Hax: Wife unwilling to move away

The Washington PostNovember 19, 2013 

Adapted from a recent online discussion.

Dear Carolyn: My husband just got a promotion offer that would require us to move two hours away. We have a toddler, dog, house, a TON of amazing friends, live in a community we adore and I have a job I love. The move would be an amazing career opportunity for him. I would be able to do my job remotely — by myself in my house all day.

I cry every time I think about leaving our friends and working from home 10 hours a day in silence. I know my husband thinks this is an opportunity he can’t pass up, but I think the sacrifice is too great.

I want to be a supportive wife, but I believe our life outweighs his job. How can we talk through this without my defaulting into a selfish position?

SCARED AND SELFISH (MAYBE)?

He’s also at high risk for “defaulting,” just by thinking this is something he “can’t” refuse. He can say no to the promotion, just as you can say yes to moving. The question is whether there’s a net gain or loss to you as individuals, as a couple, as a family.

To make a sound decision, you both need to be able to trust that the other sees things your way and regards it equally. To that end, tell your husband you will keep an open mind, and ask him to list his pros and cons. In return, you ask that he try to see things your way: Being at home by yourself for 10 hours a day in a new place with a toddler is basically a 2 + 2 of depression, and you need him to get that.

Once you’re there, then figure out — together, honestly, openmindedly — what it would take for each of you to replace what you surrender with either choice. How will you replace your root system if you move? How will he advance his career if you stay? It’s a logical path through heavy emotional traffic.

The one who can more easily replace what is lost is the one who needs to give in, so I suggest you start by at least agreeing in principle on that. The “winner” also needs to back fully the other’s effort to replace what he or she sacrificed.

Email tellme@washpost.com. Chat online at 10 a.m. Fridays at www.washingtonpost.com.

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