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Guy Furious After Software Engineer Spouse Declines Job Promotion Without Discussing It First

Outraged man yelling
Tara Moore/Getty Images

Navigating the workforce can be just as tricky as landing a job itself.

Having a spouse who doesn’t agree with the decisions you’re making about your own career could make it feel all the more tricky, agreed the “Am I the A**hole?” (AITA) subReddit.

Redditor Stellcarso was recently offered a job promotion, but when they weren’t given information about the job duties or salary, they hesitated to accept.

But when their new husband criticized them for hesitating, the Original Poster (OP) wondered if they were overthinking the situation.

They asked the sub:

“AITA for saying no to a promotion? I’m newly married and my husband is upset.”

The OP was financially in a comfortable position at work.

“I’m a software engineer and my husband works in construction management.”

“I grew up broke as f**k, so honestly, I feel like I’m loaded right now. I make 120k and my husband makes 80k.”

“I’ve gone from counting literal pennies because my budget was that tight, to not having to worry about buying anything we need.”

So comfortable, the OP wasn’t sure about accepting a promotion.

“So at work, when my boss offered me a Program Manager position, but said that my salary would be reviewed at the next review cycle… I went and got a drink with the guy who has that job now, and the guy who had the job before him.”

“The current guy said he was screwed out of a raise. He took the promotion when it was implied one was coming and it never came.”

“And the guy before him? He was making less than I am currently in the role and kept getting his requests for raises rejected.”

“That night, I told my husband about my day, and how I wasn’t sure if I should take the promotion.”

“We talked a bit, and he thought I should, just for my resume.”

More information about the salary confirmed the OP’s suspicions. 

“The next morning, I asked my boss what the salary for the promotion would be, and he said that it would be up to HR (Human Resources) in the next review cycle.”

“I’d heard that that tends to be the absolute minimum they can get away with, and honestly, that role on the job market was valued at 150-180k, so I’d be majorly undervalued.”

“I was starting to think I’d have to be a sucker to take that offer.”

“So I told my boss I was grateful to be considered, but I was not comfortable taking on any role until the terms of employment including compensation were more fully defined.”

“He said his hands were tied. HR wouldn’t renegotiate until the next quarter.”

The OP was surprised by their husband’s reaction to the decision.

“I came home and told my husband I declined the promotion, and he was surprisingly mad about it.”

“He said it was something we should have talked about instead of me just going on my own, and that I knew he didn’t agree with me!”

“I said that I knew my job, the financials weren’t looking good, and you can’t get water from a stone. And if I took that, I’d be doubling my workload for nothing.”

“He said I’d have something for my resume that’d let me negotiate a higher pay elsewhere since it’d open up other management jobs for me.”

“I said I liked being an individual contributor and I wouldn’t enjoy management, so that wasn’t something I cared about.”

The OP’s husband lashed out.

“He said, ‘It’s all about you, isn’t it?'”

“He was upset because we’re married now and I was impacting both of our financial futures since I didn’t want a ‘hard job.'”

“He argued that it was normal to take on additional responsibilities and then have a salary review. I just didn’t know because I’m ‘too young’ (27 to his 33) and have never been promoted since I job-hop too much.”

“I said it was an old-school way of thinking to slave away for free in the hope you’ll be rewarded. I tried that at my first two jobs and that’s why I quit! All it does is tells them you’re cheap and gullible!”

“He called me naive and said I was too idealistic…”

“AITA for declining the promotion?”

Fellow Redditors weighed in:

  • NTA: Not the A**hole
  • YTA: You’re the A**hole
  • ESH: Everybody Sucks Here
  • NAH: No A**holes Here

Some applauded the OP for their thought process around the offered promotion.

“Unless someone gets to a strategy level or a director level, the comp for software engineers still is higher than most PM roles. And there is a greater range for a valuable engineer.”

“Most people would advise against going from engineering to PM unless that is the path you want to take in your career. It isn’t a ‘promotion,’ it is a completely different career path. And, as others have said, it means different comp packages, different deliverable goals, etc.”

“The engineers I know who took it as a promotion all ended up leaving to go to another company to get back into software.”

“Your maturity and thoughtfulness in your decision should be applauded. This isn’t an age thing. Your husband just doesn’t get it, possibly because in his career path, a project manager is a boss and an upward trajectory, whereas in yours, it is a completely different career, and not really a promotion for a software engineer (that looks more like sr, lead, manager or sr, lead, architect, etc).” – SnarkyLalaith

“I like PMing (Project Managing), but holy s**t, it’s not for everyone. It’s not engineering at all. It has a vastly different skillset, and your career trajectory isn’t guaranteed to be any more glamorous than the software engineer career path.”

“I think the confusing part here is the term ‘promotion.’ This isn’t a promotion. This is a career change.” – OxB4BE

“Most importantly, OP was 100% right not to accept a job without all terms being made official and crystal clear.”

