It sounds like you made the mistake of making a lot of assumptions without discussing them with your boyfriend years ago. You assumed that, once his youngest child was 18, your boyfriend would be ready and willing to move out of his family home and into your smaller house. You assumed that, at some point, he would be ready to let go of his house. It sounds like you even assumed that, after raising his children into adulthood, he’d be open and eager to having a second family with you and that he would want to do so not in the house that he raised his first set of kids in and that is close to his parents and extended family, but in a smaller house, far from his parents and extended family. And, really, these are pretty crazy assumptions to make! Why would a man who had already raised children (close to his parents and extended family, in a big house) want to start all over again with new babies, this time in a small house far from his family? It makes no sense.
It’s not going to happen. I suspect you already know that and that’s why you’ve avoided actually discussing it extensively with your boyfriend. You’ve been spinning out on hope fumes all these years, keeping your fingers crossed it would somehow work out in your favor. Well, it’s not going to. Your boyfriend is not going to move into your small house and start having a second set of babies with you. He’s not even going to sell his house to buy a different house so that the new family you raise together is brought up in a home he never shared with his ex-wife. He has no interest in doing that because he doesn’t want to move and he probably does not want to have more babies. Infantilizing his 18-year-old is a convenient way of avoiding the topic of having a baby, too. As long as he has to cook and clean and support a kid — even if that kid is old enough to vote (which I hope he does next week!) — he can tell you he doesn’t have time/energy/money for a baby. I bet if you asked him about having a baby, that’s what he’d tell you, too. But I’m guessing you haven’t talked to him about having a baby because you know what his response will be (NOT an enthusiastic “hell yeah”) and you’re avoiding that answer because as long as you avoid reality, you can keep spinning out on hope fumes.
I’m sorry to be the one to deliver this message to you: You will never have the family you think you want with this guy. That doesn’t mean he can’t or won’t get you pregnant, but he’s not going to do so eagerly and he’s not going to sell his house and he’s not going to move from his kid and parents and other family closer to your people and set up a new family house with you. He’s already done that. And at 38, if you want to have a biological baby of your own, you better end things with this guy asap and get serious about that goal. You’ve still got a little time left to find a new partner who shares that goal, or you can think about single motherhood and the steps you can take to make that a reality.
It’s not selfish to pursue your own dreams. But it’s stupid to try to pursue them with a partner who doesn’t share the same dreams. Doing so sets you up for disappointment and heartache down the road.
Fast forward to today, my daughter is one month old and my desire to move back home is stronger than ever. I miss my family terribly and feel that I only want to raise my daughter in LA. He absolutely refuses to move. We fight like crazy about it, and he always tells me he will never move and I know where the door is if I want to go. Besides this issue (which I’m conflicted as to whether it is a dealbreaker or not), our relationship is great and we love each other. I just can’t imagine myself living here forever while he will never move. I don’t want to sacrifice a better life for my daughter to stay here. What do you recommend I should do? — LA or Bust
I am posting your letter mostly as a cautionary tale to this LW and to anyone else who has a partner who avoids discussing a move or won’t give a straight answer about moving or seems convinced you only need more time in the area where s/he wants to live before you’re sold on it too. If you have a partner like that and you can’t agree on where to live, DO NOT MARRY THAT PERSON and, for the love of God, DO NOT HAVE A BABY WITH THAT PERSON!!! While there’s no guarantee that even a person with whom you agree at one point won’t change his or her mind later, there’s almost a 100% guarantee that if you and your partner disagree about where to live in the beginning of your relationship, and he or she either avoids the topic or flat-out tells you they’re never moving, that means exactly that: they’re not gonna move. And if that’s a dealbreaker for you, let it break the deal early, before your lives are entangled together and it’s harder to break up.
As for you, LA or Bust, because you didn’t seriously consider this potential dealbreaker before you had a baby and got married, you are forced to make some really, really difficult decisions now. You feel that LA is best for you, and you think it’s best for your baby too (you say you don’t want to sacrifice a “better life” for your daughter to stay in Israel). But your husband refuses to move to LA, so your moving there with your daughter (if you can even legally do that) would mean her growing up on the other side of the world from her father. I’m not sure that is “best” for her. Moving home may be best for you, but you’re a mom now. You have to prioritize your child’s needs — sometimes even above your own — and taking her so, so far away from her dad may not be the best for her.
On the other hand, if living in Israel for the rest of your child’s childhood is going to make you miserable and depressed, that isn’t in her best interest either. Kids fare better when their parents are happy. Unfortunately, there’s not much of a middle ground here. You can’t live in two places at once. It’s possible, depending on your career and financial status, that you spend big chunks of time in LA while keeping Israel as your home base. While your daughter is super young, you don’t have to work around school schedules and you can go to LA whenever you want, theoretically (and, again, depending on your career and financial status), and stay for a while if you have a place to stay. Once she starts school, you still have summers and school breaks to travel. This could be a wonderful way of giving your daughter the best of both worlds and a deep appreciation for cultural differences. (As a side note, this is exactly how I was raised: abroad during the school year and in the states during the summers. I would not want to raise my own children like that, but I did learn so much about the world that way, and I developed a deep bond with my grandparents, whom I lived with for two months every year for over 20 years.)
If it’s not possible for you to be away from Israel that much, and doing so wouldn’t satisfy you anyway, you really do have to make a gut-wrenching choice about moving or staying, and, unfortunately, I cannot help you with that. You’ll need to first speak with a lawyer about your custody rights, and you’ll have to do a lot of soul-searching about what will make you happy and about how your happiness or unhappiness will affect your child vs. how living far away from one of her parents will affect her. It’s not going to be an easy decision at all. And it’s something that really should have been decided long before you had a child in a country you knew you didn’t want to live in forever, with a man who never told you he was willing to move.
If you have a relationship/dating question I can help answer, you can send me your letters at wendy(AT)dearwendy.com.