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Give her "space" and potentially end the relationship, or try to compromise?
May 4, 2012 5:06 PM   Subscribe

Wife wants "space" -- but we're supposed to move to a foreign country in a week. Give her "space" and potentially end the relationship, or try to compromise? There's more to it than that, so here goes:

I'm going to be as vague as possible because I don't want this post to negatively influence either of our careers. I suppose that one could read between the lines and tease more things out -- go for it.

My wife (been together five years, married for one) will be deploying to a United States Embassy for a two year tour next week (less than a week from the time of this writing). I planned on accompanying her; I have an employment offer lined up. Our ultimate goals were to get into the US Foreign Service and function as a tandem couple -- we considered this to be our dream job.

Catch is, she got in -- and I didn't. I have a strong feeling that I haven't gotten in because of my lack of international experience -- I've never lived or worked overseas. Getting some expat experience is really high on my list of priorities.

Yesterday, she said we had to talk. She says that she needs space, and doesn't know what she wants or needs from the relationship. She said that she didn't think that we would "work" in this new place. This was an enormous shock to me, even though I know that she's not a person who can articulate her emotions as well as she needs. It's something we've both tried working on, and it's something I was much better at in the past. She knows who she is and how she behaves; I know who I am and work to better myself. There's a fine difference there.

Being the veteran of a number of really terrible long term relationships, I tried to find a compromise that would be agreeable to both of us, a compromise that involved me going overseas and getting some work experience, and her getting the space that she wants. She completely stonewalled me and said that she didn't think it was a good idea. When pushed about what was specifically wrong, she said she didn't even know, and couldn't give me concrete reasons.

My personal effects? Already packed and on their way somewhere as of last week. The round trip transit time is said to be between two and four months. It takes a while because the country in question is in a particularly "interesting" region of the world (just north of Iran). The car was set to be shipped next week, so at least that's not gone.

The country? Not conducive to conducting a long distance relationship. Internet service is spotty, and there's a ten hour time difference from the east coast of the US. Flights are exorbitantly priced. She is likely to use one of her home leave trips to go visit friends instead of family, because that helps her recharge and unstress.

So here's the nut of the question: should I keep pushing for a compromise, or should I just let this all drop? I want to be there for her. Working past this situation will take effort, but I'm willing to take on that burden because I care about her so much. I feel that I've already given so much by leaving relatively high paying jobs with future potential to follow her around; what I'd be doing in country would be a challenge, but, aside from getting international experience, not significant in the long term. (By the by, we met in college, and I gave up a job to follow her to a place where she could find work. This seems to be a repeating event, but I also seem not to mind, because a career is less important than my relationship with her.) My worry is that the relationship will just crumble given the distance (temporal and spatial both) if I don't go.

Alternatively, do I just need to grow up, get a divorce and deal with selling the house and our shared assets, and make a clean break? I don't want to do this for a litany of reasons, not limited to the fact that she's generally logical and loving the majority of the time. I am 33, so I'm not too old to get back out there and meet other people (and maybe raise a kid), but I'd obviously like to avoid all of that. Especially since I'll be wearing the scarlet letter of divorce.

Any advice appreciated, especially from those who might have gone through something similar.

Email for clarification or comments: mefi.throw.away.acct@gmail.com
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (29 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
 
I'm not sure what it means, but I noticed you didn't mention a thing about your relationship, just logistics. If you aren't still in love, find a new path of your own.
posted by advicepig at 5:12 PM on May 4, 2012 [6 favorites]


If I were married to someone and they told me they didn't want me to move with them to another country, I would probably listen and take them at their word. The alternative is tagging along to a place you have no reason to go and where you know nobody except someone who doesn't want you there. I've gone through some rough times in my marriage and adopted the attitude that if circumstances ever drove us apart, that wouldn't necessarily mean it would have to be forever; maybe that time apart would be what it took for us to heal, individually.

