What to do when you want to move and your spouse doesn’t?

Whether you’ve been offered a lucrative position in another city, or believe a certain place to be the haven of your dreams, or just can’t stand the extreme weather conditions in your current area anymore, you may have a good reason to relocate and look for happiness someplace else. Your partner (or spouse), however, may not feel the same way about such a big step in your common life. Fear of the unknown, unwillingness to part with family and friends, and anxiety over change are all powerful factors that effectively work against the idea of moving house.

Such a reluctance to step out of one’s comfort zone and brave the risks, however, may result in many missed opportunities and bitter regrets. So, what is to be done when one spouse wants to move but the other doesn’t?

Weigh the pros and the cons of an eventual relocation

In order to convince your reluctant spouse of the benefits an eventual relocation will bring to your life, first you need to make sure that it will be really worth the effort and the stress involved. Consider the following crucial factors:

1) Financial advantages – find out if your life will actually improve after the relocation:

  • Will you receive a considerable financial boost as a result of a higher income?
  • Will you have a chance to advance in your career and improve your skills, knowledge, and competence in your area of expertise?
  • Are there appropriate career opportunities available in the region?
  • Is the cost of living in your new city affordable?
  • What are your housing options?

2) Available opportunities – find out what opportunities your new new city has to offer:

  • Will the new environment be beneficial for your children (if any) in terms of safety, education, hobby and recreational activities, new friendships, etc.?
  • Are there plenty of entertainment options, sports and music events, movie theaters, restaurants, green areas, etc. available in your new area that will allow you to relax and recharge with positive energy?

3) Moving issues – find out how hard the actual relocation process will be:

  • Can you find an affordable new home in a safe and prosperous neighborhood?
  • Will you be able to cover all the moving-related expenses without going broke?
  • Do you have the organizational skills and the required know-how to perform a smooth and trouble-free relocation?

4) Sentimental factors – find out if you and your family will be able to accept the change in a positive way and to enjoy your new life:

  • Is the weather in the area to your liking?
  • Is the lifestyle (prevailing points of view and established social norms) in your new surroundings compatible with yours?
  • Will you be able to easily adjust to the new environment and find new friends?
  • How much will you regret the things you are leaving behind?

All in all, if it seems that you will gain more than you will lose by moving house, you can bravely proceed with your plans. However, you need to find a way to do so without damaging your marriage.

Discuss the issue at length

Once you come to the conclusion that a house move is your best course of action under the present circumstances, you need to talk with your spouse about your feelings, needs, and expectations of the change. When discussing the proposed relocation, you will both get a fair idea about the issues involved and the possible solutions.

  • Explain the situation and ask for your partner’s opinion;
  • Show empathy and let your spouse know that you understand how much he/she will have to sacrifice (articulating the downsides will work very well to your advantage as it will keep your partner from going to an extremely negative point of view just to balance you out);
  • Lay out all the advantages that an eventual relocation will bring to both of you – use clear facts and numbers to prove your point;
  • Find something specific that your spouse will most probably like about the new place – a safer and friendlier community, better healthcare, great educational opportunities, abundant chances to pursuit the hobbies or activities he/she enjoys, etc.

Have in mind that it is usually not the change that people hate so much, but the inevitable losses it involves. If you can figure out how to minimize potential losses, you’ll have a better chance to convince your reluctant spouse to go along with the move.

Agree on a compromise

If your spouse doesn’t want to move despite the probable advantages, consider a compromise – suggest a temporary move. Rent out your current home and move to your chosen city for a certain period of time. Give it about a two-year tryout, for example, and reassess the situation. If your partner still doesn’t feel comfortable in the new surroundings, hates the area, and regrets the relocation, consider moving back – even if it is not financially justifiable, returning to your “sweet home” may still be the right thing to do.

Visit your potential new city before making a final decision

It is advisable to thoroughly research the place you intend to move to well in advance – use the Internet to find out any relevant information about the city, check with friends and acquaintances that live in the area, or follow local blogs, forums, and township sites to get an accurate idea of the positive and negative aspects of the place.

However, the best thing you can do under the circumstances is physically explore the city together with your spouse – look at houses for sale, check out local schools, visit a farmer’s market, have dinner in a nice family restaurant, etc. This will help you make better decisions about your new life and will put your partner’s fears at ease.

Organize a trouble-free move

Without a doubt, the great hassle involved in the relocation process is one of the main reasons why your spouse is reluctant to move. If you plan every stage of the moving endeavor well enough to ensure a smooth and stress-free relocation, your significant other will certainly accept the change in a much more positive way. So, start the moving preparations as early as possible and make sure you:

Moving house is a life-changing event which inevitably entails a great emotional upheaval in a relationship. Allow yourself and your partner enough time to deal with the change and cope with the challenges you are faced with. What matters is to respect the other person’s opinions and feelings, to share your expectations and fears, and to make every important decision together – this way you will be able to enjoy each and every moment of your life, wherever you may live at that moment.

