Quitting to Get Married

In some countries and time periods, women are expected to quit their jobs when they get married. This can cause conflict if the woman really loves her job and doesn't want to quit, but her husband and/or her company think she should quit.

There are some male jobs that do not permit marriage, the Catholic clergy being the best known. However, this is normally Always Female; men are "supposed" to be the breadwinner of a couple. A more gender-balanced version is quitting a job that is too dangerous or time-consuming, or has too high travel requirements, for a married character, though in that case, the man usually gets another job.

This is most common in Japanese works or Western works written (or, for period pieces, set) before the 1970s. In modern day Western works, a woman who quits to get married may be seen as a Gold Digger or Trophy Wife. The trope is moving toward Discredited Trope territory in the West, but hasn't quite gotten there yet. In older fiction, especially older SF, this is often an example of Society Marches On.

A woman who does this may have taken a MRS Degree in college ... or quit college so she could get married, which is another variant on this trope. This is a common outcome of the Family Versus Career or Career Versus Man choice.


Examples:

Film
  • In Korean film Marriage Blue, So-mi's fiance wants her to quit her job as a manicurist to raise the family they're planning. She doesn't want to, leading to tension.
  • In the movie "Nightmare in the Daylight" Jaclyn Smith plays a woman whose husband gave up being a Catholic priest to marry her. In his words "God wants me to be this woman's husband".
  • In An Officer and a Gentleman, David Keith's character (Jim Worley) is an naval officer candidate who has a fling with one of the town girls (as candidates often do) named Lynette; she reports that she is pregnant in order to get him to marry her, but then he quits the navy to marry her. Lynette had wanted to be a navy officer's wife, so she dumps him (and informs him that she wasn't pregnant after all). He hangs himself.
  • In Kill Bill, the Bride (!) tries to quit the Professional Killer business in order to marry. It backfires horribly.
  • The film His Girl Friday starts with Hildy telling her ex-husband that once she marries her current fiance she's giving up her job with the paper to be a wife and mother. It's a Screwball Comedy and the ex is played by Cary Grant, so of course it doesn't work out that way.
  • Gender-flipped and retroactively applied in Good Night, and Good Luck.. Joe and Shirley Wershba are Happily Married despite CBS company policy prohibiting married coworkers. Their marriage is an Open Secret in the office, but near the end of the film their boss is told to lay off two employees, and gives them the opportunity to have one or both of them quit to save somebody else's job. Joe takes the offer.
  • Gender-flipped in Guess Who, when Ashton Kutcher's character, a successful stock broker, quits his job and insults his boss right before going to meet his girlfriend's parents for the first time and propose. He doesn't tell anyone and hopes to get a new job before she finds out. However, his boss spreads rumors that he's under SEC investigation, so nobody wants to hire him. It's later revealed that his boss is a racist who doesn't want him to marry a black girl resulting in the the messy situation. After finding out, his future father-in-law praises him for standing up for his beliefs but tells him that it's stupid to overreact, especially since they'll be getting comments like this for the rest of their lives.