Your wife is asking you not to go. Logistically and career-wise, this would be a pain in the ass for you, that's for sure, but if you love her I would try to respect that request.
posted by something something at 5:16 PM on May 4, 2012 [10 favorites]


Alternatively, do I just need to grow up, get a divorce and deal with selling the house and our shared assets, and make a clean break?

Yep.

I'm truly sorry about this turn of events for you. But she is not displaying the kind of behavior that makes anyone think you can recover from this. Moreover, stonewalling and not giving reasons and waiting until the last possible moment ... and after you've shipped materials? This is not a mature person that you're dealing with. Not at the base level, where it matters.

No, in this instance, mature people actually get divorced.

Sorry.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 5:16 PM on May 4, 2012 [22 favorites]


First of all, this all sucks, and I'm really sorry you have to go through it so close to a massive life change, something it sounds like you looked forward to. Ugh. I am sorry.

"I need space" is a classic dodge when one party wants to spare their SO's feelings and buy time until acceptance starts to sink in. They've already resolved themselves to moving along. Is there someone else in the picture? Your wife telling you this now, so close to moving abroad together, feels very planful to me, like she's trying to narrow the window of pain and resistance, so she can start her new life sooner.
posted by thinkpiece at 5:18 PM on May 4, 2012 [1 favorite]


advicepig and thinkpiece are right - there is no love left, but after living together for so long, she is trying not to hurt your feelings, especially after you left a job for her and even tried to go with her when she is deployed.

One simple question to her - "Do you love me enough to stay with me for the rest of your life?" should give you all the answers you need. Logistics are much easier to figure out than anything else in that case.

Truly Sorry for what you are going through right now.

I have a sinking feeling that this "abroad tour" is really an excuse for your wife - I'll take that back if that's not true.
posted by theobserver at 5:25 PM on May 4, 2012 [2 favorites]


Sounds like a particular crappy way to end a marriage, especially with your stuff all packed up and gone already. She certainly didn't do you any favors in that regard. If there's anything you particularly want, I'd suggest you go get it, or kiss it goodbye.

I'm not sure why you'd want to stay with someone this selfish and inconsiderate.
posted by BlueHorse at 5:28 PM on May 4, 2012 [5 favorites]


This happened to my diplomat sister and her husband. He decided to go anyway... a different country, but still a hardship posting. They lasted less than a year and it was very acrimonious. All his support was back home and all the friends they'd made in country were her colleagues and networks because that's how the expats play.

In retrospect, she said she should never have let him come. These postings are intense and stressful and you're not going to be a good support for her if she doesnt want you there.

She sounds like she was hoping she could cope with you being there, and now realises she can't. Don't go.

Let it end.
posted by taff at 5:28 PM on May 4, 2012 [8 favorites]


This will be counter-intuitive, but maybe she's wanting space and also not wanting you to be so willing to sacrifice for her.

If you just say yeah, okay, and accept it, and don't fight it, and don't express willingness to be that caring and sacrificing person, it might shift the dynamic. But as thinkpiece said, unfortunately it sounds like she might have her mind made up already.

As it is now it sounds like the dynamic is: consider her needs, and either you don't consider your own needs or you don't assert them (for whatever reason). I don't know if that applies but if it does it may help you in the future to watch for a repeat of this - as only some women will appreciate it. Some appreciate it and some lose respect for the man who sacrifices more than she does. They don't MEAN to trick you about it, but if they are the lose-respect sort of person, then these calls for sacrifice result in secretly wishing the man had said no, I will not!

As an aside, divorce is so common now that I am almost certain it has lost its shamefulness in most circles.
posted by hungry hippo at 5:29 PM on May 4, 2012 [2 favorites]


Bollocks to you guys. Broken hearts heal. Fight for your marriage.
posted by nickrussell at 5:35 PM on May 4, 2012 [14 favorites]


Tell her you are coming for the first month or two to get your stuff and ship it back and all the logistics that entails. She will be way too busy to be wanting to do that for you. You will know during that time if this is worth fighting for or turning around and moving on.
posted by AugustWest at 5:44 PM on May 4, 2012 [26 favorites]


