Marriage versus home and parents
August 28, 2013 1:24 PM   Subscribe

I'm stuck. My wife and I have been married for a little over a year, and there's a looming issue I haven't been able to shake off since the engagement: being close to my home and family conflicts with my wife's goals and what's good for our marriage.

I'm from a very small, somewhat remote village with a distinct local culture. All my family lives in that general area, including my parents, and I'm their only child. In our area, it's the norm that adult kids stay around with their new families and that their parents stay involved in their lives on a weekly basis. This is what my parents have always hoped for and what they see around them every day.

My wife is from another continent, is a cosmopolitan city girl, and is looking for adventure, for not being tied down to one place, and for living closer to her family for at least some time in our future.

Right now we live in a decent city about three hours from my parents. It feels like an acceptable compromise to me, but my wife doesn't like it that much. More importantly, she hates feeling trapped here because every talk about moving results in lots of anxiety on my part.

There's a complex mix of emotions going on in me that's hard to unravel. I feel guilty for leaving my parents alone now that they're about to retire. I'm homesick sometimes. I'm afraid of missing the good years my parents and uncles and aunts have left. I sometimes resent my wife for not making a bigger effort in settling down here, learning the language and making friends. On the other hand I totally understand her. It's not her culture and in marrying me she didn't sign up for giving up her dreams and her family. She says she doesn't feel the commitment from me of putting us and our new family first. (We have no kids yet, but want to.)

I do actually like adventure and have lived abroad before, but now this side of mine is shadowed by my fear of having to "give up" my parents and family and my home area for good. I'm afraid that since we already found out that my wife doesn't like it very much here, chances are slim we'd move back if we left.

I've seen two psychologists before about this. Their general consensus was that my attachment to my parents is a little unhealthy and partially driven by guilt, and that physical distance doesn't mean one cannot be close to each other. I see their points but somehow something is missing. My wife and I will see someone together next week.

As I said, I'm stuck and my confusion has led me to question my commitment to the marriage, like my wife already does. I love her, though. I'd be grateful for any hints about how to unravel this.
posted by winterroad to Human Relations (41 answers total) 12 users marked this as a favorite
 
One thing that would affect some people's answers, I predict, would be if you could elaborate on what you mean by "remote village" and "distinct local culture". What I mean is - it's one thing if that village in question is somewhere like, say, Bhutan, and another if it's in rural France.

Also, knowing whether your parents have a computer and can use videoconferencing things like Skype could help.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 1:28 PM on August 28, 2013 [2 favorites]


99.9 percent of the time, always choose what's best for the spouse over family. Doesn't matter what culture, what generation.

Your relationship with your spouse far outlives the one with your parents.
posted by Kruger5 at 1:29 PM on August 28, 2013 [16 favorites]


Othello confronted a somewhat similar problem (shakepeare play) and said that when Desdemona was single, she owed obligations to family but now, married, she owed it to her husband and marriage...could not have it both ways.
posted by Postroad at 1:33 PM on August 28, 2013 [3 favorites]


It sounds to me like she's criticizing you for not putting your "new family" first (which is actually just her), but she hasn't ever even tried to become part of your original family. (Not learning the language where you live? Is that right? She hasn't bothered to meet anyone to be friendly with?)

I dunno, in this case, I would put my family before my spouse because I don't think your spouse is actually interested in YOU.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 1:35 PM on August 28, 2013 [8 favorites]


In addition to Empress's questions, I wonder how much money everyone involved has, and what countries you're talking about. Because the obvious solution to this problem, if you can afford it and get the time off (or if your jobs can be done from anywhere), is to spend a good chunk of your summer in Remote Village, and the rest of the year in...wherever you move to. It sounds like your options are only HERE or THERE, but I can't tell if that's because of circumstances or your communication style as a couple isn't great at compromise.
posted by DestinationUnknown at 1:35 PM on August 28, 2013 [2 favorites]


We have no kids yet, but want to. ... my confusion has led me to question my commitment to the marriage, like my wife already does

You really need to NOT have kids right now. Please, take the time to figure this out first. It's really good that you are going to see someone together.
posted by fritley at 1:36 PM on August 28, 2013 [28 favorites]


Where does she want to live?
posted by JujuB at 1:36 PM on August 28, 2013 [1 favorite]


I've seen two psychologists before about this. Their general consensus was that my attachment to my parents is a little unhealthy and partially driven by guilt, and that physical distance doesn't mean one cannot be close to each other. I see their points but somehow something is missing have chosen not to make any changes based on their advice and continue hoping my wife will be the one to change.

