Wedding Woes

Have you always been the trailing spouse? Does she have other job options?

Dear Prudence,

Three months ago, I applied for my dream job in our current city. I didn’t think I’d get it—many people applied who seemed more qualified than me—but I figured I had nothing to lose. Three months later, I got the job offer, and I was ecstatic—until we got word my wife will be transferred 3,000 miles away for the next four years. With every other move, we’d gone together, building a new life in a new city alongside each other. But this time I just can’t seem to get excited. I’m devastated to say no to this job offer. And in the new city, we know no one, and career prospects for me are limited. Is it crazy to be in a long-distance marriage for four years? My wife is sad but open to the idea. I feel like a jerk for even proposing it. Kids are not a part of the equation, and we could financially make it work. It just seems like the “wrong” way to spend your late 20s/early 30s. We are both broken-hearted at the situation. What should we do?

—Dream Job, Nightmare Situation

Re: Have you always been the trailing spouse? Does she have other job options?

  • Can your wife find a new job?
    charlotte989875
  • MyNameIsNotMyNameIsNot Atlanta member
    Knottie Warrior 5000 Comments 500 Love Its 5 Answers
    People do it. It wouldn't be my ideal, but it's something H and I considered a few years ago. Depending on distance and schedules, you could potentially arrange to WFH from each other's locations a few days each month, so you see each other pretty frequently. You at least know that your wife's transfer has a finite window. If she can't change jobs between now and then, you can make a plan to live together again in 4 years. 
    charlotte989875
  • mrsconn23mrsconn23 member
    Knottie Warrior 10000 Comments 500 Love Its First Answer
    edited April 15
    It sounds like they've moved around more than once for career opportunities.  I wonder who's career it's been for.  

    I think there are many things between 'give up dream job and move' to 'keep dream job and have long-distance marriage'.  I wonder what kind of job she has that it's only a 4 year assignment. 

    I know some people can make it work, but I don't think a long distance marriage works long term and I consider more than 6-12 months to be long term.  You truly end up living separate lives and make connections with people who aren't your spouse...or at least I feel like I would.  Also, you're paying for two households among a myriad of other things.  Andplusalso if you want to build a family with kids at some point, coming back together full time will be a reset that needs a readjustment period. 

    So I feel like LW needs to have a really honest conversation with their wife and figure out if there is any sort of compromise/decision that honors both of their feelings and desires. 
    charlotte989875
  • kvrunskvruns member
    Sixth Anniversary 2500 Comments 500 Love Its First Answer
    My mom has a relative who has a long distance marriage, I'm always so curious about it. He makes mega money working overseas and as long as he's not in the US more than 30 days a year he doesn't pay taxes (or something like that, maybe fewer taxes? idk). Basically they meet in HI for a month a year and that's their marriage. But he makes enough to where she never has had to work and supposedly they're happy. I always thought it was strange they didn't travel more and meet in other countries 
    charlotte989875
  • I know someone (with a teenaged kid nonetheless) that does this. I don’t know how they make it work, but apparently they do. 

    The problem though isn’t the long distance marriage but why is the assumption that LW give us their job or they live apart? What about the wife’s job- can she find another job in the current city? Can she negotiate a WFH for the first year while LW sees if the dream job is truly as much of a dream as they think? That this doesn’t seem to be part of the conversation is the teal issue. 
    mrsconn23short+sassy
  • mrsconn23mrsconn23 member
    Knottie Warrior 10000 Comments 500 Love Its First Answer
    edited April 15
    I know someone (with a teenaged kid nonetheless) that does this. I don’t know how they make it work, but apparently they do. 

    The problem though isn’t the long distance marriage but why is the assumption that LW give us their job or they live apart? What about the wife’s job- can she find another job in the current city? Can she negotiate a WFH for the first year while LW sees if the dream job is truly as much of a dream as they think? That this doesn’t seem to be part of the conversation is the teal issue. 
    A teal issue sounds very soothing though. Hee. 

