Who'd say no to an exciting adventure? My husband.
August 23, 2011 8:45 AM   Subscribe

How can my husband and I balance my dream job (in Asia) with his not-quite-wanting to go?

Last week, I was offered and accepted my dream job: I’ll be researching and writing about Asia for two years. The pay is amazing. I’m still pinching myself. (I met my Argentine husband in Buenos Aires four years ago. Last year, he moved up here to Portland, OR and we got married. Travel is in my lifeblood, and I’ve been thinking about how to get back on the road for a while.) My boss is lenient with where I live, and would be okay if I were on the road all the time—that’d be fine by me, since it’d be mostly work expenses and I could save a ton of money.

However, my husband is… well, let’s just say that I don’t understand how I married someone who’d turn down my offer of ‘you don’t have to work for a year! let’s travel!’, but there you go. I’d be fine in hostels, but he doesn’t want to be traveling for a year. He wants a spiffy, modern apartment, especially if he’s “going halfway around the world to live in god-knows-where.” He hasn’t traveled very much and could use a bit of dirt underneath his fingernails; while I’d love to see that, I can’t force it, and have got to respect his decision. In the past, I’ve said that I’d follow him wherever if he got a job elsewhere, and we've talked about exploring other places, but the reality and details are another thing entirely.

Relevant: he’s in IT and his boss would be okay with him working from home.
One final complication: we got a dog two weeks ago. I work at home and am quite bonded to her. My husband said he won’t go if the dog can’t go, to which I replied, “fine, then I’ll see you two later.” He scoffed. I mean, I love the dog, but if I have to choose between a dog I’ve had for two weeks and a dream job I’ve been working towards forever, I choose myself. If I have to choose between making things easier for my husband and the dog, I’d choose my husband. I understand that if my husband moves and works from home, the dog would be his best friend, but I’m a little taken aback why it seems so easy for him to choose the beta bitch over the alpha bitch.

Can anyone help me and the spouse brainstorm a win-win situation? Ideas thus far:

Option #1: We make Singapore our home base. Pros: Boss is based here, very plugged into the tech scene. Mr. can work from here easily, would have a work permit, and could likely get a decent job with boss’s help. Very clean and modern. Cons: really expensive. From the photos, Mr. is not impressed with any of the apartments. Dog would have to be quarantined for a month.

#2: We go nomad for a year. I’ve offered to pay, but it looks like he’s not having any of this.

#3: We make Kuala Lumpur our home base. Pro: It’s a lot cheaper than Singapore. Mr. has already found several ‘suitable,’ expensive apartments downtown; he’d prefer to live within short walking distance of everything. Con: We just found out how dog unfriendly KL is, and that we’d probably only be able to keep it if we got a place in Bangsar, a more family-oriented/suburban-looking neighborhood that doesn’t seem as convenient, and that the Mr. isn't fond of (he has his hopes set on a super-expensive apartment near the Petronas Towers.) Dog would have to be quarantined for a week.

#4: They stay in Portland, I work on the road with occasional trips home. I just thought of this and haven’t brought it up yet.

While Mr. Blazingunicorn knows that this is my dream job, he doesn’t seem to like any of the options thus far. I understand that this is a huge, sudden change, but I feel like he’s only offered objections and complaints, and his list of demands seems to grow. The first thing that came to my mind re: what I'd do with the money we'd be able to save over two years is buy him an apartment in Buenos Aires.

We’re going to visit Singapore and KL and explore neighborhoods next week, and I’m reaching out to the hive mind to see if anyone can help plant an idea seed to inform our exploratory trip? Because of paperwork, the job wouldn’t start until November, so there’s time.
posted by blazingunicorn to Work & Money (43 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
#4: They stay in Portland, I work on the road with occasional trips home. I just thought of this and haven’t brought it up yet.

I think you should do this. Your husband wants to live in a stable place (has already moved once in a year for you!) and be with his dog. I'm sensing a bit of frustration and disdain for his choices, but they're perfectly valid, and you can't, and shouldn't, force someone into a strange situation if their strong instinct is that it's not right for them. It's cruel.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 8:53 AM on August 23, 2011 [16 favorites]

I'm like you, most people aren't. Moving for freaking Kuala Lumpur is scary, big scary, huge insane scary for most people. This is what you are dealing with. He wants a big expensive modern apartment? This is because he wants something that seems safe, relateable, and easy.