See if my edits resonate. You've gotten all the advice you need, it's just not what you want to hear. So you're going to make your wife go to marriage counseling with you in the hope that the third professional will tell you something different.

If you marry someone under the pretense that you like adventure just as she does, then you will of course be disappointed when you expect her to give up adventure to live in a remote village with her in-laws. Resenting her for being who she said she was up front isn't fair.

She says she doesn't feel the commitment from me of putting us and our new family first. ..... I'm stuck and my confusion has led me to question my commitment to the marriage

She's right.
posted by headnsouth at 1:38 PM on August 28, 2013 [75 favorites]


The feelings you mentioned as reasons for staying near your parents are fear, homesickness, guilt and resentment. I can't tell whether you actually like being there, or whether it serves any personal goals or ambitions of your own. Can you even tell what you want, aside from avoiding having people be disappointed in you?
posted by jon1270 at 1:39 PM on August 28, 2013 [9 favorites]


I would argue that the specific details really don't matter here. She has different goals and dreams than you do. You two need to have a really hard discussion about compromise and dealbreakers. Since it sounds like the current compromise isn't making anyone happy (she actively dislikes it, you see it as "acceptable") I worry that you simply may not have compatible lives at this point.
posted by Rock Steady at 1:40 PM on August 28, 2013 [3 favorites]


First...don't have kids. Just don't. Not yet. You either need to reconcile your need to grow roots and her wanderlust or you need to go your separate ways.

But, speaking from a Western standpoint, your primary relationship should be with your wife. It's the commitment you made. It's okay to not want something because of personal preference, but I just think purely on obligations, you're obliged to look after each other in the marriage.

What do you want? Answer this honestly. If you really truly want to stay home, then stay...just be prepared to lose your wife. If you want your wife, then you have to compromise. It's both okay to want what you want...but you both can't have it all. Something has to give. You. Her. Or the marriage.
posted by inturnaround at 1:43 PM on August 28, 2013 [3 favorites]


Did you guys talk about this before you married? Like, really talk about it? Did one or both of you assume that the other person's mind could be changed? Did you know that she "is a cosmopolitan city girl, and is looking for adventure, for not being tied down to one place, and for living closer to her family for at least some time in our future"? And did she know that "In our area, it's the norm that adult kids stay around with their new families and that their parents stay involved in their lives on a weekly basis" and that it's not just the norm but is something you apparently really want or are counting on happening?
posted by rtha at 1:47 PM on August 28, 2013 [18 favorites]


I used to think my parents were sitting at home missing me all the time and would love to have me move back home and spend more time in their daily lives. Last year I had to temporarily move in with them for a month and soon realized my parents were loving their empty nest lifestyle and all kinds of awkward and boundary-crossing interactions were had.

They just love me a lot and really emphasized their love for me in our conversations. But this doesn't mean our daily or weekly lives would mesh together very well.

What would your life actually be like if you moved back home? You seem to have a perfect vision of what it would be like, but as an adult with a wife (who would most likely resent living there), reality may not match your expectations.
posted by daisies at 1:47 PM on August 28, 2013


In the culture I come from, the whole "family sticks together thing" was the law as well. Children lived with their parents until marriage and then moved in with the family of the bride or groom until they could get their own place. Aging parents moved in with their children as the default. Everyone lived walking distance from one another. And so on and so forth.

Considering the sea changes in family lives after everyone came to America, I can't say people actually liked that system. Because plenty of -- hell, the majority -- people with the means to continue it actively chose not to. Kids got the hell out of dodge as soon as they could, usually long before marriage. Grandparents got their own apartments and only moved in if there were financial dire straits.

In the old country, they did it because that was how you do it and the government and city and town structures and so on enforced it. No one had a choice. And anyone wanting to get out of it was obviously subject to guilt because even if it's not the best system, someone wanting to leave it could have meant that they were Gone Forever, never to return.

