Pay Dirt is Slate’s money advice column. Have a question? Send it to Athena and Elizabeth here. (It’s anonymous!)
Dear Pay Dirt,
I work from home for a large company and have a fairly structured work week. My partner works outside of the home, but has a very self-directed role.
They frequently take last-minute time off when there are no appointments. This results in my partner commonly having three- and four-day weekends. This does not present a financial burden for our family, and I try to be happy that they are not overworking. They’re also a polite housemate while I am working. That said, I feel so jealous!
I do not have the same flexibility and am not likely to without a drastic career change. I am happy with my work. But it’s frustrating to be working one or two more days per week than my partner, earning roughly the same income, while they’re enjoying themself around the house. How can—or should—I process these feelings? Is it ever OK to tell my partner I feel this way?
—Maybe I’m Just a Jerk
Dear Not A Jerk,
I don’t think you’re a jerk at all. You’re not the only one who feels this way. Many are jealous or resentful of their partner’s with a flexible work schedule. Having those kinds of hours can offer opportunities for better work-life balance and overall happiness by giving people more control over their time. Your feelings are valid. But it’s essential to remember that your partner has done nothing wrong by orchestrating their career in a way that works for them.
I wonder if you’ve thought about how you can bring similar happiness to your life. Would you be able to switch your schedule around with your employer so that you work four 10-hour shifts so you can have an additional day off? Could you do a half-day during the week to make more time for yourself? Do you take all of your PTO? Depending on how much, you could take one day a week off over a few weeks to experiment with a new kind of schedule.
If none of this works, and you’re still feeling resentment, it may be time to consider that career change you want to avoid. And sure, speak to your partner to discuss what you’re going through and how you hope to feel better. Don’t put the blame on them, but don’t hide your feelings either. The unknown can be scary, but it’s doable when you have the proper support to help.
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