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29 thoughts on “What to do when you want to move and your spouse doesn’t?

  1. I think health issues due to weather should be number one, even before financial. If the weather is debilitating one cannot continue to live in an area that makes them worse. If you don’t have your health one has nothing.

    • My problem is a very fair Irish complexion, systemic lupus and lifelong intolerance to heat. I moved from AZ to CO but now last summer and this I am nearly unable to leave my home due to searingly high temps. Global warming, I need Washington State! My husband doesn’t’ want to move away from the area we both grew up in here in Colorado, and I understand, but I’ve felt so lousy this year that I made him take our first vacation in6 years; all we did was fight anyway. So I’m leaving on my own.

      • i did the same..i also did go up the northwest before ending up at the east coast..sometimes you have to do what you have to do…sadly. some people are unable to change rt childhood trauma or whatever it is that makes them inflexible…if the shoe were reveresed and we were the ones with the better health and steady income..we probably would jump to move and help them out..some people..though they love you have a very hard time with change..ive noticed colorado people seem to be the worst at this..native coloradians think there is no better place on earth to live…to me its the worst place on earth to live..

    • exactly..im dealing with this…ive needed to move and have tried before…its now to the point i did recently move from the dry high altitude south west to ocean …as dr recommended. my spouse is bent on living in the west..and i believe he still thinks i can come out there 6 mo out of the year. ive done my best…i cant do it anymore..as you say if you dont have your health you have nothing. i am significantly better when out of the dry high altitude sw. i am not even that old yet..and as it is spent 7 years there. have had multiple maxillo facial surgeries..rt some jaw issues…have had repeated sinus infections and antibiotics..2 sinus surgeries…im not doing it anymore…as well as i get sleep apnea every time i have a sinus infection..rt upper airway resistance..its to the point i now have osteitis of the maxilla and i doubt it will ever totally heal. the humidity in sw co stays at 11 inside our house in winter…and humidifier doesnt help…in the summer its dry as can be…if i try to use a humidifier as md suggests..husband just opens windows at night anyway for the “fresh air” there is dust and its just been a bad experience. my husband has refused to problem solve or discuss the situation..and always blames it on me that i would be this way anywhere when in reality i am totally better as soon as im out. now he texts how lonely he is and how much he just misses me. im past the point of worrying..ive tried to get him to help me decide where he would move and make a compromise…he doesnt want to budge. finally i chose the ocean as it is the best possible place for me. i tried arizona for him as a last resort to see if an altitude change would help and it was a disaster. my father flew out and helped me drive back east..im here to stay. my husband believes he will probably be able to be here during the winter season. otherwise i cant worry about it. when you get married it doesnt mean you have to live in one town or state for the rest of your life just for one spouse…when your health is that affected. he is the one who works..and i havent worked in a while..so am trying to find work. still im so thankful to get out of colorado..im not looking back. i love my husband but there comes a point when you have to do what you have to do…im also not living my life around a humidifier. i will do best in a milder ocean climate with short winters..and less low humidity and heat on inside as all of that dries out the air. for me i have a severe problem with this…it is debilitating…;)

  2. We moved cross country several years ago to be near children and grand children. We found good jobs, and are making our way. Now my spouse wants to move back. Reasons are to see his sister….he never saw her before the move. To see his best friend. He had months he could have spent with him when he was laid off and didn’t. My mom, since she won’t move, she is elderly and will have to move at some point in the next few years and there is NO way I can live with both of them. Stress would kill me. My brother, whom I talk to frequently but when I lived there only saw maybe once a year. He misses the area. Went there for a whole week last summer and he did nothing, saw no one, made no plans. Has done very little since we moved here to make this a home….no different than when we lived on the other end of the country.
    This has me sick.

  3. We moved to be near bf’s mother…who I cannot stand to be around because she’s soooo nosy. In fact, his whole family lives in this city and I hate it. I don’t want to live here, stay here, grow old here, die here. I can’t stand it in this city. But he loves it. I just don’t even know what to do. I love him but seriously, I don’t think this place is right for me. I feel lost.

    • I currently live in a small country town in Illinois. My family moved here about 4 years ago from Florida and I regret moving here every day. I miss the beautiful weather of my home in The south. I moved here and met my now husband who has family here but who we never see anymore. My life has changed so much and I really have nothing good to say about this place. I can’t wait to move back south and be with my kids by the beach.

      • I would gladly trade places with you any day! I hate the South for it’s weather. And the mountains…..beautiful, yet stifling and make me claustrophobic. I spend an extraordinary amount of time wishing I could move back home to MI from NC. But I’m really stuck here. I’m so sorry you are dealing with this. I can’t believe I got myself stuck here. I don’t think my husband and I will ever agree on a place to live. He has no desire to move. That probably doesn’t bode well for us.