Being nomadic is none of these things. You have to quit playing to his since of adventure since he's not in the same mode of you, play to the easy, fun, satisfying parts of the experience. So don't just dismiss his concerns, he's apt to keep throwing up excuses. Why? Because he is terrified! He's moved to a new country already, its scary enough. Try to see it through his eyes and work from there.
posted by stormygrey at 8:57 AM on August 23, 2011 [2 favorites]

Yup, I agree with #4. You're going to be married a long, long time, and two years is not a lot of time, especially with the invention of Skype.
posted by Melismata at 8:58 AM on August 23, 2011 [1 favorite]

First, congratulations on the job offer. You should be proud for getting your dream job. Many people work there whole lives for that and never get it. So enjoy it. That being said, you've got a huge problem on your hand. You'd be happy spending your life traveling, and your husband seems like the complete opposite. It's one thing to compromise over what movie to see, where to eat, etc. but where to live is a whole different ball game. Even moving to a different state can be a huge deal for married couples. But when the money is better and the job is better moving to a different state usually works out ok. But going to a far off country, or multiple countries....this is just totally different. If your husband doesn't wanna do this, then it will be impossible to force him to do so. You can offer to buy him a place in Buenos Aires, or probably a place anywhere and I think it's unlikely this will change his mind. If you were so set on traveling and he really wasn't(although maybe he gave off the impression he was) but if he's really not, I hate to say it, but this marriage may not work out so great unless someone really changes there whole way of life. And I don't think that's fair for either of you. I think that if you really wanna go and he doesn't, you should go. It will be a long distance relationship and that's tough. But if it's just for 2 years and as long as you plan on coming back after that, maybe you two can work it out. Since you don't have kids, I think it's ok to do this. Only certain people would wanna travel the world in the way that you want to. Don't force him to go. But be fair. If you say it will be for 2 years and then you're coming back to the states follow through. Don't be sellfish. If you don't think you could ever stay in one place of the US for a long time, I'm sorry to say this but you probably should end your marriage. And he may tell you that if you decide to go for 2 years, he's ending the marriage. This could be a make or break thing. I hope it works out ok for you.
posted by ljs30 at 9:05 AM on August 23, 2011 [3 favorites]

I'm a bit stuck on the fact that you accepted the job without first coming to an agreement with your husband. It's fantastic that you got your dream job, but this affects him, too, even if you don't think it's a big deal.

It sounds like Singapore is the best scenario, assuming you can find an apartment that your husband likes. (I'm not sure what a month's quarantine involves for the dog, but since you'll be there for two years, maybe that's do-able?) The expense shouldn't be an issue, since your husband will be working -- surely his extra income will cover the difference between a nomad lifestyle and a city lifestyle?
posted by cider at 9:05 AM on August 23, 2011 [6 favorites]

I think the first thing you need to do is check your attitude at the door. The way it comes across here is "my desires to live out of a suitcase are perfectly reasonable. His desire to have a stable home and a dog is just weird." You have to know that your ability to live in constantly changing places and out of hostels past the age of 20 actually makes you the exception rather than the rule. I love travel with a fierce passion, but the idea of trying to conduct my day to day life like it was some kind of extended backpacking trip is exhausting. You mean every couple of months I have to find a new place to buy coffee? You mean I can't get a newspaper subscription? You mean I have to figure out how to get a haircut in a third language when I already speak two?

I think you may have thought that because you married someone while you were traveling you married someone like you. What you did was marry a man who was willing to make one huge change because he loves you, but is otherwise in search of a stable life. This is going to go beyond this particular career opportunity and be a recurring issue for your whole marriage unless you sit down together and think things through. What are the itches that this job scratches for you? What are the itches that having a dog scratches for him? Can you find a way to get some of what you want and some of what he wants?
posted by MsMolly at 9:05 AM on August 23, 2011 [47 favorites]

I am like your husband, except not married to a nomad. The nomadic life is intensely unappealing to me. I would not choose 2 under any circumstances I can imagine. Live somewhere else for a year with occasional trips? Cool. Live on the road for a year? No.

But he's already doing the "live somewhere else" thing up in Portland. He wants to live somewhere safe, easy to get to things to do, and with his dog. These are all totally reasonable wishes. Maybe there is somewhere in Asia where this is possible, maybe not. Maybe there is somewhere closer to Singapore or KL than the US where he would be happy living for a year (New Zealand?), and you could have that as your home base and travel through Asia.
posted by jeather at 9:07 AM on August 23, 2011 [1 favorite]

You are being very "It's my way or the highway, pal!" and generally dismissive of your husband's choices, objections and feelings. Do you notice that in your own post here?

