Moved 3000 mi for a new job. Spouse hates it here. What should we do?
July 1, 2016 5:22 AM   Subscribe

After moving from one corner of the country to the opposite corner 3 months ago, selling one house and buying another and spending $8000 on the move, we need to not live here because my spouse is absolutely miserable and staying will put considerable strain on our marriage and negatively impact our mental health (his in particular). I am very concerned about both the career implications of making a move so soon, and also that another move will put us into financial ruin. Snowflakes ahoy!

After 16 years in the Pacific Northwest, in March we packed up our lives and moved to the Southeast, so I could take a job that is in the sector of the industry that I really want to be in (academic librarian) but is hard to break into from the sector where I was (public librarian). And I really, really love the new job. The people are great and I can see myself accomplishing a lot of great things here. And I like enough things about the new location (the weather's great, there's a beach nearby, we have a lovely house) that I could easily stay for a few years, until I have built up enough cred in the new sector to move into another role in that sector in a place that we like more.

BUT, my spouse is absolutely, completely, 100% not OK with living here. And he has valid points: the people are mostly awful (lots of bigots here), there is no culture, the traffic is terrible and the drivers are very aggressive... there is a lot to dislike about this place. I think it's probably worse than normal right now because of the political climate in 2016. A couple of recent examples: yesterday he witnessed someone -- a fully-grown adult -- throw a bottle at a bicyclist as he passed in his truck. And my 5-year-old son, who likes to wear nail polish, has been gender-policed by random strangers several times. The kid is going into kindergarten soon, and though the schools around here have pretty high scores on, my spouse contends that the kids he'll be attending school with are the kids of these terrible people and our kid will become a terrible person too, because he picks up personality traits very easily from his friends (he is definitely a follower, not a leader).

Initially, in conversations about how he could not stay here, I told him that I needed 3 years to establish myself here before I could move on -- preferably 5, so I could get tenure, but 3 would be OK. But he's so miserable I moved that to 1 year. I really need to at least be here a year to accomplish things I can point to when job searching, plus a lot of potential new jobs that I want (in an academic setting) require at least a year of experience in an academic library. But now he is saying that he really can't tolerate even waiting a year before I start my job search. And I worry that if I try to convince him that we need to wait, it will have adverse effects on our relationship and on his mental health.

This has me very stressed out. If we stay, for even a year, we may end up with major problems in our home life. But if we try to leave, I feel like I hurt my career and there is potential for financial ruin (selling our new house, that we bought 3 months ago, would be hard and we could lose a lot of money on it... money we don't really have to lose).

I also worry that it will be difficult to find a new place that is 100% guaranteed to be better. We've had differences about where to live for years... he wants to live somewhere rural, with acres of space between him and the world (and in a concession to this, we bought a house here that's more expensive than average for this area, because it's on a lot of land so it feels more removed from the world than most houses here do), but that world also needs to be full of people who are not terrible fuck-you got-mine bigots because it's impossible to avoid other people at the grocery store etc. I hate driving and want to live somewhere where I don't have to get in a car for every single thing. He wants to live in the mountains, I particularly hate driving in snow and ice, which are a thing in the mountains. He says that just living near the mountains would be OK -- where we currently live, it's like 5 hours to the nearest mountains, he's thinking more like within an hour or two -- but with the red-state thing, getting away from the "most people around here are horrible" situation, we're still talking about somewhere potentially snowy, which I hate (I really, really like hot weather more than cold weather). The last place we lived, we lived within walking distance to the downtown core and I could ride my bike to work and I was very happy, but he hated being surrounded by suburbs. The place before that, we were on 6 acres way out in the country, which he loved but I hated because my commute was 40 minutes each way in a car, and the house we lived in was horrible. We both agree that good schools are a must. We also need somewhere affordable, because my husband is a blue-collar low-earning worker and I am the breadwinner.

So here are my questions:

1. Am I completely insane to start a new job search 3 months into a job? I think I can spin it so it doesn't look unreasonable, but how would this really look to a potential boss?

2. Is potential financial ruin a good tradeoff for saving a marriage and mental health? I am going to try to do all I can to mitigate the financial impact (look for jobs with good relocation benefits, not fly the entire family to scout each potential new location, maybe rent out the current house and rent in the new location until the market pulls ahead enough that we wouldn't completely lose our shirts) but again, I am completely unable to see the forest for the trees here and could use some advice here.

3. Can you tell me where I should concentrate my job search, given both our needs in a new location? So far, based on this question, I think the Research Triangle in North Carolina, the Hudson Valley in New York, the Pioneer Valley in Massachusetts, and all of New England would be OK... any other places come to mind, where we can have that snowflake combination of rural, walkable, good schools, affordable, and liberal?

4. Any other advice about this situation, things that I'm not thinking about, etc? I am starting to lose sleep over this and I have more gray hairs every day, and my instinct is to do everything I can to improve the situation ASAP but I really need to get some objective insight here.
posted by rabbitrabbit to Work & Money (114 answers total) 13 users marked this as a favorite
Moving is hard. What is your husband doing to ease his transition? Is he searching out hobbies where he will meet like-minded people? Has he talked to a therapist about how difficult he is finding the move? I think he should work on adapting before you ruin your career trajectory, harm your financial well-being and uproot your kid again.
posted by PorcineWithMe at 5:33 AM on July 1, 2016 [30 favorites]

Can you tell us more about the value of your marriage and the respect your husband gives to your career before we offer advice? At first glance he's appearing like a whiny selfish entitled tantruming toddler which will cause a pile-on here. Can you head that off at the pass and tell us the positives about why you want to save the marriage at the cost of your career when it seems like you've never going to agree on this? Well, that he'll never agree with you.
posted by taff at 5:33 AM on July 1, 2016 [66 favorites]

3-months is not long at all; moving is hard and expecting things to feel GREAT at the 3-month mark is not realistic. If you're representing his comments correctly, there's a lot of catastrophizing- " my spouse contends that the kids he'll be attending school with are the kids of these terrible people and our kid will become a terrible person too"? That's not a realistic fear. Your husband sounds like he's in a bad place now, and that's not a good place for the two of you to plan the rest of your life from. Does your employer offer an Employee Assistance Plan? Or maybe your health insurance offers something similar? Counseling for everyone sounds like a really good idea right now- take a breather, get everybody stable, and then figure out the rest of your life. You should not scramble all by yourself and try to "fix" this right now; do not enable his unwillingness to meet you halfway.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 5:42 AM on July 1, 2016 [33 favorites]

You can literally say the location didn't work for your family in your job search. Most folks will understand that. Many job searches take six months.

Your husband wants to live in a rural area near mountains. You want to live in a walkable area without snow. These things are complete opposites and you are going to need to compromise. It seems like husband is doing minimal compromising here.

Have you tried just smiling and nodding at folks. A smile and a comment that you're free spirits should get you off the hook in all these situations. Your child will hopefully find a group of friends that don't care if he wears nail color. Again, a job search likely isn't going to be successful overnight. Maybe you (and largely hudband) need to acclimate a bit more to your current area and understand it before hating it.
posted by Kalmya at 5:42 AM on July 1, 2016 [8 favorites]

I'm not sure the place you are looking for exists without compromise. I'm a west coast native and have lived in the PNW (which is just the best place on earth, everywhere will pale and be racist by comparison :) ), and also made a major move to the Southeast with my spouse and dogs. We chose the Raleigh-Durham area of NC, and we love it. It honestly feels like someone plopped a part of liberal California in the Southeast, but it also has lot of the more awesome parts of North Carolina culture. You don't say where in the Southeast you are, but I have also lived in Alabama and have family in Louisiana, so there are definitely places that are harder to love in the Southeast when you are coming from the west coast.

I would recommend finding a more liberal hub (Raleigh-Durham, Winston-Salem, Charlottesville VA, etc.) and just trying to stick it out. These places are also expensive, though not nearly as bad as the Seattle area. Plus we get fireflies down here!
posted by Drosera at 5:46 AM on July 1, 2016 [6 favorites]

I contend that the only thing that kept my parents sane as liberal academics in the southeast, full of fuck-you got-mine bigots even in a significantly college-centered town, was finding a large chunk of like-minded people, not just one or two friends. I mean a place they could go knowing that, by default, the people there were more likely to agree with them on important issues than not. For them it was the local Unitarian church; for friends of theirs in Atlanta, it's West African drumming. It's far far more necessary for them to have that nucleus than it is for me living outside the South, or you in the Pacific NW I bet.

(On the off chance you're in Auburn, MeMail me and I can make introductions.)
posted by supercres at 5:47 AM on July 1, 2016 [27 favorites]

As you said, you are the breadwinner. You need to prioritize the financial health of your family. It's sounds like your industry is smallish which limits your options. would you be ok with giving up your career dreams to placate your husband? That is a question only you can answer.
posted by seesom at 5:47 AM on July 1, 2016 [17 favorites]

three months is way way way too short.
posted by JPD at 5:48 AM on July 1, 2016 [9 favorites]

<3 <3 <3 as an early-career academic partnered with another but slightly more successful early-career academic who moved really damn far for this partner's job... both you and your husband have all my sympathy. Question 2 is so heart-breaking. But... everyone wants to leave after 3 months in a new place, right? I did. And I still kinda wanted to leave after a year. It's now been two years and I am hoping for a contract extension here in the new place because life is so great. So-- go figure. Is this really an emergency that needs to be solved right this minute at great cost? Does it need to be move now or ruin-your-marriage-forever? Can your husband sit tight for a second while it's about you?

I think what you need is triage to make it through the first year, after which it will 100 percent be easier and you can make a more calm decision. Things I did to make it through the first year when I was miserable and wanted to move back to where we left, all of which I think might benefit your husband:

a) make friends. make friends. make friends. they don't need to be like your NW friends. they can be people you never thought you would be friends with. just find a community, stat.
b) do the things i wanted to do as a creature-seeking-comfort, including throwing some money at it (hello, yoga membership and sauna pass!)
c) go on vacations to the places i wanted to go that reminded me of the place i left
d) therapy
e) meditation
f) exercise-- particularly, having exercise GOALS that gave me something to focus on that felt good.
g) routines that played up the things that are wonderful and unique about the new location
h) doing things professionally that i had always wanted to do but couldn't before. this was what really got me from "get me the hell outta here" to "how can i extend my visa?" doing work that i find fulfilling and exciting made me feel like less of a sidekick, resent my partner less, love the place i live more.
posted by athirstforsalt at 5:49 AM on July 1, 2016 [13 favorites]

As an Air Force brat that got dragged all over the world growing up it's my experience that people can be happy anywhere, they just need to choose to be happy. There are racists everywhere, even in the Pacific NW. Your husband sees them now because he wants to see them to feed his shitty attitude about where you live. It's a natural human reaction; not a healthy one, but a natural one.

Ultimately he needs to start adulting and choose to make the best of it, or not.
posted by COD at 5:59 AM on July 1, 2016 [121 favorites]

If your spouse is absolutely miserable and feels his mental health is at risk there is a greater problem than where you are working. Yes, leaving in 3 months is not a good idea. Really, he apparently consented to this move--he needs to get a grip on this for at least a year or two--that is part of being a grown up. Wives,military personnel,l corporate managers refugees, etc have been doing this for ever.
posted by rmhsinc at 6:02 AM on July 1, 2016 [40 favorites]

I'm going to be blunt and say that your husband is being incredibly unrealistic right now. Three months is not NEARLY enough time to truly give a place a chance. It's just a drop in the bucket. Three months into living in the city I'm in now and I hated it. I hated everyone and everything about it. A year into it, I liked a few things. Two years into it, I loved some things. 19 years later, I can't imagine living anywhere else; I love this place and everything about it! Surely this move wasn't sprung on him and he at least sort of knew what you all were getting into?

I guarantee you that you guys aren't the only people of your political/whatever persuasion who live in or near your city. Get online and find out where your people are! I live in a very conservative suburb but there is a Democratic Party club and the president of that club actually lives in my neighborhood!

This next move that you're considering isn't going to happen overnight. He's going to have to suck it up while the transition happens, however long that takes. He can choose to be miserable and not try to live within the circumstances or he can choose to make the best of it. It really seems like you're the one doing all the compromising; that's not fair and it speaks volumes about how you perceive your husband's attitude about your marriage. He may not actually be unbending and unyielding, but you sure seem to think he is; what does that mean?

Good luck. You sound so stressed out and sad.
posted by cooker girl at 6:03 AM on July 1, 2016 [28 favorites]

I'm with Taff here - you might want to tell us what your husband does bring to the table, and what your marriage means to you, so that commenters might fine-tune their advice. As it is, I think that marriage counseling might be good for the two of you, as well as individual counseling for your husband. He doesn't seem to be making any effort to adjust to his new location, nor giving you any respect as the primary breadwinner.

Is your marriage, in general, amazing and supportive enough that you are willing to risk your family's financial security in order to placate your husband? Is he willing to step up his earning power in exchange for more say in where you live?

As it is, I am thinking your husband needs to suck it up and deal for at least a year, and give the new location a chance. Is there a Unitarian Universalist church in your area? These are almost always gathering points for liberals, especially in conservative areas, and are often (not always, but often) atheist/agnostic-friendly as well. If your husband can find a group of like-minded people, it will probably help him adjust.