Sorry, this is happening. The grass isn't greener if there is no fence.
posted by jade east at 5:52 PM on May 4, 2012


Your wife sounds as though she is going through a crisis of her own. It is strange for someone to be starting with the Foreign Service and dumping her spouse weeks before departure? This is not the poise, cool-headedness and control of someone who is handling this big step in a constructive way. This sounds like a meltdown.
posted by jayder at 5:59 PM on May 4, 2012 [10 favorites]


Your wife is using the transition in her life as a lever with which to implement the decision she has already made: she is done with this relationship. you can file for divorce now or drag it out and beat yourself half to death but it's not a compromise if only one party actually wants it. She's stonewalling you because she doesn't want to find a solution, she wants out. I'm so sorry this is happening.
posted by FAMOUS MONSTER at 6:05 PM on May 4, 2012 [8 favorites]


Is it possible to give it a month or two, and see how things go?

Or maybe agree to both travel to Country X, but live separately or otherwise find a way to have this "space" she wants?

I mean, it sounds like, despite where your relationship is at, your stuff is packed up and on its way to a foreign country where you already have a job lined up! So basically you are moving to Country X. The decision is already made, regardless of you arrive married or separated or single or what.

At the very least, I think you have to take AugustWest's advice and go out there to get your stuff back/set your affairs in order. Then see where you are when that is done, I guess.
posted by Sara C. at 6:37 PM on May 4, 2012


From the OP:
Thanks for all your comments. They're very helpful as I go through this (really) rough patch.

I didn't write anything about being in love with her because I was writing it from the perspective of it existing, at least in me. I think the world of her and admire her; until this bolt from the blue struck, I was perfectly happy with my visions of us growing old and sharing the next thirty or forty years together. I don't think that my feelings for her blinded me to what was "really" happening in the relationship -- again, she doesn't do emotions well, or at all, which is probably why I carried so many misconceptions about what occurred under the surface. She bottles everything up and internalizes everything, especially those things that concern the both of us. I have to believe what she says at face value, however; this is hurting her, too.

nickrussell, your response was what I defaulted to. I fought because it was worth it to me. (I'm also pretty fucking stubborn, too, which probably isn't good for this.) When she started saying that fighting for the relationship was really making her resent me more -- I had no choice but to drop the idea. When it comes down to brass tacks, I really do care about her feelings and don't want to make her feel any worse. She's just not being receptive, at all.

jayder, it is indeed a meltdown. (Days before departure, btw.) While many people of our FS clique have relationship problems or get stressed out from the enormous amount of responsibility on their shoulders, this is unique. They're all, to a person, highly capable people in many regards, and either they're really good at hiding their stress I worry that her lack of composure about this situation portends poorly for her continued career as a diplomat (hence the anonymous posting). I'm also worried that this is going to somehow make the rounds as gossip.

hungryhippo, I wouldn't want to be in a serious relationship with a partner who didn't appreciate self-sacrifice. I'm not sure that giving in will shift the dynamic and move things forward, but to be honest, I don't want to fight about this any further, or make things worse. Perhaps it is the better option. As an aside to your aside, I believe that it speaks poorly about modern society when the shamefulness of broken state-approved relationships is increasingly thrown in the gutter like so much trash. I'm no social conservative, but maybe I'm old fashioned in this way. I got married because I thought something like this would never happen. Perhaps I should stop putting so much faith in others?

As to the many of you who basically advised to GTFO and let it end, it's not something that I want to do, but I do agree that this is the healthiest thing to do. I'm not afraid of any of what might happen, but, you know, dammit, it's not what I want. That's life, yes?

Thank you all, again.
posted by jessamyn at 6:38 PM on May 4, 2012 [2 favorites]


You could do what nickrussell suggests, and fight for your marriage by not going. Let her go and start to build your career and live your life stateside. Before she goes, tell her you love her, she chose to marry you, and now she's choosing to do this. You can't stop her and you'll hope only the best for her. Doing that and sticking to it may actually shift that unshiftable dynamic.