From an outsider's perspective, it sure looks like your "poorly-traveled" husband made an enormous leap, leaving his home country for foreign lands and a new marriage. He's JUST settled in there. There's a dog. He's doing okay and keeping it together. And a week ago, his spouse came home and announced that they'd accepted an amazing job on the other side of the planet, demanding that he tag along, and being kind of rude about his objections.

Is your husband stubborn? Because I am a stubborn person myself, and if someone treated me this way, I would dig in and start to make outlandish statements about how I would choose the dog over my spouse. But really that attitude would just be a response to what I perceived as the extreme dismissiveness of my spouse toward my very reasonable feelings.

You are moving way too fast. Calm down. It's great that you got the best job ever, but marriage is a partnership. You need maximum happiness for the maximum number of people, not one person gets Dream Life and the other person needs to fall in line. That way lies badness and, to be frank, not being married all that long.

Spend some time exploring your husband's anxieties. Don't try to leap in and "fix" them immediately. Listen to what he's saying. Explore his fears. Let him have his perfectly reasonable emotions for a while. If you want to do something radical, you could actually say "Look, I'm really excited about this and I see that I steamrolled across your feelings. I'm sorry. And I want to do this, I really do. But I only want to do it if we can do it in a way that works for all of us. So let's talk."

But that probably only works if you're actually willing to adjust your plans so they work for him. Which is I guess the big question here.
posted by thehmsbeagle at 9:08 AM on August 23, 2011 [21 favorites]

4 does sound the best of the options under the circumstances (though if he's willing to give up the dog and it's not just an excuse to keep you there, Singapore all the way. It should be more familiar to him than KL, I imagine).

I'm like you too: this would be my dream job. But after moving to the UK to marry my husband, I was quite ready to settle for a year and make a base before going off on new adventures. And he's clearly more of a home body than I ever will be.

The only proviso I'd add to 4 is that you two agree that he visits you regularly in KL or Singapore so that he is not a stranger to this entire part of your life. That (to me) would be gutting.
posted by tavegyl at 9:08 AM on August 23, 2011

Option #4 could be combined with occasional trips by him, to be with you, in Asia.

Maybe during the first couple of months he could arrange for someone to take the dog and come travel with you for two weeks. This gives him experience in a smaller, but not insignificant, way, and an idea of how you're living.

Maybe in time he'll be willing to stay longer (if he has internet access, he can even work a little bit while there) and will be more understanding of your hunger for travel. Maybe after a year he'll reconsider and want to be with you abroad. But don't count on it. Talk it through with him - and make it clear you're not threatening to leave him. This can be an ongoing process where you both assess your conditions and maybe revise your plans.

If you can't find common ground but you're still committed to each other, maybe long distance is your best solution. You've been through a few years of it already, yes?

Whatever you decide, good luck!
posted by Isingthebodyelectric at 9:11 AM on August 23, 2011

As others have already said, there seem to be some other issues going on here: you accepted a fairly life-changing job situation without talking to your husband about it first. You seem to be very dismissive of his opinions. And, if you're such a big traveller and like to be constantly on the move, why on Earth did you get a dog? In many ways, a dog ties you to a place and forces you to be less nomadic.

My suggestions would be either #1 or #4. Those two options seem like they'd have less strain on your marriage. Based on what little information you've given us about your husband's personality, I suspect that #2 would ultimately destroy your marriage.
posted by asnider at 9:20 AM on August 23, 2011 [5 favorites]

Option four is probably the best, but if not, I'd vote Singapore over KL. Singapore would be quicker for everybody to acclimate to, it's organized, safe, pretty Westernized, there's a large population of expats, it's within range of a lot of other countries for shorter trips, and the food is fantastic.

I'd love to go spend two years traveling through Asia, but it's a big thing to ask of someone who is more of a homebody and who has just relocated once, very recently.
posted by PussKillian at 9:22 AM on August 23, 2011

Who'd say no to an exciting adventure?

I would. I know that it is hard for you to believe, but some people have absolutely zero desire to move to a different country for some "grand adventure" scenario. Your husband has already moved to a different country, and maybe he's done for now.

but I’m a little taken aback why it seems so easy for him to choose the beta bitch over the alpha bitch.