Literature
  • In A Brother's Price Jerin meets his old teacher, Miss Skinner, on a ship. She is getting married, and quitting her job. Played with in that she doesn't have to quit, and she doesn't even know the man she's going to marry - it's just that her sisters and she have finally saved enough money to be able to afford a husband.
  • In Strong Poison, this is how Lord Peter was able to get one of his staffers from his typing bureau to infiltrate Norman Urquart's law office. The office manager complains to him that the last female secretary was overcome by "a whim" and she ran off to get married. Lord Peter advises Miss Murchison to instruct the replacement to "make sure her skirts are the regulation four inches below the knee" because the manager is "feeling anti-sex appeal".
    • A few books later in Gaudy Night, Harriet tries to get hold of Miss Murchison only to find that she has left the typing bureau to get married.
  • In Little House on the Prairie, Laura quits her teaching job when she and Almanzo decide to get married. She also quits her own continuing education: when she tells Mr. Owen she's engaged and won't be coming back to school after her upcoming term as a teacher, he apologizes for not graduating her already— he was waiting to graduate her and her classmates all together the next term, and some of them weren't ready. Further reading about the author's actual life will show that, while she wasn't allowed to teach after marriage, she still did a variety of other jobs to supplement her husband's farm work during lean times, including dressmaking, writing, bookkeeping, boarding, and dispensing loans. It's specifically noted in On the Way Home and Little House on Rocky Ridge that the hundred dollar bill the Wilders have as a down payment for their new land was earned by Laura, working outside the home as a seamstress. It's also mentioned that Laura's mother, Caroline, was also a schoolteacher before she got married.
  • In L. M. Montgomery's ''Anne of Green Gables, Anne explains that her parents were school teacher until they married, whereupon her mother quit. Later, she works only until she married.
  • Lensman: Clarissa comments at the end of Gray Lensman that she's facing a huge amount of demerits for having not one, but three men in her quarters. The chief surgeon (one of those men) assures her she won't get in trouble, because her resignation to marry Kinnison will be backdated to before the meeting. (Note that Clarissa hadn't said anything about resigning, everyonenote  just assumed she would.) Turns into a 10-Minute Retirement when Mentor delivers a psychic Dope Slap to Kinnison at the beginning of Second Stage Lensmen ... but before she gets to go through with the wedding at the end of that book, she resigns again.
  • Reversed in the children's book Tornado Slim and the Magic Cowboy Hat. The hero wins a job as a wild west sheriff that is vacant because the man who was their sheriff left to get married.
  • It's because of this trope that Lionel Hawkins has difficulty having a permanent Lovely Assistant for his magic act in Steadfast. This is why Katie Langford was able to get a job as his assistant, as his latest assistant, Suzie, had gotten engaged.
  • Vampire Academy:
    • The guardian of Moroi royals Abby and Xander Badica wants to resign to marry another guardian. Both are quitting their careers and leaving the Moroi world, planning to get jobs with humans. All other guardians seen or mentioned in the series are single, though it is unclear if this is mandatory.
    • Mark, a shadow-kissed dhampir used to be a guardian. He run away to marry his sprit-user charge Oksana. They live in hiding as their marriage is taboo for Moroi society.
  • In the Chalet School books, this happens to several mistresses, including Hilary Burn, Mollie Maynard, Biddy O'Ryan, Simone Lecoutier (though she does return to teach during the war) and, of course, Madge. Miss Annersley and Miss Wilson are notable exceptions. Julie Lucy also has to give up her future career as a barrister when she gets engaged as, according to Joey, 'she won't have time as the wife of a housemaster'. Bear in mind that married women giving up their jobs happened a lot during the period the books were written.

Live Action Television
  • Mad Men:
    • Joan's new husband forces her to quit her job because he feels that if she keeps on working it will look like he cannot support his family. Then it turns out that he really cannot support them financially and Joan has to take a much less prestigious and lower paying job at a department store.
    • Averted when Don marries his secretary. He is actually quite supportive of her working at the firm as a copywriter and is disappointed when she quits the job to pursue an acting career.
  • Star Trek: The Original Series
    • In the episode "Who Mourns for Adonais". Kirk and Dr. McCoy are discussing Lieutenant Carolyn Palamas.
      McCoy: One day she'll find the right man and off she'll go, out of the service.
    • Implied in the episode "Balance of Terror", when Kirk marries two officers, but is interrupted as a Red Alert goes off. The groom reminds the bride that for the moment he's still her superior officer.
  • In Soap Father Tim Flotsky quits the priesthood to be with Corinne. When he proposes she is surprised. "No, I quit the priesthood so we could go steady."
  • Gender Inverted in Up All Night. The husband quits his job to care for their baby and the wife continues to work.
  • In a sketch on Love American Style a woman who is a professional cake jump-outer has a boyfriend who doesn't want her doing that any more, so he proposes. She quits on the spot, mere moments before she's scheduled to jump.
  • Zig-zagged on the last episode of JAG where Harm and Sarah flip a coin for who will have to do this when they marry. The show ends before the coin lands.
  • In the backstory to The Dick Van Dyke Show Laura had quit a promising career as a song-and-dance girl to become Mrs. Robert Petrie, wife and mother. In one episode she goes back to work temporarily on The Alan Brady Show when another dancer gets injured. Rob is worried she'll want to continue full-time.
  • In the first episode of The Andy Griffith Show their beloved housekeeper Rose gets married and leaves their service, so Aunt Bee comes in to help raise Opie.
  • Desperate Housewives: Gabrielle quits her career as an international fashion model to marry Carlos. It proves to have been the right decision since in Season 7 it is revealed that her career would have ended soon anyway, due to her bad attitude.

