“How Do I Get My Fiancé To Live Where I Want to Live?”


I’ve been with my fiancé, “Jim,” for seven years and we have been engaged for a little over one year. When I first met him, I knew how much of a family man he was — it’s one of the reasons I fell in love with him. His family is all located within the same area in the state where we went to college, twenty minutes from our university. I am from a nearby state and moved home after graduation. Jim had never left his hometown and had told me he wants to be close to his family when we finally settle down into a house. His mom died years ago when he was 16 and, unfortunately, his father just passed away unexpectedly a month ago. Jim is the baby of the family, with three older sisters (21, 18 and 16 years older than he is, respectively), all of whom are like mothers to him. We had planned to live in my town for a couple years in an apartment after we are married so we could be on our own before moving back to his hometown and settling down in a house.

Jim made the transition here a few weeks ago to live with me and my family until we get an apartment. He has started a new job, but I feel that he is unhappy and wants to just return to his family. We have also had to deal with his father’s (and his) home, which was left to him and which he does not want to sell. We had agreed that we would eventually move back to that house after a year or two, but, again, I think he is already one foot out the door. I don’t want him to resent me for “taking him away” from his family and friends, especially during this difficult time. But I also don’t want to give up my only hope of us really getting onto our own two feet even if it is for only a year.

When I try to talk to him, he feels like I am putting too much pressure on him. His sisters put a lot of pressure on him, too, and he shuts down. How can we get on the same page where he doesn’t feel that I am taking him away from his family? I love his family and have agreed to move back there eventually. But I feel like I’m stuck. — Feeling Stuck

So, according to your timeline, Jim moved in with you and your parents “a few weeks ago,” which sounds roughly about the same time that his dad died unexpectedly, leaving him an orphan and with an estate to manage? I mean, of course, he’s unhappy about his current living situation. Not only did he leave his three sisters at exactly the moment he especially needs their emotional support (and vice versa!) as they grieve the sudden loss of their father, but he’s also a couple states away now from the home he has inherited and needs to manage as well as from any other final business of his father’s that he may now be responsible, or partly responsible, for. And for what? So you and he can “get on your feet” and “be on your own before moving back to his hometown and settling down in a house”? You’re living with your parents! You could move back to Jim’s hometown and have a whole house to yourself — the house he has inherited and needs to take care of.

I don’t buy that you have intentions of moving back to Jim’s hometown “in a year or two” or “eventually,” as you say. I think your hope was to get Jim to your hometown and start slowly settling in so much — in your own home, in jobs, maybe even with a baby eventually — that moving back to his hometown would be more trouble than it would be worth (or, at least, that would be your argument). Or, maybe you wanted to make sure you lived together well before committing to moving to where he lives.

At any rate, whatever plan you had that you weren’t totally honest about has to be altered now because the situation has changed. And that happens in life and marriage. You make one plan and you have to adapt to an alternate course because stuff happens to change your path — opportunities you can’t pass up, sickness, unexpected death (or births), unexpected job loss, going broke paying medical bills, the list goes on and on. You just happen to be facing one of these route-altering detours earlier than you might have expected. And now you’ve got to be honest — with yourself and with Jim — about how committed you are to him and to the future you’ve planned together. He needs to be home. He needs to be with his sisters and in the town where the house he’s now inherited is. You were planning on being there with him “eventually,” anyway, to “settle down in a house.” Well, there’s a house for you. You can settle down and “get on your feet” together now. Why wait? What’s the true hold up here? It’s truth time. It’s time for you to sacrifice your wants for Jim’s more pressing needs and concerns. That’s the “same page” you need to be on. And if you can’t join him on that page now when he especially needs you to, then perhaps he isn’t the man you should be marrying.


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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.


  1. Jesus on a breadstick. His dad died unexpectedly a month ago…and you wonder why he isn’t all sunshine and rainbows about his living situation?

    Here’s how you get on the same page: either realize that you will be moving back to his hometown much sooner than planned or break up. If you go with the former, stop nagging him about being on your own two feet. Ask how he’s feeling. Ask how you can help. Start being supportive, dammit. Although, if you care more about your only hope for being on your own two feet over his need of being with his family during this difficult time, move on.

  2. If it were a new relationship I would say that living together, and being close to your family for now, and having concrete plans to move to his hometown in a couple of years wouldn’t be a bad idea. But you have been together for 7 years now, and starting your life where you want be in the future isn’t a bad idea, and it seems like it would be a better idea to see how you feel living in that house together before you get married, if you are worried about living together with him.