Today we have email and Skype and texting and cell phones to collapse that distance great or small. It seems that your shrink, who knows you a lot better than anyone here, agrees. How much of your desire to be close to home is a genuine desire to be with your family night and day, and how much of it is the guilt that you're not doing what you think is expected of you?
posted by griphus at 1:55 PM on August 28, 2013 [8 favorites]


Honestly, there's nothing wrong with wanting to live where your family is and where you grew up if that's what you actually want and not based on guilt. There are upsides to being somewhat indifferent to location and willing to live anywhere, but there are downsides too. Your preference is not actually wrong. But it's not one that's compatible with your wife, and she's not wrong either. You need to figure out what you really want, a life in your village or a life with your wife, because you aren't getting both. Doesn't make you a bad person.
posted by jeather at 1:55 PM on August 28, 2013 [19 favorites]


Oh noes.

This sounds like a case of getting married because you were both so very in love.

Unfortunately, it also sounds like you both have very different ideas about how you want to spend your life.

These are troubled waters. Everyone is going to get hurt one way or another. I don't think it is avoidable.

You need a big think about what life you want. Then proceed accordingly. I'm so sorry.
posted by whimsicalnymph at 2:00 PM on August 28, 2013 [12 favorites]


I've seen two psychologists before about this. Their general consensus was that my attachment to my parents is a little unhealthy and partially driven by guilt, and that physical distance doesn't mean one cannot be close to each other.

How attached one shoud be to one's parents varies by culture. Consider whether this "psychological" advice was really the result of those professionals having different cultural expectations than you and your parents. Also, while it is possible to maintain a close relationship with someone far away (my mom is close to my grandma even though one lives in Vermont and the other in Minnesota), it won't be the kind of close relationship that you saw growing up and that your parents are used to seeing. Talking on the phone and skyping aren't the same as stopping by one another's house regularly, helping each other with chores, or having dinner together every Sunday.

I don't know what you should do, frankly. This is a big problem and you need to get it sorted out in your head before you have kids. You don't have to conform to the cultural expectations of your parents and people in the village. You can choose to leave that world. However, you also don't have to reject that culture just because people in other parts of the world, including your wife, have different expectations. You need to take some time and decide what sort of life you would actually find fulfilling. If your wife won't live close to the village, can you be happy living far away from your parents? Would long visits with them and sending the kids to spend summers with the be enough to maintain your relationship and cultural heritage? Or is this a deal-breaker?
posted by Area Man at 2:04 PM on August 28, 2013 [7 favorites]


I'm probably your parents' age. I have two adult daughters with big lives, I live in Manhattan and they live in Brooklyn. We see each other in various permutations at least once a week, and speak daily. It is perfectly normal for me to come home from work and find one or both hanging out, raiding my refrigerator, flipping through my channels.

I have been toying with the idea of moving to Florida (don't worry, a groovy part) and I get a lot of horrified looks from my girls. It's just not who we are, we stay close, and I don't think you should feel guilty about it.

Having said that, life is long, and taking a year to dial back with your family and put your marriage first, to see how that feels for both of you, is only fair to your wife.

I do wonder how this didn't come up sooner. I think you need to make sure you are communicating on the Big Topics.
posted by thinkpiece at 2:06 PM on August 28, 2013 [5 favorites]


It's a shame that you didn't discuss this more thoroughly with your wife before you married. This is a pretty big deal to have glossed over, and it could have been a deal-breaker for your wife.

The tenor of your question seems to suggest that you thought that after you married that your wife would suddenly want to adopt your lifestyle, in your country with your parents.

So, if you can't get your wife to agree to settle down with you, in your village, near your parents, how does your life look to you?

Do you WANT to live in the villiage with your family? Or do you feel obligated to do so? If obligation is driving you, then you need to overcome your guilt and live the life you truly want to live. If you'd rather be a globe-trotter with your wife, you'll need to figure out how to make that work with your family.

If you truly DO want to settle down in your villiage, then you need to have that conversation with your wife. What compromises is she willing to make? What if she NEVER wants to do this?

It may come down to your Family or you Wife.

Only you can know what decisions need to be made from there.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 2:07 PM on August 28, 2013 [6 favorites]


My SO and I are from different continents and different cultures, so I can relate.

What does your wife dislike about the place you live now? Where would she like to live?