Probably because you're kind of acting like a jerk. You accepted a job IN A FOREIGN COUNTRY without clearing it with him and now you expect him to fall in line because it's your dream job. I think you should suggest that he stays in Portland with the dog and you can spend the next two years living out a backpack or whatever you want to do. Maybe he'll come visit you.
posted by crankylex at 9:22 AM on August 23, 2011 [7 favorites]

Response by poster: Thanks for the reality check, everyone! I did just want to clear up the fact that I discussed it with my husband before accepting the job--he's very happy for me, and I'm grateful for that. 100% grateful... it's telling that I left it out of the post, but I did write the post to get ideas about the difficult part.

We realized that there would be compromise and sacrifice, but in the long run, this job would open up a lot of opportunities, so we agreed to finalize the details later.
posted by blazingunicorn at 9:29 AM on August 23, 2011

We realized that there would be compromise and sacrifice, but in the long run, this job would open up a lot of opportunities, so we agreed to finalize the details later.

Is it possible that one, or both of you, talked him into this? That could be why his objections are increasing exponentially.

I'll share a similar experience: my husband was applying to graduate school. He doesn't care where he lives. I have very particular things I want in a living place. He mentioned a location I really didn't like (Washington DC) because he loved one of the graduate programs there. I had strong reservations, because culturally I knew it wasn't what I wanted. But . . . he just looked so excited. I told him he could apply, but I suspected I really didn't want to live there, and told him that.

Well, it was the only place he got in. We moved there. I tried to be okay with it, but I was a miserable, anxious, unhappy mess. I did not fit in at all. He didn't really, either. Within six months it was clear that the situation was untenable for both of us. We've spent the last nine moving somewhere we like much more and picking up the pieces. It was an expensive, messy mistake--and six months filled with a lot of fighting because I was, as I suspected I would be, fundamentally unhappy. I really don't think you should force him into this. Really really.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 9:40 AM on August 23, 2011 [3 favorites]

I'm like you, I can't undersatnd how anyone could think of anything better than being paid (a lot!) to be nomadic for two years. I'll add another vote for #4 - that's what I was thinking of before I got to the part where you suggested it. Perhaps he would want to visit you in some places in Asia during that time as well.

(FWIW, I've always thought that if I had a husband, the important thing for me would be that he understand my need to travel/move, more than that he always travels/moves with me.)
posted by DestinationUnknown at 9:49 AM on August 23, 2011 [1 favorite]

If you discussed it with him and the job was in the works, I really don't understand why you got a dog 2 weeks ago. It just sounds like you are VERY spontaneous and he is not. And I doubt both dog and husband who are sharing your life now want to be discounted so summarily. I think you should def do option 4. Who knows what other opportunities you might run into, and maybe the dog and husband don't really want to be along for a rocky ride full of unknowns.
posted by bquarters at 9:58 AM on August 23, 2011

When does it start? Quaranteeing a dog for a month may not be much of a hurdle, but I wouldn't want to quarantee a puppy.

I, too, would be excited about the opportunity but bereft at leaving my husband behind. If you can manage to travel back and forth a bit which it sounds like you could afford to do that may be the best proposal for the near term. It's a two year committment. Maybe you start with a long distance arrangement where he also has an extended visit and you come back now and again and maybe things change and he does decide to up and move.

I think you should take the job. Otherwise you'd always wonder. But maybe dial the pressure waaaaay back on your husband. Keep talking about it and maybe something will come to light. Also, keep in mind that if he's in tech and has paid work, now is not the best time to take a few years off and let his skills get rusty. Nomad life isn't compatible with keeping up to date on the latest.
posted by amanda at 10:09 AM on August 23, 2011 [1 favorite]

Yeah. I'm kinda stuck on the dog aspect of this, too. Why on earth would you get a dog if you knew there was a possibility of getting this job? A dog is a commitment, like marriage. And it's not fair to them, any more than to your partner, to uproot their life once (both moved in with you from other places) and then again so soon (a year for your husband, a mere few weeks for your puppy).

I think you need to dial everything back, let the excitement and adrenaline pass, and then really truly think what this job means for other areas of your life. And from there you have to choose your priorities and make your decisions.

None of your recommended options sound appealing to me, but I think you owe it to your husband to let him decide what is most appealing to him and on that score, you offer the compromise of what he wants if he's offering you the compromise of taking this job that is your dream but is disruptive otherwise to his life.