  4. Recently moved to SW Florida from Wisconsin. I hate it. My husband was retired and disliked the long winters and convinced me to move. I wanted to test it out for a couple years first as a snowbird I never even visited the place we moved to. 55 + community which is very boring

    I liked the change of seasons back home and miss our daughter and hometown community and the humidity here is awful so you stay inside anyway. I want the cool crisp air of wis back! Biggest mistake of my life

    I told him I am living back in wiscondin next summer or I am out of here permanently

    • I feel your pain somewhat. I decided to move to North Carolina from Michigan after graduating college, almost 12 years ago. Got stuck in a bad relationship for 4 years, then met my now-husband whom I have a child with. I have never loved it here and almost left in my first year here, but convinced myself I was a sissy, so I needed to stay. I can’t say it was a mistake because I love my husband and daughter, but we are totally stuck here for at least another 7 years until my stepson is out on his own. Shared custody. What a nightmare. I can’t believe I did this to myself. I hate the weather here. It is so humid all the time. And hot. My goodness the heat in the South never ends. I don’t blame you. It is only a matter of time before I am back to MI. I can’t possibly live my life out in this hellish heat.

    • SW Florida is super boring. All these fake designed communities suck. No community is lively without young people and families. When families are split up and it’s seniors only, the cities lose the neighborhood feel and become sooo boring!! I went to Port Charlotte/Punta Gorda, and it was considered lively by SW Fl standards! It is so hard to make friends there plus there is nothing to do.

    • I hear ya.Im in Florida miss my family so much. I’m very lonely here.Husband said if u want to go back go……he’s not going.

  5. My spouse and I moved to Nevada 3 years ago. My son lives in NV and other son passed away 8 years ago, neither are my spouse’s children. We both agreed to move to NV after visiting for several years and my main motivation was to be by my son. After living here one year my spouse wanted to move back to SW Florida as his brother has moved there. He does have a son that lives in Florida too that we saw infrequently. His reasoning to go back is that Las Vegas NV is too big and a fast pace. His hometown were he grew up was very small and so was the city we lived in at Florida. I understand all of his reasoning although do not want to move back to this retirement community, and I like living by my son. He says I can visit anytime I want but things usually don’t work out that easily once you move. Friends (the few I have here) say how much do you really see your son. More than if I lived in Florida. He has done little to try and like it here and it has been hard to make friends. Maybe I am putting off the inevitable but I am not sold

  6. I’m 44 and my husband is 67. I came out of an eight year court battle with my ex, 106 court hearings I won against his team of attorneys but WOW did it take a toll on my health. I want to move 20 minutes away from our current area to live in the country on 10 acres. I want to build a beautiful new peaceful life with my current husband and children. I want to give them earthy grounded roots. We have the ability to afford a lifestyle on a ranch with horses and goats and Alpacas. I’ve had these kind of big animals before and fell in love with them. I want to go back to a lifestyle like that. After 8 years in court, 40,000 hours of paperwork and court trials, I’m desperately needing the simpler low stress life. BUT my husband is older and has lived in his home for 30 years and is scared to leave it. The problem with me staying is that my husband does everything in this house and won’t let me do anything in it. I have nothing to do that gives me purpose in our house. I want to move but my kids and my husband want to stay. I don’t think they realize how much fun it would be for them. I’m really heartbroken.

  7. I am so glad I found this forum! You are the only folks I’ve found who are in the same situation I’m in–living in a climate/town that makes me miserable. I was single for 12 years after my heartbreaking divorce. So when I finally found real love with a wonderful man, I didn’t think twice about moving to Florida to be with him. I’m a nurse–I have no problem finding solid employment pretty much everywhere I go–but he’s been in Tampa for 30 years now and has employment that is decidedly not portable…and is work he absolutely loves doing. We’ve been living in a small, charming beach community for most of the 5 years I’ve been here. Problem is…I’m not a water person. I also suffered heat stroke while in the Army and have a terrible time tolerating the heat now. Last summer, the temperature reached 91 degrees every, single day for 6 straight months. Oh, except for the days during Hurricane Irma, when we had to evacuate and be prepared to lose everything we owned.

    I’m at a point where I hate living here. And like others who have told their stories here, I too have scolded myself for not being able to make this work. My husband LOVES living here–I fell horrible that I don’t share his enthusiasm! I so desperately want to love it here! But I’ve finally come to grips with the fact that I honestly and truly don’t like it here. I miss the seasons terribly, especially autumn. I also miss having no place to hike (I am terrified of alligators and snakes, which populate the hiking trails here). And being cooped up for 6 months is brutal on me.