It's hard to tell whether your wife is simply not making any effort to like the place that you live, but it also sounds like you (perhaps unwittingly, perhaps not) led your wife to believe your values (adventure, new experiences) and hers matched, when the truth is a bit more complicated. And perhaps she was naive to think that you would be able to break free easily. It also sounds like you guys didn't have the necessary and needful conversations about these sorts of things before you got married. Therapy might be really helpful for that. Not a single session, but a few.
posted by sm1tten at 2:08 PM on August 28, 2013 [1 favorite]


You're getting alot of good advice here about the bigger picture, but I want to focus on one part of what you wrote:

I sometimes resent my wife for not making a bigger effort in settling down here, learning the language and making friends.

What you're asking for here is really, really hard to do. Learn a new language? Build a social support structure from scratch? Even if your wife tried to do these things with the best of intentions, I would be shocked if anyone could accomplish them completely, in one short year. I think sympathizing with the difficulties she signed up for by moving, when you got married, would be a good start to building back your communication.
posted by tinymegalo at 2:13 PM on August 28, 2013 [29 favorites]


I don't know what the right answer is for this situation, but I do think it's worth pointing out that marrying and the prospect of parenthood almost always stir up complicated internal dynamics, about roles and expectations and self image about what it means to be a husband/wife/parent. It sounds like you are a little bit blindsided by that--you were fine traveling and being adventurous when single, but now are feeling really attached to home and tradition.

Long story short, I think the particulars of your situation are maybe extra complicated, but this conflict arising from growing into new roles is actually pretty common.

Again, you and she will need to figure out how to navigate this conundrum--and many more if you stay together. Be calm, kind, generous, and loving, and let that lead the way. You'll both be better off no matter what you decide.

Good luck.
posted by Sublimity at 2:42 PM on August 28, 2013 [2 favorites]


Have you and your wife sat down and discussed where you each see yourselves in, say, five years? I think you really need to do that, and be realistic about how those expectations are going to be met.

For example, when do you see yourselves having those kids?

Let's say you both want to wait a while. Traveling and adventure are options that you can make the most of in your youth. Not saying you can't continue to have those things in your life once children are in the picture, but if you put them off too long, you may never start doing them at all. If you are already having trouble figuring out how to compromise with each other now, it will only be harder to juggle once you add kids into the mix. Remember that women have that biological clock to deal with, too. Your wife may feel that she wants to optimize what time she has before you have kids to travel, work on her career, and have adventures with you. What you see as a compromise, living three hours from your parents, may seem to her like limbo, because she is not doing those other things NOW and may feel like she WON'T be able to do them once she has kids, either. She is also not able to spend time with her own family. No wonder she is frustrated!

Would you say your wife is emotionally close to her own parents? if so, that might help you to see that you can have a bond with your own parents without having to be physically close to them. You grew up in your parents' home, but you have only had a short time with your wife now. How long do you, personally, see yourself here, in this city three hours from your parents? Is there any reason, other than your hesitation to be further away from your parents, that you and your wife need to live there? Any other reason the two of you can't travel now? If you aren't making the most of that couple time now, realistically when do you plan to do that? After you have kids? Is that a realistic expectation?

On the other hand, if you and your wife want to start a family right now, having the grandparents nearby certainly could be incredibly helpful. You will want the kids to spend time with your parents, too. So, staying where you are might seem like the best solution. But when does your wife get to spend time with her own birth family? If she never gets to see them now, she may want to move closer to them once you have your kids, especially if she is already feeling exasperated with your living situation. Can you imagine how you would feel if your positions were reversed, and you lived near hers instead? How long would it take before you got homesick or felt restless?

You're young. You have so much living yet to do! Stop living your lives in limbo. Talk to your wife. Decide what you both want for your future, and make a concrete plan to get there from here. You can always have your parents (or hers) visit you. They have much less to juggle, and much less to lose.
posted by misha at 2:42 PM on August 28, 2013 [3 favorites]


There's attachment, and then there's really liking and being happy around your family. If you don't want to move further away because you'd be really sad to have to see them less, that's one thing. If you don't want to move because of guilt and obligation and other people's feelings, that's another. If it's the first, you need a new and more compatible relationship. If it's the second, you need a new backbone.
posted by Sequence at 3:20 PM on August 28, 2013 [12 favorites]


Sequence has it. If what you truly want is a family life there in your home town, close to your parents, then you're going to need to divorce your wife while you still don't have kids, and find a girl who wants to raise a family with you this way. This recalibration of what one actually wants one's family life to look like happens to lots of good people -- it's why there's the term "starter marriage". It doesn't make you a bad person.