As it is, I think he is being unreasonable, and I don't think you have to placate him, unless he's otherwise a truly amazeballs spouse and father.
posted by Rosie M. Banks at 6:06 AM on July 1, 2016 [16 favorites]

Don't make the mistake of thinking that it's just the place that's the problem and that your husband and marriage will be fine if you just move to a better place. If you move, he's still going to be the kind of person who, when faced with a difficult situation, catastrophizes and feels completely unable to deal with it. What if something about the next situation also turns out to be more difficult than anticipated? If his mental health is being strained to the breaking point at the thought of living in a less-than-ideal place for a few years, he needs to work on his mental health. That should be the priority, not moving to a different place.
posted by Redstart at 6:07 AM on July 1, 2016 [88 favorites]

If you can't afford to lose money on a house you bought in the rural South, you can't afford to live in New England or New York.

Go visit places near your new home. College towns are nice this time of year because the students are gone. (In the fall, maybe try to go to a football game.)

If you wanted the Pacific NW, you should have stayed in the NW. Nowhere else is the same.

Politically: Go look at 538. The Deep South are swing states this year; it's just that more of the Democratic voters are black people, and more of the GOP voters are white people in the country and in the suburbs. You will have to go find people that agree with you, but there are still a lot of them.
posted by Huffy Puffy at 6:09 AM on July 1, 2016 [8 favorites]

native southeasterner here who used to do a LOT of bicycling. I'm a big believer that bigotry and ignorance are much closer to being constants than people think. IOW there are bigots in the NW aplenty. They may be bigoted about different things. I'm also a big believer that it's really, really hot here right now, which probably isn't helping his feelings either...

Since it sounds pretty focused on culture and politics/political leanings, my first thought is this - you're an academic librarian? So you're connected to a university? There are people there who think and feel like you do. Trust me on this... I think it's (to put it bluntly) immature and short-sighted to dismiss a region before the moving van's completely down the street. I'd challenge him to give it 6 months, minimum, before this is even a serious discussion. He needs to find a hobby, and if he's normally employed, maybe a job. You don't have to make friends with everyone up and down the road; no matter where you live you're always going to find that your real friends would fit around your dinner table.
posted by randomkeystrike at 6:13 AM on July 1, 2016 [17 favorites]

Could you live apart from your husband and son for the next 9 months?

It will suck, but there has to be a city that is a few hours drive from you so you could see each other on the weekends. This is the most have-your-cake-and-eat-it-too situation I can think of.
posted by INFJ at 6:13 AM on July 1, 2016 [11 favorites]

Since someone else mentioned UU churches after I did, I'll also point out that they tend to be amazing for kids like yours. He'll have the opportunity to make friends right off the bat who have parents like you, so most likely to have kids like him. He'd get, from peers and adults, the age-appropriate version of, "They don't like your nail polish? Fuck 'em, they don't have to wear it or like it." A few years down the road, Sundays will be as much of a respite for him (enlightened counterpoint to morons in school) as it is for you.

Us vs Them is not a workable long-term mindset (after a certain amount of time, you switch to an "enlightenment evangelical" sort of thing), but it helped me through a lot of dark times growing up. The "Us" just need to be united-- your family, circle of like-minded friends, etc.
posted by supercres at 6:19 AM on July 1, 2016 [7 favorites]

I recently read Anne Marie Slaughter's book about her struggles and compromises when working in the State Department while her husband and kids stayed in New Jersey. The book doesn't have all the answers, but it does raise all the questions. It's something I would encourage you to read, then pass on to your husband so he can see how difficult it is to find balance, and how much both parents have to give. And if a book sounds too long, she also wrote an article, Why Women Still Can't Have It All.

The people I know from the SE find that Autumn is their favorite season.

On the mountains thing, does your spouse just look at them, or did he hike fairly often or ski or something?
posted by puddledork at 6:28 AM on July 1, 2016 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: To answer a couple of questions: I don't think he's refusing to compromise; he has compromised quite a bit by agreeing to move here -- even though he really didn't want to -- because it was the best career choice for me, so I am having some guilt over putting my foot down and insisting this was the right choice and that might make me more inclined to want to "fix it" than normal. The marriage is worth saving. And I am already attending a UU church, with kid but not with spouse (he has a lot of social anxiety and will pretty much always choose solitude over social situations).
posted by rabbitrabbit at 6:30 AM on July 1, 2016 [3 favorites]

Sorry to jump in here with "therapy" but something is not right. And it probably is not you. As for question 2 financial ruin will probably impact the relationship so loose-loose there.

Does your husband have a good job? Prospects? That one thing will fix a whole lot of others issues. As for living in the outback, that's going to fail bad unless there is serious income available.

Change is hard, give it time but be ready to become single one way or another, probably the best location for you is where you have a great job.
posted by sammyo at 6:30 AM on July 1, 2016 [1 favorite]

I moved across the country with my sister six months ago, and she's finally turning her attitude around. She hates New York-- weather's bad, there's not enough nature, you can't drive as much, people are too conservative, the food is bad, there isn't really a vibrant gay community-- but to all this I reply "Moving back to San Francisco costs money we ain't got, we can afford to live here and not go into debt on rent, there are eight million people and you ain't met them all, just because finding a burrito isn't as easy as falling off a log doesn't mean you can't--" and then I point out that you can't always get what you want, as a wise man said, and she should give it a year and make an effort. I brought home guide books and looked up restaurants and nudged her until she went with me to the Met and to try a new place to eat and get a library card. (And she got a car, which seems to work for her.) And it's gradually turning around, especially since we both sat down and did the math and worked out how much debt we will not be in if we just don't move for a couple years.

As for meeting nonbigoted people...they want to meet you, too. When you do meet a nonbigot who you get along with, it's the most joyously wonderful thing in the world. My best friends to this day are the queers I met in middle-of-nowhere, NorCal, a place where I got beer bottles and slurs thrown at me on the regular walking down the 101. We're everywhere, and some people live in the southeast because they're from there and still love their bigoted families of origin, or they started bigoted and are changing their minds as they age and grow, or they don't have the money to leave. You have to find them, but they are there.

Spend money on mitigating the weather and on going out and doing things, and commit yourself to supporting your son, and give it a whole year before you start to look at moving.
posted by blnkfrnk at 6:36 AM on July 1, 2016 [9 favorites]

I completely sympathize with your spouse. It is really, really, really hard to live somewhere you don't like. You feel it all around you, all the time. You're reminded of it in all the little regional differences: the street signs, the architecture, the different brands at the supermarket. You can't take a break from it because you no longer have a home. Moves have knocked me on my ass like that before, and when you're in the middle of it you feel like you'll never recover. I think it's a little harsh to say your spouse is being whiny, unreasonable, immature, etc.

However, it is his issue to conquer. Moving ASAP and starting over once again is not likely to be a quick, easy, or complete fix. Three months is nowhere near enough time to adjust to a new part of the country; it once took me six months to adjust when I moved two miles to a new neighborhood. Your spouse needs to give it at least another three months before giving up, and do his best to find the good parts and the good people. He should expect some discomfort, and remember that this misery doesn't have to be permanent and doesn't mean he's made a terrible mistake. Therapy can help.

And I've noticed that when people who move somewhere new, decide it isn't for them almost immediately, and jump to a different environment as soon as they can, a lot of the time the new place is a disappointment too. Not sure why. Maybe they assume the problems with the place they hate are all exclusive to that place. Maybe they don't take into account the adjustment period and the effort they have to put in to make the new place a home. Maybe they figure that almost anywhere is better than where they are, so they're more concerned with getting out of the bad place than figuring out if the new place is actually good. Everyone's allowed a few mulligans, but if you and he come to the conclusion that you do need to move, figure out what he needs to do differently, how he can make the next move better.

And in response to your follow-up: social anxiety will multiply all the problems of adjusting to a new place. No wonder he's having so much trouble! It's going to prevent him from finding his people, it's going to prevent him from seeing the good in the people immediately around him, and unless he works on treating it, it's going to follow him wherever you move. The more he stays at home, the deeper the misery will root itself. Again, I completely sympathize with your spouse, because I have social anxiety too. But no matter where he goes, he's gonna have to get out of the house and take an active role in making a home for himself.
posted by Metroid Baby at 6:40 AM on July 1, 2016 [27 favorites]

Look, agreeing to move and then changing your mind after three months is not a real compromise. He either needed to do more research and put his foot down earlier, or he needed to accept that this was a three year deal. Have you guys really talked about academic life and what it means for you as a family? I feel like where you already have big differences over where to live, finding a place that works for both of you and allows you to pursue an academic career is going to be a huge issue not just with this job but with future jobs as well. There is no guarantee that one or two or three years from now you will get an academic job in a better place, even with the experience you will have by then. But I think giving up after three months is not a reasonable position to take. That wasn't your "compromise."

FWIW, I took an academic librarian job in a place I hated, stayed three years, and then left academia. I was single and I realized *I* wasn't willing to make the compromises I needed to make in order to pursue that career (especially in terms of getting to decide where to live).

This is not to say you can't make these hardship postings work - someone I'm close to just ended a two-year assignment in a place her husband HATED. And he bitched about it basically constantly for two years (on social media and, I suspect, in real life), and I know they worried about their kid (different but equally valid concerns). They got through it, because there was an end point, and you can do anything for a few years, and they knew for sure that it was only two years and that they would be going somewhere better afterwards.
posted by mskyle at 6:41 AM on July 1, 2016 [20 favorites]

I sympathize with your spouse. I moved for my husband's job to a place I thought I would like (and had lived in before, but in a different context) and as it turns out... I hated it. We both hated it. We stuck it out for 4 years while he got established professionally and I got my Masters.

But, your husband sounds like he's got some pretty serious anxiety issues that are making it impossible for him to make new friends or meet like-minded people (if I formed my opinion of humanity just based on random strangers on the street, I'd be depressed, too--and I love where I live), and are contributing to his catastrophizing. I think he needs to be treated for the anxiety before he can think rationally about the choices that you face.
posted by soren_lorensen at 6:48 AM on July 1, 2016 [9 favorites]

Putting yourself on the job market after 3 months in a new job is a huge, screaming red flag to any search committee in any academic library. 3 months is clearly not enough time to get to know a place much better than you knew it when you accepted the position, so "the location isn't working out" after 3 months will make you look flaky, unreliable and a likely flight risk. There are a lot of academic librarians on the market right now, and unless you're a science librarian, and possibly even then, putting yourself on the job market at this point is essentially career suicide.

I would say the same thing at 6 months. I would say the same thing at the one year mark. Even 1.5 years is still pretty iffy, if you ask me. 3 years is a basic minimum that suggests you gave your new library a chance and you didn't go out of your way to screw them over. No one in our profession wants to hire someone who thinks it's okay to bail a few months in.

I'm sorry you're in this position, but there are times in our lives where we need to suck it up and do the right thing. For your husband, this is one of those times.
posted by Hildegarde at 6:49 AM on July 1, 2016 [51 favorites]

he has compromised quite a bit by agreeing to move here -- even though he really didn't want to

But it isn't actually compromising if he agreed to something and then immediately proceeded to make everyone around him miserable because he is not even making a small effort to make connections and find community. He complains about everyone being bigots, but he refuses to attend the church where he is basically guaranteed to find a community of non-bigots?

It sounds to me like this is less about the move, and more about two other things--

1. His social anxiety. I have it, I get what he's going through, but I also know that when I cocoon myself away from all human interaction and then feel sad that I have no one to hang out with, that is on me. That has nothing to do with where I live, and everything to do with me giving into loner impulses despite knowing that doing so is making me feel worse.

2. The male spouse of a female academic problem. This is something that can destroy marriages, unfortunately-- it almost did for at least one of my closest friends. It definitely already did for another woman I know. A man thinks of himself as very progressive and supportive of his wife's career, but then comes the moment when the couple/family moves for her job and he goes into a tailspin about how much it feels like he's being a "wife" and he lashes out to compensate for how terrible he feels. I have heard a miserable, endless number of stories in this genre. If you call him on it, he'll probably deny it. But it seems like he's dealing with that feeling of powerlessness by making you responsible for all his bad feelings, including his social anxiety. This isn't fair, and it isn't kind.

Also, if you are in an academic town, then there is absolutely a progressive social circle there, if not several. You haven't had time to find it, maybe. But it is there.

I think it is an area of concern that he thinks that torpedoing your career is going to make things better, as long as you move somewhere else. What happens if you move, he's still miserable, and now your career has suffered a serious setback?
posted by a fiendish thingy at 6:53 AM on July 1, 2016 [130 favorites]

Your husband sounds incredibly fussy as to where he lives. Like to the point where you can't compromise enough to come up with a solution that both of you don't hate. Especially if his dream is to live hours away from everyone in the snow and ice and you hate driving. And're the breadwinner, so to some degree your overall financial priority is to make sure you get work more than him going on about how he doesn't like it.

