

She complained about her old boss a lot (from a different city).  People here where we live now hear that she used to work for him and routinely ask "how could you possibly deal with that asshole?"  (He has a reputation).  So yeah, like I said, my point is that she is not exaggerating.
Title: Re: What are you supposed to do with someone who just can't be happy in their job?
Post by: lifejoy on October 18, 2013, 08:00:30 AM
Maybe sit down with her and ask what practical things you can both do to make her life a little easier. Pack her a special lunch, send her a text message saying you hope she's having a nice day, plan a date or activity that she can look forward to while she's hating her life at work. Save LOADS of money, more than ever before, so that a) her working there is not for nothing and b) if push comes to shove and she quits, it'll be ok.

I wish you both the best of luck!
Title: Re: What are you supposed to do with someone who just can't be happy in their job?
Post by: totoro on October 18, 2013, 08:29:29 AM
"When they cut her pay the first time most other people in that office would have been like "Well at least I still have a job".  My wife thinks more along the lines of "I'm underpaid as it is, and I'm doing three people's jobs now, I want that money back."  And she's not wrong."

Actually, in my opinion, she is "wrong".  Why would she have a focus on what is "unjust" all the time?  This focus just causes her greater unhappiness.

Attitude is clearly an issue.  I have zero patience for this way of viewing the world.  The entitled viewpoint that is.  The needing to be respected because you have a masters degree is a another red flag.  Really?  Isn't respect earned by how you do your job and how you relate to others?  Who in the world expects to be given anything just because they have a degree?   

That all said, I do have think it is great that you are trying to help her to improve her situation.  In your shoes I would probably be brainstorming alternatives with her that included working from home, changing careers, and coming up with a good written plan.  Counselling might help quite a bit too.   

Title: Re: What are you supposed to do with someone who just can't be happy in their job?
Post by: elaine amj on October 18, 2013, 08:49:58 AM
I haven't read everything, but wanted to comment about your wife crying frequently.  This may sound like an odd question, but is she on any medications?  Specifically birth control or anything that impacts her hormones?

I ask because I used to be like that, virtually anything could set me off!  After I got off of the meds, I have been emotionally very stable.  Not that I don't get upset from time to time and cry, but it's something like once or twice a year at the most instead of several times a week.

Really, the crying being that frequent is a red flag of some kind.  It bears looking into.

She had been on birth control up until last month, she will not be back on it for the foreseeable future... ;)

For a while I thought it might be her coping ability, and maybe she was blowing things out of proportion (RE: her bosses), but when we would go to company functions everyone would be talking about how shitty the boss/management was in all three cases.  So yeah, I have to believe her after hearing more than one person back her up every time.

Part of the problem (I think) is that she will not let things slide that she thinks is wrong.  Well, not that that is a bad trait, but sometimes I will let things slide at work so I don't have to get into an argument about it, she will not.  When they cut her pay the first time most other people in that office would have been like "Well at least I still have a job".  My wife thinks more along the lines of "I'm underpaid as it is, and I'm doing three people's jobs now, I want that money back."  And she's not wrong.

But constantly seeing the ... injustice? and not being able to let it go?  Thats what I think the main issue is.  And what do I do, tell her "Well dear, life is not fair so you should just get used to it?"  That makes me feel like an asshole.

She wasn't crying when she came home last night, but she said after the meeting about the differential pay that day her counterpart was also in tears because she was so upset.  Her husband apparently calculated that they would owe $9k in back pay if the hospital pushed the issue, and that she would have to quit before they tried to get that money back.

Maybe your wife needs to learn that life ISN'T fair. It's what I tell my kids all the time. It's not nice, but it's a fact. I'm a woman and I certainly don't cry weekly. She needs to find a better way to cope. There will be bosses who stink, there will be work that is crappy, there will be times you will be annoyingly underpaid. Sure she has the right to complain and grumble about work policies that are unfair. But frankly, she sounds like a chronic complainer constantly seeing the glass half empty. Plus the thought that she should get some respect for holding a Masters degree - that is not the case in today's world. She's overqualified for her work and that is not her boss' or her coworkers' problem.