Manga and Anime
  • In Tramps Like Us , Sumire is concerned about whether Hatsumi would expect her to leave her job after marriage. She resigns briefly after her proposal, but after it is called off, she returns. When she marries Momo, she continues to work
  • In Hanasaku Iroha, Tomoe considers getting married and quitting her job, but after some wacky hijinks, she decides to wait a while since she enjoys working at the inn so much.
  • In Remote, the heroine quits her job as a traffic cop because she's about to get hitched, only to learn her fiance didn't get that promotion and salary hike after all. She tries to take back her resignation, but they already hired her replacement. Oh, but there's an opening in Homicide....
  • A flashback in the manga of Neon Genesis Evangelion has Yui Ikari, Shinji's mother, get asked by Dr. Fuyutsuki where she's planning to work after getting her doctorate. She answers she's actually planning to marry Gendou and start a family.
  • At the end of ARIA, Alicia announces she's retiring to get married. This comes completely out of nowhere in the anime, the manga spent a few chapters hinting about her seeing someone. All the Yuri shippers still collectively let out a Big "NO!".
  • In Death Note, Naomi Misora has agreed to do this because her fiance, Ray Penber, worries about her in her line of work, though it often comes across as just him being a misogynist.
    • Also, Light asks Misa to retire from filming in the manga version when he (rather unromantically) says they'll get married.

Music
  • In "Summer of '69" by Bryan Adams, he describes how his first band never got far because "Jimmy quit and Jody got married" (I think Jody, actually a guy, refers to Bryan's sound manager.)

Newspaper Comics

Theatre
  • In Fiorello!, Marie doesn't quit; she gets fired and then married. To be more specific: Fiorello fires her on the spot over what seems like a minor conflict of priorities, but he explains why: "I can't court a girl who's working for me." His very next words to her: "Will you marry me?" It's admittedly a sudden proposal, but having nursed unrequited feelings for him for fifteen years and now desperate to get married, Marie can't help but accept it.
  • In How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying, Rosemary and the other secretaries at World Wide Wicket actually aspire to the "glorified unemployment" of suburban homemaking.

Western Animation
  • Played With in the Darkwing Duck episode "U.F. Foe": Launchpad has to cede his position as Darkwing's partner to accept an alien princess' proposal of marriage given that he's going to be off-planet. However, given that Tia's husband will be emperor of the galaxy, he is gaining another job in the process. (The instance is also a rare male example of the trope.)

Real Life
  • Absolutely Truth in Television. In the US, as recently as the 1980s women were often discriminated against in the work force on the assumption that she was only there until she "found a man". While it's currently illegal to ask a female job applicant if she plans to get married or have kids, there are still employers who sneak those questions in.
  • In Christian denominations that allow married clergy, there is often the assumption that a pastor's wife will take on a volunteer (and unpaid) job at her husband's church. This trope causes problems both for unmarried clergy, who can't provide the free help, and for clergymen's wives, who might prefer to keep their paid job.
  • Gender Flipped in the case of Frank Butler and Annie Oakley. Butler retired from performing shortly after marrying Miss Oakley.
  • In 1932, Adele Astaire retired in the prime of her musical theatre career to marry Lord Charles Cavendish. Some critics wondered if her brother Fred could make a name for himself without her.