(Read Divorce Busters or Love Must Be Tough or similar.)
posted by heigh-hothederryo at 6:57 PM on May 4, 2012 [5 favorites]


Oh, snap. As a diplomat brat, this brings up some issues and thoughts:

My worry is that the relationship will just crumble given the distance (temporal and spatial both) if I don't go

That would be be my reaction, too, and wouldn't be something I would want out of my married relationships. That said, my dad and stepmom have made the long-term, long-distance marriage work for them, when he's been stationed in locations where he could not bring a dependent. It's been a logistical headache, at time, and can eat up some major cash in travel costs, but...they've done it for a number of years, and have a strong marriage. I've seen it work in other relationships, too; sometimes, there are insurmountable two-body problems that just happen in the Foreign Service.

Ironically, my mom and dad stayed together when we were stationed overseas, I think in an effort to "stick it out" and "work on their relationship," and the strain of the tours just obliterated their marriage in addition to their own dysfunction, of course. They are divorced, hence the stepmom.

What I'd be doing in country would be a challenge, but, aside from getting international experience, not significant in the long term.

This is the kind of thing with being married to someone in the FS; there's a huge majority chance that it is going to impact your career, especially if you are also a professional. You kind of have to go into it the same way some people go into having kids: if having kids is going to require someone leave the job market and stay home, who is going to be? What support are they going to get while enacting that choice? What compensation will they get for this sacrifice if, god forbid, if they end up divorcing?

I mean, there are couples who get sent to countries where the non-diplomat is expressly forbidden from working in the country, or practically forbidden because most of their time is limited to staying in U.S. or diplomat compounds. Some people aren't as impacted, because they are freelance writers, or because they can score positions with local NGOs or oil companies or something, but most people I saw who were in relationships in a diplomat, and who were non-diplomatic professionals themselves, essentially had to give up their jobs, or had to take menial or part-time gigs (unrelated to their careers) at the embassy

The decision to go along, for me, would require knowing that I am in a stable married unit, and that there are joint plans in place to ensure compensation for the impact on my career. Obviously, in a solid marriage, both can benefit from the arrangement, but like some women who get divorced after being homemakers for 20 years, some dependents can get screwed by this arrangement. You have to be careful, or have a plan. I would definitely only do with it with someone with whom I could really hash these issues out.

She completely stonewalled me

Um, yeah. This is not good. Not good at all. Your shit is already on the ship and she's not willing to discuss what is going on? WTF.

She doesn't know what she wants or needs from the relationship

Um, yeah. Maybe I am naive and tender, but, um, I don't see how this can be an awesome portent in a marriage. Don't you get married when you know, you know, what you want in your relationship?


Honestly, I think you guys need to really get to talking. And if she won't, then, in your situation, I sure as hell would not follow her, and I would start thinking about divorce.

Feel free to memail me if you want more 411 on the overseas experience or whatever. Goodluck.

And: Especially since I'll be wearing the scarlet letter of divorce.

Dude, what scarlet letter? I swear - 90% of people I've been in relationships with have been divorced. Lots of people don't quite see what the stigma's all about...

posted by vivid postcard at 7:01 PM on May 4, 2012 [13 favorites]


It sounds like you have, by following her from job to job and giving up earnings as well as earning potential for the relationship, put quite a burden on her/her career to be your source of excitement, social life, money, etc. The idea of having you tag along to another country (not joining her as an equal partner or source of support but depending on her) is causing enough resentment that she's pushing back. Unskillfully to be sure, but there it is.

I find it interesting that you say in your OP and your followup you talk about how poorly she communicates what she's feeling, but then you say you suggested a compromise that was exactly what she said she didn't want. And then you imply that maybe she won't be good at her job if she would do this? I wonder if she hasn't tried to articulate her feelings before, and you disregarded them.

I'm sorry you find yourself in this position. If she's leaving the country in a matter of days and doesn't want you along, it sounds like the time for compromise is past.
posted by headnsouth at 8:13 PM on May 4, 2012 [4 favorites]


This seems like one of those questions where major details have been left out and the other person’s take on the situation might be very different. Anon, before I offer you my frank opinion, I want to tell you that my goal in giving it is to help you save your marriage if that’s what you want to do. If you think I’m reading too much into any of the things I’m addressing or making too much of a fluke of phrasing feel free to skip that, or any of my answer.