    But seriously, I wonder if LW feels like they'll be less than 'supportive' of their wife if they push back on this move.  The way it's presented is that she's all, "That's sad, but I'm leaving...so either come with or see ya in 4 years."  I hardly think it's a 4 jobs in the world problem. 
    charlotte989875short+sassy
  • I wonder if she's in the military or going through residency/fellowships/etc?  I could see the frequent moves for her job in both those situations (although medicine wouldn't have been such a surprise transfer I suppose).  With so many working from home right now is there a way LW could negotiate for remote work?  That's something I would definitely bring up.  FWIW, H and I lived apart for the 2 years I was in grad school.  It was unusual but worked fine for us. 

    This whole situation seems odd though - i agree there's a lot of options between "give up my dream job and move" or "live apart for 4 years"
    charlotte989875MyNameIsNot
  • CharmedPamCharmedPam Chicagoburbs member
    2500 Comments Fifth Anniversary 500 Love Its First Answer
    I was in a long distance marriage that could have worked (it was really just 1 hr away) if one of us didn’t have a wandering eye.  It can work.. I was actually ok with it. But this is 3,000 miles and requires more flights than it does a 1 hr road trip.  Equaling way more money. And 4 years IS a long time.  My vote: no. 

    charlotte989875Casadena
  • I am aware relationships like this are a lot more common than I would have thought before becoming an expat. Normally I hear of people doing it because they want their kids to stay in the same school or around a support network but it isn't *that* weird. My ex's sister moved to Germany with her husband when he got stationed there (military), hated it, and moved home while he did his time. 

    I think it takes a strong relationship, good communication, and lots of understanding but it is possible. 
    charlotte989875short+sassy
  • I'll add another chorus of it can be done.  But it's major sacrifices and I'm sure there are a lot of couples that won't work for either.

    My cousin married a man from Spain.  They lived in his country for the first two years of their marriage.  She loved living in Spain, but they have a terrible economy.  She miraculously was able to get a job teaching English at a private school, but absolutely hated it.  Then she got her dream job back in the US.  Her and her H moved to the US.  It was a 6-month process before he was even allowed to work.  But he hated his first job, plus it was pretty low paying, compared to what he had been doing in Spain.  TBH, I really don't know the details of why he couldn't get a similar job out here.  It was basically wine/liquor sales.  But he couldn't and ended up moving back to Spain.  They are still happily married, but living an ocean apart.  She goes to Spain for most of her summer break.  Being in Europe, he gets the kind of vacation time that is unheard of in the US, lol.  It's at least 8 weeks, so he'll visit her for 2-4 weeks at a time during the school year.  There isn't necessarily an end to that arrangement.  It's their normal.

    Not nearly as bad as that, but my sister and her H live apart from each other for most of the week.  He took a job in Los Angeles but, financially, it would have been a nightmare to bring his family there.  So my sister and their kids stayed in north San Diego county and he shares a two-bed LA apartment with one of his friends for his work week.  Don't get me wrong, rents in SD county are no joke either.  But it is still substantially cheaper to rent the two places, then trying to rent a 3-bed place near LA.

    For the LW, I'm curious about the financial factors.  Obviously it's more expensive to run two households, but does the salary they will be getting for their dream job be worth the extra income after the extra expenses are subtracted away?  I know income isn't everything.  They'll also be gaining experience in a job/field they want.  It's a major blessing to enjoy what one does for work.  But then they are living so far away from their spouse for 4 years.

    Is the wife's income comfortable enough to support them both where she needs to move to?  And, if it's not, then why is she taking that job?  Though maybe she has to, ie military or something like that.

    Without knowing pertinent pieces of info, at the very least, I'd suggest the LW take the job and try out living apart for one year.  Maybe it's not really the dream job they think it is.  Maybe the couple will find that living apart doesn't work out too badly for them.  Or maybe they will find it is horrible, and that will make the LW's choice easier to leave their job.  They'd have a year of experience and even if supposedly there is nothing similar where their spouse will be, maybe they can find a similar job that's WFH or close enough for a long commute.
    Wedding Countdown Ticker
    charlotte989875
  • kvrunskvruns member
    Sixth Anniversary 2500 Comments 500 Love Its First Answer
    I always found that interesting that you and exDH lived separately @CharmedPam though I wasn't sure what the distance between houses was 
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