But if it's not what you want, just what you think your parents want -- if you really meant it when you told her you were up for adventure and city living, but living near your parents has made you more suggestible to guilt -- then you need to do what people do when they are committed to their marriage, and put you and your wife's needs as a couple above your parents'.

This is unless you are lucky enough to have the kind of work mobility that would let you spend summers in your village.
posted by fingersandtoes at 3:33 PM on August 28, 2013 [3 favorites]


I sometimes resent my wife for not making a bigger effort in settling down here, learning the language and making friends.

And of course, you made a similar compromise? Right? You moved to where her family is, learned their language, committed to making your life there?

Your wife doesn't like living where you want to live. You have a choice. Compromise (and that mean YOU need to compromise too, not just her), divorce, or live with an unhappy spouse. You note that your wife already feels trapped and doesn't feel that you're committed to your marriage. That's no environment for a happy marriage.

In short, it sounds like you don't value her needs very much. Reading your question I thought your pecking order was: you, your parents, your aunts and uncles, then finally your wife. If that's correct then its really worth considering if your marriage is salvageable.
posted by 26.2 at 3:51 PM on August 28, 2013 [10 favorites]


Your wife is never going to be happy living in a remote village with your in-laws, struggling to learn a new language and adjusting to both a foreign culture and rural life. The only person likely to be happy with that arrangement is someone from your hometown. Your wife would never truly fit in or be a part of the community like you are. Never. So really don't resent her for not wanting what you want. It's totally reasonable that she doesn't want to make a life in your hometown.

You just have to make a decision one way or another and then never look back.

Either commit 100% to your marriage and give up the dream of moving home. You have to do this with no resentment towards your wife or it'll poison your relationahip.

Or get a divorce and move home.

Those are your options.

And yeah if you ever want your marriage or any future marriage to work you will need to "pick" your wife over your parents. I've never seen a happy marriage where one spouse put their parents above their marriage.
posted by whoaali at 4:21 PM on August 28, 2013 [23 favorites]


Are you certain your characterization of your wife as an "cosmopolitan city girl" looking for adventure (and not being tied down) is accurate? I've had friends with similar conflicts, and the geography is rarely the central concern: it almost always comes down to the way the in-laws treat them, the extent to which the in-laws expect to be involved in their son/daughter's relationship, and the spouse constantly siding first with the parents. Very often in these situations, the daughter-in-law gets the short end of the stick, and there's a huuuuge difference between seeing the inlaws 1-2 times a year on holidays vs on a weekly basis.

"she doesn't feel the commitment from me of putting us and our new family first" doesn't sound like she's mad she's stuck in the middle of nowhere because she wants to go globetrotting, it sounds like she's (justifiably) mad you're consistently putting your family ahead of her. Not only that, it sounds like you're shutting down conversations between the two of you and psychologist shopping until you find someone who will give the answer you want.

Look, my culture has a similar degree of expected family involvement as you've described, and I don't think there's anything wrong with having a close relationship with your family, if that's what you and they want. But marrying your wife means she has to come first most of the time, and that you both need to compromise when you disagree.
posted by angst at 4:31 PM on August 28, 2013 [21 favorites]


Well, that's a telltale sign: "Marriage versus home and parents"

Like that Western saying, home is where the heart is, yeah?



You didn't say which country/culture is the context, so the answers are going to be slanted probably mostly Western/American... Just keep in mind that American culture especially no longer values or even contains much extended family around the "nucleus" concept.

That said, I get the distinct feeling that your wife and your parents don't get along, otherwise this wouldn't even be that big of an issue. Well. There's a reason why the vast majority of countries don't recognize dual citizenship. There's a reason why, in ancient times (or depending on current culture), the wife is usually the one to cut ties from her old family and enters the household of her husband completely (not saying that's the right way or anything, just a cultural observation that one spouse traditionally sacrificed blood familial ties that way).

