I gave up my happiness for her…

… and she’s still not happy! Should we move (again!) just to please my wife?

I can understand your resentment, says our elder. Why not give marriage counseling a try?

Dear EWC

Six years ago, I moved my family because my wife was feeling suicidal. So we moved to a new town because she felt that was the cause of her feelings. I was optimistic I could find a job similar to the one I left. I had worked there for eight years and had full benefits and was happy with my life there. Six years have passed, and I am at my fifth job since moving, and my wife’s job is going through some changes and she is wanting to quit. We are considering moving again but I feel like if I am willing to move to another town we should just move back to where I will be closer to my friends and family and get my old job back. She has no interest in moving back and her career choice for moving has not been for the better in this case, in my opinion. I have expectations since moving away that aren’t being met. I am very resentful about abandoning my happiness for her. I feel horrible saying that. I am not sure moving back to my old stomping grounds will work out and really don’t want to move further away from my family. I also don’t want to potentially miss an opportunity for my career and financial stability — something that has been lacking since we moved. I’m not sure what I should do.

KMF replies

You probably don’t want to hear this, but I think you and your wife should pursue marriage counseling. This is why I think that:

It seems to me you gave up a lot to accommodate your wife six years ago. You gave up a job you liked and felt fulfilled doing. You haven’t been able to replicate that since. That job and your home were close to friends and family, which you enjoyed. You now feel detached. To date, you have had difficulty keeping a job (five different jobs in six years). You are trying but failing to achieve personal/work/financial/success. And you are not happy in your current life/work scenario.

I can understand why you feel resentful. I also believe that resentment can cause stress and division within a marriage.

You don’t say if your wife’s emotional state improved with the move. I assume it did, and she found employment which she thought she’d like, but even that has disappointed her over time. Now she wants to quit. Is she strong enough to make another career and family move? Are you and your marriage strong enough to relocate to another (third) community?

You both appear to be at a crossroads — literally and figuratively. Whatever you decide, I think it’s important that you mutually agree. You agreed to leave your job six years ago to help her out. It’s sad to hear that you abandoned your happiness along with your job. I’m sure your wife did not want that to be the case, especially since she was looking to restore her own happiness. I gather that with problems finding a suitable job, you have become disenchanted and feel you’ve given up more than you bargained for. I think the fact that you quit your job and moved for her last time should give you a leg up on saying where you’d like to go this time. But where that move should be is a bit trickier because going back, though it’s your preferred locale, is where she experienced serious emotional distress. I can also understand her reluctance to return to that. Is there someplace in between (some middle ground)? I’m not sure how distant you are from your original home. It might be five hours or 25 hours away. Depending upon that distance, you might have several options (or few).

As you know, there are no guarantees in life. Whether you stay where you are, move back to the home you prefer or opt for someplace new, there are risks involved. You don’t mention children, though you said you moved your “family” six years ago. I assume you have them. As you know, they can further complicate this decision. Depending upon their ages, they may want to voice their opinions.

In my mind, this is a decision that requires much discussion. One person should not dominate. I think there should be valid reasons to make the next step. Try writing down the pros and cons of staying. Do that for moving back. And do it for a potential new location. See how that exercise works for your family. Does one location and its consequences have a longer pro column than the others? With all your weighing and deliberation, my guess is you’ll be at odds with each other because it’s a huge and complicated decision to make. The last time you two made a decision, you ended up resenting it.

You did not say if (or how much) you love your wife, or if she loves you. I hope that your feelings for each other are such that you can work this out with a professional. Any step you take at this point is critical in terms of how your marriage and life will be impacted. That’s why I am recommending marriage counseling. Even at that, a counselor can’t live your lives for you. You’ll need to have a plan, stick to it, and be prepared to face new adversity and happiness together. Are you both prepared to commit to doing that? I believe it will take love and open and honest communication between you, and each party will need to give more than 50 percent. A counselor would be able to help provide you with tools to achieve a desirable outcome and help you to manage that outcome going forward.

Good luck to you. I will be praying for you that the decision is made amicably. Whatever you decide, I hope it’s one you can both live with without regret.

Letter #: 442930
Category: Family

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