Tuesday, January 2, 2007

Step 1: Telling my husband

When I first told my husband that I wanted to quit my relatively stable, executive job at "a Seattle-based global coffee chain" to start up a nail parlor, he was, somewhat understandably, a little less than enthusiastic.

“This is NOT what second generation immigrants like you are supposed to do,” he argued. “It’s the FIRST generation that works hard in nail salons, so that the second generation doesn’t have to! You’re second generation. You’re supposed to stay in your nice, secure white collar job and build up your 401k.”

I was born in Korea and immigrated to Canada with my parents when I was four. My parents worked in factories, cleaning jobs, then bought a convenience store franchise before building up a three-store frame-shop empire.

My husband, the self-proclaimed expert in the sociology of immigration, was born in North Carolina and immigrated to Connecticut when he was twenty-two.

My interest in starting a new business and quitting my job (or quitting my job and starting a new business, as B saw it), surfaced several issues in our marriage that neither of us had recognized up to this point, including:

1) B’s interest in owning a vacation house, and my lack of interest in same.
2) B’s interest in leaving open the option of taking a position abroad, and my lack of interest in same.
3) B’s interest in a sound savings strategy that would enable us to retire early, and my inability to focus on same.

I never knew that he wanted a water front vacation house. I never knew that he might want to move to Paris with his job. I never knew that his company even had an office in Paris.

“We don’t speak French,” I sulked. “And who wants to go back to the same stinking place for vacation year after year anyway.”

“And I really, really want to do this,” I cajoled. “I know this will work.”

At one point, "Howard Schultz owns a basketball team, you know" (that was before he sold it).

Then, “Do you think it might be sexist of you not to support me?”

To the credit of our ten year marriage, this was the first thing that I really cared about that B wasn’t immediately and fully supportive of. Which is what made it so hard.

Not knowing where else to turn, I suggested marital counseling.

Nothing motivated him more to reach deep down into his being to find a way to feign indifference. Which has, over time, mellowed into mild tolerance.

So I’m off to the races.