Adapted from a recent online discussion.
DEAR CAROLYN: My husband just got a promotion offer that would require us to move two hours away. We have a toddler, dog, house, a TON of amazing friends, live in a community we adore and I have a job I love. The move would be an amazing career opportunity for him. I would be able to do my job remotely — by myself in my house all day.
I cry every time I think about leaving our friends and working from home 10 hours a day in silence. I know my husband thinks this is an opportunity he can’t pass up, but I think the sacrifice is too great.
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I want to be a supportive wife, but I believe our life outweighs his job. How can we talk through this without my defaulting into a selfish position?
— Scared and Selfish (Maybe)?
DEAR SCARED AND SELFISH (MAYBE)?: To make a sound decision, you both need to be able to trust that the other sees things your way and regards it equally. To that end, tell your husband you will keep an open mind, and ask him to list his pros and cons. In return, you ask that he try to see things your way: Being at home by yourself for 10 hours a day in a new place with a toddler is basically a 2 + 2 of depression, and you need him to get that.
He’s also at high risk for “defaulting,” just by thinking this is something he “can’t” refuse. He can say no to the promotion, just as you can say yes to moving. The question is whether there’s a net gain or loss to you as individuals, as a couple, as a family.
The one who can more easily replace what is lost is the one who needs to give in, so I suggest you start by at least agreeing in principle on that. The “winner” also needs to back fully the other’s effort to replace what s/he sacrificed.
I’m stunned that a move of two hours is giving this woman such vapors. You can visit on weekends. It’s not another continent. It’s also an opportunity to explore a new city, make new friends, and discover how much fun it is to work in your PJs.
DEAR ANONYMOUS: Have you ever worked from home in a new place? With a toddler? I have, and “vapors” is unfair. There’s a reason isolation is a weapon abusers use. It’s awful, and it’s also not easy for some people just to force themselves to circulate — be it due to their temperaments or to the nature of their work or new community.
Besides, I could just as easily argue that it’s absurd to treat a promotion as equal in value to deep community roots. Best just not to assign value to either one and let the two of them approach the decision with all of the various needs and challenges in mind.