In a recent blog, I wrote about how young couples—or at least those in the early stages of couple-dom—face the prospect of relocating together. The advantage for those couples is that whether one or both is interested in relocating, they have the benefit of making that decision without the complications of marriage, children or other long-term commitments.
Of course, that’s not always the case. Plenty of couples come to me far into marriage and/or child-rearing with a dilemma: one wants to move, whether for a new job opportunity, to be closer to extended family or another reason, while the other does not. They’re invested in staying together, but they’ve reached an impasse. In these difficult cases, what’s the best approach to deciding how to make the best decision for everyone? No two situations are exactly alike, but here are a few suggestions that usually represent a good start.
For starters, the moment you see a potential change on the horizon—or at least one worth considering—open the dialog with your partner. Don’t delay. Maybe you’ve heard of a new company in another state with a job opportunity you’ve always dreamed of. Instead of pondering the hypotheticals all on your own—yes, even if you’re afraid your partner will be dead-set against it—broaching the subject early on is a far better strategy. If nothing ever comes of it, it’s still a good idea to get everyone’s feelings on the table rather than wait until you have a job offer in hand or you’ve made up your mind about what’s best for you and your family. As an added bonus: you’ll know where both of you stands if a similar situation should arise in the future. It’s also good for building trust and transparency in the relationship.
Try to See Things from your spouse’s Perspective
Once you’ve broached the subject, be 100 percent respectful of your partner’s feelings and concerns. Each of you has both practical and emotional reasons for feeling the way that you do. To use the above example, the partner who’s looking for career advancement may worry that their partner doesn’t truly support their ambitions or even believe in their future. The other, meanwhile, may have stronger emotional attachment to their circle of friends, extended family in the area or the city you live in, or have negative perceptions of the new city under consideration.
While discussing it, then, it’s imperative that you be willing to listen carefully and validate your partner’s emotions. If either of you feels dismissed or belittled, walls will start to go up, and rational, we’re-all-in-this-together attitudes can go out the window.
This isn’t exactly a business decision between you and your partner, but some of the same principles can apply. Each of you can do some research, either separately or together, about the pros and cons of moving versus staying as well as compromises that can be made. Assuming there’s a raise involved, does it more than cover the potential of a higher cost of living in the new location? If you have children, have you made a realistic assessment of how their lives would be impacted?
Each of you needs to make a “wish list”: what neighborhood you would consider, what kind of home you would want (equal in size and amenities to your current home, for example—or maybe better), etc. For that matter, if you’re moving for a job opportunity, you need to keep your partner’s interests in mind during the negotiating process.
If you’re going to make a change—or not—that satisfies both of you, it needs to be a joint decision from start to finish. It could mean the difference between driving a wedge between you and bringing you closer…and for couples, the latter is always a good move.
If you and your partner find yourselves arguing or at an impasse over a possible relocation, please give us at a call at 949-393-8662949-393-8662 or schedule an appointment via our online calendar. We at the OC Relationship Center are here to help you.