I’ll start here:

“I want to be there for her. Working past this situation will take effort, but I'm willing to take on that burden because I care about her so much.”


You want to go with her only because you are such a giving person. It will be a major burden. But that’s okay, for her sake you are willing to take on such a burden because that’s just how giving and caring you are.

This strikes me as a manipulative and not entirely honest line. Dressing up something –you- want as something that you are doing for the –other- person. Even it is –against- the other person’s emphatically stated wishes. And on top of it is the martyrdom – not only am I doing this for you, but it’s even a burden on me.

It is a way to get one’s own way and steamroll over what the other person wants, while at the same time laying claim to the moral upper hand and righteousness. It is a way to guilt trip the other person. If you say no to this you are so selfish and unappreciative of my sacrifices.

Here’s the thing though. This is one of those things that may work for a while, but when the same person is on the receiving end of it enough times, it stops working. Because in the beginning you may be able to convince both the other person and yourself that this is for THEM, they are really getting what they want. But eventually a person notices that even though all these things are supposedly being done “for them,” they are not happy, they are not fulfilled, they never seem to get any of the things they really want. They begin to notice that all your convincing about what is “for them” never results in them being happy with the resulting situation. So they get sick of your convincing and don’t want to hear it anymore. So --

1. If this is something you are in the habit of doing – couching your desires as something done for the other person even if they have told you they don’t want it; invoking martyrdom – my guess is this is one of the reasons that your wife wants space. This is something you can absolutely work on and change if you do it. To me, you seemed a lot more honest about why you wanted to join her abroad with these lines:

- “My worry is that the relationship will just crumble given the distance (temporal and spatial both) if I don't go.”
- As to the many of you who basically advised to GTFO and let it end, it's not something that I want to do …, dammit, it's not what I want.


It is okay to just acknowledge that you want something because YOU want it. In fact, it’s much better.

Okay, so I asked up above if this is something you are in the habit of doing. I think this is a habit you might have had for a long time, based on this:

“I feel that I've already given so much by leaving relatively high paying jobs with future potential to follow her around; what I'd be doing in country would be a challenge, but, aside from getting international experience, not significant in the long term. (By the by, we met in college, and I gave up a job to follow her to a place where she could find work. This seems to be a repeating event, but I also seem not to mind, because a career is less important than my relationship with her.”

When you were in college and you first decided to give up a job and follow her, that was a decision you made. As you said, to you, a career was less important to you than a relationship with her. At that juncture, you could have broken up and kept that job, or you could have followed her. I am assuming she didn’t abduct you right? You picked the option –you- wanted more. But here you’re still framing it as “I’ve given so much.” Even as you have been choosing the options –you- have wanted.

So not only do you get what you wanted, on top of it, she OWES you. Now, possibly years and years of your own choices, you picking the option you wanted, those are things that she OWES you for.

Can you see , if this is the case, why it might be that your wife might not want you to come with her? First of all she doesn’t want you to come with her anyway. But if she lets you, it will be yet another thing you are doing FOR her that she will owe you for. Can you see why she might want to cut it off here?

To me, this seems like a way of controlling people. This does not seem like just purely altruistic, expectation-free sacrificing and giving.

So, that kind of calls into question for me this:

“Our ultimate goals were to get into the US Foreign Service and function as a tandem couple -- we considered this to be our dream job."

Was it really her goal and dream to be a tandem couple in the FS with you? Or was it a situation where you convinced her of it or wore her down until she agreed? I’m not saying it WAS the case that you did that. That’s just something to reflect on I think.

Okay. The second issue is that I detect a pretty pungent scent of condescension throughout this question.

“I know that she's not a person who can articulate her emotions as well as she needs. It's something we've both tried working on, and it's something I was much better at in the past. She knows who she is and how she behaves; I know who I am and work to better myself. There's a fine difference there.”

