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Which one of us should move?

Posted by Meredith Goldstein  February 4, 2010 09:40 AM

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I promised you a light letter today. We need it after yesterday.

If you're bored and want to read yesterday's chat transcript, it's an amusing one. There was lots of talk about the origin of the word "spinster."

Q: My boyfriend and I have a great relationship, and I'm cautiously optimistic that we will be engaged at some point this year.

We live a little more than an hour from each other, which can make it a little tough at times, particularly since he has partial custody of his young child. On nights when he doesn't have his child, he can stay at my house and commute to work, but my job is in the opposite direction, so there's no way I can commute from his house (100+ miles easy). But I spend most weekends at his place.

The problem is that we have talked about him moving in with me in the next few months, which I'm sure will make it more difficult to see his child during the week. I have a great relationship with his child, so I'm happy to spend the weekends together, all three of us. But it's sometimes hard on me now not to see his child, can't imagine what it's like for my bf not to see the kiddo during the week.

In the past month or two, the bf and kiddo have both made comments suggesting I look for a job up their way. I should also add that my family and friends live in the same area as my bf, so living up there would not only put us closer to his child, making custody arrangements easier, but it would put me closer to my friends and family. I really don't have many friends in the area I live now, I pretty much just sleep there.

On a personal level it's a no-brainer -- move to the area where his child lives. It's a nice town, my own family and friends would be closer, we could have a better custody arrangement etc.

Here's my dilemma: I have a GREAT job. I love it, make good money, fantastic benefits and feel very fortunate. I've compared the two job markets and I'm afraid I would not be able to find a comparable job -- not one I would enjoy as much, or with similar salary and benefits. And since I would be the breadwinner of the family, I don't feel I can really take a pay cut.

I'd also like to point out that I'd be happy to petition for custody of his child -- GREAT kid who I adore, we have a great relationship. And the mom seems more interested in the child support than in the child. But I hate the idea of uprooting an elementary school kid -- especially when it takes the child away from friends, school, cousins, my family and friends -- all because I have a great job that I don't want to leave. But then I think the financially responsible thing to do is to stick with the great job.

Maybe eventually I'd find something comparable up there, but in the meantime that could make for a really long compromise.

I tell myself that family comes first ... but what good is being closer to family if you're a ridiculous stress ball because you have a crap job and can't pay the bills or provide for your family, especially if you left a great job to make the move?

– Right Job, Wrong State

A: When I first noticed this letter, RJWS, my instinct was to send you over to our Moms site. It seemed like a kid question, not a relationship question.

But this is a relationship question. Probably more than you're admitting at the moment. You're basically asking whether you have to sacrifice something you love to maintain your partner's quality of life. My answer is: yes. And that's a big deal.

We both know the moving option is the right one. Challenging a mother's custody because you love your job is a very, very bad idea. Your goal should be to put the least amount of stress on your romantic relationship as possible. Custody issues cause major stress. And like you said, moving a kid around isn't easy. You need to protect your relationship from the type of bad feelings that might destroy it.

Of course, resentment is a major bad feeling. Resentment can ruin a relationship. And that's why my advice is for you to stay at your job for as long as possible until you find the best possible position near your boyfriend's family. The stress of commuting is easier to manage than the stress of ditching a great job for a 9-to-5 you hate.

One thing that's missing from your letter is your perception of your boyfriend's feelings. You seem to imply that he's open to all options, almost passively. It sounds like you need to discuss how every possible outcome would make both of you feel. If you do wind up moving to his state, he should be prepared to help you adjust -- not just to a new home but to a new identity. You'll be a step-mother with a new job, someone who moved to accommodate your partner's needs. Sometimes we get so bogged down in logistics that we forget to process how that kind of change makes us feel. Take time for that. Otherwise, it will all hit you at once (and cause your great relationship some serious misery).

Readers? Should she move? Should he move? Will resentment about the loss of her job ruin what's great about their relationship? In this economy, should her job be the priority? How does it feel to give up something great for someone you love? Share.

– Meredith


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ABOUT LOVE LETTERS: Welcome to Love Letters, the place for love advice (giving and getting). Globe relationship columnist Meredith Goldstein and Boston.com readers are ready to take your letters and tell you what's what. Have a question? Click here to submit or email us at loveletters@boston.com.
Blogger Meredith Goldstein

Meredith Goldstein is a Boston Globe columnist who follows relationship trends and entertainment. She offers daily advice on Love Letters — and welcomes your comments. Meredith is also the author of "The Singles," a novel about complicated relationships. Follow Meredith at www.meredithgoldstein.netand on Twitter. Love Letters can be found in the print edition of The Boston Globe every Saturday in the G section.

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