I concur that living among bigots sounds terrible, but you're a librarian and from what I hear, it's very hard to get a job in the first place in that career! You may not exactly have tons of options to shop around AND find somewhere he's happy with. Rural + walkable is ...just not doable that I've ever heard of. Getting away from other humans means you gotta drive away from them to do it. I know marriage is important and of course there's a child because there's always a child or two in a situation like this, but...there really isn't a way that I can see to please both of you on where to live. And you just may not have tons of easy options for shopping around as to where to live. It sounds like it would totally screw your career if you bolted now. And while career vs. marriage is a horrible choice to have to make, I'd vote for making sure you can still make a living, husband or no husband.

I'm kinda leaning towards "suck it up, buttercup" here because it kinda sounds like your husband is going to be unhappy if everything isn't his way. And well, he's married. You can't get everything your way when you're married with a kid. Also, he's not a farmer--where's he gonna get a job if he insists on living very far away from other humans? And if he has social anxiety/hates other humans, well, dude, you can always just stay in your house except for when you have to leave and avoid them that way without living off on a mountain in the middle of nowhere.

If he's absolutely miserable, maybe you're just going to have to live apart and visit on the weekends. I can't come up with any better solutions because it's pretty unreasonable for you to move far away again on so many levels, and even if you desperately wanted out as well, this is not a quick fix or even a medium speed fix. He's going to have to tolerate living in hell at least for awhile even if you were to try to move again.
posted by jenfullmoon at 6:58 AM on July 1, 2016 [8 favorites]

(he has a lot of social anxiety and will pretty much always choose solitude over social situations)

This really makes me wonder if this wouldn't happen anywhere you moved that wasn't a long-established familiar place. Are you certain that a new move would fix this? I am concerned that a second move might actually exacerbate the problem. If your husband can't even go to the UU church with you and hang out with all the thoughtful liberal people, how will he be content anywhere that isn't your old home?

I hear that you are willing to make a sacrifice for his happiness, but the key to his happiness is better mental health, not a different place to be. There are enough people with your values in your town to have a good social network. You might have to help him do it. But to insist on moving because there are bigots around sounds like looking for a reason to justify his discomfort. I mean, sure, there's a bigger percentage of jerks where you are than in the Northwest. But there are other super affirming liberal folks that are happy there. The problem is not the town, it's his coping mechanisms. That's where the change needs to happen.

Your choice is (1) derailing your career, losing money on the house, taking you away from a job you like and colleagues you enjoy OR (2) him doing what it takes to get in a better spot with his mental health. Since (2) needs to happen anyway, let's do it now.
posted by Pater Aletheias at 7:00 AM on July 1, 2016 [56 favorites]

>he has a lot of social anxiety

I had guessed that from his description of the place. Assuming that your child is going to turn into a monster because kids think his nail polish is strange is such a strong social-anxiety voice*.

Three months in is really the time where everyone likes a new place the least. Any sheen has rubbed off but you still don't actually have your people or sense of place yet. My husband and I moved for my job to a place that had been high on our list of places to move. Three months in his job situation was still dicey (he's a librarian so you probably know the shape of it better than I do), and he was pretty unhappy here, even though it was a place we'd been hoping to move to before the job search. It took longer than expected to find our people, longer than expected for him to find a position, and all the little things that were different (not better or worse, really), suffered in that particular light.

Give it an academic year--if your child is starting kindergarten in the fall, you won't want to pull him out halfway through the year anyhow. Encourage him to get into therapy or a meditation class or something, and to actually go find people that he likes. They exist, they really do. Find the things you all like about this place and enjoy the hell out of them while you are there, reassess at Christmas, and refuse to spend a lot of energy hating where you are until then. I think a year is going to be the absolute bare minimum to go without being seen as a flight risk the next place you go, and even then it's iffy.

*fwiw, we live in one of the places people make fun of for its level of liberality, and my nail polish wearing boy has gotten gender policed too. I don't think there's a place where that won't happen.
posted by tchemgrrl at 7:03 AM on July 1, 2016 [17 favorites]

I'm sorry but point blank to me he is not being a good partner right now. It is absolutely ridiculous to put this on you when you JUST did a major job search, bought a house, did a major move, and now he wants you to turn around and start over?? WITH a long list of stipulations that drastically narrows your choices? When you are the main earner? I would be pissed and I would be finding marriage counseling now. You 100% have my permission to feel angry - even if you kind of understand his viewpoint - that he is throwing in the towel already.

Also, I am a Midwesterner who moved to the SE at one point and got the culture shock. It is a very different place. But also, frankly, your husband is not giving it a fair shot and validating every stereotype he probably had about "the South". I mean this:
"A couple of recent examples: yesterday he witnessed someone -- a fully-grown adult -- throw a bottle at a bicyclist as he passed in his truck. "

I literally had someone IN PORTLAND post about this same occurrence on my social media recently. So if he is using this to justify that South=terrible and PNW=liberal paradise, he's not trying hard enough. EVERY STATE in the US has liberal cities and conservative rural areas and yes, even some conservative folk in the city.
posted by nakedmolerats at 7:04 AM on July 1, 2016 [40 favorites]

Your husband's anxiety is fucking up your family's well being.

I highly empathize with your husband, and I still think he has to suck it up and deal for at least 2 years, which he can do! He can get therapy, get into gardening and hiking, homeschool the kid, get involved in politics, do house improvements, read more books -- he can treat these two years like a sabbatical, a chance to get to know himself and get his anxiety under control.

What he can't do is fuck up your collective lives after putting in only 3 months of effort. I agree life is short and living amongst people who think truck nuts are OK is painful, it's also an opportunity to build character and learn a lot about others.

You say he prefers to be alone, and now he's on a private hunk of land amongst a culture of folks he despises? If he can't make the land and space you have work for him, he's just not trying hard enough.

Put your foot down again. Tell him to embrace the long view. Tell him to use the time and emotional space he'll have here to work on himself. Homeschool your child if it's that bad. Order everything you can online and avoid stores. Stick around so you can vote in November.

You can job search right now and say the change did not work for your family, but I think you should put that effort into learning everything you can about your job and being a star so you can advance your career.

People panic at 3 months because moving is hard. He needs to develop skills and get over that. This is not something you can do for him.

He's like a big baby stomping his feet demanding you fix things for him. Don't do that. For the family, he needs to be an adult here and make this work for a few years.
posted by jbenben at 7:05 AM on July 1, 2016 [28 favorites]

Find a theater group, maybe for your kid mainly, but they'll need parents to volunteer, and your husband will be so so welcome.

If there's _any_ way your husband could be persuaded to volunteer for a local theater production, maybe as a sound or lighting tech, stage manager, or set builder, this is an _awesome_ way for even shy people to bond with other shy people who also tend to be more open minded. It could be good for your son, too. And it's a kind of ministry in itself.

There are probably people there who have all but given up on meeting someone like your husband (and your son). Theater, and other arts activities, have been the salvation of many people. It can get you guys through the next year or two, maybe.

Also: can he build or remodel something at the house? If he could build a gazebo, or paint a room, it _might_ help him feel more at home. In fact, one possible thing he could take away from the small town is handy person knowledge.

I know you're not looking for advice on helping him adjust, but if he has social anxiety, then just dropping him into a small town with no connections is an obvious failure point, and it's worth exploring ways around this. If you can start building connections for him (maybe there are people you work with you could invite over for a very structured game night, or maybe there's a student production at your place that needs a carpenter or something, or maybe there's a children's theater or jump rope team that could use parental volunteers), you could help a lot.

I also realize that coming home today and saying "I know I said I'd find a way to move today, but how about volunteering for the production of 'Our Town' for right now" might not go over well. However. You have tried to find a way that moving right now won't be awful. You weren't immediately successful. You're there for a year anyway. Building connections for your kid (and maybe for your husband) is necessary for that year. You can revisit moving later.

Private school?
posted by amtho at 7:07 AM on July 1, 2016 [8 favorites]

Mountains but no snow, way out rural but bikeable --- these things are not compatible with each other. And New York's Hudson Valley, Massachusetts, New England in General --- again, definitely not compatible with 'no snow'.

I get that he's unhappy, but it sounds like he's not even giving the new place a chance. Three little months, when frankly it sounds like he came into the whole deal almost PLANNING to hate the place?!? It usually takes at least a year, if not more, to settle into a new area.

Also, the whole "everyone here is a horrible person" bit.... sigh. There's an old proverb about how a traveler saw a city ahead, and asked an old man sitting by the side of the road, "what are people like in that city up there?" The old man replied, "well, what were they like where you come from?" The traveler said "oh, they were all terrible: they all lie and cheat and steal, they're all mean and hateful and cruel". The old man told him "that's exactly what they're like in this city, too". The next day, another traveler came by, and asked the same old man what people were like in the city ahead. Again the old man asked, "what were they like where you come from?" This traveler said, "oh, my old city was a beautiful place, and everyone is happy and friendly and generous, they're always ready to help their neighbors or meet new people". And the old man said, "that's exactly what they're like in this city, too".

The point is, you get what you expect, and you husband seems to have moved EXPECTING nothing but bigots and 'horrible' people, so he's refusing to even give the new place a chance. He may not want to admit it, but the problem is his attitude.
posted by easily confused at 7:08 AM on July 1, 2016 [35 favorites]

I've spent three years trying to like a new place I moved to largely for spouse's job. I still don't love it, but it's alright. It takes time, there are shifty people everywhere and awesome people everywhere. If you love your job and the location just try harder where you're at for a while. 3 mo is nothing, has your spouse never changed cities/states? It takes time.
posted by SaltySalticid at 7:11 AM on July 1, 2016 [4 favorites]

I have moved a cities and countries several times in my life one thing I have learned is home sickness/unhappiness with the move hits maximum levels around the three month mark, pretty much like clockwork. I now make no major decisions about places I've moved to until I have been there at least six months.

I am prone to anxiety attacks and moving and changes in routine trigger them like crazy, but making myself accept that the three month hump is a thing I'm going to have top go through helps.

The excitement and novelty of moving is faded, but the security and safe feeling that comes with a routine in a new place still haven't kicked in.

Not directly advice on how to help your husband per se but maybe something top consider.
posted by wwax at 7:12 AM on July 1, 2016 [7 favorites]

I'm agreeing with people who said that your husband needs to a) suck it up in the new location for at least a year, and b) get treatment for his mental health issues. Especially the latter. Because, wherever he goes, there he is. He might not (probably wouldn't?) be happy in a new location, and you would have uprooted your family and put your earning power in danger for nothing.

Time to put your foot down on two issues: You need to stay and establish yourself in your career for at least a year, and preferably three or more; and he must, must get therapy and treatment for his mental health issues. I think the mental health issues are at root of everything. Are they, by any chance, the reason he is limited to "low earning, blue collar jobs?"

Think of how much more miserable you would be if you quit your job, moved, and then Husband was still miserable in the new location, and, you couldn't get another job and your family fell into poverty.
posted by Rosie M. Banks at 7:12 AM on July 1, 2016 [4 favorites]

(he has a lot of social anxiety and will pretty much always choose solitude over social situations)

This can be mitigated! It doesn't even have to include medication (although holy shit it was a literal lifesaver for me) or necessarily therapy (although that would be ideal). This book has been great for a very important person in my life who nearly bottomed out because of social anxiety.

Listen. Your husband is not going to give this move the full chance it deserves if he can't or won't get out and meet people with you and your kid. If social anxiety is the reason he's not getting out, he can "fix" that. But he has to want to. If he was just a person who preferred not to socialize but would do so in order to be happier in his new home, I'd drop it. I know we're outsiders looking in and I get the feeling that you're defending him because he's yours and it's that feeling of "I'll pick on my sister all I want but don't you dare do it!!!!!" But you have to know at some level that this is not something you can necessarily fix by moving (again!) or compromising everything you've worked for.

He agreed to this. He agreed to three years of this, even if he didn't fully know what he was agreeing to (he's a grown ass adult, yes he did know). It is not at all unreasonable of you to put your foot down. He needs to give it at least a year if not the three he initially agreed to.

You're doing all of the emotional labor in the relationship right now, you see that, don't you? It's not fair to you or to your kid. Your husband is not being a great partner right now and he needs to get some help dealing with his issues.
posted by cooker girl at 7:13 AM on July 1, 2016 [9 favorites]

I've been the trailing spouse somewhere I didn't love, and we ended up moving back for many reasons, and that was one (but not all) of them.

Your husband is being ridiculous and catastrophizing. Your child is not going to end up a bigot if he spends a few years in an elementary school even if it were 100% full of racists, which I doubt, anymore than he would end up Muslim or Catholic if he spent a few years in a private religious school. If he were in middle school his peers might be more profoundly influential but...seriously, chill out dude.

He needs to give it at least two years, and he needs to get into some kind of treatment for trying to let his feelings ruin your career and future. That doesn't mean he had to put up with it forever, but you have a young kid and its 24-36 months! Build a treehouse and hang out with your child, embark on an artistic adventure, create a two-year family fundraising adventure...something other than sitting around deciding your kid will end up a gender-policed red neck.

My son wore nail polish in liberal, Pride-filled Toronto and it was right at the kindergarten entry that people started commenting. "I like my nails Hulk Green" was a great answer.
posted by warriorqueen at 7:16 AM on July 1, 2016 [8 favorites]

If your husband is judging the people based on superficial observations of strangers (and his own preconceived notions), and won't get to actually know anybody as a person, he sounds like he's acting in a bigoted way himself. People have already made this point but to reiterate: there are liberals and conservatives everywhere. I easily found an atheist/agnostic group in the middle of the bible belt city I last lived in, and that group was quite large (and a lot of fun). "His" people are there - even if he won't connect with them, that doesn't mean they aren't there.

