Thursday, 27 June 2013

A move too far

You don't hear much about couples who disagree about moving. But from what I can gather, it's quite common. One person wants to move but the other passionately doesn't. And even if they end up agreeing, it can all work out badly.

A person can want to move for all sorts of reasons. They might just want somewhere bigger and better. Or they might want to move for work purposes, or to be near their family or a frail relative, or they think the area they're in is dangerous or not good for children.

Their partner is having none of it. They're happy with their home and happy with the area. Lots of their friends and relatives are there, it has great parks and shops and facilities, it's full of "people like us", the kids would have to change school, they wouldn't know anyone in the new place, it's a leap in the dark.

So they're at loggerheads. They argue and fume and bully and stamp their feet, but neither partner is giving an inch. They both have their reasons for not relenting.

And what happens? In extreme cases they split up and the one who wanted to move does so. Or they agree to stay put. Or they agree to move.

But if it's not genuine agreement and one of them is just giving in to end the conflict, there's often more trouble on the way. The person who agreed to stay put gets frustrated and resentful and harps on any negative aspect of the local neighbourhood. "Did you see that? Another nasty mugging. And just in the next street."

Or the person who agreed to move hates where they've moved to, hates the locals, hates the crummy shops, hates the schools, misses their old friends, is profoundly miserable and depressed and just wants to go back. They can't imagine why they ever agreed to move to the arse end of nowhere. Every day they're living there is torture.

Jenny and I have moved several times. Luckily, despite initial disagreement, we've always agreed in the end - and genuinely agreed. We've moved into bigger and better homes and we've moved to a completely different city - from London to Belfast. It always ended happily. But for some couples, it's the battle to end all battles, and it ends badly. Home Sweet Home turns very bitter.

31 comments:

Grannymar said...

I know a couple that moved nineteen times in twenty years. It was to do with the man's employment and the wife had no say in the matter. She would be given about ten days to sort everything out with colour coded stickers for each room in the new house and then the packers came in to take over the job of packing and moving!

e said...

How did you and Jenny work out when to move, Nick?

Nick said...

Grannymar: Yikes, that sounds dreadful. Strange that it used to be quite normal for the male breadwinner to move from place to place and the little woman to tag along loyally behind. Nowadays the woman would need an awful lot of convincing to up sticks.

e: I suppose there just came a point when we realised our current home wasn't good enough for one reason or another, plus we would both be earning more and could afford to move up the property ladder. There were many reasons for our move to Belfast, too many to go into here. But mainly it meant a better quality of life in various ways.

Nick said...

e: I'm still having problems commenting on your blog, even on Google Chrome. When I try to publish a comment, it vanishes and so do all the other comments.

Jay at The Depp Effect said...

Oh gosh, you're SO right about this one!

In fact, OH and I disagree. We spend the first decade or so of our married life moving frequently, so when our boys began secondary school, I requested that we stay put for a while. He agreed, somewhat reluctantly, but the boys are grown, finished school and in fact moved out and we're still here. I loathe moving. He has itchy feet and I'm dragging mine. I know we'll work it out eventually, just as you two have, and it'll be a genuine agreement, but the whole thought of uprooting fills me with depression, and OH with joy and excitement.

Nick said...

Jay: Sorry to hear you're at odds! I'm not very good at uprooting either, but each time I've done so I realised afterwards it was the right thing to do and my life had improved as a result. I hope you manage to agree before too long!

Los Angelista said...

Oh yes, I know something about this. Everyone once in awhile, my husband gets incredibly nostalgic about Chicago and wants to leave Los Angeles. I just tell him that if he wants to organize the whole thing and pay for it, then OK. That usually kills the nostalgia.

Cheerful Monk said...

My husband and I both hate to move, so we've been in this apartment almost 39 years. It's not fancy, but I love it.

Nick said...

Liz: Well, I can understand his fondness for Chicago, having visited a few years ago! That's a good practical way of dimming his nostalgia for a bit....

Jean: No point in moving unless you really want to or need to. And it saves an awful lot of moving costs and emotional overload!

Ursula said...

Am a little surprised at your reply to Grannymar's comment: What 'little woman' tagging along 'loyally'? I most certainly am not a little woman yet there was never any question over moving to wherever my husband's career took him. I'd have followed him to the moon. Instead of which I ended up in England. Milton Keynes. Of all places. To then find myself in Bournemouth. Of all places. Now I am somewhere else again.

I am lucky because I am at home anywhere. Must be the gypsy in me. Give me a roof and hot water and I am as happy as the proverbial Larry whose identity still has not been disclosed to me. Or indeed the reason why he was so happy.

U

speccy said...

A few years ago I took a notion about moving to the seaside. Spurs Fan was horrified, but had a plan... We looked at houses, we talked to estate agents and eventually I ran out of steam (realised that we couldn't afford to & that I hadn't the energy.) If we ever do move, it will be because it suits us all and is practical. In the meantime, we have a caravan :)

Nick said...