In this case, you're in that situation. I don't think this will end happily holistically speaking, especially if your wife and your parents don't even get along. Pick one or the other, and live with your decision. Oh, and as others have said, definitely do NOT have children at this juncture. That won't help.
posted by Ky at 5:10 PM on August 28, 2013


(P.S.: Oops, one of the biggest reasons why the wife was the one to cut blood ties was due to ancient beliefs of property--I'm not talking about that, but whatever current traditions still remain from that sort of thinking are alive and well, even the wife taking the husband's surname. But that's neither here nor there, so I don't want to confuse the issue, sorry!)
posted by Ky at 5:22 PM on August 28, 2013


My wife is from another continent, is a cosmopolitan city girl, and is looking for adventure...

I do actually like adventure and have lived abroad before...


Just from these two sentences, it sounds to me like the way you presented yourself to your wife prior to your marriage led her to expectations of a different life from what you want to lead now.

This may not end well.
posted by BlueHorse at 5:46 PM on August 28, 2013 [7 favorites]


Not to pile on, but you appear to have gotten into the trap of marrying someone because they were different and in many ways the opposite of everything you came from and now you are upset becausd she is different and the opposite of everything you come from.

Think about that for a second. You didn't marry girl next door. You married girl from other side of the world and now you want to change her into girl next door. Ok, so let suspend our disbelief for a second and say she wakes up tomorrow and goes you know, you're right. It would be great to live near your parents. Who wants to raise kids in the city? Think of us hiking through the hills all Sound of Music like! How great to have that kind of community. And all of a sudden, I don't know how, but I went to the store earlier and I just understood everything everyone was saying. It was amazing. It just all suddenly clicked. I went into a cafe and ordered a coffee with a flawless accent. I'm going to start hanging out with all your high school friends now that I can speak the language and... Me and your mom can spend every Sunday baking bread.

Ok not to be glib, but is this actually the person you would still want to be married to? I imagine you could have married someone from your hometown if you wanted to, but you didn't. Why not? Was marrying your wife just a momentary youthful rebellion? Because if it wasn't you need to think long and hard and be careful what you wish for and whether you will actually be happy in a relationship with a woman that wants to live in your hometown and replicate your childhood home life.
posted by whoaali at 7:07 PM on August 28, 2013 [8 favorites]


I guess you met the wife in her home country?

I'd suggest on working on the "guilt" about the parents retirement. Your desire to be close to them and share what ever time they have is reasonable. I think children get into this mindset; its very hard to see parents getting old, not being able to do the things we saw them doing as kids. You also have to understand that your parents may not feel this way at all. They have each other, they may want to be together. Heck, they might even be looking forward to time together after retirement. You just don't know. To assume that the parents would want the same thing is a bit condescending in a way.

Now, the wife is never going to fit in your culture. If she is unhappy, your main priority probably should be the marriage! And she is right that you are not putting her first. When you get married, your partner (and kids) is your primary family. You cannot neglect her needs or wants.

I am not sure how seeing a psychologist together will even help. I think the decision is really yours- do you want to spend time with the parents or stay married? It sounds harsh but there it is.

While you are at the psychologist, I'd look into why this basic question is something that you are figuring out after getting married. How good is the communication between the two of you. What other assumptions do you (and your wife) have about each other. Thinking and talking about all this will make life easier if and when you have kids.
posted by xm at 8:35 PM on August 28, 2013 [1 favorite]


You talk about how you want to be near your family and parents because it is a part of you. Have you considered that your wife might feel the same about her family and parents? Your wife is dealing with a lot here. Unless she is an orphan with no friends, she is losing her social network by moving to a remote village where she does not speak the language. On top of that she has to deal with culture shock and having her in-laws come to check in to make sure she is a good wife to their son. If when they visit, your parents are speaking to you in a language she does not understand, that's problematic too. Learning a language can be intensely difficult even before attempting to understand regional and rural accents.

While it may be true that in your hometown newlyweds live near the groom's parents, presumably when you married her you did not expect her to completely disown her family and friends.