“Because if you accept a job but agree to negotiate salary later, there will BE no negotiation because you’ve given away all of your leverage. You’ve already agreed to take on the additional work and stress and effort regardless of what they plan to pay you. Clearly doing so would be a foolish career decision.”

“So OP, your husband, despite his entire SIX years of additional knowledge, please imagine how hard I’m rolling my eyes, is completely wrong. Of COURSE you should not have accepted this job ‘offer.'”

“NTA.” – calligrafiddler

“As a developer who once took a management role for a couple of years when my boss left and I got internally promoted… I hated EVERY minute of it!”

“It’s also not that great a career move for a techie unless management is what you want to do forever; I hadn’t been hands-on technical for so long that it left me at a skill disadvantage vs other candidates when I eventually went for another developer job.”

“I had to study and refresh my skills, and endure the awkward conversations about why I was ‘going backwards’ at job interviews. It’s a whole pain in the a** you’re better off avoiding unless you seriously want to be a manager.” – dreamham

Others were concerned about the husband’s advice and perception of the OP.

“You were right about the ‘old mentality.’ This type of conversation happens a lot when one person is in the blue-collar workforce and one is in the white-collar tech industry, because they just don’t understand it.”

“On the blue-collar side, it’s usually the good career move to put in more hours, work a bit harder, and to ‘stick it out’ when things get tough because eventually, it’ll pay off. That mentality doesn’t really work anymore, because the economy has evolved.”

“You are very right to have passed on the job, and for the exact reasons you (and your coworkers) mentioned. They should have all of the details ironed out before being able to offer someone the job, which includes compensation, and nobody in tech should be burning the midnight oil to ‘impress’ their company. That doesn’t work in the tech industry.”

“Your husband, I’m sorry to say, just doesn’t know what he’s talking about. Beyond all of that, I’d never take a PM role for under $150k. The extra stress of it (though some people handle it with grace) and the instability of the role are why it pays so well.”

“I was in the gaming industry as a developer for about 10 years, and have been with large software companies for around 15 years now as a developer and consultant. I have a bit of experience with this.”

“You seem to be pretty well-connected with what’s good and bad for your career. Job-hopping is great for people in the tech industry, as long as you don’t do it every few months, and is the best way to get higher income.”

“His nonsense about you being too young to understand is just another example of him not knowing what he’s talking about (along with him making 66% of your salary, despite being in the workforce substantially longer, and thinking they’ll just magically decide to pay you more later if you accept it now).”

“He doesn’t understand your industry, and he’s very clearly looking down on your decision-making and your experience.” – dereksalem

“OP’s partner seems to look down on OP. Almost like he thinks that OP can’t make decisions on her own… even though she makes more than him.”

“She clearly isn’t stupid, and she should remind him of that.”

“I’m sure OP doesn’t tell him what to do at a job she knows nothing about.” – crystallz2000

“Might be the arrogance of being an Engineer, but anyone who is not an Engineer giving me career advice would have all my coworkers and my friends on the floor laughing, quite literally.”

“I’m a Software Engineer and my unemployed friend tried to give me career advice in front of our friend group. (He’s the only one who is not an Engineer, decided to study biology or something. All of us shifted majors in college because we looked at the job market and understood, some careers don’t make a lot of money.) Everyone just died laughing.”

“If someone in construction management tried to give me career advice, I would either think they are joking or consider them delusional.” – ApdoKangaroo

“OP, you’d be an idiot to accept that role without a formal letter stating what your pay would be for that role and the job description you’d be required to do.”

“Good for you, OP, for trusting your gut. You are not naive, please don’t listen to him.”

“Why should you take on more stress, more work, etc., when you wouldn’t be paid anything extra just because it ‘looks good on a resume’?”

“Husband needs to understand not every field looks at someone who does that as deserving of more pay. Most just see it as someone happy to do more work and not get paid for it saving them money in the long run.”

“You wouldn’t be telling him what he should or shouldn’t do in his career field so he shouldn’t be telling you what to do. He can offer advice or his opinion but ultimately it’s your choice.”

“If he’s so worried about your financial futures then he can go find a higher paying job.” – Shortstuff_xo

The subReddit collectively applauded the OP for their decision to continue with their current position, as it was clearly what they wanted to do and were comfortable with. Taking on the promotion would have placed them in a position they weren’t as happy with, not to mention working well beneath their worth.

Written by McKenzie Lynn Tozan

McKenzie Lynn Tozan has been a part of the George Takei family since 2019 when she wrote some of her favorite early pieces: Sesame Street introducing its first character who lived in foster care and Bruce Willis delivering a not-so-Die-Hard opening pitch at a Phillies game. She's gone on to write nearly 3,000 viral and trending stories for George Takei, Comic Sands, Percolately, and ÜberFacts. With an unstoppable love for the written word, she's also an avid reader, poet, and indie novelist.