And then in two years, you come back. If you are not going to come back, then you need to think about those priorities a lot harder before trotting the globe.
posted by zizzle at 10:16 AM on August 23, 2011

He hasn’t traveled very much and could use a bit of dirt underneath his fingernails

Um, what? This sounds really judgmental and condescending. You married someone who doesn't share your love of the nomadic lifestyle. He's not broken, and there's nothing wrong with his preferences--just as there's nothing wrong with your love of travel and hostels.

I have a couple thoughts. One, from your husband's perspective on the dog, I'm guessing this is less about choosing the beta bitch over the alpha bitch, and more about being a responsible dog owner. This isn't just a dog he's owned for two weeks, it's a commitment he made. I'm not saying that it's never ok to rehome an animal, or that leaving the dog with friends or relatives while you travel would be inhumane, but I do think it's unreasonable to expect your husband to be willing to do so without a lot of serious deliberation.

Also, regarding his work situation, being voluntarily unemployed for a year doesn't appeal to everyone. Consider that having a job and feeling productive might be really important to your husband's happiness.

I don't know what the solution is. I just think you need to discuss this with your husband from a place of trying to understand his needs rather than trying to convince him that he doesn't need to have his needs met. I guess I'd urge you to think of this ongoing conversation about your shared life less in terms of "I'd move anywhere for him" and more in terms of imagining that he's just received his dream job offer--a tenure-track faculty position in Eugene, OR, let's say, or something else that would keep you in the same suburb for 5+ years.
posted by Meg_Murry at 10:21 AM on August 23, 2011 [13 favorites]

Response by poster: Not to babysit the thread, but the job was nowhere in sight when we got the dog two weeks ago. Job offer and acceptance happened last week.
posted by blazingunicorn at 10:22 AM on August 23, 2011

I'm more like you, I think--sounds like you have a dream job. However, I agree with the others. Calm down and put yourself in his shoes. You sound completely convinced of your position; how are you going to compromise with him if you won't even think things through from his perspective?

There's nothing in your post that indicates that you've thought about how difficult this will be for him. You're being incredibly breezy about his job--oh, he can work from home! So he can move anywhere! Actually, what with dealing with timezones, being away from networking opportunities, and trying to get settled--this is probably going to stall his career. You're also being pretty handwavy about his social life; if he's going to be working from home all the time, when is he going to get to meet people? It sounds like he could get pretty isolated, especially if he's grumpy about moving in the first place and you're going to be constantly on the road. Finally, you guys were just married! I don't know many happy newlyweds who would really want to move far away from their spouses or the nest they'd just made together.

You could buy him an apartment in Buenos Aires to make up for it, but I bet he'd rather you guys earned the money together. As a team. I bet he has other objections that he won't bring up until you've calmed down and showed that you'll really listen to him. Find out what they are and come up with a detailed plan for addressing them, and then you'll have a better case for moving.
posted by millions of peaches at 10:37 AM on August 23, 2011 [3 favorites]

Let me know if you figure this one out. I grew up traveling the world, my husband was scarred by the one major move of his childhood. We're even in Portland, like you. I've put some of my career dreams on hold because I think his emotional well-being takes precedence, and because I can't stand the idea of spending months or weeks apart. It sounds like your motivations are different.

Your husband's already been through one major move in the last year, and is probably still reeling from the culture shock. For many people, culture shock can be overwhelming - and if he's never encountered it before and now lives in a city without many expatriots, that must be hard on him. At least he moved from one fairly western country to another. Adapting to Asia is going to be much harder, in some ways, because of its vaster cultural differences. At least the cities you're considering will have more sizable expat communities.

A note on the dog: My parents quarantined their dog and six cats through moves to Thailand, the U.S., Poland, Thailand again, the U.S. again and then Norway. It was harder on the cats, but all the animals came out OK. That should not be your deciding factor.
posted by croutonsupafreak at 10:47 AM on August 23, 2011

Don't underestimate the importance of feeling comfortable in one's own home - house, neighborhood, town, country, continent, etc. If you feel out of place where you live, you're aware of it every single day, and it can wear you down fast. And it's not the kind of thing that you can necessarily rationalize or cajole someone out of.

And moving is such a huge change and source of stress even when you're excited and prepared for it. At this scale, it'd be a hard enough adjustment even if he were completely on board. If he's reluctant or doubtful, don't bet on his having a conversion experience.