Nthing marriage counseling for the two of you, and anxiety treatment for him. Uprooting your career and financial stability is not going to solve this.
posted by DingoMutt at 7:25 AM on July 1, 2016 [13 favorites]

Also, jbenben already mentioned this but what about homeschooling? If your husband is concerned about kindergarten in this location, AND you're already taking your son to UU services where presumably he's going to make friends, perhaps your husband can take responsibility for homeschooling him for the 1-3 years you all live there. As a bonus, that might help give your husband something positive to focus on - something that could help give him a stronger sense of control and contribution.
posted by DingoMutt at 7:30 AM on July 1, 2016 [8 favorites]

I grew up on a town of 15,000 people in Texas and there are liberals there. I didn't grow up to be a bigot or horrible person. If your town is big enough to have a college and traffic, then there are like-minded people somewhere (probably at the church your husband won't attend). I have social anxiety and sympathize with your husband, but agree with everyone else that his problems with the new location are his to manage.

If he's not working, then he may have too much free time to ruminate on how terrible everything is. As someone with anxiety and depression, I've found that unstructured free time is my enemy. (I realize he's probably taking care of the kid and the home, but having a schedule and external deadlines and commitments outside the home are really helpful to me when I'm spiraling into serious negativity loop.) People have suggested a variety of hobbies and activities, but what about classes or a degree program at your school? Do you get free or reduced tuition? He could master a new language or learn everything he ever wanted to know about medieval history or whatever floats his boat.

Marriage counseling is also a good idea. Given your serious differences, you both have a lot of compromising in your future.
posted by Mavri at 7:31 AM on July 1, 2016 [7 favorites]

If you're still struggling with guilt over this, think about how your situation would be different if your genders were swapped. As someone mentioned above, the military (& many other industries) force families to move all the time. It's not like your husband is facing some rare struggle previously unknown to mankind.

You've done nothing wrong. It sounds like this move will be good for your family (if husband can't get on board, it's at least good for you and your kid) because you're employed, earning money, and everyone is getting to experience a different part of the country. You will all be more well-rounded for it. And this: I also worry that it will be difficult to find a new place that is 100% guaranteed to be better. It won't be difficult. It will be impossible. Hang in there and give this place a chance.
posted by witchen at 7:32 AM on July 1, 2016 [19 favorites]

I came back to reiterate too that agreeing to try somewhere for 3 years and reneging after 3 months is not compromise. It's manipulation if it's deliberate, and an anxiety spike if it's just momentary feelings.
posted by warriorqueen at 7:35 AM on July 1, 2016 [27 favorites]

preferably 5, so I could get tenure

But now he is saying that he really can't tolerate even waiting a year before I start my job search.

Wait, what? Dude, money is going to be something that you will really, REALLY need in the future after the 1% has taken away most of it. Do NOT compromise in ANY way on your career goals. Be strong.

And I am already attending a UU church, with kid but not with spouse (he has a lot of social anxiety and will pretty much always choose solitude over social situations)

Wait, what 2? You're going to sacrifice the above-mentioned career goals because he won't even go to a church? Dude. Be strong. If he likes solitude that much, he can go back to the PNW by himself.
posted by Melismata at 7:41 AM on July 1, 2016 [22 favorites]

The mountains makes me wonder if he likes the outdoors? I used to live in SC and it is beautiful. Can you afford to take some camping or long-weekend trips? Maybe planning some ways to see the great scenery would help him feel better about the compromise.

Some lovely places:
Congaree Swamp
Lake Jocassee
Outer Banks
Hilton Head / Edisto\
Asheville, Bryson City
Cumberland Island, Georgia
posted by nakedmolerats at 7:44 AM on July 1, 2016 [8 favorites]

I grew up in the South and my partner and I have discussed that we would not move back there unless a really great job for one of us was available. An academic position with tenure would be such a job. Like that is a really big deal these days. You may not find another position like the one you have now. This isn't just about your career- getting a job with tenure is job security and a comfortable retirement.

There are good people everywhere. You may have to start doing a monthly weekend trip to a city with a community that shares your values.

Your kid will be ok. I'm sure some of my friends had racist parents when I was growing up but I never noticed. My parents talked to me a lot about their values.

I think the social anxiety is a big part of the issue here. Is he working on that? Is he willing to or are you expected to accommodate him?

Does he have to work? Can you get by on your income and he can focus on hobbies and hanging out with your kid? Your kid is young so friends will be based on who you steer him to hang out with but you and your husband will have to get to know the other families and make a point to interact with the ones you think will be good/neutral influences. If it's really terrible your husband can homeschool easily if you've already made the adjustment to one income.

I know you just bought a place, but i think in your situation living very close to work/stuff where you can walk and bike to and then also a piece of land in the country that your husband can escape to would be ideal. Like even if it was an apartment downtown and a small cabin on the property, I would totally pick that arrangement over the suburbs. You sort of have the worst of both worlds right now. I would be miserable if I had to drive everyday.

Your partner has the right to be unhappy but he also has responsibility to try to find a way to not be miserable for the sake of your marriage and your family. A reasonable compromise to me would be that he gets to take a trip to the mountains every couple of months, not that you give up on this job and go through another costly move that has no guarantee of even being better.
posted by betsybetsy at 7:47 AM on July 1, 2016 [5 favorites]

mskyle mentions this is a hardship posting, but it really, really is not. I work with people who get posted to all sorts of strange outposts around the world, and if they can make it work wtih barely a supermarket or half a dozen people who speak your language so can your husband. He's just a couple of hours flight away anytime he wants to go visit where you used to live.

It takes a long time to settle, longer to make friends. You are lucky to have a child - that's your gateway to friendship - meeting other parents. Let a season pass, maybe two. There will always days where everything sucks and things don't work like you are used to, no matter how long you live somewhere that is not where you came from.

But he can get through this, it just takes time. Your career is of value to you, and while I think you can move on after two years not three, you need to stick it out a bit longer.

(am also a librarian, and have moved domestically/internationally several times. Our sector is SMALL and everyone knows everyone)
posted by wingless_angel at 7:51 AM on July 1, 2016 [16 favorites]

We don't have a lot to go on here, but I will just about guarantee that your husband's main complaint about the new place has gone unstated. Perhaps he hasn't told you about it. Perhaps he hasn't even articulated it fully for himself.

I would not be surprised if he had made up his mind to hate the new place before you moved there, and short of a miracle, would have found plausible reasons to hate it no matter what.

So before you can make any other big moves, I think you need to find the root causes of his misery.
posted by adamrice at 7:51 AM on July 1, 2016 [9 favorites]

You are not saving your marriage by martyring yourself. If he can't live there, then you should consider living apart for few years.

Having a second household is non-trivial, but so building a lifetime of resentment toward your husband because he manipulated you into thrashing your career. You found a starter job in an industry where starter jobs are difficult to find. If you flake out on the first one, it will be difficult to find a second one. Despite your reasons, it's going to look like someone had an opportunity and lacked the commitment to stick to it. Why would a second institution take a chance on that when it's a buyers market. Add into that you're looking for a job in a magical land of "bike to work from my no snow mountain with an academic library and no other people, except for a few liberals I never see."

You and the kid stay put until you can build enough experience to have more professional options. That is what your family agreed to do and put the resources into doing. Your spouse can move somewhere more to his liking and fly home on weekends. His job is blue collar, but he needs to find a way to finance this. (Ideally, he's getting into some therapy to work on his social anxiety, but that is his choice and not yours.)
posted by 26.2 at 7:54 AM on July 1, 2016 [28 favorites]

Sigh. I get being stressed about moving to a new place and automatically deciding you don't like it because it's different and it has new people and new things, etc. But this is absolutely something a person can actively work on, and it does get better with time as long as you keep yourself open. I feel like this reaction of "everything is new and weird and bad!" happens to a LOT of people after a move, but it is also something that can improve (although it's not a guarantee).

Your husband really does need to put in an effort though to meet some new people and get to know what's awesome about the area. Is it possible for you to invite over a cool couple from church so it's meeting people one-on-one rather than a big group all at once? Baby steps? If "everyone" is racist, maybe try making friends with some people who aren't white? (A nice thing about the South is that it's less white than a lot of places in the country: cough *rural Midwest* cough.)

I would also be careful about confirmation bias. People are dickheads to bicyclists EVERYWHERE. People say dumb, bigoted shit everywhere. People will make comments to a boy in nail polish everywhere. That is not to say any of this is GOOD and of course you should push back against it! But it is not a symptom of this particular place.

Finally, in terms of your kid -- I grew up in a place that was super white and conservative, and I have turned out just fine and quite liberal. :) Key is keeping your kid engaged in socially conscious and diverse things through reading, travel, making connections with like-minded/awesome people, etc. The fact that you are affiliated with a university and a UU church will help a ton with this (I had both of those benefits as a kid as well). I now actually appreciate this aspect of my life history because I feel like I can connect with a wider range of people than my San Francisco and New York City-bred friends who sometimes seem incapable of having any understanding of non-liberal non-urban people. :) It actually gives you a great perspective!
posted by rainbowbrite at 7:55 AM on July 1, 2016 [4 favorites]

I think this is another situation where it doesn't have to be 100% one or the other. When you're in a stressful situation, sometimes it seems as if you have be all or nothing, but that's absolutely not the case. I think you need to take out as much of the emotional baggage as you both can, and look at the situation with an eye to a practical solution. Quitting, selling your house, and moving again is not a practical solution, it's an emotional one. As grownups, yall can do better.

I would take all the practical advice on how to be happy with your decision that's listed in this thread, make a long list, and both of you start working your way through it. I also think that one solution would be to find a more liberal area close to you and start spending weekends there, once a month if that's all you can afford. Some type of escape from your day-to-day reality to look forward to would help a lot. You could also stay busy improving your house and land with an eye to making it more valuable when you can finally leave. In other words, find some positive actions that will help pass the time.

Seriously, you need to make a commitment to each other and the path you chose and figure out how to get it done. If that means therapy for him, you, or both, then that goes on the list, too.
posted by raisingsand at 8:00 AM on July 1, 2016 [3 favorites]

I'm in your part of the country, check your mefi mail.
posted by mareli at 8:02 AM on July 1, 2016

Before you irreparably damage your career, the two of you may need to decide whether your wants and needs are fundamentally incompatible. I don't like to immediately jump to DTMFA, and my first thought from reading the title was that you'll have many jobs in your life but one or few spouses, but with all the details it sounds like you are very different people and if you stay together one or both of you is going to have to be unhappy.
posted by Candleman at 8:10 AM on July 1, 2016 [6 favorites]

Those suggesting living apart: do not do this. It's a terrible strain on a marriage and even after the long distance ends it can take years to recover from. I speak from experience.
posted by wingless_angel at 8:11 AM on July 1, 2016 [6 favorites]

Show him this thread.
posted by cotton dress sock at 8:18 AM on July 1, 2016 [9 favorites]

Look, agreeing to move and then changing your mind after three months is not a real compromise.
I have been your husband and I truly empathize with him, but this is exactly right. He agreed to the move and "the move" is not anywhere close to completion. Three months is a really, really tough transition time. His anxiety is absolutely causing the situation to be worse and frankly, isn't social anxiety something that should be treated regardless of where your family is living? I know the move has amplified it, but therapy would be needed for him to be able to pursue some kind of social life even if you were still in the PNW.
Here's what I did when I had to live in a very red-state area for 3.5 years:
1. I visited home as often as I could and encouraged my family to visit me as well. I happen to get along well with my family, or else this wouldn't have worked. But I initially was very homesick and I coped by traveling with my kid to my hometown 2-3 times a year. I framed this as "I will have extended visits with my family each season." I was fortunate to not be working and my daughter was not in school yet, so this travel was easier. It was not at all easy to spend the money on airfare or gas mileage, but we were on a very, very tight budget and we still made it work. Is there a mountain area your husband could plan a weekend in once every few months? 2. He's going to need something positive on the calendar to look forward to.
I had a project. Like raisingsand mentions above, I ended up focusing my time and energy on a house remodel. This turned out to be a great idea because while I wasn't working, I was able to eventually raise money for the family by creating a lot of equity in our home. Your husband likes nature - is there a hobby he can pursue that could ultimately also be a new career path for him? Hobby farming, bee keeping, home brewing, coffee roasting - anything like that? This move may give him the time to pursue a new craft so that he can one day fulfill his dream of being a self-sufficient mountain man. You did intentionally buy a home with some land, so it makes sense to utilize that.
3. Try not to catastrophize the situation. Your title "I moved 3,000 miles and husband HATES IT" is dramatic. I do know how you're feeling and have been in your shoes, although I suspect I was in a worse area and farther from home. You are a plane ride or two away from home. And your child will not be ruined by living in a red state! That's offensive. If anything, I supposed a child could be "ruined" if they grow up in an unhappy situation where one parent's needs are placed over the rest of the family and where they don't find exposure to a variety of people and experiences. I feel like you're feeding into this sentiment by your description of your child as "a follower, not a leader." He's five. He could be anything! These sweeping generalizations just don't help and can really hurt the whole family dynamic. It reminds of how parents might say, "Oh Steve's not good at math, but great at reading" when their kid is 7, and then Stevie grows up hating math. A five-year-old just has so much opportunity and I know you wouldn't want the family's anxiety to feed into limiting it.
4) Use the beach! I was also near a beach, although I had to drive 60 miles in insane traffic to get to it. But I'm from the midwest, so this was still a relatively very close distance to the ocean. Part of the advantage to being a stay-at-home parent was I could drive during slower traffic times. My daughter and I did a "beach day" at least once a week and I was so much happier as a result. I don't know if there's anything more relaxing than watching the waves or walking along a beach.
5) Friends: I agree with the above advice that finding like-minded people is ultimately going to be the game changer. But even without social anxiety in play, making friends is a really difficult prospect. I admire that you've already joined the UU church. That was a great decision. I think "making friends" might be too intimidating for your husband, but I would still encourage him to at least attend public events as much as he can. Use your academic environment to facilitate that - is there an outdoor film night you can attend? Local festivals? Concerts? If he has a good friend from home who could fly in and spend an occasional weekend checking out the area, that could really help too.
6) Framing: He is making a sacrifice for his family. He does deserve to find ways to make the sacrifice more bearable. Ultimately, what helped me was constant reminders that the move was allowing me to stay home with my kid and had enabled me to leave a really terrible job. I had to force myself to find things I liked about the area, but once I did that, I did really like those things. If he is creatively inclined, perhaps he could start a blog or a podcast and use that as a venting point. I used Twitter to complain anonymously about the area I was living in and sometimes that was enough to let me release some steam or post a ridiculous photo of a crazy, offensive bumper sticker, etc. And I wasn't piling that on my husband as much.
posted by areaperson at 8:26 AM on July 1, 2016 [12 favorites]

First, he never had any intention of liking this new place. He may have agreed to try it, but he came in with a closed mind and has not opened it yet.

