Dear Carolyn: Six months ago I married my husband knowing his employment contract would not be renewed and we’d have to move. (He is a physician with a very specialized practice.) After a short job search, he accepted a new position, and we made an offer on a house.
After a couple of drinks last night, I told him I didn’t think he put much effort into his job search, and I didn’t want to go forward with the move. We could have gone just about anywhere, and he chose the place where it snows eight months out of the year!!
If I am not willing to follow my husband to the ends of the earth, was I wrong to marry him? – Regretful Newlywed
Maybe, maybe not. I don’t think there’s a fixed line that tells you what a “good” spouse will or won’t freely do out of love or duty to the marriage. That line is not only in different places for different people, but also it can move over the course of a marriage, based on how each of you has grown and changed.
The regret I hope you’ll explore first, though, is in waiting this long to speak up. If you really need the pressure of an imminent move – and the permission of ethanol – to say what you actually think, then I wouldn’t like this marriage’s chances even if you viewed following him to the tundra as the height of romance.
Situations like this are why various iterations of “love yourself first” have become stock romantic advice. When you know yourself, and trust yourself, and aren’t so terrified that telling your truth will make you unlovable that you need to be half in the bag before you can share an honest opinion, then you can actually communicate with your partner.
And communicating is how a marriage lives or dies. If you talk openly, you can learn each other’s needs and wants, and whether you’re willing and able to meet them. If you’re not communicating except to shout, “Look out! Impending doom!” after you’ve already submitted a written offer and earnest money on a little piece of that doom, then you’re inviting a situation where what you expect and what you actually have are related only by chance. That leaves a whole lot of space for disappointment, frustration and resentment to take up residence.
If you’re not un(der)-loving here, just immature, then your marriage can emerge strong and happy from that particular setback – but you need to grow up fast. First, apologize to your husband for blaming him when you were the one who didn’t do your part well enough; that was a serious cheap shot.
Then say you’d like to talk more, better, and more honestly – starting with where you’d both ultimately like to live, and how this upcoming move (or pulling the plug on it) factors into that.
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