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Posted on Thu, Nov 3, 2011 : 5 a.m.

Wife wanting to be near her family contemplates divorce

By Carolyn Hax

Adapted from a recent online discussion.

Dear Carolyn:

I have been married for over 20 years. I love my husband, but I am seriously unhappy because we don't live near my family, and I was promised that our hitch in the Midwest was for only five years. He laughs it off and just states, "I won't make as much," or my personal fave, "It won't be the same."

I have been homesick for years. He won't actively look for work, and our kids are both sophomores, one high school and one college. I hate it here. Should I divorce him, since he won't take me seriously? He won't go to counseling, and my therapist just says to deal with it.

-- Location Location Divorce

Since you're to the point of divorce, why not take the path that allows for marriage preservation, and say to him: "(Whatever) years ago, I took your promise seriously that we'd be moving closer to my family after only five years. I believe I've been more than patient. Now, I am starting to research a move back for when Sophomore goes to college. It is my overwhelming preference to move with you, but I will move regardless." Then start doing the research, for a job and a home and whatever else.

Just make sure you mean it. Again, if you are to the point where you'd rather leave the marriage than stay where you are with your husband, then let him know your intentions in a calm, no-bull kind of way. As long as he's taking action toward a move, give him ample time to make good arrangements.

I hope you also use this as a step that liberates you to "bloom where you're planted." It sounds at least possible that you've hung on to his promise and declined to get comfortable as a matter of principle -- a don't-let-him-win-by-finding-happiness choice. If so, you're all victims of that decision.

Waiting for the sophomore to graduate gives you more years to find pleasure in your Midwest moment. It's tragic enough that you've let these years pass without happiness, so don't add three more without putting your heart in your home.

--0-- --0-- --0--

Hi, Carolyn:

I share everything with my mother, but she does not want to know when I am dating someone unless I KNOW I am going to marry the person; she has said that explicitly. I have been dating someone for three years, and not telling interferes with my intimacy with my mom. And, I know that once I do tell her (when I am sure), she will be mad that I kept something from her for years. What to do when someone wants to have her cake and eat it too?

-- Anonymous

Try having the relationship you wish you had (i.e., tell when you'd normally tell) and let the Froot Loops fall where they may. Seriously -- attempting to obey unreasonable rules will drive you nuts and still fail to satisfy the rule-maker.

Either announce to Mom, "I'm through withholding. I'm dating someone, but marriage is still an unknown" -- or simply start mentioning him in conversation, as you would have liked to all along. If Mom protests, just say you were trying to comply with her request not to know, but keeping secrets just never felt right.

Email Carolyn at tellme(at), follow her on Facebook at or chat with her online at noon Eastern time each Friday at

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