‘My husband thinks everything is coming together while I think everything is falling apart’
Tell Me About It: I’m terrified of uprooting our children and moving to the country
Caring for parents needs to be negotiated and shared among offspring. Photograph: iStock
Question: I have a fantastic husband and two young children, both of whom are settled in a really good school. I met my husband in Dublin 10 years ago. He is not from the city, but does not want to return to where he comes from to manage the family farm. We have found it very difficult to get onto the property ladder and have been spending the majority of our wages on rent for a very small property.
My husband works in a junior position in his company, a role he despises as he is over-qualified for it. His company is due to open up a satellite branch within commuting distance of the village he comes from and they have offered him a senior position.
Following a recent visit to his parent’s house it was clear they were excited about this potential development. So much so they asked us if we would take over the small family farm, which would come with a really nice farmhouse. It appears my husband’s phobia of becoming a part-time farmer has been cured. Whilst our current quality of life could be better, I am terrified of uprooting our children and moving to a place I have no feelings for.
As a nurse, I know I would easily find work, but I am also worried I would become the main care-giver for my husband’s elderly parents. We have discussed our differences of opinion. My husband thinks everything is coming together while I think everything is falling apart.
Answer: Most relationships face difficult decisions at some point, usually where one person has to sacrifice something for the other. This can come in the form of a move for someone’s career, giving up money to support someone’s education or perhaps caring for a relative. You are now in that situation where a decision has to be made where one part of the couple feels excited and the other experiences it as suffering. From your husband’s perspective, there are lots of positives in this decision – he gets a huge promotion and a lovely home and this means his provider role is hugely enhanced so he gets to feel he is reaching his goals as husband and father. You, however, are the one who is very challenged and perhaps it is important to look at why this is causing you such distress.
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Firstly, you worry about your children but we know from research that children tend to thrive when their parents are able to manage their stress and have a good relationship with their spouse or partner. How you manage this decision with your husband will offer them a model for managing differences and conflicts in their lives and if you can demonstrate love in the midst of disagreement, they will have one of life’s most valuable lessons.
They are in a good school and now come with very positive attitudes towards schooling and this should stand them in good stead in any future move, plus they will have each other for support and company in the early days of any adjustment.
Your husband would need to be understanding so that you are not being asked to live a fake life of happiness
Secondly, you have no connection to the country or the village your husband grew up in. This is very challenging and you don’t say how much experience you have of living in new places. Travelling and moving stretches us in all kinds of ways and this might be an opportunity for you to experience some self-development. This is not to minimise the difficult task here – you are being asked to move permanently to your husband’s family and community and there is no fallback position.
Change is difficult for us and our minds tend to project forward and present us with all the possible negative scenarios we might face. This leads to an attitude of fear and trepidation which in turn makes you over-anticipate difficulties and no doubt you become tense and irritated. You are in charge of your attitude and it is possible to adjust it once you become aware of it. Could you adopt an attitude of openness to what living in the country might bring? Perhaps agree with your friends that you will visit Dublin once a month for the first year so that you can freely moan and let out all the tension that you might hold?
Your husband would need to be understanding and able to listen to your worries so that you are not being asked to live a fake life of happiness when you don’t really feel it. It takes a long time to adjust to a new environment so if you are going to make this move, do not judge it for at least six months to one year as it is unlikely you will have settled enough to make a clear assessment until then.
Thirdly, you are worried about becoming the carer of your husband’s elderly parents. This is a very real possibility and it is up to your husband to address this concern with his own siblings (if he has any) so that you are not over-burdened with responsibility. Being a nurse means your knowledge and advice will be very useful but the caring of parents needs to be negotiated and shared among offspring. Hand this issue over to your husband and if possible make this sibling conversation a condition of any move you might make, because if it gets kicked down the road, you will be full of anger and resentment. If you are willing to address the three areas laid out above, then you might risk this move with a built-in review with your husband after one year and perhaps every year after that until your worries have abated.