I once had a doom and gloom coworker. She was having it pretty good and then there was a change in boss. I was with her (we were travelling together for work when the change was announced). Let me tell you I built up more stress in those 3 days than I have ever dealt with in my life. She spent every second thinking through all the worst possible scenarios and the every other second whining and freaking out, tears and all. Yes, there was some unfairness and injustice. Yes, there were things to complain about. But really, was it worth all that energy? (I believe in not wasting energy worrying about things I cannot change). Her philosophy (I asked!) was that if she prepared for the worst, she would not be surprised and disappointed. Over the next month she continued stressing and whining and gloomed and doomed all over the office. The day they let her go (she drove everyone nuts but did an OK job. They ended up terminating her position to have a reason to let her go), it was like a big sigh of relief from the rest of us.

I'm a little extreme, glass always full type of person. So maybe my viewpoints can be cushioned with a stronger does of reality. Part of the problem sounds like she sees no hope and no way out of her situation. There's creative solutions to everything, so look for ways to think out of the box. And 3 bad jobs in a row? The problem lies more with her than the job. (Although it's true that her field being so unlucrative as to pay such piddly wages with no way to move up obviously plays a big role). I'd be more likely to say, "ok so my job sucks. My boss is unfair and the pay is crap. I'll keep looking for a better job. In the meantime, I'll get the most possible satisfaction from my job and just suck it up".
Title: Re: What are you supposed to do with someone who just can't be happy in their job?
Post by: okashira on October 18, 2013, 09:43:14 AM
Bear with me for a moment, but this is a case of backwards combination of capitalism and human compassion, believe it or not.

The fact is, the value of her position has been decimated by automation and technology. You stated this.

The capitalism part: The fact that her pay is shrinking, and her bosses are assholes to her.

The human compassion part: The fact that her bosses and hospital management haven't accelerated her replacement with cheaper workers and machines. Instead, they have been sending less then subtle message for some time (pay cuts, treatment) to give her a chance to leave with dignity and on her own schedule.

She hasn't taken up that offer. Why?
Title: Re: What are you supposed to do with someone who just can't be happy in their job?
Post by: Aloysius_Poutine on October 18, 2013, 09:53:40 AM
I say pull chute, leave the field entirely, and re-train for something more fulfilling (and better paying). Life's too short to waste your time at a job that 1) you hate, and 2) only pays $22/hr!!!
Title: Re: What are you supposed to do with someone who just can't be happy in their job?
Post by: ace1224 on October 18, 2013, 09:55:05 AM
i agree with elaine.  life isn't fair.  and if she can't be a "oh well at least i have a job" person then she might need a career change.  i work in a lab, and i have a masters degree and my counterpart doesn't and it doesn't ruin my day that we get paid the same.  its company policy.  i don't expect more respect from my boss.
she either needs to find a job that she's qualified for, or find something else that she can tolerate.  i am not one of those follow your passion people and i don't think a job should make or break you being happy.
hopefully your wife will figure something out but i don't think she should quit while you guys are paying down student loans.
Title: Re: What are you supposed to do with someone who just can't be happy in their job?
Post by: Argyle on October 18, 2013, 10:36:00 AM
Maybe she could benefit from reading the MMM post on circles of control.

If she can't do anything about it, why should she dwell on it?  What good is it doing her not to let it go?  She gets a sense of injustice, frustration, and aggravation all the time.  And frankly, we all could find a lot of things that are unfair about our lives if we wanted to look for them.  If she could do something about it, then why doesn't she?  Maybe...she likes feeling hard done by?  That's her go-to position, maybe?

But, respectfully, I disagree that it is good that you are worrying about this for her.  She is embroiling you in her own troubles rather than taking action.  I see it as a boundary issue.  You can sympathize when she needs sympathy -- up to a point.  (The point where feeling hard done by becomes self-indulgent.)  But it's up to her to figure out the right solution.  If she's that disturbed by it, why isn't she posting here?  Does she perhaps like feeling victimized because it wins her sympathy?  I'm not trying to bash her; I'm just suggesting some dynamics.  How you respond will help affirm or question her responses.   And if you say something like, "I have confidence you'll figure out what to do," that affirms her ability to handle her own life.  Which is a good thing to have.
Title: Re: What are you supposed to do with someone who just can't be happy in their job?
Post by: Frankies Girl on October 18, 2013, 10:50:49 AM
I've read through the latest posts, and something else occurred to me.