Ursula: I'm glad to hear you never saw yourself as the loyal tagger-along but were quite happy to move around! But personally I think I would have gone mad if I had to live in Milton Keynes. I stayed there once for a couple of weeks and that was more than enough.

I'm sure there are plenty of people like you who enjoy regular uprooting, but alas, there are also plenty of people who don't!

Nick said...

Speccy: It's when you have to embark on the laborious process of actually finding a new home and organising the move that your enthusiasm is sorely tested! Personally, I'm glad you're still here in Belfast and not a hundred miles away!

Secret Agent Woman said...

When I was married, we were always able to reach an agreement about where we moved, and shifted back and forth in terms of whose education/career we were moving for. These days, I would't just pack up and move unless the person had enough money to suport both of us because my income would take a huge hit if I moved. After I retire, different story and I'd be very open to moving for someone else as long as it was to a place I found agreeable. But I'd probably bow ou of a relationship before I moved somewhere bitterly cold.

Nick said...

Agent: Moving is an expensive business. Not to be contemplated unless there's a very good reason for it. I couldn't face anywhere bitterly cold either. Northern Irish winters are quite cold enough.

Rummuser said...

My late wife and I moved ten times during the forty years of our marriage. It was something that we knew we would have to do before marriage and so it was no big deal. On the other hand, I know of some couples in what we call long distance marriages with the husband and wife living in different places due to compulsions of different careers and that seems to work fine too. I also know of marriages breaking down due to such compulsions. It just shows that human beings are difficult to stereotype.

Nick said...

Ramana: Yes, some people seem to cope very well with constant moves, or even thrive on them, while others are like fish out of water. There's no predicting how it's going to turn out.

Liz said...

I told Husband I'd go anywhere - as long as it was near the sea. So we went to Southampton for a time. With regular trips out to the coast because Southampton doesn't really count as seaside.

Nick said...

Liz: That was very accommodating of you! And a very sensible condition. I love being near the sea myself, I wouldn't want to be too far from it if I moved again.

Ursula said...

Liz, that is so funny and true: "Southampton doesn't really count as seaside".

I live right round the corner of the dock the Titanic set sail from, their shipping office being Canute Street, Southampton. Yet, and you are right, despite so close to the sea with the seagulls being noisy buggers every morning, and despite the yacht harbour and all, it is so totally different to, say, Bournemouth, with its promenades, sandy beaches and endless piers. As indeed is Brighton. Where are you now?

U

Nick said...

Ursula: That's a splendid coincidence, since I live a couple of miles from the dock where the Titanic was built. Which is why I'm so fascinated by the Titanic story.

I used to visit the English south coast a lot at one time. My favourites were the especially scenic Eastbourne, Broadstairs and Hastings.

Jenny Woolf said...

Could it be a reflection of the stresses already existing in the marriage, do you think? Most people who marry want more or less the same things out of life, at heart. And most of all they want to keep the marriage going becuase they value and respect their partner, so eventually compromise is possible. An interesting post!

Nick said...

Jenny: I suppose existing stresses can make disagreement more likely. And as you say, alternatively, those who are committed to the relationship will find compromise easier. I think that was definitely true in our case.

Liz said...

Ursula, I'm in Swansea a few hundred yards from the sea front and at the gateway to Gower.

Nick, we visited the Titanic exhibition at what was the name of the place? I think it was said cove but spelled differently! Where it set off from?

Nick said...

Liz: Cobh (pronounced Cove), near Cork in southern Ireland, was the Titanic's last port of call before it crossed the Atlantic to New York. I've never been to the Titanic Experience in Cobh, but it looks as though it's quite similar to what you see in the Titanic Belfast exhibition.

Wisewebwoman said...

One time, on a whim, my ex bought a house in a town 30 miles from where we lived and told me I would absolutely adore it as it was a century home with four floors of intriguing corners and window seats.
He was right.
XO
WWW

Nick said...

www: He obviously knew you very well! I like those rambling old houses with lots of mysterious corridors and odd-shaped rooms and elaborate decorative features.

Maria said...

We are in total agreement that when my partner retires in two years, we are moving South. We both detest snow and live on the prairie where we get a LOT of it.

We have a neighbor who is just miserable with a move, though. He and his wife have a daughter in dental school in North Carolina. His wife wants to move there to be closer to her. Although retired, he has a part time job with his church and loves our neighborhood. They are still bickering. Right now, the wife is set to move there in two weeks. He says he will stay in their home until it sells and then join her. I think he will drag his feet on the selling....

Nick said...

Maria: I also detest snow. Luckily we don't get much here so it's not a big bugbear. I sympathise with the guy who wants to stay put. Surely they and their daughter can just visit each other? And presumably when she's finished at dental school she'll move somewhere else anyway?

Bijoux said...

A friend of mine moved with her family 2000 miles cross country just because her spouse always wanted to live on the west coast. After giving it the old college try for five years, she and the kids were so miserable, they almost split up. Counseling saved their marriage and they eventually moved back.

Nick said...

Bijoux: With the best will in the world, you can want to make a go of something but if your heart's not in it you just have to accept the reality.