“I Want to Move back to Canada, but My New Husband Doesn’t Want to Leave the UK”

I’m a Canadian currently residing in the UK. Nearly five years ago, I made the move with the intention of experiencing life abroad and having Europe at my fingertips for exploration. Shortly after relocating, I met a wonderful man, and we decided to live together just before the lockdowns began. I secured a great job and have been thriving professionally, but making friends has been a challenge and the family connections I’ve established here aren’t particularly close.

When I first moved, I expressed to my partner that I didn’t envision staying in the UK permanently, and he agreed to move to Canada after we got married. I insisted on sponsorship only after marriage, and that became our agreement. However, the soaring cost of living in Canada has made him hesitant about the move. He’d have to retrain for his career or embark on something new, facing the need to purchase everything anew at higher rates-—a prospect he finds daunting due to his frugal nature, a trait that I find challenging.

We got married in September, and since then, we’ve been at odds about the relocation. I share his concerns about potential financial struggles, needing to find a new job, and saving for a house. Yet, I miss my family and friends, and the UK doesn’t feel like home. My parents are aging, adding stress to my siblings, and I miss witnessing my niece and nephews’ growth and experiencing my friends’ significant life moments.

While my partner isn’t close to his family and lacks close friends, he loves his well-paying job and thrives in it. My boss is exploring the possibility of transferring me to the local office in Canada, which would alleviate some employment-related concerns.

We both love to travel, and the affordability of travel from the UK compared to North America has made him even more dissatisfied with the idea of leaving. In a recent argument, I told him we’re at an impasse — one of us will be unhappy, potentially leading to resentment. He claims to love me and he wants us to stay together, even agreeing to move, but he acknowledges misleading me initially and expressing reluctance now to start over. He prefers the easiest route to a well-paying, easy job.

After this revelation, I find myself questioning his lack of ambition to advance in his career, and his tendency to sulk and worry amplifies my concerns. He constantly complains about moving to my best friend, who urges him to stop worrying. However, she also hints at missing me and wanting me to return home soon.

We plan to discuss our plans with my family during Christmas, but I’m torn between wanting to ask for their advice and not disclosing our decision, as we need to prioritize what’s best for us. He dismisses the idea, believing my family will say anything to bring me home, suggesting we might as well move. I feel overwhelmed by stress and frustration with his comments and our arguments. Staying seems easier, but I desire to return home. However, the thought of putting him through the challenges of establishing himself in Canada makes me feel selfish.

The upcoming Christmas visit fills me with dread, knowing that whatever decision I make will impact our lives, and I resent the burden of having to decide. I despise his comments, the constant arguing, and the fact that, regardless of my decision, someone will be upset. Sometimes, I’m tempted to give in and abandon the idea of moving, but then I fear reinforcing his behavior and allowing him to guilt me into submission. — With Glowing Hearts

I’m confused about why you married when you two were at such an impasse over a huge decision that will affect the rest of your lives together. But, regardless, you already know what living in the UK is like, and you’re not thrilled with it. Until you live in Canada together, you will always wonder what that could be like. You don’t need your family’s advice here – and your husband is right that they will have a hard time not letting their desire to have you home influence what they say to you; this really is a decision for you and your husband to make.

I think you should move to Canada and move out of this purgatory you find yourself in. In Canada, one of two things will happen: your husband will like it or he won’t, and it will be clear within about six months to a year what his feelings are. If he likes it, then great – problem solved! You can settle down and build a life together in Canada. And if he doesn’t like it, you’ll have to decide whether you are willing to sacrifice your life in Canada and move back to the UK in order to save your marriage. If your husband refuses to move to Canada, I’d advise seriously considering divorce or annulment on the grounds of his misleading you to believe he’d ever give Canada a try.

What you will learn whatever you decide is that major decisions, like getting married and moving, don’t have to be permanent. While changing course isn’t without heartache and hassle, there are lessons in the journey that can make you wiser and better at making future decisions that may bring more joy than pain.

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


  1. LisforLeslie says:

    Both of you are putting this decision on your shoulders when in reality, he did a bait and switch. He hid a huge piece of information and hoped that you would simply what? forget that you have family in North America? Decide that his needs are more important than yours? Is that what he hoped? And now both of you are putting all of the responsibility on you. If he’s not happy in Canada – it’s your fault. If he can’t find a good enough job – your fault. If he stubs his toe on the bed frame – your fault.

    I mean, nothing he is saying is outrageous, except for the part where he made you a promise that he had absolutely no intention of keeping and is now throwing barriers in the way. Travel to Europe is harder, but travel to Asia isn’t. New Orleans, Bahamas, Costa Rica – all easier from Canada.

    Move to Canada. Be prepared for him to either not come or whine endlessly. Either make couples therapy a requirement to move or tell him the boundaries you are going to set. If he complains but does nothing to better his situation… determine if it’s a deal breaker. It’s ok to put your happiness first.

  2. I was in this exact situation, but with teo yiung children thrown in the mix. He’d promised we’d move to my home country, we made the plans and he was due to fly out two weeks after me abd the kids (staying behind to get tenants sorted in our property there). Then he never came. Lots of excuses along the way. But three years later, I’m happy and so are the kids. He never showed and is miserable. So I say make the move and he can choose to come along and make a real effort, or divorce.
    Better to find out before you have kids!