When they cut her pay the first time and basically told her to lump it, that was a clear signal to her. She had two choices: stay or leave. She chose to stay. It isn't about the unfairness (which no one is arguing over - it is unfair); its about the fact that she made a choice and is unhappy with that choice so instead of going with the other option (leaving), she chooses to waste her time and emotional/mental energy railing about the unfairness.

She needs to leave. Simple as that. Find a stop-gap job doing something that isn't that difficult (even retail - something that she's not emotionally invested in so she can just mindlessly work) and figure out what she wants to do - and I do think if she's had bad work situations in the past in this field, then she probably needs to do some deep thinking on what she would like to do instead.

The school loans for the degree are a sunk cost. We all make mistakes and that's one that ya'll just need to chalk up to a life lesson and pay it off and move on. I'm sure it is worth something, but probably still frustrating that it is a dying field (really wondering what that is now). If she continues to stay in a situation that is causing her so much emotional distress, she's not doing anything but wallowing in anger and bitterness which definitely isn't good for her, and is leaking over into her relationship with you... so I'd say that quitting and getting out of the field entirely would be a very smart investment for the both of you.
Title: Re: What are you supposed to do with someone who just can't be happy in their job?
Post by: imustachemystash on October 18, 2013, 04:08:42 PM
First off, she is so lucky to have you there for support.  I'm sure isn't easy for you to see her so unhappy.  She probably feels like she wasted 6 years of her life studying for a career she ended up not being happy with.  6 years is a long time! I think she might also feel stuck there because she has so much in loans to pay back and doesn't have the freedom to switch to something else.  She might also feel trapped because she had to move into your house that she didn't get to help pick out because it won't sell.  It sounds like you are also trying to have a baby.  Once you have a baby, the pressure also increases on a woman to find a balance between a career and work.  What you two decide now might change after the baby comes, so I would hold off on making any huge career change.  Can she find a mentor in her field to help?  I had a rough start with my career and I was provided a mentor who changed my whole perspective.  I think a professional needs to be there for counseling too because you probably have a lot of pressure on you to provide for your family and also support your wife's emotional roller coasters.  Lastly, keep your expenses down so you can both see there is a light at the end of the tunnel.  Once her loans are gone she might have a weight lifted off her shoulders and will feel free to change careers if she wants to, or if she wants to stay home with the baby you will be able to afford to.
Title: Re: What are you supposed to do with someone who just can't be happy in their job?
Post by: KS on October 18, 2013, 05:56:08 PM
I know from experience this can be tough... and I've been in the flipped gender situation: from the sound of things, my husband is very similar to your wife with regard to hating every job, then looking back with slightly rose-colored glasses once in the next job he hates. (He doesn't cry, but complains a LOT). It can be really frustrating and difficult to be in the position of sounding board when there does not seem to be any situation in which your spouse will be truly happy. (Although I must say, some aspects of your wife's job do sound pretty intolerable) I mostly do the same as you, just listen and provide full support for whatever decision he feels is necessary. I also do try to gently remind him of the real history when he talks fondly of previous jobs he hated... mostly to remind him the grass is not always greener and to try and find the good stuff in his current situation where possible. I do hope there is something out there where he can be, if not exactly happy, then at least hate it less. I guess the only silver lining is when your spouse feels that way about work, it's pretty easy to get them on board the early retirement train!

As to the crying thing: I am a major leaky faucet. Sappy TV shows, heartwarming commercials, you name it. My response to being super angry and frustrated is also unfortunately often tears even though I want to yell instead. (and I think I have a normal hormone balance, although of course the tears do happen more readily some times of the month than others...) However, I almost NEVER cry or feel like crying at work, and when a job has gotten bad enough for me to be on the brink of tears on a regular basis I definitely take that as a sign something is very off and I need to get out. So then I do what has to be done to make that change happen for myself. Which has happened twice now, I'm actually currently on a mini-hiatus exercising my FU stash for the first time ever to get out of a terrible situation. (The other time I was able to line up my next job first, ironically the one I just had to leave.) But it took a LOT to push me to that breaking point and once there it's very hard to switch back into optimism, even though I am relentlessly, almost obnoxiously optimistic most of the time. So if your wife has previously not always cried about work and has started more recently, she should probably make a change asap. Sorry, this was way longer than I intended, good luck to you both!!
Title: Re: What are you supposed to do with someone who just can't be happy in their job?
Post by: oldtoyota on October 22, 2013, 09:04:18 AM
I have seen some people go through a very similar "cycle of misery and drama."