It sounds like, wherever you make your "home base," you'll be on the road a ton anyway; if he's going to spend a large chunk of the next two years home alone, it might as well be at the place he already calls home. #4 is probably the only real option here.
posted by Metroid Baby at 10:48 AM on August 23, 2011

Your husband recently moved from one place that felt like "home" to him. Possibly away from friends and family to a place you consider home. He gave all that up to be with you. He has spent a year living in a new city and seeing a new lifestyle and getting used to new things. He has been doing exactly what you want to do, go to a new country to live and work.

I absolutely loved to travel and would head off overseas at the slightest provocation, until I moved to the US to be with my husband. Then all I wanted to do was stay put, my husband couldn't understand what happened to his spontaneous travel bug wife and it took me a while to work it out in my own head.

I no longer had a place that felt like home and that showed itself in a mad urge to completely redecorate my husbands apartment to make it feel more like mine. It seems I loved travelling as long as I knew I had a home to come back to and my place in the US, even with my husband did not feel like home. Now 2 and a half years later I am starting to get my travel bug back again, it took that long for here to feel like my home. I have my safe place to return to, so the idea of heading grabbing my passport and just heading off is suddenly getting more appealing and we're heading off to Europe in October.

I don't really think there is a win/win solution in this case. There is a few compromise solutions like the ones you suggested. I think #4 would probably be the best solution, there are a lot of countries close to Asia with a more western lifestyle besides Singapore, including Australia & New Zealand (though not sure how hard they would be for him to stay there).

Just remember a lot of his hesitancy probably comes from the fact in his mind he already has just moved to a new country to live and work and isn't ready for all the crazy turmoil that comes with up and moving again.

Oh and if you go do the kindest thing for your dog if you both decide to move. If you got it from a rescue or a breeder, if its a no kill shelter take it back. If you bought it at pet shop, find a good home for it or a good no kill rescue group, your dog does not deserve to be dragged all around the planet if you are moving every year or so.
posted by wwax at 10:52 AM on August 23, 2011

Congratulations on your new opportunity. It sounds exciting. I think what I notice most about your post is that it sounds like your husband has done a lot of bending in terms of changing his life to accommodate your relationship. He has already moved his life and career to another continent once this year. I don't mean to be snarky, but really to ask--how have you bent to accommodate the relationship so far? Marriage is about meeting each other in the middle to ensure everyone's happiness--both as a couple and as individuals. I don't know all the details of your situation, but it sounds like that balance might be a bit lopsided at the moment. I apologize if this is not accurate. But could this be behind part of his hesitancy to uproot again so soon? This sounds like a tough situation. Best of luck figuring it out together.
posted by anonnymoose at 10:56 AM on August 23, 2011

(Also, I have to say that reading the way you talk about your husband made me feel bad for him. Resist the temptation to mock or condescend someone you love just because he may have different needs than yours at the moment.)
posted by anonnymoose at 11:03 AM on August 23, 2011 [10 favorites]

Relevant: he’s in IT and his boss would be okay with him working from home.

While I'd appreciate being able to travel and work from home, I'd be pretty nervous about doing it in a place where I didn't speak the language and didn't know anybody. What would happen if my company went bankrupt or merged with another, and I was laid off? What if my company was restructured and I got a toxic boss, or even a decent boss who wasn't ok with me working from home anymore? I have done job hunting in a place where I didn't know anyone, and it was rough, even though there weren't any language/cultural issues.

Maybe your husband is a superstar in his field and doesn't need to worry about things like that, but it wouldn't hurt to talk to him about what you might do if his job situation changes.
posted by creepygirl at 11:30 AM on August 23, 2011

In your question you say:

My husband said he won’t go if the dog can’t go, to which I replied, “fine, then I’ll see you two later.”

I wasn't there and I don't know your relationship, but I'd be risking my marriage if I said the equivalent of this to my wife.

As said by many above, your husband seems to be looking out for your interests. He moved to another country, he supported you in taking this great job, and he's willing to relocate again if his needs are met.

It sounds like you two have a problem that can actually be solved if you two start communicating well with one another, and you look out for his interests. You need to live somewhere in South or East Asia. Your husband needs some home comforts and a dog. You'd both prefer to live in an interesting urban location. There have to be locations that meet those criteria.

This is a solvable relationship problem. Sooner or later, you two are going to have an unsolvable problem. I don't know any long-term relationship that doesn't have one or two. Start practicing looking out for your spouse's best interests now. It will serve you very well later.
posted by ferdydurke at 11:33 AM on August 23, 2011 [1 favorite]

Also, it's not just about the actual dog. It's also about what the dog represents.