You are married to each other. You chose to spend the rest of your lives together and that requires compromise from both of you. This is really not too different than the politics surrounding "Who are we having Christmas with this year?" If you can't reach an agreement on what set of parents you want to live near, don't live near either of them. Live equidistant from both and use that shared love of adventure. Skype both sets of parents and visit them a few times a year. This marriage is a union of two cultures, yours should not automatically take presidence over hers.
posted by donut_princess at 7:25 AM on August 29, 2013 [1 favorite]


I don't know what the right answer is for this situation, but I do think it's worth pointing out that marrying and the prospect of parenthood almost always stir up complicated internal dynamics, about roles and expectations and self image about what it means to be a husband/wife/parent. It sounds like you are a little bit blindsided by that--you were fine traveling and being adventurous when single, but now are feeling really attached to home and tradition.

Yes, I also wonder how much traditional gender roles played a part in this - ie, did you expect that once you were married, she would follow your lead, because that is What Married Couples Do, and the wife always goes with the husband?

It sounds like you left your hometown for excitement and fell in love, but when you were thinking about marriage, you were thinking about the homey way marriage worked back in your hometown. You may not have even said anything about it, because obviously that's what marriage is! Why bother to explain something so obvious! Without realizing there was a mismatch.

Asking your wife to come live by your parents, learn your parent's language, etc, is a huge request, not just one that automatically takes place without discussion.
posted by corb at 7:48 AM on August 29, 2013 [4 favorites]


Thanks everyone, I'm amazed by the number of responses.

To quickly answer some of the questions for those who are still here (guess I can't reply to individual answers): Both our native countries are part of the Western world, and therefore quite compatible except for language. I don't want to move to my parents tiny village, just (maybe!) live in the general area. She didn't move from her family to be with me, but came to current continent on her own and we met there. And yes, we certainly have not communicated about this seriously enough and secretly hoped that love would fill in the blanks.
posted by winterroad at 12:09 PM on August 29, 2013


Both our native countries are part of the Western world, and therefore quite compatible except for language.

This sets off my alarm bells.

Sorry to be blunt but you come across as arrogant and impatient. Your spouse is currently trying to re-learn every little custom and gesture in a culture you are taking for granted. This is very, very hard and it takes time.

(Some context: I moved to the UK from Scandinavia. I held a university degree in English and I had also studied in the UK. I thought I understood British culture and that the two culture were extremely compatible. Nevertheless it took me nearly three years to feel settled here.)

You need to be patient. You also need to give as much support and love in this relationship as you possibly, possibly can - can you honestly say this is the case? Your spouse has made a huge leap and you need to be there for her. Once you have created a solid foundation for your relationship (and that is one where you listen to each other, appreciate each other and work together on obstacles), you can start examining your own need to be close to your parents. Right now it's not about your parents. Right now it's about your own family: your spouse who needs you.
posted by kariebookish at 1:05 PM on August 29, 2013 [4 favorites]


Both our native countries are part of the Western world, and therefore quite compatible except for language.

My ex moved from Australia to the U.S., two of the most compatible, similar countries on the planet. Same language even. It was no small feat and although we had problems (he is my ex, after all), my respecting his unease at living in a nearly-the-same-but-completely-different bizarro-world was not among them. It *is* different, profoundly so, even when it doesn't appear to be.

we certainly have not communicated about this seriously enough and secretly hoped that love would fill in the blanks.

Time to communicate. No more secrets.
posted by headnsouth at 1:35 PM on August 29, 2013 [3 favorites]


Both our native countries are part of the Western world, and therefore quite compatible except for language.

Echoing what other people have said. I can't think of any two Western countries that are "quite compatible except for language."

Good luck with the conversation. I agree with other people that you are going to have to decide which of your two families you want to prioritize and let her know what you decide.
posted by small_ruminant at 1:47 PM on August 29, 2013 [1 favorite]


Is it possible she's from a part of the western world where a city three hours away IS considered to be in the general area of your parents? Because to me it would be.

I wonder if you've thought through the whole moving thing. To be really present, to the point where they can pitch in regularly with babysitting and you can bring them on errands, you'd pretty much have to be within 20 minutes or less.
posted by Salamandrous at 6:58 PM on August 29, 2013


...and secretly hoped that love would fill in the blanks.

Wouldn't our lives be much happier, simpler and easier if we didn't make this teeny-tiny little assumption?

Choose communication over assumption. Every single time.
posted by xm at 10:32 AM on August 30, 2013 [3 favorites]


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