    Do you guys have a planned wedding date yet? If not is because his father was sick? Is he maybe sad that his father didn’t get to see him get married?

    1. Also I think you care for you boyfriend a lot that is why this is bothering you so much, but I also think Wendy is spot on that you had visions of him being kind of trapped in your hometown, and eventually giving up and staying there, and that is probably weighing on you a lot too.

  3. Avatar photo Skyblossom says:

    The argument that the two of you need to live in your home town so that the two of you can live on your own two feet while you actually live with your parents is hypocritical. You aren’t on your own two feet. If the two of you moved into the house he inherited at least the two of you wouldn’t be living in a home with your parents. You would be living alone. If you can’t live together without living with your parents you aren’t ready to live together. You should be able to get your act together enough to have an apartment rented before he moved to your town. The fact that the two of you didn’t shows you aren’t ready for living together.

    Instead of focusing on the two of you getting on your own two feet focus on what he needs emotionally now that he has no parents. The bond you build by being emotionally supportive is much more critical to the long term success of your marriage than the location where you live.

    1. Yeah I didn’t even think of that, but you are totally right. It doesn’t matter which town they are living in to be on their own two feet, it seems like she is just using that as another excuse to live close to her family.

    2. dinoceros says:

      I didn’t perceive it as her saying that the purpose of living in her town was to live on their own. I thought she was just referring to living in an apartment to live on their own. If they are planning on buying a house in his town in a few years, then living in an apartment for a couple years in her town doesn’t seem like that bad of a compromise. And the parents thing, I assume, was so that they could get settled in their new location (jobs, etc.) prior to being able to afford an apartment. I think that her approach to his responses is a little unreasonable, but their plan doesn’t seem that bad. Based on what she described, he was going to get them permanently living in his hometown in the end anyway…

  4. Both LW and bf seem determined to live in their respective home towns. If this were just a year alone to get on their feet, established as a couple solely focused upon each other, then LW would choose a location away from both families for that year. But she didn’t, she chose her home town and is even starting out living with her parents. How is it that she thinks they can get established on their own two feet in the same town with her family, but not in the same town with his? That makes absolutely no sense, which is why Wendy’s suggestion that LW just wants to trap him long term in her home town is undoubtedly correct. Given the guy’s grief and current, very immediate responsibilities, LW comes off as a selfish nag, who is more interested in getting exactly what she wants than in helping her bf through this very trying time. She is not good wife material, at least for this guy. She apparently sees him as a compatible guy whom she can manipulate.

  5. Sweet Jesus, the man’s *father* just died. His only remaining parent. He’s living away from the rest of his family, and he’s got a freaking estate to deal with. And your primary concern is how to twist his arm into living where you want him to? Seriously? Self-absorbed much?

    I can’t even. Leaving aside, for a moment, the enormous emotional impact of what just happened to him, and his need to be with his siblings, do you have ANY idea how much there is to do when a parent dies? OMG, it’s endless. We lost my dad nearly six months ago and there’s still a ton of stuff to do.

    Wendy’s right. He needs to go home. Now. You can go with him, if you’re doing it to be selflessly supportive and not as part of your ongoing plan to maneuver him into doing what you want.

    If you can’t see why you need to tell him to go back to his hometown, then you’re not the right woman for him, and you need to look for a partner who lives where you want to live.

  6. I am not sold on the idea that LW is explicitly trying to entrap her boyfriend. If that was he actual plan, I doubt she would have written to Wendy asking for help, if for no other reason of fear of being called out on her devious plan.

    My hunch is that work, school or some other commitment is making her hometown the logical choice. Maybe getting from under is older sibblings?.

    In any case LW might well have a case of buyer’s remorse about leaving her hometown and parents and suddenly finds the prospect much harder to deal with than expected, making her push on her boyfriend to stick to the original plan.

    That doesn’t change the fact that the logical choice of moving into that empty house (maybe until it’s sold or permanently, LW’s choice) seems to be the path of least resistance to solve this issue.

    That should be an interesting update once it’s settled…

  7. Bittergaymark says:

    LW, stay the course! Hold him to his promise!! Insist that you both remain in your hometown for the next few year no matter how difficult it is… Or how precious little sense it makes…
    Because he with then DUMP your sorry ass!! This letter made my skin absolutely crawl…. Subtext: “Help! My fiance’ is broken and vulnerable after an unforseen tragedy… How can I best EXPLOIT this to get what I truly want…?
    Gag. Vomit. Barf.
    That’s not love, sweetie. That’s the polar opposite. I need to go take a shower now even though I just did. That is how icked out I am now, LW.
    Ick. Just… ick.

