Restless In Virginia

Restless In Virginia

Dear Sujatha,

I am in a committed relationship, and my partner loves where we live, and has roots established here but I have no ties here, and am ready to move. If it is unrealistic to expect my partner to move, what can I do to find more contentment where I live, knowing that I would rather be elsewhere? What do you think, Sujatha?

Restless in Virginia

Dear Restless,

Who told you it is unrealistic to expect your partner to move? I’m not saying it is or isn’t, but I’m wondering where you got the idea that it is unrealistic. Have you discussed this with him/her, or is it just something you assumed he wouldn’t entertain. Let’s think this through in parts with me filling in information you didn’t give me. Feel free to write back and give me more to go with but from what you’re sharing, I have to come from different angles.

If you haven’t brought it up with him, you have to ask yourself why. Are you afraid of how he will react? Have you looked at all the details and made your own assessment of the viability of moving (he has a job that doesn’t transfer well, i.e. defense work, federal government work), and therefore assumed it isn’t feasible and you didn’t want to stress him out? How does he handle it when you bring up stuff that you’re unsatisfied with in your shared living arrangement? Basically, if you didn’t tell him, you have to ask yourself why. That answer will provide a lot of necessary information that will allow you to proceed to step next, which would be to reassess whether or not it’s unrealistic to expect your partner to move. (I say this is the next step rather than to tell him you’d like to move, because if he has a habit of being difficult when he knows you’re unhappy, then you have to tread lightly. No one wants to walk full on into a storm without prepping carefully beforehand. We can discuss this later if you want).

If you have brought it up with him/her and something about that conversation made you come to the conclusion that it is unrealistic to move, you still have to reassess why you think so. Was he dismissive of the thought entirely? Did he just unilaterally say no? Does he put his wishes and needs above yours in this case? Do you know why? Meaning does his work transfer easily, but he just doesn’t want to go and doesn’t care what you feel about it? Does he do this in all matters or was this the first time? Do you understand his point of view? Do you agree with his assessment of the situation?

The reason I have said every word thus far is because you wrote, “If it is unrealistic…” and of course it isn’t necessarily unrealistic. It is unrealistic to expect that you can eat the same as you did when yo were 16 years old with no changes to your activity level and not have a shift in body composition. It is unrealistic to expect your teenager to be as snuggly and sweet as she was when she was 4 years old. But moving house when one person loves it here and has roots and the other doesn’t isn’t necessarily unrealistic. I did it. Many people do it. So you have to ask yourself those questions.

But you asked some other questions that are good ones. You ask what can you do to find more contentment knowing you’d rather be somewhere else. I think the first thing you have to do is decide you don’t want to be anywhere else. There’s a lot that happens when we make a decision. Decision literally means that you “cut off” other options. If you have made a decision, all of a sudden, energy shifts to where you are, rather than to where you might otherwise be. It’s extraordinarily powerful. 

If you decide after addressing all those issues above (have you discussed, why not, or what happened when you did) that it is unrealistic to move, then stop thinking you would be happier somewhere else. Because you might not. Unless there’s a specific reason you think that a particular place is where you want to be, why would it make you any happier? You don’t mention any specific problems with where you are.

Sometimes people want to move from city to suburbs or country because they need more quiet or more fresh air. They move for that reason and they are much happier. Or they move from suburbs to city for a community with more vitality and more to do within walking distance. They move to be closer to family; they move to be on the beach or in the mountains. They make the change and they are much happier. Maybe this is the case with you, but you don’t mention anything like that. If so, write back and we will revisit.

But assuming it is just an itch be somewhere else that isn’t here, but you think it is not a viable choice and you are committed to staying with your partner because you are good for and to each other (that is key, if the answer to some of those hard questions above indicates that you might not be good for and to each other, write back and we will revisit) decide that contentment will be found here, because here is your home. You aren’t moving, you aren’t leaving, you are staying, this is home. Say it to yourself until you’ve decided it. Once you’ve done that, your energy will shift and suddenly you will notice what is great about here. Suddenly you will find all your local friends rather than pining after the ones from far away that you had before. You will join the local theater community, or the yoga community, or join your local political activists, or the nature club or whatever the thing is that you do.

When we moved here from Charlottesville, my heart was COMPLETELY not in it. I did not want to move AT ALL. I loved Charlottesville, and I had it all figured out. I had a great job and great friends at my job, and I had a great gym and great friends at my gym, my kids were happy. It was such a sweet community and I LOVED it. And I grew up here in the Tyson’s area and I wasn’t thrilled at all about coming back even though my whole wonderful family lives here and that would be great for my kids. But I thought it was so soulless and that there wasn’t a community here the way there was in C’ville. I felt like this for a couple of years. Why? Because I hadn’t decided that I lived here yet. We still owned our house down there and had it rented out. I refused to sell it when we moved. Why? Because it had a $900/month mortgage and it costs so much to live up here and I couldn’t believe we were about to have a mortgage so high in a community where everything was so harried and isolated with the cost of living through the roof. Why did I feel like this? Because I didn’t wan to be here, so all I saw were the problems with NoVA over C’ville. I didn’t decide I lived here for years. And then I made these wonderful friends at my gym and at Bikram and at my kids’ schools. I began to volunteer in school. I filled my days with new friends rather than always wanting to run back to Charlottesville to see old friends. Finally, I decided we lived here. I told my husband we could sell the house down there. My energy had shifted. And now when I think about moving away from here, I feel sad at that all would be lost.

So, that’s what I think. I think you have some serious questions to ask yourself. I think you need to get those answered and once you’ve answered them, if you think you love the partner and the partner loves you in a healthy and positive way and it’s truly unrealistic to move, then decide you aren’t going to be moving. Decide you will be happier here than you would be anywhere else. And just see what happens. Report back.



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