Second, I moved halfway across the country with my wife and 3 kids, 3 or under. Turns out in hindsight, it was the wrong move and we corrected it by moving to NY. But, we gave it a full year before we threw in the towel. My opinion is that your spouse needs to suck it up for at least a year both for your career and to see if he actually likes it (or not).

I would tell him, no.
posted by AugustWest at 8:34 AM on July 1, 2016 [9 favorites]

Oh, congratulations on the new job and that it is one that is both fun and fundamental to growing your career!
posted by AugustWest at 8:38 AM on July 1, 2016 [14 favorites]

You sound like you are in anxiety spiral yourself (funny how living with someone with anxiety will do that to you). Making ANY major decisions right now is a major mistake. Both of you need to stop talking to each other about the move/new job searching/hating your environment and get into individual therapy ASAP. Moving at all needs to be off the table for at least a year because both your anxieties need stability. I also wonder about your husband acting out due to feeling emasculated with his low-wage job. In addition to working on his anxiety he can also work on improving his income options. Good luck. The job sounds great, and the library world is small and incestous (I've seen careers ended due to choice you are contimplating making) - you will feel very different about job searching after a year there.
posted by saucysault at 8:40 AM on July 1, 2016 [6 favorites]

Three months? He's still homesick. He'll deny it, but he's homesick. I moved to a different country & it took me a year to settle. It took me two years to find my people. Three months? Tell him to work through his homesickness. If he is still not settled after a year (18 months), then that'll be when you need to put your thinking cap on.
posted by kariebookish at 8:40 AM on July 1, 2016 [3 favorites]

My family moved a lot as a child. The first year is always hard. But, of all the places we lived, in different regions of the country, the southeast culture was the hardest to adjust to. As children of 11 and 9, my sibling and I both got bullied or harassed for different reasons. (This didn't happen in other places.)

Another place to consider near mountains, with a fairy liberal culture, and rural areas is Sacramento, especially if you could commute in from some of the towns heading up toward Tahoe (which are themselves somewhat walkable).
posted by slidell at 9:03 AM on July 1, 2016

My parents were both born and raised in Buffalo NY and never had any desire to leave. Then my dad's company decided to pick up and move to Houston; 60 families all told made the move. Dad wasn't able to find another job in Buffalo so they could say, so they moved to Houston. Talk about culture shock.

One of the things I've always admired about my folks is their ability to create their own happiness wherever they landed. Southeast suburban Houston is pretty different from Buffalo, but they found a church where they could volunteer and make friends; they adapted their lifestyle to the southern climate (less skiing, more biking and gardening); they kept some things the same (season tickets to the orchestra and theater, just like they had in Buffalo); they even tried out some of the unique things about living in Texas, like going to the rodeo! They also sometimes pushed back against the conservative culture--my mom volunteered for a Democratic candidate for Congress, for example. I'm sure they have church friends who they do not see eye to eye with politically (they're Catholic) but they focus on the things they do have in common and have built themselves a good life and community.

They also had to move to West Virginia for a few years for dad's job, and again, they found their happiness and did things like taking up fly fishing. They're back in Houston now and although they are retired and sometimes would like to leave, my sister and the grandkids are there so for now they stay put and keep creating their happiness.

I guess I'm just nth-ing everyone upthread. A person's attitude has a huge impact on their happiness. Certainly it is possible for your husband to commit to staying for a year or three, and it sounds like financially for your family and your personal career that is the best way forward. And I mean commit for real, not begrudgingly agree to do something but insist on being miserable the whole time. He needs to emotionally throw all his effort into finding moments of happiness and stringing them together until he is more content than discontent.
posted by misskaz at 9:04 AM on July 1, 2016 [13 favorites]

I have social anxiety and regular anxiety and I moved, in my same town, about nine months ago and I am only now starting to feel like my old self. Moving disrupted all my healthy routines that kept my anxiety in check and also the upheaval of moving itself was a huge emotional maelstrom. And I wanted to move!

Your husband needs to give it more time (a LOT more time) but more than that, he needs to get help for his feelings. Good luck with this. Stay strong.
posted by purple_bird at 9:22 AM on July 1, 2016 [3 favorites]

I am so, so sympathetic to your husband, having recently undone a move myself, but he agreed to move for the good of the family and he needs to honor his own commitment. Adults don't give up on life changes after three months. Your kid will pick up on models of perseverance and openness, or the lack thereof.
posted by praemunire at 9:35 AM on July 1, 2016 [8 favorites]

Being a tagalong spouse can suck big time even if the geographical/cultural situation is ideal. There is a really strong likelihood that you will go to the next place and it will be just as bad. I have worked in academic jobs in both good and bad locations and many times, even in the good locations, the "trailing spouse" has worked elsewhere by choice, i.e. they saved nothing by having two households.

I think he needs to give it a minimum of one year and more like two. You talk about financial ruin and it may not be quite that bad, but again it could be worse, if your employment situation takes a hit. Maybe suggest to him that you do the math on what you are likely saving if you stay two years, or let's make it three, and put a large percentage of that into making your life better, whatever that takes. That could include getting an apartment somewhere else, trips together or something else. This is an investment time for you. You don't want to break your marriage, it doesn't sound like, so that's part of the investment. Oh, and maybe see a financial planner. Someone said on here that people who think they need a marriage counselor may really need a financial planner. My planner doesn't double as a marriage counselor but they help us to see the financial repercussions of things like this.
posted by BibiRose at 9:52 AM on July 1, 2016 [4 favorites]

Three months is not enough time to decide that you are miserable. In fact, three months is exactly the point where culture shock and pessimism about your new home start to set in, in a major life transition like this. You're no longer excited about all the cool stuff that your new home has which your former city did not. Quirks start to seem like insurmountable problems. You feel homesick and start to realize all the things you'll probably never see or do again now that you live clear across the country.

You guys need to give it at least six months to a year before even considering anything drastic.

This sounds like classic culture shock, by the way:

And he has valid points: the people are mostly awful (lots of bigots here), there is no culture, the traffic is terrible and the drivers are very aggressive... there is a lot to dislike about this place.

All of those things are concerns everywhere in the USA, and they're things that could just as easily be said of the Pacific Northwest.
posted by Sara C. at 9:55 AM on July 1, 2016 [4 favorites]

Reading this discussion with interest, and reflecting on the resonance with my own failed marriage (moved cross-country for my job, miserable trailing spouse husband who didn't cope well.)

Please give some serious thought to why it is that you are the breadwinner and also the person who feels obliged to find the solution to his problem.

Several early responses asked what your husband brings to the table here. Did you answer? Do you know? Is there anything? If so, is it enough?
posted by Sublimity at 9:56 AM on July 1, 2016 [31 favorites]

Honestly, I'm stunned so many people are saying how sympathetic they are to your husband. What about you? You're the sole breadwinner, trying to hold the family together with zero support from the person who is supposed to be your adult partner in this. You sound scared and exhausted and I would be too. Two or even three years is really not that long in Grown-Up Years. Your husband, having made the initial commitment, really needs to get on board for the sake of the family, and to answer (2), financial ruin or potential financial ruin is likely to ruin your marriage and mental health for both of you, not save it.

Not to mention, why is your happiness and satisfaction not an important factor here? Why does everything have to uproot and change for the sake of your husband?

Finally--I have lived for very long periods of time in a very small, shitty, conservative, religious town in the Deep South (much smaller and more conservative than where you are now, and with no added beach goodness) and in two of the major cities in the Pacific NW. Even the tiny Deep South town has progressive types in it (and oh! how they love to find likeminded people!), and cities in the Pacific NW have plenty of nasty, small-minded types. Honestly, one of the things that drove me up the wall when living in the Pacific NW was the smug attitude of "Thank goodness we don't have any of those nasty racists around here." Um, yeah, you do, and people who throw bottles at cyclists and all that stuff.

So. nthing everyone in this thread who has said he needs to give it more time, get some treatment, and change his attitude. But I also think you need counseling--both marriage counseling and individual counseling because from where I'm sitting this does not look like a healthy relationship at all, and it sounds like you are doing all the work in it.
posted by tiger tiger at 9:57 AM on July 1, 2016 [31 favorites]


I mean, I kid, but not that much. My husband is also a socially avoidant PNW native, and he moved to NYC for me for Important Reasons and realized three months in that he hated it and Could Not Deal with the culture, also worried about its impact on our kid, etc. etc. etc. Here's what's important to know, and here's what I did that worked for me.

First: your husband may in fact always hate it. That's real. We lived in New York for three years, and in none of them did he grow to like it. There is a huge cultural difference between the PNW and really anywhere else in the country, and it makes adjustment really, really hard, especially if someone hasn't lived outside of it and is a native.

HOWEVER, it's possible that the degree of hating it is because he feels that the longer you stay, the harder it will be to leave. He may actually be self sabotaging his own happiness, because he worries that if it gets slightly less miserable for him, you will become less willing to move, and he will have to suffer there forever. This in turn will make your short term life miserable.

What really worked for me was a "Give it a chance for X years, really try, go out to things and do all the things you would do if you liked it, and then in X years if you do not like it we will move in a responsible way." And you know, we did wind up moving back after three years! But when we moved back, we were in SUCH a better position, and now he talks about the move as "Sucked at the time! But was SO IMPORTANT."

Our kid was partially influenced by NYC culture, but as soon as we brought her to the PNW, started adapting to PNW culture. That's what they do. Kids are adaptable. You're not going to do lasting damage to a five year old just by living in a different area for three years.

And yeah, what Sara C. said: these are things that can happen going to the PNW. The PNW is white as the driven snow, the bigotry is just more subtle. And I frequently bemoan the lack of a billion musicals and plays and Things To See, and lack of delivery food. And the drivers are horrible! Come on, you've driven on I5, right? Basically, your paradise is always someone else's 'ugh', but it's possible to find things.

I found also it helps if you spend the next three years talking about where you would move if you were going to move - really hashing it out. And make him responsible for finding the place that is right next to mountains, but no snow, but bikeable, but rural, but with culture. Tell him you'll start looking for houses as soon as he finds that spot. And then when he can't find that nonexistent place, start talking compromise.
posted by corb at 10:01 AM on July 1, 2016 [16 favorites]

I too am stunned that people are so sympathetic to your husband. He is being a big spoiled baby while you carry the whole show and shoulder all the responsibility. He is unhappy and wants mommy to make it better immediately while he sulks? Forget that. He needs to grow up fast and suck it up. You've done a great job getting a good career started in a competitive field while finding a nice home for your family who you support seemingly almost single-handedly. He needs to step up and be a partner to you. If that means spending a measly 2-3 years living in a less than ideal town so be it. He should be thanking his lucky stars for you rather than whining. I'm actually a bit angry on your behalf.
posted by hazyjane at 10:06 AM on July 1, 2016 [19 favorites]

What should we do?

The real question is "what should he do?"

Stick it out. Give it a fair chance. Try to get to know people as individuals. Treat his wife with more consideration and respect. Sort out his own issues instead of expecting his wife to fix everything.