Consider these unfair, emotionally-laden parallel statements:

You made a commitment to care for the dog, and now that something better has come along you are willing to sacrifice your relationship with the dog to pursue your own interests.


You made a commitment to me [your spouse], and now that something better has come along you are willing to sacrifice your relationship with me to pursue your own interests.

I know these are tendentious statements, but many people would draw these parallels, and I suspect your husband might be one.
posted by ferdydurke at 11:39 AM on August 23, 2011 [3 favorites]

Terrific advice from PhoBWanKenobi, and others. So here is something for you to think about:

1: You love to travel, but have married someone who does not. Didn't you discuss that first?
2: You claim he doesn't want an "exciting adventure", but he didn't say he wouldn't go -- he just said he wants a nice place to live instead of living in hostels. So what he doesn't want is an exciting adventure on your specific terms, and for this you are mocking him.
3: You accepted the job without talking to him about it.
4: He's already moved to another country to be with you, and you are not acknowledging the significance of his sacrifice here.
5: You got a dog two weeks ago, and made a commitment to that dog -- and two weeks later, you're ready to abandon that commitment. I would assume he has noticed this.

If you want to pursue your wildest dreams unfettered, you cannot be married and you cannot have other commitments (like a dog.) If you want a husband and a dog, you are going to have to accept that you can't always pursue your wildest dreams. Marriage involves compromise and commitment, and dogs involve commitment. As you spend two years pursuing your wildest dreams without your husband or your dog, perhaps you should reflect on whether you really want to be tethered to these commitments. I am certain he will be asking himself the same question as to whether you're committed to him, so it will be good for you to have an honest answer when you return.
posted by davejay at 11:48 AM on August 23, 2011 [6 favorites]

I've never been to KL, so I can't speak for there, but once your husband checks out Singapore on your preview visit, he may have a much easier time warming to the idea. It's a great introduction to Asia for someone who hasn't traveled much. He wouldn't have to worry about learning a new language to work in IT there. Singapore also has the Funan IT Mall, which my wife had to threaten physical violence to remove me from. Make sure your boss is available for an informational interview with him when you visit. If he has any other contacts in the IT world your hubby can meet during the visit that would help. The job scene was pretty strong when I checked it out a few years ago. We ultimately made the decision not to relocate, but from the people I met and the feedback I got, I didn't think I'd have had much difficulty finding an IT job.
posted by IanMorr at 12:04 PM on August 23, 2011 [1 favorite]

Also, last thing, sorry--but if I were your husband, and I had just moved to another, new country to marry someone and start a life with them, then they proposed leaving me behind by myself in that new country most of the time for two years so they could try living abroad, I would be upset. YMMV.
posted by anonnymoose at 12:24 PM on August 23, 2011 [8 favorites]

One thing that you don't mention in your question is what kind of visa your husband used to enter the US. You may wish to consult an immigration attorney about your various options and how those options may or may not impact his immigration status. It may be a non-issue for all I know, but it might be a very large one.
posted by ambrosia at 1:12 PM on August 23, 2011 [1 favorite]

Yes, thank you, ambrosia, I was just thinking, "what are the legal implications of marrying a foreign national in this situation?" He may not be able to leave America-- I know one foreign guy married to an American that he's been with/married for years who isn't allowed to leave the US. I don't know if you would be able to leave the country without him losing status (okay, I don't know jack about this, but it might be a thing to worry about) either.

Overall, I'm thinking that you need to leave him home. I don't think that's gonna be great for your marriage unless BOTH of you require a lot of emotional space, but then again I strongly suspect that being a travel bug who is married to a natural homebody isn't great for a marriage either. Sorry to say it, but that's a major dealbreaker if he requires you to be home or you require him to roam the world. And so far, yeah, your attitude is pretty rude/cavalier to his feelings so far, so that is really something you need to watch out for. I sense a lot of contempt for his feelings in this, and that's a really bad sign.
posted by jenfullmoon at 1:31 PM on August 23, 2011

"Isn't allowed," jenfullmoon? Leaving the country could slow or otherwise hurt efforts to get a green card or permanent resident status, but the U.S. government doesn't forbid people from leaving the country.
posted by croutonsupafreak at 1:36 PM on August 23, 2011

Actually, the US government does; it happened to me. I came to the US on a fiancé visa, and until I received my green card, I was not allowed to leave the country until I applied for and received a specific travel document. I mean, of course I could have left – they wouldn’t have physically stopped me. But I would have lost my status if I did so. So yes, this could be an issue for the couple, though I suspect the husband has received his green card by now.
posted by yawper at 1:50 PM on August 23, 2011 [1 favorite]

We’re going to visit Singapore and KL and explore neighborhoods next week

You are over thinking this at this juncture. I know it's a huge problem, but you're asking your husband to participate in making a decision with no data that feels concrete to him. Belay this conversation until you've looked at both places.
posted by DarlingBri at 2:25 PM on August 23, 2011

Singaporean here. Enough people have commented on your relationship to your husband, so I won't.

