Dear Jewish Fairy Godmother:
My wife wants to move to Florida “to swim in warm water.” Currently
we live in the high, and yes “too cold and dark in winter,” MidWest.
We’ve been married 25 years and together for 30. She didn’t ask me.
She told me in a tone of royal proclamation with an “or else we’re
getting divorced” undertone. I’d consider a move, to Florida or pretty
much anywhere, but that’s a theory, not a let’s get packing reality.
Apparently during some conversation about lifestyles, I once said that
if she wasn’t happy “I’d go anywhere,” something she’s clearly held
onto for a very long and silent time. We don’t have family holding us
here but do have jobs, home, friends, and community connections. I
am not unwilling to discuss the idea, but I’d like to feel I have a say. I
don’t want to end up divorced but shouldn’t I get a vote too? What do
I owe her?
You owe your wife communication, as she owes you. Get a process
going to make the theory and the ultimatum meet. Choose a context
that’s designed to test all the options. “All” probably includes divorce if
she’s so attached to relocating that’s she’s willing to threaten it. But I
doubt that she’d simply walk out, either on you or the process, if she
commits to it.
Find a marriage counselor who’s commissioned to represent the
relationship, not either one of you. Both of you should commit to a
process of at least six months, possibly a year. Yes both of you should
get a vote, after identifying all the alternatives. But if relocation’s the
only one she’ll consider, you’ll have to decide if you’re willing to give in
or not. Note that the counseling route not only buys interactive time
but also allows you opportunities to learn more, together. Subscribe to
the local papers on-line and peruse job and housing ads, weather
patterns and concert ads, and generally get a feel for the communities.
Then take some vacations there, in the best and worst seasons. Stay
open but be very clear that she’s serious.