Honestly, the way he's going, your kid will grow up to be a bigot. Your husband is modeling some pretty awful behaviors:
-everyone who lives in the southeast/not the magical PNW are awful
-people who are different from me are bigots
-my political opinions are the One True Way
-my wife should drop everything, especially her career to live where I want to live

I would say him homeschooling is a pretty bad idea, in fact.
posted by Beti at 10:06 AM on July 1, 2016 [24 favorites]

A lot of people are saying three months is the low point, but I found there to be another deep low at nine months. Just so you all are prepared.
posted by slidell at 10:07 AM on July 1, 2016 [4 favorites]

I moved with my ex-husband to a place I hated for his career. I could have been happier with the place if we hadn't had resentments about other issues, though. Are you sure he's not carrying around some other issue with your marriage and projecting it onto the move? Therapy could help, if so.
posted by AFABulous at 10:16 AM on July 1, 2016 [4 favorites]

I too am stunned that people are so sympathetic to your husband.

Moving away from somewhere you know and love and ending up somewhere you don't like at all is a truly awful feeling. You can sympathize with that feeling without thinking that he's handling it at all well.
posted by praemunire at 10:27 AM on July 1, 2016 [7 favorites]

I wholeheartedly agree with those who say this is your husband's issue. Because you are married, it is rightly your problem as well, and I think (generally) a good partner will always be sympathetic to the other partner's feelings, however unfair or irrational. But this is something that should be worked out primarily by adjusting his attitude and expectations. You can and should help him with this, but you do not need to leave your job—your husband needs to give this more time.

As a former army brat and a generally restless person, I have moved numerous times in my life. The older I get, the harder it becomes, and the adjustment period can be difficult no matter how you feel about the place you've landed. I finally set down roots around age 30, and my husband and I have now lived for nearly five years (mostly full-time) in a place we truly love. Nonetheless, it has taken almost that entire time for us to build a small community of friends and to feel that we truly "belong" here. There have been times during these years—when we bought our house, for example—that I had nagging fears that moving here was a huge mistake. What's more, a couple years ago we lived for a few months in Paris (Paris!), and I was grumpy for the first few weeks because I was homesick and missed our bed and our families and our cats and our dog.

Honestly, I think that your husband should be the one posting this question—as in, "I truly despise this new place where we live, but I need to make it work for the sake of my wife's career. Tell me how." Show him this thread. There is lots of good advice here. You have a job you love to get you through this time, so he needs to be actively looking for activities, groups, businesses, restaurants, people, etc. that he at least marginally enjoys and will distract him from his discontent. This takes a lot of work, research, and trial and error, but you will both be happier in the long run. I know it can feel like it, but three years is not that long, and I think it will be worth it for you both to stick it out.
posted by differently at 10:33 AM on July 1, 2016 [3 favorites]

According to your other posts, you're not in the backwaters of some southern state. You're in a medium sized city. Moreover, you're associated with a university which is likely full of more liberal people that didn't grow up in the area. I'm an academic and I want to tell your husband that there are far worse university areas that you could have found a position at.

Moreover, shitty stuff happens everywhere. Bottles are thrown at people everywhere. Gender policing is annoying, but it could have happened even in lovely PDX. I suspect that he is seeing things and attributing them to the location rather than random acts.

He needs to get with a therapist for his social anxiety NOW. He also needs some things to do. Is he okay with going over for dinner to someone's home? Can you talk your way into the social lives of some of your new coworkers?
posted by k8t at 10:40 AM on July 1, 2016 [3 favorites]

I am sympathetic to your husband and child, for sure. I'm a New Yorker, and can't imagine what I'd do in your husband's position, being somewhere where I was so uncomfortable.

It does sound like he needs something to do, while also contacting a therapist. If there's no culture there, there must be like-minded people willing to create some culture. Have him take some initiative. Book club?

The one thing that jumped out to me from your post is that your child is a little gender non-conforming. Are there enough support resources where you are?
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 10:44 AM on July 1, 2016

Okay I have gone through all of this.

When I was a kid growing up in the boondocks of Oregon (the part that has gun-totin' conservatives, thankfully my town was next door to Eugene, so I got a good dose of hippy too), at age 7, my parents moved us to Mobile, Alabama for a year. My father had a contract with a Big Humongous Paper Mill. We had a rental house. On my first day at school, I hit it off with one classmate in particular. We did readings together, talked about what it was like where we lived, and then came recess. At recess, other kids started throwing rocks at us. I asked my brand-new friend why. "Oh, because of how I look," she shrugged. I didn't get it. She was her! "What do you mean?" I asked her, then said "throwing rocks can hurt someone and I'm gonna tell the teacher!" She grabbed my arm and shook her head: "the teacher won't do anything." I totally did not understand. "STOP THROWING ROCKS!" I shouted at the kids. "Stop playing with the ******!" they shouted back. I had never heard the word. My friend explained that it meant she was black. I started crying because I didn't understand, and didn't stop until lunch time. Teachers kept explaining that the rock-throwers were normal, at which my despair only deepened. Did it mean anyone could get rocks thrown at them? Because their hair was different?? Their hands were different sizes?? What did looking different even mean when everyone is different?? I had never experienced any of this. At my Oregon elementary school, we were taught that we were all unique and should all get to know each other's differences. (And indeed, it was only as an adult that I realized just how incredibly diverse our little elementary school was.) When my mother finally arrived at the Mobile elementary, I told her I was leaving this school because everyone is different and that meant everyone was going to get rocks thrown at them and I was not going to a school with rock-throwers. For all her faults (she was abusive in her own right), my mother went ash white and speechless when the teachers shrugged off what I'd said and "explained things" to her. "My child is NEVER coming back here," she told them, after which she homeschooled me for the year. I've always hoped that my friend from that day got through that hellish experience okay.

So, like, if you REALLY can't find a school where your kid will have tolerant, open-minded teachers, then they are young enough that homeschooling would be fine for a few years. I did it and turned out fine. Plus it would give your husband something to do if he's not working full-time. But I suspect you can find a good place for your kid. Now don't get me started on how kids in my Oregon boondocks would shoot shotgun blanks just to scare random cyclists.

As for your husband. I moved to southeastern France 16 years ago, in large part to follow my ex's career, but also because I wanted to see a different part of the country. It took me a full year before I felt comfortable saying how I felt about the place – having moved countries three years earlier, then again another year later, I'd learned it takes about that long to get a feel for a place w/r/t your own personal tastes. Sometimes first impressions are totally skewed; it takes effort to get into your own groove somewhere new.

So, first recommendation for him: take his time. Look for things that interest him. Really look.

It took me five years in Nice before I accepted that, in spite of having a group of friends, activities, and experiences, I just didn't fit in there. It took me another nine years (yes!!!) of testing a career change, then home ownership, therapy, and real effort put into friendships, to finally acknowledge that I needed to leave. And southeastern France is VERY similar in mindset to the types of southeastern places we think of in the States when we hold negative stereotypes. I had chiseled away at the rock of xenophobia for 14 years all told before I finally wholly accepted that I don't want to spend my life as a xenophobia stonemason. I asked my employer for a transfer.

I moved to Paris two years ago, and it took me three months before I knew how I felt about it. I missed Nice at first! Now I don't; only the familiarity you get with anywhere you've spent so many years. Again, it was only after about a year here that I finally felt I'd hit my groove. I do love it here now, much more than anywhere else I've lived.

Here's the rub: I never wanted to live in Paris. I did not ask to be transferred to Paris. I asked to be transferred to Montpellier! It has a reputation like that of the PacNW. Whereas Paris, blah... big polluted city, snooty annoyed people, long commute times, expensive housing, no way, phooey patooey. I wanted a little stone house in the middle of nowhere outside of Montpellier.

So now I have my little stone apartment with a huge garden next to the Seine just outside of Paris. It takes me 20 minutes to get to work.

Sometimes you just can't predict life, and it's good to know that. It's really good to keep in mind, "hey, I could be wrong about this place, there might be something I don't know," and let the place move you.

Also look into culture shock, because it's pretty well-known that 1 month is honeymoon, 2 months is plateau, and 3 months is "I HATE THIS PLACE AND WANT TO LEAVE". After that it starts getting better.

And yeah your husband should look for a therapist, honestly. Especially if he genuinely wants the best for you – it will give him the tools to do just that, and help his life too.
posted by fraula at 10:49 AM on July 1, 2016 [13 favorites]

I'm a PNW native, and we tried to do a stint in the NE near where my wife grew up. We were both miserable there. The cultural differences between the two coasts was incredibly hard for me to cope with, for many of the reasons you've outlined. Moving from the PNW, as a lifelong native, to anywhere in the east is a cultural shift akin to moving to another english speaking country. I've lived in parts of Canada and the culture shock was less extreme than the east coast.

Some people can roll with and adapt to new places easily...I wasn't one of those people. I discovered after our move that I take an insane deal of comfort in the fact that in my city, I know where to find eggshell foam, or where the best asian markets are, or even just the best way to get from point A to point B. I had full on panic attacks just trying to get basic things done. I speak from experience that he's probably ultra-depressed, and you've already stated he has anxiety in certain arenas. That anxiety can become exacerbated and bleed over into other parts of life real fast. Finding work in my own field was very difficult, which just added to all of that hot mess of depression and anxiety. Keeping busy can't be understated as a giant help in a situation like this. Full time work + hobbies + other hobbies to fill in the gaps.

Basically, if he's inclined to anxiety and depression at all, part of this he can control and part of it he might not be able to. Therapy ASAP. Probably meds ASAP if he's inclined at all.

We decided to leave after a year, and my wife shortly got a really good job back in our preferred city (which was admittedly a really lucky turn of events). I was able to immediately find work, and our lives improved drastically in really short order. It cost us almost $7k that was entirely put on credit cards. It was the best money we ever spent, even though it took us a year and change to pay off that card.

There is no harm in looking right now, because you don't know what you'll find. If you own your house, you should probably sell it and just start renting for a few years, because you might be bouncing around trying to find a good fit. You might find something better, and there's no harm in that...but your husband has got to realize that it might take some time, and you guys might not get lucky that way. This is something to explore in therapy (I highly recommend finding someone who specializes in Acceptance and Commitment therapy).

I wish I had a good-for-everyone solution around the whole asshole strangers calling your kid on gender stuff...My son has some special needs, and we get the side eye and comments. This isn't really a good solution, but there is a certain level of of freedom in sacking up and telling strangers to go fuck themselves over a comment like that.

The one good thing that can come out of a situation like this? It can really, really pull into focus what you two want for your family and how you want to operate. We learned some things about our family's needs that we never would have had we not left for that year. While I wouldn't say it was 'worth it' there certainly was value there, and we're happier in the long run for it.

If your husband wants an internet pen-pal to commiserate over being a PNW expat, by all means, memail me.
posted by furnace.heart at 11:05 AM on July 1, 2016 [2 favorites]

Also, I don't know you or your husband, but I really wish I could give you all a giant hug. I so viscerally remember how that feels for everyone involved, and I'm really sorry that you're all going through it.

If you need some Oregon beer sent your way, hit me up.
posted by furnace.heart at 11:07 AM on July 1, 2016 [4 favorites]

Your actual location would be helpful to know, because many of us are in the South (hello! I am not bigoted! Welcome!) and could offer specific information about actual places. So, if you are in Savannah or thereabouts, know that there is a large weirdo tribe. Atlanta? Hi! Weirdo tribe is here, also. Every college town, or larger town with an academic institution, is going to have a contingent of liberal-minded people who give no shits about your kid having nail polish.

Finding community is a HUGE thing that needs to happen. Feeling alone absolutely sucks. You have your work,and he has . . .an isolated house and a penchant for not going anywhere that there are people? That is not a reasonable way to conduct yourself if you want to like where you live. Agree with above that therapy is needed or at least a personal attitude adjustment, to make the best of what there is, and find some people who, while they are people and therefore might suck, might also be awesome. You miss 100% of the shots you don't take. He needs to get out more.
posted by Medieval Maven at 11:10 AM on July 1, 2016 [5 favorites]

Oh and a thought, if you're liking the church don't force him to attend, but if someone at the church had small simple task that your husband would be a great match (small carpentry, a light out) as if he would help and let him escape. Rinse repeat with a savvy member or two there to thank and complement him. No pressure.
posted by sammyo at 11:37 AM on July 1, 2016 [2 favorites]

I think your husband is being a little bit unreasonable. I don't think three months is too short to know if you hate a place -- I've moved many times and have lived all over the country, and generally how I felt within the first couple months is how I felt after a year -- but I think you have to be able to deal with it for at least a year until you can get out. I moved somewhere I hated and I had to wait for the lease to end and for my office to approve my transfer, so I sucked it up and I did that. I think that if he made this choice he hated, he would be more willing to cope with it than a choice that wasn't his. But you're married, you're a unit, and he needs to approach it like it was his decision to move too.

Does your husband have a job? Is he doing anything to find things he likes about where you live? Does he just sit at home and mope? Even in places I hated, what helped me was taking advantage of nearby things, like nature or big cities I wanted to visit, and going to do those things. Every city has unique sights to see and he should take advantage since you won't ever live there again. I don't know how you make your husband do this, and maybe this isn't helpful to say, but I think he needs to make an effort to cope until you can get a new job. That should be about one year at a minimum. Enduring shitty circumstances should be easier with a finish line in sight and it sounds like he is not cooperating here.