In the cases I saw, it was usually about the woman not really wanting to work (at all). They spent several years "unsuccessfully" working with lots of emotional flare ups, until they got pregnant or their spouse finally threw up their hands and said "fine, stay home."

Good point. I knew someone like that. She told me that she could "not get a job that paid over $30K" so there "was no point to working at all." I made some suggestions, and she gave me the death eye. Her husband was sitting nearby, and she did not want him thinking she could work for more than $30K!
Title: Re: What are you supposed to do with someone who just can't be happy in their job?
Post by: StarryC on October 22, 2013, 11:32:58 AM
In the cases I saw, it was usually about the woman not really wanting to work (at all). They spent several years "unsuccessfully" working with lots of emotional flare ups, until they got pregnant or their spouse finally threw up their hands and said "fine, stay home."

It's my theory that some spouses simply want to be kept, and this kind of display is a way of manipulating towards that. Not that it is as calculated as it sounds... but it's a pattern I've seen in some couples. Several in my family.

I would hope that the OP choose to marry someone who is honest with her spouse about her feelings, desires, and life plans.  I think and hope that most grown up women who are old enough to be married, work, and care for children, can get to a point where they can honestly share what they want for their lives with their chosen partners rather than manipulating their partners with lies.  In fact, I'd like to think that most mature adults would talk about these things before they get married.  For goodness sakes, most women I know who want that lifestyle (SAHM/W) make it clear well before the engagement. 

If this is the circumstance, then couples counseling would surely be the first step. 
Title: Re: What are you supposed to do with someone who just can't be happy in their job?
Post by: ritchie70 on October 22, 2013, 02:13:26 PM
She lost ~$2/hr when she went from part time to full time.  Now they're talking about taking more money away because there was a glitch (for a fucking decade) where some people were getting a $2 differential pay for time worked after 3pm.  She stopped getting it when she went from part time to full time (so now we're talking -$4/hr for that time period) while her counterpart was getting it all along.  They told her it was a mistake, and NOBODY should get it unless they worked at least 4 hours after 3pm.  And that since some people have been getting it for 30 min-2 hours past 3pm, they might now have to go back and recalculate and take that overage out of their next few paychecks.  Recalculate, in her counterpart's case, for the last 9 years.  Lets just say she won't be too popular for bringing that up if it happens.
Deducting to make up a miscalculation in pay is probably illegal. Your wife and her co-workers should consult with your state's Department of Labor.
Title: Re: What are you supposed to do with someone who just can't be happy in their job?
Post by: smalllife on October 22, 2013, 02:27:33 PM
Deducting to make up a miscalculation in pay is probably illegal. Your wife and her co-workers should consult with your state's Department of Labor.

It's not.  There might be a statute of limitation, but it is perfectly legal for an employer to fix a mistake in payroll.  They probably won't want to do so prior to this year because the difference in wages would be more than the fees to re-file their company taxes - so if that happens, ask them if they plan on updating those and they will likely retract. 
Title: Re: What are you supposed to do with someone who just can't be happy in their job?
Post by: Forcus on October 23, 2013, 10:06:20 AM
OK I skimmed the responses and I think it was touched on but not explored:

How can anyone be happy if their job will eventually be eliminated, unless they are able to completely ignore reality??

I job shadowed doing welding in a large gear fabrication area. It was welding stringers back and forth to build up material on a gear end. It was clear to me the process was the way it was since it was established maybe 60 years ago and because of various reasons had never been revisited. Eventually when the focus came to cost reduction, the product and process engineers would (be forced to) get together and figure out how to manufacture the piece, from the beginning, to eliminate costly production time (in this area, welding stringers, the workers got minimum $32 / hr with full pension and one gear process was maybe 16 hours). If I was that guy, welding stringers, I couldn't imagine feeling good coming to work with the knowledge that my job was going to be superfluous sooner rather than later. If the wife's job is going to be eliminated through automation, why stick around for the eventual outcome that everyone already knows? Line something else up and get out. Or be flexible, save a lot, look at different careers & education, and when it does happen, adjust and move on? Like someone else said, a masters in anything can still be valuable in a non-connected career (one of my previous bosses in a marketing / business role had a masters in Marine Biology).