  3. I know there’s commenting about bait and switch, but I have a question about the costs to him and his career. Are they just high or insurmountable without a major setback? I’m not saying it’s a justification, but if he has to recertify as a doctor or other licensed professional, it’s a huge hurdle that can be overcome but can be daunting.

  4. HeartsMum says:

    LW, you need to calmly, quietly evaluate your husband’s behaviour patterns. Yes, any relationship that made it through the lockdowns & crisis period of the pandemic and left you both willing to consider marriage must be one you consider to have good prospects. However, you built a thriving career in that time—at the same time, what has your partner (husband) done for himself? Does he take the easy route more often than not? Does he tend to trade off future potential gain against pushing himself in the present? In his other relationships, does he take more than he gives? If it’s yes, yes, and yes, then you’ll know if you have a partner with the resilience to relocate countries, retrain or bring up a family. Not everyone does. If you have strong, loving connections with your birth family, the person you give those up for needs to balance that out. (And yes, with a minimum 5 hour flight, and aging parents, you will be giving them up.)

  5. “However, you built a thriving career in that time—at the same time, what has your partner (husband) done for himself? Does he take the easy route more often than not? Does he tend to trade off future potential gain against pushing himself in the present?”

    I see this as unwarranted criticism of the guy. She says he already has a well-paying job. She says that he loves this job.

    LW objects to his reluctance to start his career over in a new country and tops it off with:
    “He prefers the easiest route to a well-paying, easy job.” Hardly seems fair and if that is her argument, she might say what this ‘easy’ well-paying job she refers to is. There are a lot of immigrant professionals who moved to the U.S. and spent years in low-paying, menial jobs, until they could gain certification: doctors, lawyers, dentists, teachers.

    It’s fine if she decides she must move back to Canada in order to be happy, but her attack on her lazy-ass husband as unwilling to advance his career is unfair. Moving to Canada is highly unlikely to advance his career.

    1. HeartsMum says:

      Ron, I wouldn’t criticise the husband for his reluctance to relocate for work reasons, but my own experience of emigrating with stars in my eyes is that the reluctance to stretch or grow outside a clear/safe professional path (rigidity), translated into a personal rigidity that meant the realities of family life and life with an emigré were unwelcome (which in my case, I would classify as emotional laziness). If you are trying to figure out how likely a transplant this guy is, you need to look at his risk-taking, flexibility, and perseverance. If these are low, it’s a good bet it won’t take. Without knowing the ages, and profession, it’s hard to say how hard starting over will be.

      1. It’s valid to criticize the husband for reneging on his agreement to move with LW to Canada. I confess to total lack of knowledge about how easy it is for a British citizen to move to Canada and be allowed to work. I do know Americans who have tried this and it was a no-go. LW, being Canadian and being employed with an employer who has an office where she want to move in Canada and is willing to transfer her there, is miles ahead of her husband in being able to just move and adventurously try to better her career position.

        My objection to LWs post and your response, is the bald statement that the husband is unambitious in advancing his career, when LW states that he has a well-paying job. No evidence whatsoever that he is any sort of lazy-ass slacker. He likely faces very real obstacles in restarting his career in Canada, which she doesn’t face. Maybe they need to jointly investigate exactly what his prospects are likely to be if he moves to Canada.

        Do British citizens have an easier time moving to Canada and sliding into a new job than an American would experience? My wife’s father is Canadian and she has no right to just move to Canada and pick up her employment life. Once she voted for the first time in an American election at age 21, she lost that right. As her husband, I certainly could not have done so. Corporations can often sponsor jobs for their employees whom they transfer abroad or whom they hire from a foreign country or student visa, but just showing up cold in another nation and getting employment on your own? That seems unlikely.

  6. Anonymousse says:

    Plans change, opinions change. Things you think you will like turn out to be things you hate, and vice versa. You should move to Canada. Whether he comes with you or not I guess is his choice.

  7. CanadaGoose says:

    Where in the UK are you and where in Canada would you be moving? Those are huge considerations, because moving from London to say, Regina or Whitehorse would be more of a culture shock than London to Toronto, or Bath to the Okanagan. The lifestyle, and options for employment, might be completely different depending on what both of you do for work. It’s weird your husband has no close relationships other than you, and if you move, you will be distracted from him by your family and friends. He probably figured you’d just get used to the life you were already living.

    If you are desperate to move home, the chances of your marriage surviving seem low given his attitude. If you need to move, do it soon and invite him to try it for a year. You may very well divorce but better to do it now before kids enter the picture. Do not have kids with him until you are both satisfied with where you are living.

  8. Have you consulted with an immigration attorney and had them recommend appropriate resources to help your husband map out the EXACT steps for him to get a work permit and the required retraining? Can this work be done BEFORE he actually moves or does it have to be done in Canada? Having an exact plan might make him way way more comfortable. Right now there is probably a ton of fear, uncertainty, and doubt.

  9. HeartsMum says:

    Great questions from KA, but I would ask, has your husband done any of the work to investigate these details? As LisforLeslie said, you and he are putting this decision all on your shoulders. It might be your forté (after all, you have had the chutzpah to relocate internationally already), but you doing the legwork means his reluctance to move at all gets swept under the carpet for a bit longer.

  10. Another oddity in the OP’s post, which I missed first time through, was her comment to the ‘soaring inflation in Canada’. The inflation in Canada has been far less severe than the inflation in Great Britain. It’s possible that she’s proposing a move from a low-cost area in Britain to a very high cost area of Canada.

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