1. That said, there is nothing wrong with looking for a job now. Go ahead and see what's out there. Take interviews if you see a great opportunity. But I personally would not devote all your time and energy to it -- you will burn yourself out if you're feverishly job hunting and trying to succeed in a new job -- and I wouldn't go after any job that would be a step down. Your husband needs to deal with the fact that job hunting takes some time, and you shouldn't treat a job search like you are desperate to get out. Look for a good job that will make YOU happy, and will be a place that will be better for you and your husband. Don't make the mistake of sacrificing your happiness for his.

2. I've never been married and I don't have kids, but I suspect financial ruin isn't good for a marriage either. I think what would be best for a marriage is compromise and supporting each other. I know you say your husband compromised by letting you take the job, but that's not where the compromise ends. He still needs to continue to give an effort to make it work. The compromise he made isn't over, and it sounds to me like he is pulling out too soon.

3. Is there a specific reason you don't want to live in the Pacific NW again? Sounds like it meets the needs of both you and your husband.
posted by AppleTurnover at 11:46 AM on July 1, 2016 [1 favorite]

I moved to NC in 2006 to take a job (tenure track teaching). My wife was miserable after just a short time there. Within 3 months I was planning an exit. Within 8 months we'd moved to the Midwest. It set me back (went from tenure-track to a postdoctoral position) but marriage-wise it was the best thing we could have done. In the end, I am FAR better off now than if I had stayed there - as it turned out, unlike you, I couldn't see a future there for myself. So that helped us move.

One regret we have regarding the experience is that we didn't try to split time - e.g. if it was good for one of us to be someplace, we needed to live separately for a bit to make it work out best for all. My brother has done this for quite a while (he needed to move for his job, his wife couldn't move with hers - so they had 2 places for several years, until his job allowed him to move back). For you, it would be tough - young kid - but you can't send your kid to school someplace he wouldn't feel accepted and safe. If we'd stayed in NC, I wouldn't HAVE a kid right now - my wife would not have wanted to raise a child in that area. Too insular, too much latent bigotry, too much difficulty fitting in as an outsider.

I sincerely hope you find some way to solve your problem. I've been there before. It sucks.
posted by caution live frogs at 11:52 AM on July 1, 2016 [1 favorite]

My sympathies to you - I have no extra insight that hasn't already been offered above. But if you do end up looking at places to move to, I wanted to respond to this one tiny bit:

> Where we can have that snowflake combination of rural, walkable, good schools, affordable, and liberal?

Ithaca, NY is an almost perfect match. And it is home to one of the (imho) great (and objectively high impact) academic library systems in the world.
posted by RedOrGreen at 11:54 AM on July 1, 2016

Ithaca is freezing cold, however.
posted by delight at 12:05 PM on July 1, 2016 [6 favorites]

For at least six months of the year.
posted by Dolley at 12:19 PM on July 1, 2016 [4 favorites]

Here's the thing about finding the perfect location in terms of rural/walkable/mountains/warm/good schools/'ve chosen a career that does not allow you that amount of flexibility, even if you do figure out what that special snowflake place is. I'm not trying to be harsh, but I'm an academic too and I have had to come to that realization. From when we started dating, my now-husband was aware that he was going to have to be the one following me around (as he has a more location-flexible job) and while of course we've always discussed possible moves and certain locations are off the table for various reasons, it would simply be impossible to limit ourselves to a location that has all those requirements you have listed -- as you say, it's almost impossible to figure out where that place is period, much less to land an academic library job there. So ultimately I think you guys need to have a serious discussion about what that means. If you're going to stay in your chosen career, that means you guys may not be living in your #1 chosen spot ever -- you may be able to move somewhere you like better after a few years, but you're never going to be able to say "We figured out that Chicago makes the most sense for us, so we shall live in Chicago." If you're not going to stay in your chosen career, then think hard about how your skills might be transferable to a job that is less location-dependent. If that's a realistic plan that you feel ok about, then I think you can start looking for jobs now -- the 3 months in thing really only matters if you want to stay in your field. But I think it's sort of silly to pretend that even if you guys wait 3 years, the 100% perfect location job will somehow fall into your lap. Because that isn't how your career field works. I think people outside of university culture don't really get this...I have had my parents say things like "Oh, I heard there's a job opening at [University Near Them]"...which is in a completely different field than my training. Make sure your husband truly gets it and then make a decision together from there.
posted by rainbowbrite at 12:21 PM on July 1, 2016 [15 favorites]

I'm an academic.
I have moved cities, states, countries. It's part of the job.
I hate moving and am bad at change. (My folks still have a picture of me at 2.5 crying my eyes out because we were moving; it's not so different now).

The worst time is between 3 and 9 months out. It only gets better once you find some of your identity in the new place- maybe through people (friends from church, parent friends, coworkers); maybe through a new hobby (birding? rock climbing? woodworking?). Maybe through a favorite restaurant or a food that's easier to find in the new place.

You only find these things if you look; you have to get out and look. Money might help some but time is much more important, and it's his time that's required (so you can't force it, unfortunately).

Also you should wait at least a year-- not just for your career (although that in and of itself is sufficient)--- but also because you can't see the benefits of a place when you only get part of the year. It's July. The southeast is hot and humid. See a full year's weather before you give up on the climate being ok. (I moved to Denmark in October. It is wet and dark for months. I am glad I stayed long enough to see the summer, when it is light... and well maybe still wet sometimes. But the light!)

As for your husband, if he wants to be not-a-bigot himself, then it's his time to support you. It's his time to do the emotional labor of figuring out how to be happy in the new town, or how to put up with it for now. It's his time to not just support you and your career with words but also with actions.
posted by nat at 12:54 PM on July 1, 2016 [5 favorites]

Just about every single person whose spouse is in academia ends up living for a while in a place they don't like. I've been doing it for years, because we're a partnership and we're building our future for the long hall, and sometimes that means sacrificing one thing we want (loving where we live) in order to get another thing we want (financial stability, career success).

Honestly, a year is just not that long and your husband needs to grow up and give you the support you need right now while you launch this next phase of your career.
posted by the turtle's teeth at 12:59 PM on July 1, 2016 [4 favorites]

But now he is saying that he really can't tolerate even waiting a year before I start my job search. And I worry that if I try to convince him that we need to wait, it will have adverse effects on our relationship and on his mental health.

A year is already a huge compromise that will definitely harm your career, because a year is not three to five years.

I mean, I'm sorry but he needs to grow up and function as a team. He's living in Nashville or something, not Syria.

You know what is cheaper than both moving and divorce?

Marriage counselling.
posted by DarlingBri at 1:27 PM on July 1, 2016 [13 favorites]

We moved to Winter Park, FL for my husband's job at the beginning of our marriage and we lived there for 5 years. Think extreme heat and humidity, bugs the size of birds, and a solidly Republican voter base. I was miserable for quite a while. I never loved living there, but I eventually did find things to appreciate-- manatees! sea turtles! beach! azaleas everywhere! We now live in the liberal bastion of Carrboro/Chapel Hill, NC, but even here cyclists get poor treatment from people in cars. So if you moved here, your husband might not find it to be better than the PNW. I think marriage and/or individual counseling could be a huge help. He may never love where you are but it sounds like he could find people and things to his liking, if he's willing to put in the effort.
posted by tuesdayschild at 1:54 PM on July 1, 2016 [2 favorites]

N-thing that 3 months is the peak of the culture shock curve, and moving to the south can feel like moving to a different country. There's a lot of good advice here, plus more resources online geared toward expats or exchange students that could be useful.
posted by Maarika at 2:36 PM on July 1, 2016

And I worry that if I try to convince him that we need to wait, it will have adverse effects on our relationship and on his mental health.

So I just wanted to nth all the good advice above, and then also say that, I think this will adversely affect your relationship either way. It sounds like you guys do not have a healthy relationship and are not functioning as a team. You should be able to discuss large life decisions without fear of ruining your relationship. And, I mean, my first thought was, well shit - if you tank your career just to make him happy, there's a good chance you will eventually just resent the crap out of him for it, and this will also have adverse effects on your marriage too, just not like, right away. Also, big life decisions should be made logically - not because or while people are feeling emotional or anxious.

To be blunt - your husband is acting like a petulant child. He needs to grow up and start supporting you and your career in a meaningful way. He needs to follow through with the decision to try your career in this new location for 3 years (it's really not a long amount of time). He needs to step up and take on some of the emotional labor because right now you are doing all of it so no wonder you are stressed out. It is absolutely ridiculous, IMO, to move again just after 3 months. He didn't even give this city a chance and moving again won't solve anything. He needs to go to therapy to deal with his issues and you should consider marriage counseling for you both. It will be cheaper than moving again and it sounds like it needs to happen anyway.

Show him this thread - he needs to hear these harsh truths. When you have a family, you can't be selfish and make whimsical decisions because you are feeling all the feels. You need to think about and plan for the future, and with you being the primary breadwinner, your job is the most important. He needs to do what is best for his family, not just for himself and get over his male fragility or whatever it is that's making him think moving again is a good idea. Your needs matter, your career matters, and you should stand your ground on this. Good luck, I hope things work out.
posted by FireFountain at 2:46 PM on July 1, 2016 [10 favorites]

Relocated, social anxiety sufferer here. We moved from the Northeast to the midwest in late 2012 for my spouse's promotion. Initially, I was a mess. I hated it. I still continue to see more open racism and horrible behavior here than anywhere else I have lived. Going on four years later, I have adjusted and found a good support group of other misplaced Easterners. I do therapy and keep physically active and now, I don't mind it so much. I concentrate on my son and wife, tend my garden and ride my skateboard. It is a good life even if it is in a place I detest. Hell has nice neighborhoods too. Good luck and know that if I could do it, anyone can.
posted by extraheavymarcellus at 3:14 PM on July 1, 2016 [4 favorites]

there is nothing wrong with looking for a job now. Go ahead and see what's out there. Take interviews if you see a great opportunity.

I'm sorry if I sound harsh, but I'm going to argue pretty vehemently against doing that. Advice like this presumes a large and anonymous job market where there are no consequences to applying widely and often. That is not the case in academic librarianship.

Even if you managed to find a search committee willing to interview you in spite of the fact that you're 3 months into an entry level position, I'd be very surprised if you're able to do so without your colleagues finding out. Librarianship is a small world, and entry level positions don't generally come with the option for a confidential search. In most places, job interviews include a public talk which is advertised across the entire library system. Everyone knows who is applying. It's very difficult to stealth interview in the early stages of a librarian career. It can be done, but it's risky and would look very bad for you at your current institution if word got out that you were applying for jobs at the 3 month mark. People in both organizations would definitely talk.

For the most part, when we post a librarian position, we read over all applications submitted by qualified applicants (and often even the unqualified ones); there isn't a giant, impersonal machine it all gets sorted through. Applying for a librarian position is a personal interaction. Because of this, there are only so many times you can feasibly apply to any one library. Technically there is no limit, but realistically, you will be probably be applying to the same hiring supervisor at that institution, and they will remember your name. When you apply for a job, your cover letter should be some variation on "wow, this is such an amazing opportunity for which I am the absolute perfect fit in the following ways!" You can only make this argument a very limited number times about different positions to the same person. Applying all over the place out of desperation is only limiting the number of libraries you can confidently apply to in future and who will take you seriously when you are actually ready to make a move.

Additionally: library directors and library deans very often know each other well. It's generally bad form to poach a librarian out of someone else's organization after less than 3 years. Imagine what it would say about your supervisor, director or dean, that after working with them for only 3 months, you're already seeking to leave! You can't test-interview at this stage without potentially embarrassing the leadership of your library, and as bonus chipping away at their belief in your commitment.
posted by Hildegarde at 3:48 PM on July 1, 2016 [38 favorites]

Hi there. I've done multiple moves across multiple countries/states, sometimes for my career, sometimes for my partner. The very first international move was for my partner's job, to a place in the UK I'd done very little research about and just jumped into for him. I hated it on sight and it never got better. I lasted a year before we pulled the pin and moved to another country. Here's what I learnt.

When you instantly decide the place isn't going to work and you just want outoutout, you never give it a chance. Because I was planning on leaving virtually months after arriving, I never made friends (I tried initially but never got anywhere and then I thought, what's the point, I'm leaving anyway.) When you're mentally halfway out the door, there doesn't seem much point in trying to settle in. Now, I don't know if this place would ever have been my cup of tea but my attitude torpedoed it right off the bat. Having said that, I was in my early 20s, so I learnt from it.

In subsequent moves, my attitude has been, right, this is my new home. I'm not leaving anytime soon, so I have to make a life here. Friends, hobbies, work, all of it. And the difference has been remarkable. Once I was mentally committed, I built a life for myself and I've enjoyed every move since.

Your husband needs to approach it with the same attitude. You live there now, this is it. Time to decide what his day to world is going to look like and build it. Get the idea that this is temporary out of his head (not to depress him but to force him to mentally commit and settle in). As long as he thinks he's going to be leaving, he will never even try.

You might want to do it with a counsellor, he sounds stubborn and it will be a tricky conversation. The thing is, he takes his attitude with him so even if you were to give in and move elsewhere, chances are the same thing would still happen. It's not the location that needs to change, it's your husband.
posted by Jubey at 4:49 PM on July 1, 2016 [4 favorites]

Response by poster: Wow! I did not expect so many answers! Most of my Asks get, like, five responses.