Just some thoughts.
Title: Re: What are you supposed to do with someone who just can't be happy in their job?
Post by: MsSindy on October 23, 2013, 01:27:05 PM
Just some thoughts on coping / dumping that we use in our household.  Both DH and I HATE our jobs, but they pay fantastically well, so we're sticking them out for now.  However, we have some rules to keep the sanity:
 1) You get a max of 10 min per day to complain about your work and then you need to "let it go" (this prevents both of us from dumping on each other and ruining the rest of the night)
 2) We fully support each other finding other employment, as long as it's not less than 60% of our current pay - this is our threshold for still being able to FIRE in a reasonable time
 3) If you're not actively searching for another job, you don't get to complain. period.


Actually, I came up with these self-imposed rules when I noticed I was coming home and bitching more and more frequently (no crying, though :)).  DH is a good listener, but I realized that was no way to have a happy marriage.  This works well for us, hopefully others will find it useful.
Title: Re: What are you supposed to do with someone who just can't be happy in their job?
Post by: adam on October 24, 2013, 09:10:46 AM
Two days this week she has come home in tears.  Her immediate supervisor is either knowingly or unknowingly undermining my wife's standing with the other people in the lab by insinuating she was complaining that they don't do their jobs.  She did not say that to anyone.  Now they are all giving her the cold shoulder.

Yesterday they (upper management) had a meeting about compensation with the whole lab.  A few months ago there was a survey about worker happiness and pretty much everyone in the lab scored very low in the happiness for compensation, hence the meeting.  They handed out papers explaining where they might not be seeing money in a paycheck, but they are being 'fairly' compensated.  Among the items that don't show up in a paycheck were:
Medical Benefits (she doesn't have any because she is under mine)
Paid Time Off
Paid Holidays (she gets 1)
Retirement/401k matching
Social Security and Medicare taxes paid by the hospital are counted towards her retirement compensation!

After I saw that I said "Well, I'm surprised they don't count the fact that they have to air condition and run electricity to the building as part of your compensation as well". 

Oh but apparently her boss mis-read the policy about the after 3pm pay differential and they are eligible for it, so they won't be trying to take it away (but now they have to fix the last 8 months my wife wasn't getting it).  Did I mention according to hospital policies/instruction, her immediate supervisor is completely unqualified to manage what my wife and her counterpart do? Really one of the two of them are the only people in the hospital qualified to manage their work, but given that there are only two of them it doesn't make much sense to just appoint a manager of 1.

We discussed it a bit over the weekend and she has been looking around for other 'careers'.  She has a desire to work, and wants to contribute to paying off our debt as much as possible.  I just tell her that we can still find a way to do that without her coming home in tears, whatever it is.

Now I'm just venting.
Title: Re: What are you supposed to do with someone who just can't be happy in their job?
Post by: lifejoy on October 24, 2013, 09:34:29 AM
Hey adam, sorry you two are going through this.

I hate my job because it bores me to tears, but I really don't have it so bad. However, I can relate to coming home feeling totally dejected.

I keep telling myself that there's a light at the end of the tunnel, and that I don't have to do this job forever. That helps.

Hang in there!!
Title: Re: What are you supposed to do with someone who just can't be happy in their job?
Post by: Argyle on October 24, 2013, 10:52:26 AM
Also, it is what it is.  They underpay her (according to market averages, I would guess?) and they are defensive and blustery about it.  Well, that's my situation too.  It makes me grouchy when I think about it.  But -- not to minimize the need to keep a look-out for better positions -- there are always reasons to be grouchy.  It depends on your focus.  It sounds as if you're buying into your wife's sense of victimization.  She needs to find a good job and be an advocate for herself.  But she also needs to realize that focus makes a big difference.  It is not cheating to be happy despite being underpaid and having less-than-optimum work conditions.