Dear Wendy
Dear Wendy

Afternoon Quickie: “My Husband and I Can’t Agree on Where to Live”

My husband and I have been married for five years and we have two boys (age 2 and 4). We met when he was in the military stationed in my home town of Pensacola, FL. My husband is an Ohio boy, born and raised, and when he separated from the military his first reaction was to move back home. At the time of his separation he was going through a lot and really wanted to be somewhere familiar. I love my husband, so before even thinking of myself I agreed to move. A year after moving to Ohio I realize how much I want to go back home. Our relationship is suffering over it. There is really no halfway point for us. If we live in the middle, we will still both be eight hours away from each of our families. What is the best way to solve this problem? If we leave, he will resent me, and, if we continue to stay, I will resent him. I feel like no one wins. — Unhappy in Ohio

When you married, your husband was in the military, so surely you anticipated leaving Florida at some point and probably moving around frequently, as is the military way of life. I guess I’m confused why, if you were willing to marry into that, you suddenly think there are only two options for where to live (well, three if you count “somewhere in the middle”): his home town or yours. Actually, there’s a whole world out there. But, if you are set on living near family, then, of course, that really limits your options and you don’t have much choice but for one of you to compromise. Since you’re already in Ohio, I suggest giving it one more year. And then really make an effort to be open to it. What is it about where you are that makes you unhappy? Are you bored? Maybe get a job if you don’t have one. Are you lonely? Try to make some friends. Do you simply not like the area? Take some day trips and explore outside your immediate vicinity. Do you miss your family? Go visit them or ask them to visit.

If your relationship is suffering, you need to communicate with your husband. Talk about why you’re unhappy and what he could do to help you feel better. If you’re living in Ohio to be close to his family, take advantage of that. Enlist some family babysitting so you and your husband can get out on dates and he can show you what it is he loves about Ohio. Tell him he has a year to convince you this is the best place for your family and that, if he doesn’t succeed, you want the chance to convince him that somewhere else would be better. And if you still can’t decide on where to live, then go where the jobs are because, without a job, you’re pretty screwed.

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If you have a relationship/dating question I can help answer, you can send me your letters at wendy@dearwendy.com.

17 comments… add one
  • GatorGirl

    GatorGirl May 22, 2014, 3:11 pm

    WWS. I assume you realized being a military wife had some sort of travel/moving clause? And honestly, I say pick a new place neither of you have lived, and then make that your families home. Stop dwelling on all the bad and focus on how your family (you, your husband, and your children) are going to make the place YOURS. Start traditions, explore the local stuff, have your parents/siblings come visit you. I guess take ownership of the place you live, and make it yours.
    .
    GGuy and I have a similar situation, our childhood homes are 400+ miles apart. We will literally never both be able to live by our parents concurrently. But we’re dead set on making where we live NOW home. Do I like north central FL? Nope. But it’s where my family is now, so I’m happy.

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    • avatar

      bethany May 22, 2014, 3:35 pm

      My parents moved 5 hours away from my dad’s parents and 6 hours away from my mom’s entire family, who all still live in the same town. They’ve made PA home and have lived there for 32 years. They did just what you suggested- they made a family for us there, and I’m sure they’re happy about it. There are pros and cons to being super close to your family, just as there are pros and cons to being far away. Both can work!

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  • BriarRose

    BriarRose May 22, 2014, 3:25 pm

    It is definitely tough to have life dictated to you by the military, and then not feel free to move where you want once you’re done with military life. But I feel like this obsession with needing to live in your childhood hometown needs to stop (just in general). There are so many other places in this country that are good places to live. Being near family is great, but your husband and kids are your family now, and they are your priority. We don’t all need to live right by our parents to survive. If you both hate each others respective home states, then move somewhere neutral, where you are both out of your element, and no one is resentful that the other is nearer to their parents.
    .
    I myself grew up in SoCal and was brought to NC by a military man, and stayed (moving to a different city once we divorced). Sure it’s not CA, but there is a lot of great stuff about my area, and my daughter is flourishing here, which is very important to me. My family is all in CA so I’m much farther than an 8 hour drive away from them. It’s not all sunshine and roses all the time, but I’m happy, my daughter is happy, and we use Skype/FaceTime/airplane trips to stay in touch with her grandparents. Plus it’s very gratifying to know that I’m able to raise my daughter on my own without help (or “input”) from family members.

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    • GatorGirl

      GatorGirl May 22, 2014, 3:29 pm

      Yes to not having to have your family members input on every day! And with all the technology now, staying in touch really is easy. (I can see how not having family for child care/help could be hard, I’m actually worried about that! But it’s not motivation for me to move to either family.)

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      • avatar

        lets_be_honest May 22, 2014, 4:01 pm

        Technology really does help. I know so many people who skype family almost daily. My siblings will do it with Lil. For some reason, my mom gets upset seeing them over skype though and just cries so its not working for her.
        Anyway, I feel for you LW.

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    • LlamaPajamas

      LlamaPajamas May 22, 2014, 3:32 pm

      I moved “close” to my parents when I took my current job 3 years ago – they’re 3.5 hours away now, which is the closest I’ve ever lived to them as an adult. It’s nice, but I’m so glad I moved around a lot before ending up in the same state as them. It might take some time and effort but I do think you can make any place feel like home.