Thanks for all the feedback, everyone. Lots of great insights and advice. This will help a lot in the days and months ahead.
posted by rabbitrabbit at 5:02 PM on July 1, 2016 [7 favorites]

After spending a summer in San Francisco and falling in love, I decided to return to stay there long term. Even THEN the first few months sucked. Culture shock is a hell of a thing (it's always the smallest details that get you) and I was full of regret. A friend told me that it usually takes them about a year for them to settle into a place, which gave me comfort. Things got better - now the only reason I'm not still there is because my visa ran out, but I miss it.

Give it time.
posted by divabat at 6:15 PM on July 1, 2016

I am six years into living in my home city that I loathe in order to have a better environment for husband and kid. I still hate it. Any time I travel I come back with a gutwrenching sadness because all my friends live so far away.


I like the house I live in that is a short walk to school, shops, a cafe, and a short bus ride to my work and to the city. My partner is breadwinner at the moment because I could not handle both being in a job I disliked AND a city I hated. I just couldn't do it. The time I took off from work (I am doing a PhD now) I spent intensively doing mental health work on myself and mothering.

Which led to the few good friends I have here, and our good solid routines. We go to Ikea with our kids, or have milkshakes in the city, or look at the window displays, or catch a quick coffee at work.

Would I move if I got the chance? In a heartbeat and it pretty much wouldn't really matter where. I just don't like it here - it's super white (even if our pocket of white middle class is becomingly emphatically pan-Asian thanks to a few school initiatives), it is a kind of humid and hot that I find triggering, my rapist lives here, everything shuts early, our family are up in our face way too easily. But right now I deal with it until it makes sense to leave. Which is probably in the next few years when we transition back to me being a breadwinner.

(Similarly when we moved for my job, he just dealt. He didn't like it - too cold, too lonely, too far away from family - but he didn't constantly complain and didn't demand I start looking and tank my career. I did that all on my lonesome, if I'm going to be honest, and part of that was the guilt. I don't have that career any more because I took the first job I could find in the place my husband liked and it turned into a shitshow that drove me into a breakdown.)
posted by geek anachronism at 6:19 PM on July 1, 2016 [2 favorites]

I feel so strongly about this, I just joined MeFi, after years of lurking.

Please do NOT quit your job right away! Your career will take a blow that will never recover. I have friends in academia, and it's incredibly unforgiving.

As others have said, I would strongly suggest exploring other options first, including your husband getting help for his social anxiety issues, marriage and individual counseling. It really sounds as if you need to have a solid plan that you both agree upon *together* - again, as others have said, just blindly moving isn't likely to solve his issues anyway. It's really tempting to think that the grass is always greener, but how are you going to feel if you do blow everything to smithereens, move, and he still has the same problems? You'll be exactly where you are right now, except much worse off financially and your dream job will be shot.

I hope you're able to find a resolution that works for both of you.
posted by dancing_angel at 6:27 PM on July 1, 2016 [25 favorites]

Your husband is probably also grieving, which skews your perspective a lot. Counselling and building support systems will help here.
posted by divabat at 7:17 PM on July 1, 2016 [1 favorite]

I want to suggest that in addition to staying, since your husband isn't the breadwinner and you guys don't truly have the financial flexibility to move, he could use this time to go to community college/technical college for something that will earn more money and isn't location-dependent, like HVAC, electrical linesman, radiation tech, ultrasound tech, etc. CCs attract a less privileged population generally, so there will be some good ole boys, but also some hard-luck but ambitious people who want to improve their lives. Classroom learning is a very proscribed atmosphere and is personally awesome for my flavor of social anxiety. Your husband may feel more stable and solid knowing he can contribute more to the household wherever you go.
posted by Snarl Furillo at 8:26 PM on July 1, 2016 [3 favorites]

I am coming at this from the position of being a person who has had to move back where I came from after a cross-continental move which did not work out. I am coming at this from the position of being a person who had to move again or die, and those were the two choices, because my mental health would not permit me to stay in the new place, period.

Your husband needs to put some more time into trying. Three months is not long enough to try everything that can be tried.

I also have social anxiety. A lot of the stuff I had to do to try to adjust sucked. I had to try it anyway, or I wouldn't have tried everything, and it was important, because of my family and their career prospects, and because I love them and want them to be happy and fulfilled, that I try everything.

Things I tried: Therapy. Joining a community choir, and talking with people in it. Joining a church, and talking with people there. Going to events at the university which interested me and which it was appropriate for me to go to (i.e. whole-school, not undergrad), in order to network. Eating a meal at the same restaurant on the same day and at about the same time every week, to build a sense of routine and community, and to build rapport with the waitstaff by becoming a regular. Getting a library card and going to library events. I looked for the local GLBT+ society, and there wasn't one, so my spouse founded one; investigate the organizations which campaign for the things you believe in in your area.

I drove around the town frequently, investigating every business that had a half-interesting review on Yelp and every road that looked pretty or differently ugly. I went for long walks, by myself and with family. I took anti-depressants and anti-anxiety medication. I hosted dinner parties for my family's coworkers. I spent a lot of time on the phone with friends and family elsewhere, as a respite, but tried to keep that amount of time under control so it wouldn't become an escape. I asked my friends, family, and internet acquaintances for introductions and recommendations about literally anyone and any place they knew in the area, and followed up on those recs. I tried to meet new people two or three times to give them a fair shake, because the first time I would be so nervous that I would throw up before the meeting, and not want to do anything but go away again, but by the third I'd get some idea of whether I might actually want to hang out with this person. I started a new hobby, and hung out in the local store that catered to it.

None of this worked. My mental health and physical health went steadily downhill, and as I said, I had to leave or die. But it was about a year of trying things before I came to that conclusion, and after I knew that this place hadn't worked out, I did the following:

I moved on my own, and I moved in with a friend, to save money. We set a timeframe before I moved out by which my spouse would join me, and a list of goals that each of us wanted to have accomplished before that happened (things like: me: reduce or eliminate anti-anxiety meds by using cognitive behavioral therapy; them: find someone to run the fledgling GLBT+ society so it wouldn't collapse after they left). My spouse and I talked frequently on the phone and Skype, and made it clear that doing so was incredibly important to both of us. We visited as often as we could possibly afford.

We are now living, still happily married, together in Original City, and my spouse has a great job, and I have a great job, and everything is awesome.

What I'm trying to say here is that it is entirely possible for a specific person not to be able to live in a specific place, but your husband owes it to you to try everything, literally everything either of you can think of, and if he still needs to move, he needs to handle that as your partner and as a responsible adult.

Start with therapy, and also possibly a psychiatrist, to see what can be done about that anxiety. And he needs to take control of his own acclimation process, because it sounds like you're having to manage everything in your life including him right now, which is not a position it is okay for him to put you in.

I've been where he is. It sucks. It does not justify hurting a spouse, or a spouse's career fulfillment, anymore that is very reluctantly literally necessary.
posted by Rush-That-Speaks at 9:30 PM on July 1, 2016 [14 favorites]

If the marriage is important, your husband needs help, but not in the form of a new location.

It's clear that your career is important to you personally, and to your family financially. Your husband needs to figure out how to stop romanticizing the pacific northwest, stop catastrophizing about your new location, and start being a supportive partner. You can help with this, but you can't do it for him.

I strongly suggest you concentrate on executing your existing position to the best of your ability, rather than spending that energy interviewing and seeking to move. Your career is challenging and unforgiving. You are at a critical point. You need to nail it.
posted by whisk(e)y neat at 10:16 PM on July 1, 2016 [7 favorites]

Like Snarl Furillo, I think it would be good if your husband took up an activity that was likely to lead to employment-- and/or very likely to lead to success. When I first moved to my current location-- to be with a partner, knew nobody, kind of hated it-- I started volunteering as a literacy teacher. In our area, many people are using the classes to learn English. Suddenly I was meeting people from ten countries and a hundred different backgrounds. Honestly, I think I would have gone nuts without meeting the people in that program, and some of them are still friends. Also, depending on your area, there are quite a few jobs doing that sort of thing. They are mostly low paid and just a few hours a week, but that might be perfect to establish an employment history while taking care of small children.
posted by BibiRose at 7:40 AM on July 2, 2016 [2 favorites]

I'm a trailing spouse of an academic. I haven't read all 100+ comments above, so I apologize if some of this has been said. I moved across the world for my husband's job and it hasn't been easy. Finding new friends, work, community, culture shock, etc. are really, really hard. I don't put too much stock in pop psychology, but this sort of move is often listed among the top most stressful events in life, besides divorce and the death of a spouse or parent. I do think there is a certain loss of self/identity when one becomes a trailing spouse that I didn't anticipate before we set upon our plan, which I imagine your husband might be experiencing now. I wonder if it would help to find a social network via volunteering/working with left-leaning groups (democrats/presidential election, pro-choice orgs, civil rights organizations, etc.). It might also be helpful for your husband to check out some trailing spouse blogs. They usually refer to international moves, but he might find some solace and perspective therein.

That said, I agree with others that your husband is not being a good partner to you right now and he needs to dig in and try to make a life for himself where you are. It sounds like the PNW was his perfect place, and he's now in just the opposite. It will take time to adjust, and perhaps lots of it, if he's unemployed and has social anxiety. It doesn't seem fair for him to want you to go back after just three months, or even one year. (Nor does it seem realistic, if you've just sold your house and bought a new one, uprooting your child again, going back on the job market, etc. I imagine those things would also add unnecessary stress to your marriage, in the form of resentment, financial distress, etc.)

Lots of expats say it takes at least six months before your phone even rings--and I think it might be a similar picture for your husband/family. Hoping you find some calm and compromise. Feel free to memail me if you like.
posted by stillmoving at 1:12 PM on July 2, 2016 [3 favorites]

I don't suffer from social anxiety, but I'm a serious introvert who would find it difficult to make lots of new friends in a new place. So what I'm wondering is whether you can help manage the social scene and parse it down to something that feels comfortable for him? So for example, if the UU church feels uncomfortable for him, what about a covenant group? Or UU volunteer opportunity, or meditation class, or new UU class, or a young adult/Fellowship X group? Or a funky coffee shop he can go hang out at a few times a week? A maker class? A cyclist club? Hiking? Yoga studio? Small dinner parties with a few of your new coworkers with sympathetic spouses? Basically, instead of him trying to jump head first into a large new social scene, can you guys figure out a way to help it feel familiar and comfortable for him?
posted by instamatic at 4:38 PM on July 2, 2016

Have you heard of the parable of the two villages?

A traveler came upon an old farmer hoeing in his field beside the road. Eager to rest his feet, the wanderer hailed the countryman, who seemed happy enough to straighten his back and talk for a moment.
"What sort of people live in the next town?" asked the stranger.

"What were the people like where you've come from?" replied the farmer, answering the question with another question.

"They were a bad lot. Troublemakers all, and lazy too. The most selfish people in the world, and not a one of them to be trusted. I'm happy to be leaving the scoundrels."

"Is that so?" replied the old farmer. "Well, I'm afraid that you'll find the same sort in the next town.

Disappointed, the traveler trudged on his way, and the farmer returned to his work.

Some time later another stranger, coming from the same direction, hailed the farmer, and they stopped to talk. "What sort of people live in the next town?" he asked.

"What were the people like where you've come from?" replied the farmer once again.

"They were the best people in the world. Hard working, honest, and friendly. I'm sorry to be leaving them."

"Fear not," said the farmer. "You'll find the same sort in the next town."

Nthing that a move will not solve your problems. Your husband is placing his insecurities in the lap of his surroundings.
posted by pintapicasso at 5:24 PM on July 2, 2016 [8 favorites]

I'm not an academic, but I work in a similar field with a extremely competitive job market. If you want to work, you go where the job is. Last year, I took a new job, and I had to move from the state I grew up in and considered home to a much different part of the country. The first year sucked -- all I could think about was moving back and how much I didn't like it where I was. I made constant comparisons between the people here and the people back home, where the people here were always lacking. But, now that I've been here a year and a half, I like it a lot more. I still miss home, but I'm starting to see the good parts about living where I do -- the rivers! the lakes! the farmers markets! etc. etc. There haven't been any new jobs posted for what I do, so I couldn't get a new job even if I tried right now, which has helped. But if I did apply for a new job, the fact that I'm trying to move on after only a year and a half would not be in my favor.
posted by heurtebise at 6:57 PM on July 2, 2016

Response by poster: Update: I had gotten Mr. Rabbit to agree that we needed to stick it out until we could safely sell the house and not hurt my career, but then this happened and now there is no way I can convince him to stay. I'm starting to look for jobs elsewhere. Bright side, I guess this is a good excuse that people will understand?
posted by rabbitrabbit at 8:46 AM on October 17, 2016

Oh no! I hope the water didn't damage the house!! Sorry to hear about that.
posted by slidell at 10:39 AM on October 26, 2016

Response by poster: Oh hey -- update! I got at job at a college in Western New York and we moved in April! So far it seems to have been a GREAT decision for our family, quality of life, and even my career, though we still haven't sold our house in the Terrible Place so the jury is still out on whether it was a good financial move.
posted by rabbitrabbit at 10:23 AM on June 19, 2017 [15 favorites]

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