Really? Because to me, this seems perfectly well articulated.

“She says that she needs space, and doesn't know what she wants or needs from the relationship. She said that she didn't think that we would "work" in this new place.”

-She needs space
-She doesn’t know what she wants or needs from the relationship.
-She doesn’t think the two of you would work in the new place.

I found that to be perfectly articulated and perfectly simple to understand. It is absolutely crystal clear to me. For the second one, “I don’t know” doesn’t make you inarticulate. She has perfectly articulated that she doesn’t know, and that is perfectly valid. Sometimes humans don’t know things. I think the issue may be that you just don’t like what she said. Maybe it makes you feel at sea. You want to know WHY. Okay, but the answer is not to condescendingly say you’re “much better” than her at articulating emotions because that’s not really what’s going on.

“She knows who she is and how she behaves; I know who I am and work to better myself.”

Maybe she doesn’t want to better herself. Maybe she doesn’t want to be with someone who thinks she needs to better herself, or tries to get her to do so.

“I don't want to do this for a litany of reasons, not limited to the fact that she's generally logical and loving the majority of the time”

It is condescending to imply that her perfectly legitimate desires which she expressed to you are illogical

“She completely stonewalled me and said that she didn't think it was a good idea. When pushed about what was specifically wrong, she said she didn't even know, and couldn't give me concrete reasons.”

Is it possible that no matter what she says you are going to argue her down, or insist that you find her answers to be illogical, insufficient or lacking, so she’s done trying to give you concrete answers for things?

Also, when there’s manipulation at work in the relationship, it’s very common that people know they are unhappy but not know why. Like I said up above, sometimes people think, “if all of this is supposedly being done for my benefit, then why am I so unhappy?” It can take a person years to figure out why, and exit the situation. But it is not because that person is deficient.

“She bottles everything up and internalizes everything, especially those things that concern the both of us.”

Regardless of whether she was like this when you met her, or got that way over the course of your relationship, this doesn’t sound like a dynamic that is conducive to her becoming less like this.

“it is indeed a meltdown.. While many people of our FS clique have relationship problems or get stressed out from the enormous amount of responsibility on their shoulders, this is unique. They're all, to a person, highly capable people in many regards, and either they're really good at hiding their stress I worry that her lack of composure about this situation portends poorly for her continued career as a diplomat”

This to me sounded the most condescending of all. It almost comes off as concern trolling. I did not see anything in your post that described a “meltdown.” It sounded like a woman telling her husband she wants space. That is not, in and of itself, a meltdown. It sounds like you are implying that her wishes in this regard make her someone who is not “highly capable,” and has poor prospects for success in her career. I would NEVER tell anyone my real thoughts and feelings about anything if I were going to get that kind of condescension coming back at me as a result from them. I would NEVER tell them my plans for anything. I would NEVER be vulnerable around them in any way.

2. It would be a good idea to go to therapy and ask them for help in identifying ways that you may behave or speak condescendingly to your wife, if any exist. It would also be good to ask for help in identifying ways that you may make your wife feel that her wants and needs are being shut down.

I guess the TL;DR of my answer is – stop poking at your wife. Affirm to you that you love her. Tell her you will do whatever she wants and ASK her what that is and then go ahead with what she says, rather than trying to convince her she wants something else or something else is best for her. Then, go to therapy. It may seem counterintuitive, but I think this will give you the best shot at fixing the marriage.

Two cents from an internet stranger who doesn't know either of you.
posted by cairdeas at 11:18 PM on May 4, 2012 [26 favorites]


I'm a little confused. If you have an employment offer, can't you go regardless of how things play out with her before and after you leave, get the overseas experience you want and see how the rest of it goes?!
posted by ambient2 at 12:59 AM on May 5, 2012 [1 favorite]


There could be 1000 reasons what and why this is happening (like being overwhelmed in moving abroad).

