Move vs. countermove :Relocation rough on spouse
Q: I made a two-year commitment to a job that's good for my career and for which my husband agreed to move. Where we are living is not our kind of place. I am doing well and making friends, but my husband is miserable. I have agreed to move to the city of his choice when the two years are up (about 15 months away). However, seeing him so unhappy is in turn making me miserable.
Do I break my commitment, even though this would not be best for me? I would hate to have been dishonest to my employer, but isn't my first loyalty to my husband? How can I help him see the bright side when he is determined to be miserable?
A: Hm. Interesting phrasing. Do you genuinely believe he's "determined" to be miserable? That he could like the place if he wanted to?
People do feel more inclined (vs. forced) to accommodate someone who's trying to be a good sport. You're certainly right that your first loyalty is to your husband and not to optional personal fulfillment, but that comes with a flip side: Your husband's first loyalty is to you, and not to optional funk fulfillment.
Meanwhile — getting into the chicken-and-egg of it all — are you making friends and leaving him to fend for himself, thus his funk? Or is he choosing to stay home funky and therefore isn't making friends? Or both, with one feeding the other?
It's amazing how much hinges on one detail: Did your husband agree to this and mean it, only to find that his unhappiness was too intense to smile through, or did he agree to it grudgingly, and is now staging a passive-aggressive masterpiece of resistance to the move by refusing to make it pleasant for you?
I imagine you already know which of these is happening. The former means you at least indicate you're willing to leave early, for his and ultimately your well-being, and you see where that goes. The latter means you're due for a conversation about what it means for you to support each other. And, you see where that goes.
Let your sister-in-lawbe inspiring, not irritating
Q: My sister-in-law goes out of her way to help me, my husband and everyone around her, and I'm trying to figure out why I find it really annoying. She lives frugally, is a tree-hugger, loves children and volunteers on Election Day, and I agree with all of her causes also, so I really don't know why I find myself wanting to pick out her faults (only to fall short since she's such a good, decent person). Am I so insecure that I can't appreciate having this wonderful in-law?
A: Maybe. If you see her as the human embodiment of everything you think you should be — and, thus, incontrovertible proof that it can be done, you're merely not doing it — then I don't think you're supposed to enjoy her company entirely. There will always be twinges of guilt.
However, as long as you can restrain yourself from rooting out her faults, reveling in her failures and sabotaging her causes, and you can honestly accept her as a good, decent person, then I don't think there's any reason you should beat yourself up. Or her.