Marriage is at the best of times a delicate balancing act between aspirations and priorities of both partners. And one of the issues which brings this to the fore is whether to stay or to move when a job opportunity is offered to one spouse. If you're the one who is moving because of your partner, you may feel like you're getting the raw end of the deal, giving up a fulfilling life in order to support your significant other. This can not only lead to strain in the marriage but to a more difficult time adapting to your new location even when you decide to go along with the change. Here are a few ways to deal with the issue and minimize chances of damage to your relationship.
Talk about it
A spouse who wants to move and in the process uproot the family because of his/her career prospects can come upon you as a surprise. Despite the temptation to give in to panic, try to be as calm as possible since this is a situation which requires some cool thinking which is practically impossible to do when you are freaking out or yelling at each other. Instead talk with one another about your values, needs, and expectations of the change. If necessary take inputs from all members of the family to see how each feels about the prospect of change and how it can enrich your lives. Having a discussion will also make it clear to you whether your spouse is open to moving alone or whether he/she expects you and/or the family to tag along; either situation will have its own complications, a long distance marriage in case of the former and the stress of moving in case of the latter. Once you get talking about the proposed relocation, you will have a fairer idea about the issues involved and possible solutions. Finally weigh the pros and cons of making the move – weighing the benefits of moving along with your spouse as opposed to the benefits of staying back will put the situation in clearer terms and in the process help you to make a better decision.
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Explore the new place
One of the first things you can do is to check out the place where your spouse wants to move to. Research the new area before making the decision to move. Be realistic about cost of living and financial concerns. This will help you gauge the quality of life at the new location on fronts that are important to you and your family – for instance the quality of healthcare, educational and professional opportunities, recreational facilities and support network available in the new place. Find out about the place from the internet, check with friends and acqauintances about feedback on the place or tap social networking sites to gather more information. If possible, try to physically explore the place together so that you have an actual idea of where your spouse wants to move to and the kind of life possible there.
The most important objection to moving along with a spouse is perhaps the issue of your own career taking a backseat. You may have been doing well in your job with even better prospects in near future and now suddenly being asked to leave the job or even go for a lateral move is sure to seem unfair, if not actually damaging. If staying back is simply not an option, you can start exploring new opportunities in the new place rightaway. Do a search online or visit a local employment office and start building a resource database or spreadsheet of possible employers or networking opportunities. Prepare your resume and reference letters before you leave. Having a completed portfolio, resume and employment package ready will enable you to apply for positions as soon as they become available. An even better idea would be to take professional help like applying to a headhunter or talking to a career counselor about your job prospects in the new location. keep in mind options like telecommuting or self-employment. you can also look at internships if you're seeking a career change. If your family can survive on one salary, look at educational opportunities. Most cities have local colleges or trade schools that offer varoius programs and can give you useful advice. If you've wanted a career change, find out what is needed to make that leap.
Also, check into e-learning programs that allow you to study at home. This can be a great alternative for those not in a major urban area or if the preferred institution is too far away to commute. Thus moving may not always imply a setback to a career - instead this could be a great time to assess career expectations and desires or perhaps to start something new.
If you find that the benefits of moving along with your spouse are higher than staying back, start planning for the change as early as possible. Even though you may not be in a position to decide the timing of the movie, if you can plan ahead, try to allow yourself at least eight weeks for the move; this is especially necessary if you need to hire movers and/or if you're planning a summer move. Start by ridding your home of all the clutter; this will help you feel more organized since it will ensure that when you begin packing, you'll only be packing the things that you need to. Apart from this, de-cluttering will also help you unburden some of the old stuff that might have been holding you back, thus emotionally easing the process of change and making the transition between the past and the future that much easier.
But be flexible too
While it is necessary to be organized to deal with a move, you also need to recognize the fact that the most foolproof plans can go haywire. Unplanned events will happen, so you need to be flexible and allow yourself some extra breathing room to deal with these problems. You may be thrust with an important project at work in the last week or your kids may fall ill. Setting aside some buffer time or having a back-up plan will ensure that you can adjust and feel calm even when things seem chaotic.
Moving is recognized as one of the most stressful events in a marriage and there is no reason why you should have to go through it alone. Seek help from family and friends and if necessary reach out to others who have been through a major relocation or even relative strangers in the new place where your spouse is going to move to. This will not only help you get useful tips about the new location but also ensure that you a support network once you land there.
Finally recognize that a move entails an emotional upheaval, both in the life of the individuals concerned as well as in a relationship. Allow yourself time so that you can deal with the change and cope with new surroundings and people. If the two of you make the decision to relocate together, and have shared your expectations and fears, then there is no reason why your marriage cannot survive the move.