    I am completely committed to my husband and this marriage. He’s my best friend and I’ve waited a long, long time for something this good. But staying here is becoming increasingly difficult and unpleasant for me. So we are exploring our possibly living in different towns and sort of “commuting” back and forth to each other until he retires in 4-5 years. Kills me to have to consider this as an option, but I don’t know what else to do. I may end up moving back to Massachusetts so that I can be close to family–flying out of Hartford to Tampa is actually very easy. But I hate “deserting” him. He relies on my love and support and I rely on his strength and humor. I have no idea how we’re going to make this work, there are so many “moving parts.”

    I’m just grateful you guys are talking about this. I don’t feel so alone now, so thanks.

    • I sublet an apartment in ny all summer and fly to ny a lot I don’t like leaving husband so long but I do.I left my whole family I miss them all the time

  8. I live in New York. Long Island to be exact. I’ve been here 9 years. I have a wife and two young boys. She was born and raised here with a big family. I’m from the Dallas area. I’m in the medical field and make a decent income but this area is very expensive. Financial stress is constant and I’m not happy working in my field anymore. She has her master’s in education but has never had a teaching position outside of daycare because it’s very difficult to find a position. Teacher’s incomes here are very good but the daycare wages are low. We have an opportunity to move to Texas and I would begin to manage my father’s rental properties. I would be able to exit my current field and start out making almost the same salary as I do here. This would be like me getting a 50,000 raise here as far a cost of living goes. Teaching positions are easier to get there as well. My current limited vacations would be gone. We would have the time and means to visit NY on a regular basis such as holidays and long summer stays. She’s been hot and cold on the idea, mostly cold. We are going to visit the area I want to move to in the spring. I feel so trapped.

    • Hi Brad,

      I found your article very interesting. I have lived in NYC most of my life and my husband is from Long Island and wants to go back so our kids can grow up there. He says he hates the city and the kids would have more opportunities over there. I have been trying to get a job in Long Island and I have not received a call back. Plus the salaries offered would not even cover basic expenses as Long Island is very expensive. So I do not want to move there. My husband has said that if we don’t move he will divorce me and find someone over there. I honestly am at the point of contemplating divorce. I find it very unfair that he would want me to move knowing I may not be able to get a job. For some reason I find that people who have been born and raised in Long Island are not flexible and feel the need to stay there forever even knowing that most jobs/companies have left the area…

      • Long Island is very expensive but nice. My kids are making it because thank God they have good jobs.But some commute and it sucks. Been there done that. Maybe move to Queens. Bayside Whitestone is real nice. May be a good compromise.

        • Oh btw my husband says I can go back to ny but he won’t go. So I understand I struggle with this too.

    • I hear ya…..my kids and most of family live on Long Island..it s super expensive. I rent all summer sublet there And go back and forth. I live in Florida. Good idea to visit in Texas. And perhaps rent and keep ny till you see how it goes good luck.

  9. I have the opportunity to take a job in Arizona that would get us closer to our family on the west coast, but my husband used to live there and thinks it’s a pit. He doesn’t have to work, he’s disabled, but I do. This job would be a promotional opportunity for me, although I wouldn’t make any more money right now. The potential is there for the future and I was really excited about it. All my kids are on board with moving, they like the idea. He’s the only one holding us back. We moved to the east coast 5 years ago and love where we live (we are close to the beach) but the cost of living is expensive and there’s no jobs in my industry that will pay me. Plus I want to be closer to my mother who is 75 and getting frail. She will not move out here.

    What is it with spouses that are selfish about stuff like this? I get that he doesn’t like change, but it’s not like he has to worry about retirement anymore, but I do. I’m going to be stuck working the rest of my damn life, if I don’t make some changes soon.

    • so sorry you’re going through this! My husband will not move as well. I just want to move about 40 minutes away …cheaper taxes and nicer area. Everytime i try to discuss it or show houses we can afford ( that are 10 min from the beach) he acts like he wants to…but if it gets close to making a decision….he says “he’s not sure” what he wants to do. It’s been a strain on our marriage….to the point i’m thinking maybe i’ll go alone. I hope your situation gets better and he decides to go !!

  10. I’m in a totally different situation. Both in our mid to late 50’s. Also from LI. Hubby has afib and is always cold. I am still working, teaching in a private school. He wants to retire and move to Fl, because it’s warmer. We have only one child, who we tried for 5 years to have, he’s now 22 and having his first child. We have NO friends or family in Fl, and when we moved to this home, bought it with the intent that if either of our elderly parents couldn’t or didn’t want to live on their own anymore, they could live with us. My mom is 82 and still living, and we lost his dad in March. So it was all about family, but suddenly he wants to pick up and move to a place where we have NO one. I’ve said to him, you go, I’ll visit, school vacations, weekends, etc, for the few months of snowbirding, but now he says he wants to go for 6 months,

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