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Sunday, 25 March 2001

Only One Wants to Move

Written by  Dr. Louise Klein

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QDear WholeFamily Counselor,

I am originally from Michigan but moved out to California four years ago to attend graduate school. I never planned to make California my permanent home, but have tried since I met a wonderful man whom I married seven months ago. Before we even got engaged, we talked about the possibility of me not being able to stand it in California anymore. He stated at that point that he would move if it came down to it.

We factored the cost of living, what would be best for our children, wanting to have family and friends around (we virtually have none within two hours of us), and the idea that I could be licensed as an MFT within the year versus the five years it will take in California. So, aside from this being a move for our future family, it would also be a career move for me. My husband is a teacher and would have no problem walking into Michigan next year (after his third year teaching) and obtaining a teaching credential.

We have discussed moving twice within the last three months and my husband said that he did NOT want to live in Michigan and now avoids the topic whenever it comes up despite his promise to me prior to our engagement. I have spoken to many friends (including many neutral ones) and have done plenty of research. All of the arrows point to Michigan except my husband's.

This has created quite a rift between us because I have felt that he has shut out the idea and does not have any real reasons to stay other than 'he is all about California and does not want to move. He's not even willing just to give it a shot for a couple of years to see how it goes.

How should I approach this situation? Am I being fair? What is the next step? I really need a very neutral person's advice. Thank you so much for your time and advice.

ADear Only One Wants to Move,

This is a very difficult situation. Each of you feels committed to his or her position with no room to compromise. Whatever happens, one of you will feel like "the winner" and the other like "the loser." You have reached a stalemate.

For you, California was a temporary move and Michigan remained your home. For your husband, California is his home even though there may not be family nearby. You're asking him to give up that same sense of belonging that you want to move to find again. This is not a decision made just on facts; it's also about emotions.

Whatever happens, one of you will feel like "the winner" and the other like "the loser." You have reached a stalemate.

There's no easy answer here. You're feeling angry because you feel that he is reneging on a promise. He may have agreed to move when you discussed this before your wedding but then had second thoughts when he really thought it through. Or he may have been ambivalent but you heard it as complete agreement. Many promises are made in the heady days of an engagement that are difficult to keep when reality sets in later.

I think that the two of you should get into counseling as soon as possible before even more anger and resentment build up. A therapist is the ultimate neutral third party. You have access to many resources through your graduate program. Choose someone whom you don't know so that your husband will feel that you're starting the sessions on an even footing. Also try to keep an open mind and really hear what your husband has to say.

Dr. Louise Klein

Last modified on Thursday, 24 March 2011 07:41
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Dr. Louise Klein

Dr. Louise Klein

Louise Klein was born on the West Coast of Canada but lived for many years in Los Angeles and Philadelphia. She has a doctorate in clinical psychology from Widener University in Pennsylvania. Dr. Louise Klein is an experienced therapist in insight-oriented talk therapy. She has worked with individuals, couples and groups for many years. Her experience with families includes stepfamilies, adoptive families, nuclear families and families dealing with illness or death. Dr Klein is also trained in thought field therapy and regression therapy and has taught and worked internationally. Louise Klein lives in a rural community with her husband and St. Bernard and has a stepdaughter in college in New England.

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