"Catch is, she got in -- and I didn't. " She may not consider you as equal or higher anymore.
posted by yoyo_nyc at 1:28 AM on May 5, 2012


When an adult says she needs space, then you should give her space. I'm sorry.

If it helps, giving her space is probably your best chance of saving the marriage. After some time w/ithout you, she may realise she was happier with you.
posted by Perodicticus potto at 1:53 AM on May 5, 2012


What do you actually want to do apart from being with your wife? If your wife didn't exist, would you move or stay? Do that. Given her request for space, I think you need to stop following her around and do your own thing. It's possible she'll change her mind about needing space, but it's not something you can bet on.

It works either way. If you do your own thing, I think that will make you more appealing to her, but if it doesn't then at least you'll be doing what's best for you if the other shoe does drop and she wants to end the marriage.
posted by hazyjane at 2:40 AM on May 5, 2012 [1 favorite]


She's moving abroad for two years and doesn't want you to come. That's not her wanting "space," that's her breaking up with you. Of course, it would be easier if she would just come out and say that, but this is not the sort of situation that brings out the best in people. Sorry, man, I know it sucks. See an attorney, start divorce proceedings, and keep in mind that you may be entitled to financial compensation if you put your career on hold for hers.
posted by myeviltwin at 4:35 AM on May 5, 2012 [1 favorite]


Your wife appears to be acting in an extremely selfish and immature way.

That said, what's going on is very odd. I would consider a little therapy to see if you can't figure out what's at the bottom of this behavior. Regardless, someone who's capable of acting so erratically and without basic thought for your well-being may not be a good choice as a long-term partner.
posted by shivohum at 7:19 AM on May 5, 2012 [2 favorites]


"Catch is, she got in -- and I didn't. " She may not consider you as equal or higher anymore.

That's exactly what I thought. She may consider you second-class and feel as though she wants to sweep into her glamorous new posting unburdened by your sorry ass.

I mean, that's my take on her crappy, cruel, selfish move here.
posted by jayder at 8:13 AM on May 5, 2012 [2 favorites]


Clarification (I'm a foreign service brat): This is her first tour, which is only two years long. He hasn't followed her around from country to country before. The job offer he has is most likely an "eligible family member" (EFM) position at the embassy, which he is eligible for only as long as he is on he diplomatic travel orders of his spouse. There is no job there for him if they get divorced.
So if he goes, he goes as a dependent of his spouse. If this is the middle east, it's almost impossible for him to go on his own without the embassy's assistance with his visa, customs, housing, health care, employment, etc.
In case it's relevant, most EFM positions pay well (probably starting at $40 or $50k), and are a very good way to transition into the foreign service or another agency.


I'm really sorry this is happening when it is. Moving makes people feel like they can break free of everything that was holding them back before, and start over. It's not realistic, but it happens. I don't think any of us can say whether she's going to blossom overseas on her own, or realize she just brought all her baggage across the ocean with her. Your options are to make a break now, even though this might be a temporary meltdown; or wait until she's made up her mind and tells you, which could be a very long time. Which will be better for you?

(Also, please don't speculate about whether she has enough "diplomatic composure" or whatever. It's really irrelevant to the situation, and also not really how the job works.)
posted by ke rose ne at 8:22 AM on May 5, 2012 [1 favorite]


OP - I'm an FSO, and while I'm not quite in your wife's position I can definitely speak to the adverse effect Foreign Service life can have on relationships. Not much I can add that hasn't already been suggested, but feel free to memail me if you have questions or just want to talk.
posted by photo guy at 12:39 PM on May 5, 2012 [1 favorite]


Give her "space" (ie, break-up) or try to compromise?

This is completely the wrong question, because it implies that you have a choice in the matter. From everything I've read, you are trying to compromise, and she's shutting you down at every turn. So basically, you two are already broken up.

I'm sorry to hear of your breakup. It sounds like you have sacrificed a lot of opportunities to be with her, but there's no sense in wasting even more opportunities. Just consider yourself lucky she broke up with you before you were already abroad.
posted by wolfdreams01 at 1:49 PM on May 7, 2012 [2 favorites]


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