  8. dinoceros says:

    I don’t think the LW is as terrible as everyone else does. Yes, I think you have to accept that his father’s death is going to affect things. You can predict what will happen, and in this case, something happened that is going to color the way he sees the situation and make it a little harder to adjust. I think that for now, you need to just chill out and let things settle. (Though I tend not to use the word “orphan” for an adult, which I mention because I think that it evokes a different reaction.)

    At the same time, I think this was going to come up regardless of what happened to his father, and I think that’s why the LW mentioned it. And why I’m giving her the benefit of the doubt. So, take some time and then address things later if you feel that he’s still not wanting to go through with it all.

  9. Even taking his father’s death out of the equation, the LW’s plan makes zero sense. Move to her hometown to be independent? That’s just switching dependence on his family to dependence on hers. Move back to her home town for just a couple of years. It makes no sense for twenty-somethings to plan to start and then re-start their careers, just so they can spend a couple years in her town. This woman is a liar. Perhaps she is lying to herself as much as to her bf. But, she isn’t asking to move home to establish independence as a couple. Why can’t she just admit that what she really wants is to live in her hometown. Because… that leads to the very likely conclusion that she is not going to be any more willing to live away from her hometown in 2-3 years than she is today. Is she getting parental pressure? Is she intensely homesick? Either way, she is not being upfront with her reasons for insisting that bf spend 2-3 years in her home town. That is why everyone is jumping to the conclusion that she wants to trap him there. If she had some logic behind an alternative explanation….but, she doesn’t. So this obsession to live in her hometown can survive all of bf’s grief/issues/responsibilities with his father’s death, because living in her hometown is what matters to her. Believe me, wanting to take a year to establish independence as a couple (even assuming that is possible in her hometown) would melt before the death of his father and his grief. That she hasn’t melted, but is relentless in seeking help to bend him to her will… well BGM is correct, it says a ton.

    This LW needs to marry somebody from her home town. She seems close to poison to her current bf and this relationship is very unlikely to last if she keeps up the pressure on him.

  10. I wasn’t thinking that she was trying to trap the guy, or take advantage of his vulnerability. I think she’s just very focused on convincing him to live in her hometown so she can stay close to her family. So focused that she’s not paying attention to the fact that he’s just suffered an immense loss, and has a ton of legal/financial stuff to deal with that’s much easier done in his hometown.

    She’s hung up on “the plan,” and the defining characteristic of adult life is that plans routinely get blown up.

    It’s time to throw the plan out the window, at least for now, and do what’s right for your partner.

  11. It is a stretch to say that the LW wants her BF to stay in her town forever. There is absolutely no evidence for that assumption. And she clearly did state why she wanted to stay away from his place for at least a couple of years. Three very close, much older (read interfering) sisters are always going to influence the guy if they are staying nearby. I believe the LW thinks (justifiably) that the sisters probably always calling or coming over and the young couple will have no time or privacy of their own to bond.

    It is also healthy for the guy to stay away from family for a while to become more independent.

    As for the guy staying with the LW’s family, it was clear from LW’s mail that it is only a temporary situation. A person so close his own family should understand his partner’s feelings about growing bonds with her family as well. If not, then he is not much of a partner to her.

    1. bittergaymark says:

      Eh, I don’t see any evidence that the sisters are interfering… None is presented, certainly. I did get a belly laugh though, Saneinca, at your bold theory that the young couple will enjoy ZERO privacy living on their own in a house with in twenty minutes from where his sisters live… and yet apparently will have TONS of privacy living in the same house as HER family… Yeah, right. Good luck with that…

      1. Temporary is the keyword BGM. Temporary while BF is settling in the new job. Then they will take a lease. At least that seems to be the plan.

      2. Avatar photo Skyblossom says:

        If the privacy was so important to them they would have saved the money before he moved so that they could go straight into the privacy. Better yet, they would have chosen a town that wasn’t the hometown of either of them. It makes no sense for him to quit his job and find a new one and then in a year or two for both of them to quit their jobs and find new ones at the same time just so that they can go back and forth between the two hometowns in the name of privacy and getting on their own two feet. Getting on their own two feet means you don’t live with your parents. His inheriting a house will help them get on their own two feet much faster than they will by living with her parents and then moving into an apartment. Why pay rent for an apartment when you can live in your own home for the cost of taxes if you want to be on your own two feet?

