Dear Christine, Choices in Clinton Twp.

  • Posted on July 30, 2018 at 9:11 am
Dear Christine,
I am having trouble making a decision. I moved to Michigan 3 years ago and have since met a wonderful woman who I have been living with for the last year. I have been missing, my home, family and friends back in New York though and now I have an opportunity to move back as I have been offered an amazing job opportunity. I want my girlfriend to come with me and she is saying no. She is retired, has no kids, no siblings and no parents in Michigan, only a few close friends. In New York, I have two sisters, and my two grown sons and a granddaughter who is a newborn. My choice is clearly to take the job and move back home, however, “J” is begging me to stay. We’ve talked about a long distance relationship and I’ll be making enough money to visit often but I’m so angry that she won’t move with me that I’m wondering if in the end, I should just break it off and move. I do absolutely love her but this opportunity is too good to pass up. I wish she would look at it as an adventure and come with me. Should I try long a distance relationship? Or…should I tell her, “I love you, I’m committed to you, this is a marriage, and you either need to come with me, or we’re through?”  Yes, I know that’s an ultimatum, but it’s the way I feel.
Signed, Choices in Clinton Twp.

Dear Choices,

This is a heart-wrenching problem!  I wonder if you and “J” ever talked about moving away from Michigan and perhaps even moving to NY, as you have so much family there.  If you had, perhaps you would not be as shocked by “J” wanting to stay when you so badly want to get home.

What you are dealing with is non-negotiables.  What must each of you have and what can each of you NOT endure, to make a relationship work?  Needs are things like water, air and food.  You can live a relatively long time (a month) without food, but you will died in minutes without air.  So, some needs allow for some wiggle room, and others are absolute.

My wife and I have recently talked about this topic (again, it comes up every couple of years).  We were tempted to move to California while visiting friends and family in June, both of us!  I have always told her that if she wants or needs to move back to California, (her home state) she would have to go it alone.  I have no desire to live in LA with the threat of  heat, quakes and fires, and the constant of horrible traffic.  After we both were tempted in June, we realized for a variety of different reasons that neither of us wants to.  Not at this point in our lives.  Maybe in a decade?  Maybe?  We’ll talk about it, I’m sure.

Has “J” always known that you prefer to move back to NY?  Has she met your family?  You refer to “J” as your girlfriend, and later you refer to the relationship as a marriage.  Are you legally married to each other?  If so, you have certain legal ties that you must deal with long distance or divorce to sever.

What are the outer limits of what each of you can tolerate and still be ok in the relationship?  This needs a lot of discussion, but with a job pending, you may not have much time for that.  What you two are discussing are your values as well as your needs.  You clearly value living back there and living near your family, wanting to be a part of your grandchild’s young life.  That is all very understandable.  Do you know what is keeping “J” here?  She doesn’t seem to have the family ties like you, but she is invested in staying here. Maybe it is financial, emotional security, preferring to be in a place she knows well?  You will have to ask her.

Some couples are able to be flexible and one will follow the other anywhere.  A couple I know moved to Switzerland when the one working got a job there and the retired one gave up the research she was doing to move together.  In fact, this was enough years ago, that Switzerland offered legal marriage and so they married in order to protect their relationship more than they could here in the US.  They have been there for many years and from the occasional contact I have, they both seem to relish this lifestyle.  They do return to family and friends back in the US from time to time, but continue to live together, married, abroad.

There is no right or wrong answer here.  You have to search your own heart, your  own soul and see what is right for you to do at this point in your life.  “J” also has to search her heart and soul to determine what she is able to do and not able to do in her life.  If it means moving together, wonderful!  If it means a long distance relationship, then there’s more negotiating to do.  If it means breaking up, than perhaps that is best for each of you, eventually.  From my point of view, you have been together for a short time. You each need to be brutally honest with your own self and with the other in this process.  If you pressure her and she relents, resentment will likely follow.  If she pressures you and you give in, will you resent her?  You each are individuals with differing needs and priorities.  Communication is the way forward, whether you stay or leave, whether she stays or leave.  Good luck to you both.  If you have the time, schedule a couple of appointments with a therapist to have a neutral party help you both negotiate with each other.

Christine C Cantrell, PhD


Christine C. Cantrell, PhD
1026 W. 11 Mile Rd,
Suite C
Royal Oak, MI 48067

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