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  • avatar

    SLS May 22, 2014, 4:01 pm

    I have a family member in this current situation. He has several investments/start-up companies that he has established while his wife has been in nursing school (in another state). She isn’t so fond of moving back to our hometown where he currently resides, but they ultimately decided that she would move back for 2 years. This would allow my family member to see thru his recent start-ups (vs. both starting new in a new city), if she doesn’t like it still after 2 years (of truly making an effort) she can ask to move and they will move to a city they both agree on. His thought is if he hasn’t hit success with his ventures then he knows he has tried and will give it a shot somewhere new.

    Basically, you don’t really say why you hate Ohio (except that it isn’t near your family) and/or if you have tried to make to feel like home. My recommendation would be to have a similar conversation, as my family member, with your husband. Discuss, you actively putting in effort to love Ohio, but if you still dislike Ohio after a specific amount of time y’all can discuss moving. I think moving would need to be to a new city for the both of y’all, but that could be fun! In addition, moving to a neutral city would be a compromise and neither of you would be “winning” by being close to family (which is sort of how your letter reads).

    My last recommendation would just be to establish visiting plans. I know traveling can be expensive (and hectic with little kids), but plan out future trips for your family to visit or for y’all to visit your family in FL. Maybe spend more holidays a year in FL since y’all can see his family anytime in OH? But you need to talk about all of these ideas with your husband. Y’all could even agree to set up a family travel fund to making saving easier and traveling a more realistic option?

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  • gigi

    gigi May 22, 2014, 3:07 pm

    I feel like there was a letter awhile ago where another LW hated OH & wanted to move back to CO? What is wrong with OH? I have never been there, but it has me wondering….. WWS and make a true effort LW, sometimes it take longer than 1 year to feel comfortable & make friends in a new city.

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    • avatar

      jbk886 May 22, 2014, 4:26 pm

      I used to live in the Columbus area, and I loved it! There was a lot to do and the people were that special Midwest kind of friendly. I could potentially see not being excited about moving to someplace like Toledo, though.

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    • avatar

      vizslalvr May 22, 2014, 7:00 pm

      Uh, nothing. I’ve lived in Ohio for almost my entire life, and I frickin’ love it. Although I’m sure it depends on where you are in Ohio, I’m from and live in the Cleveland area, and it’s fantastic. Beautiful parks, lovely lake, excellent restaurants, fun neighborhoods, friendly people … I think the question is what is wrong with the people who don’t like Ohio?!

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      • shanshantastic

        shanshantastic May 23, 2014, 8:44 am

        And WHY haven’t we met up yet?? I live on the east side!

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      • KKZ

        KKZ May 23, 2014, 8:55 am

        When you do, let me know, I may make the drive up from Cinci if I’m free. 🙂
        .
        And yeah, I mean, Ohio’s 3-C cities are pretty awesome and have a lot to offer, but there’s also kiiiiind of a lot of farmland and small-town-ness once you get away from the major highways? I automatically jumped to thinking she was in Dayton/Wright Patt AF base, and Dayton isn’t exactly a love-at-first-sight kind of city.

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      • shanshantastic

        shanshantastic May 23, 2014, 11:57 am

        There’s no way we’d leave you out! And I definitely agree with the geographic limitations – I grew up in almost-Medina County in a rural patch (like, one stop light in the village – and it was a village) and it felt like there was NOTHING to do, ever.

        So LW, if you’re following the comments and you live somewhere like that but not terribly far from one of the C’s, try to get into the city. And if your C is Cleveland…hit us up! (Or KKZ in Cinci of course. :D)

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      • avatar

        vizslalvr May 23, 2014, 5:01 pm

        I am also on the East side. Maybe we see each other every day and don’t even know it … dunn dunnn dunnnnnn!!! I’m down for a meet up.

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  • avatar

    NavyWife May 22, 2014, 4:10 pm

    As a military spouse, I get this…you’ve followed your husband around from duty station to duty station and now the military can no longer dictate where you MUST live, and it’s like, “Why Ohio?” I am really close to my family, and it’s hard being away, especially now that we have a baby. But as much as I miss home sometimes, I think I’m a better, stronger person for having lived elsewhere (Georgia–Virginia–currently Kansas) and having to rely on my husband or friends instead of my family. With all that said, my husband has promised that the end of his Navy career, we will move to wherever I want, whether that’s my hometown or another random place:)

    Wendy’s advice is good…give it a bit more time, but do some things that will you get you out and about, meeting new people, and more involved in your community. Worst case scenario, you stick it out for another year, still hate it, and y’all pick somewhere new where he (and/or you) can find a job and you’ll be happy with the climate, quality of life, etc.

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  • avatar

    csp May 22, 2014, 4:59 pm

    The biggest thing that isn’t mentioned here is the Job Market in both places. Are you both employed? One of You? Do you have career options in both places. As a Recruiter, we hear all the time that you should never move to Florida without a job in hand because of the state of the market. You don’t even mention the financial security of your family. What is the best potential for career advancement?

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  • avatar

    Lindsay May 23, 2014, 11:27 am

    Two things stood out to me: “I love my husband, so before even thinking of myself I agreed to move.”
    Love isn’t about doing everything someone else wants and not considering yourself at all. That’s how you end up in situations like this.

    ” If we leave, he will resent me, and, if we continue to stay, I will resent him. I feel like no one wins.”
    This is really problematic that neither of you can compromise or do anything other than the one thing you want without being resentful. Or that you look at choosing a place to live as winning or losing. I think you both need to stop looking at this as some sort of competition and remember that you’re partners.

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