I read your column about the lady who wanted to leave her husband to move home because she didn’t like the new town they lived in. It sounds like my fiancé, only we haven’t moved away yet! He is a wonderful person whom I agreed to marry almost a year ago. The wedding is set for late May. My work situation is terrible, and there are no more jobs in my industry here in his hometown (my family lives halfway across the country). Now that it’s become apparent I need to move to continue in my career (I’m a TV journalist) he says he’s never leaving his hometown. He likes his job and family proximity, and he thinks my career is too unstable to move (at least mine comes with a contract!).
He was never excited about the idea of moving since we started dating four years ago, but this is the first time he’s told me I have to pick between him and doing what I love. His job as a criminal defense investigator is certainly portable, although, of course, the connections he’s built up at work would be sacrificed. I love him very much, but I am starting to wonder whether a man who loves me as much as he says he does would put a hometown over a wife. Can you help? — Have Fiancé, Will Relocate
Thank you for writing and letting me use your situation as an example of why it’s so, so important to communicate and make sure you’re on the same page on major issues before agreeing to marry someone. These major issues include:
1. Finances (Who’s going to pay what bills? How much debt do each of you have? How will you budget to save for big things and an emergency fund? Will you have a joint account? Etc.);
2. Children (Do you want them? When do you want them? How many do you want? How long will you try the “old-fashioned way” before trying a different option? Are you open to different options and, if so, which ones? Will one of you stay home to raise the children and if so, for how long and how will you compensate for the loss in income?);
3. Location (Do you want to put roots down in one place and try to stay there forever and if so, where? Are you open to moving? Where and under what circumstances would you consider moving?);
4. Religion (If you’re religious, do you expect your partner to practice your religion? If you plan to have children, do you want to raise your kids in a particular religion?);
5. In-laws (How much time do you plan to spend with each other’s families? How will you handle nosy family members? How will your designate holidays with the in-laws?);
6. Sex (What are your expectations? What if those expectations aren’t met?);
7. Domestic breakdown (How will you decide who does which chores? Are you open to hiring domestic help if your budget allows for it?).
8. Free time (How will you spend free time? Do you both enjoy doing things without the other occasionally? What’s your expectation for how much time you spend together?)
It seems, LW, that perhaps you neglected to discuss at least one of these topics — the issue of where you’ll live. That’s the bad news. The good news is that you aren’t married yet and it’s not too late to communicate before tying the knot. Obviously, if you feel like your career has reached a dead end at your current location and your fiancé is unwilling to ever move, you have some tough decisions to make. You’re wondering whether your fiancé loves you as much as he says he does if he’s willing to choose his hometown over you, but you’re faced with a similar decision: will you choose your career over him?
In the end, this isn’t about how much you two love each other. I don’t doubt that you love each other very much. But people can be madly in love and not quite right for each other — at least, not for the long haul. Marriage is a huge, huge commitment. It’s for life (ideally) and you need to make sure that besides loving each other — which is only part of the equation — you are matched on every single other issue, and if you aren’t matched, you need to agree on some compromises.
It’s time for some serious conversations with your fiancé. May is still a few months off. If you can’t come to a compromise about your career and where you two will call home, you need to consider postponing or canceling your wedding. As hard as that will be, it beats resenting a spouse for compromising your career or going through the pain — and expense — of a divorce.
*If you have a relationship/dating question I can help answer, send me your letters at firstname.lastname@example.org and be sure to follow me on Twitter.