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The two-body problem

  1. Dec 11, 2011 #1
    My husband and I are soon to graduate with our PhDs. Mine in nuclear engineering, his in medical physics. We are looking for jobs and trying to end up in the same town. I'm mostly looking at postdocs, he is looking at residencies, junior physicist postions, or postdocs in MP. I've been offered a job in France which I would love to take, but he's not having any luck finding anything (the system for certifying MPs is a bit different there)... I'm afraid if I turn down the job and wait for his first offer somewhere else, then I won't be able to find a job in the same city as his offer, and we'll be left with the same problem again. We don't want to spend 18 months in different countries, but is this the only option for us both to have a job?

    Does anyone have any experience with this? What did you do? I guess I don't know what to ask for in a response (unless you happen to be offering a job in MP in France!), but the stress of making this decision is quite large.
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  3. Dec 11, 2011 #2

    Vanadium 50

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    What kind of Carte de Sejour will you get? A Titre de Sejour Special will let your spouse work, but many other kinds will not. That may make a difference to your decision process.
  4. Dec 11, 2011 #3
    Vanadium, I don't know. The place I would be working has told me that there is a lot of paperwork that takes a long time, but I don't have all the specifics yet. I had not thought about the difficulties of my husband coming with me without already having a job lined up. Thanks a lot for pointing that out.
  5. Dec 11, 2011 #4
    All I can say is that myself and my significant other are both medical physicists and we are dealing with the same issue. We met in graduate school but are currently separated by 600 miles and have been doing the long-distance-relationship thing for about 13 months now. It's tough sometimes but it is certainly doable should it come down to that.
  6. Dec 11, 2011 #5


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    Unfortunately I'm not sure anyone can promise you that you'll both find perfect jobs together in the same city. Instead, you'll have to make the best of what jobs are available at the time.

    When I was a medical physics resident, my wife and I worked in cities that were about 1.5 hours apart, which we solved with a 45 minute commute for both of us. It wasn't great, but it all worked out.
  7. Dec 12, 2011 #6
    We graduated in the same field and we limited our scope of search for jobs to the same city / area from the beginning - this area was the most promising one in terms of potential jobs and density of interesting employers. We were lucky as we ended up working even in the same department (of a non-university research center).

    Finally (after some experience in different jobs, but all in the same area - requiring some commuting) we decided to start our own company. It worked out well so far.
  8. Dec 12, 2011 #7
    The only solutions I've seen to the two body problem involved one of the bodies sacrificing career to keep relationships together.
  9. Dec 12, 2011 #8


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    Although it is such a common problem that many universities/institutes frequently offer both "bodies" a job. This is the reason for why you find so many couples working at the same university/institute (I can think of at least four married couples where I work).
    That said, this is perhaps more common for more senior scientists (although it is not unheard of for a university to create say a postdoc position for the wife/husband of someone they really want to recruit).
  10. Dec 12, 2011 #9


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