Imagine this scenario:

You are a newly minted Ph.D. with one unsuccessful year-long job search under your belt.  Your spouse is a contract-based faculty member at your alma mater in another department across campus.  After your unsuccessful search, your spouse received a contract extension for the 2010-11 academic year, and you have an adjuncting gig.  In this abysmal economy, you consider yourselves fortunate.

One day, in a moment of marital discussion, you say, “Hey, babe, what’s the benefit if you stay at your job until the 10th year and vest in the (State) Teachers’ Retirement System?”  Spouse says, “Gee, let me look into it.”

It is then that you discover that you stand to gain at least $200,000 by sticking on for another 2 years.  Herein lies the dilemma.

I am going to conduct another national search, but unless we get good advice that says otherwise, Spouse is staying on to complete 10 years (and this upcoming academic year is 8).  This could mean that we spend up to two years apart from one another, although as some have pointed out, with summer and winter breaks, it really ends up being around 14-18 months total.

Now, an appeal to my readers…If you’re an academic, particularly one who has been in a long-distance relationship, what would you do?  This is A LOT of money we’re talking about, but if it’s something that would devastate our relationship, it’s obviously not worth it.  We have no children currently and no plans for children for at least another 4-5 years (I want to be well on my way to tenure before undertaking such a thing).  We’re financially secure, mentally stable, and physically healthy.