Singapore's hot and humid - think 30°C++ with 90%+ humidity all year round. PussKillian is generally correct when she writes,

Option four is probably the best, but if not, I'd vote Singapore over KL. Singapore would be quicker for everybody to acclimate to, it's organized, safe, pretty Westernized, there's a large population of expats, it's within range of a lot of other countries for shorter trips, and the food is fantastic.

That said, as you've mentioned, it's expensive. The property market is ridiculous and public transport isn't terrible, but during peak hours it can feel a bit like the inside of a tin of sardines - claustrophobic, wet, and smells funny. Outside those hours it's reasonably efficient and pleasant enough.

IT wise it's not a terrible place to be; broadband is readily available and WiFi hotspots are commonplace. Fibre optic cable is being laid, which is great for internet addicts like myself. Not sure about the IT job market, but if your husband's boss can get him a gig then that's not a problem. IanMorr mentions Funan the IT Mall - the grittier, messier, more-likely-to-get-a-bargain-but-also-more-likely-to-get-ripped-off version is Sim Lim Square. Both are fun places to explore, and you can probably get what you need, IT-wise, from either place.

Travelling elsewhere within South-East Asia (and I'm guessing South & North-East Asia and Australia as well) is quite easy, with the advent of budget carriers - Singapore's airport built a dedicated terminal for them sometime within the last few years. Flying back to South America or the US is going to Cost you.

It's also pretty safe, crime-wise. It happens, but it's uncommon. (Funfact: It helps that the police force is beefed up by mandatory conscription; not all conscripts join the army, some join the fire dept or the police.)

Most people speak at least a rudimentary form of English here. The local vernacular can be a little confusing but it's easy enough to get used to it.
posted by WalterMitty at 5:12 PM on August 23, 2011 [1 favorite]

One note - something I learned after I returned from England is that cheese and coffee and tacos (!) are RIDICULOUSLY EXPENSIVE here. I guess it stems from having to import nearly all our food, sometimes from pretty distant places. If I were you I'd do a quick check of your favourite foods in local supermarkets and restaurants while you're here on your scouting trip.
posted by WalterMitty at 5:16 PM on August 23, 2011

At first, me and the wife lived/worked in London. Wife took a job offer to teach English in Japan for a year, and I stayed in London. This worked out fine for us. She visited, and I visited her during that year. I had just started my career then, but was not against Japan, it just was not realistically possible.

But in visiting, we both wanted to stay in Japan. It took a while, but eventually I found a job in Tokyo, and we moved here. We've been here 9 years now. If your Mr is in IT, this is the place to be! The Internet <3!! The new tech <3!! Everything about service, fantastic. Singapore, or KL is not Tokyo, but not far off either. In both those cities everyone speaks English, so you can totally fit in.

There is an optional modification to #4, that they stay behind, but visit you, and fall in love with your Asian home. Having someone move who don't really want to, tends to turn into resentment.

Good luck!
posted by lundman at 6:37 PM on August 23, 2011

Your dream job also sounds like my dream job, so I am on the same page as you there. However, I do have to admit that, like many other posters, I think you sound very dismissive of and condescending towards your husband's concerns. A lot of people have covered that very well.

I did want to make another suggestion for Tokyo, if that's at all possible. Expensive, of course, but it offers a lot of attraction for someone into IT. If there are a range of cities possible for you, have you asked your husband about any cities that might be particularly compelling to him? Maybe he's always wanted to live in Japan, Hong Kong, Malaysia...
posted by lillygog at 7:15 PM on August 23, 2011

OK, I had a lot I was going to talk about: merits of Singapore vs KL, trailing spouses (and for a second time even!), culture shock, being stuck in an unfamiliar place for a partner when that partner isn't even spending much time there, and so on. But those are really just secondary details at this point. Fundamentally, are you committed to your husband or yourself?
posted by 6550 at 8:19 PM on August 23, 2011

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