      3. They could rent out his father’s house as well for a couple of years.

      4. No, they can’t just rent out father’s house. It is going to take months to clear it out and prep it for rental or sale. If she doesn’t want his sisters playing a big part in his life, then renting the house is a recipe to achieve what she doesn’t want. Try managing a rental property from a state away. It doesn’t work well. This also leaves the sisters to clean out and fix up HIS house. Also not a good idea. Brother absolutely needs to be back in his home town. That the LW has made such an intense effort to keep her blinders in place, barely acknowledging his father’s death but not seeing why that should affect anything and totally ignoring bf’s responsibilities back in his home town is what has led people to believe she merely wants what she wants, which is to live in her home town, and once there she won’t leave. As BGM says, moving into her parents house, for who knows how long, is hardly independent. Nor is living in same town as her family. I think there is valid reason that few of us believe she intends to limit their stay in her home town to a couple of years.

      5. Not really. The original plans were made months ahead while his father died unexpectedly a month back.

        She did not even have the idea they were going to have a house to themselves.
        And it is ok for the sisters to clean out the house. Being women and also older, they will have a better idea on what to keep or give away. That is not to say the BF cannot fly back a couple of weekends to help and have his say as well.

      6. The plan was made before the father died, but big events require that plans be changed. Judging from what she said and how she said it in her letter, this letter writer just wants what she wants and has all the empathy of a rock. Her bf is grieving. He needs his family more than anything. If he can’t have that, he needs some privacy. The absolute worst thing for him is to be a state away from family and physically living with gf’s parents, having to adapt himself to life in her parents’ house. It is hard for me to imagine the sort of person who thinks this is fine and is griping about her bf wanting to get back home. She strikes me as extremely selfish and heartless. It sounds like they have already been living with her parents for about a month and just about his entire to-date grieving time. That is not at all fair and not something a loving partner insists upon.

      7. And that’s the crux of the issue: the plans were made and then his father unexpectedly died. Only the coldest of people would refuse to acknowledge how that impacts their partner and, ergo, their plans. This is something they need to sit down and discuss *together*. The death of a parent (unexpected or otherwise) has a way of shifting priorities. The expectation that they can just stick to this plan blindly is naïve, at best.

      8. And what is transpiring now wasn’t even the plan. She wrote: “We had planned to live in my town for a couple years in an apartment after we are married so we could be on our own before moving back to his hometown and settling down in a house.”

        Well, they aren’t married and they aren’t living in an apartment. They are squatting in her parents’ home. How long does it take to find an apartment? She is living with her parents in her hometown. She could have scouted apartments and he could have made a weekend trip to her town, so they could agree on an apartment and move in directly, without living with her parents. That would at least be a tad of independence. Now they are about a month in her parents’ home, with no immediate end mentioned for that unfortunate situation. It really gives me a visceral pain to think of squatting in my gf’s parents’ home immediately after the death of my last parent and having to manage my grief under the intense scrutiny and lack of privacy which that comes with. It must be a totally horrendous experience for this poor guy and it’s no wonder he has a foot out the door. Living with her parents was never a part of the deal she thinks they had. Living with her parents as unmarrieds was certainly not the deal. Having to process his grief under the nose of her parents and away from all of his support, except selfish gf, is just a special kind of awful. I am stunned that so many see this as acceptable.

      9. He has older sisters and so they should clean out the house? Seriously? Did I read that entire paragraph correctly? WOW!

        Also, your argument is about privacy because his sisters “supposedly will interfere with their life.” The exact same thing could be said for her parents and family. Who’s to say they won’t interfere with the life they build in her hometown.

        Talk about double standards.

        Look this LW knew what she was getting into. According to her, he was always honest about his need to live in his hometown. Yes, they decided to live in her hometown for a couple of years, but his dad just died. Major life events call for a reassessment of priorities and plans.

  12. I don’t understand the LW’s plan – starting both of their careers after college in the LW’s hometown, only to quit a few years later and move back to his home town to try to restart both careers all over again. That makes no sense, even if the father hadn’t died.
    Perhaps this was a ploy by the LW to get both careers and a family started in her hometown, with the hope that it would be too difficult to move later. Or maybe it was an ill-conceived career plan that the BF just went along with. In any event, the father dieing changes all that.
    The only choice for the LW now is to move back to the BF’s hometown and start a life there, or move on from the relationship.

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