CAROLINE WEST-MEADS: He wants us to move hundreds of miles away

CAROLINE WEST-MEADS: He wants us to move hundreds of miles away

Q: My husband and I have been together for 30 years. He’s from the North of England and we met when he moved to London for work. 

He was only intending to remain about four years but we got married, bought a house, had three kids (now adults) and ended up staying. 

However, my husband was recently made redundant and dropped the bombshell that he wants to move back to the North. His parents are elderly and, while they are coping now, he is worried they will eventually need more support. He still has a couple of good friends up there and is also close to his sister who lives near his parents. 

He’s quite a solitary type and says London is too crowded and that he misses the coast and the big skies. I thought it was a passing idea but he is becoming more insistent. 

My husband was recently made redundant and dropped the bombshell that he wants to move back to the North (stock image)

I have no wish to move and, while I do sympathise over his need to be nearer his parents, I have no connection to the area. We have a life and friends here and I would be lonely starting again. 

But, mostly, I can’t contemplate moving so far away from our children. They come over frequently and I think they would feel abandoned and angry if we left.

I don’t know what to do. I am even wondering if it means the end of our marriage.

A: Sadly, it is difficult when a couple has mutually exclusive wishes that means one must be disappointed. 

The redundancy has perhaps left him in shock. This sudden enforced change may have made him reflect on what he wants from life. 

He is contemplating sweeping changes without really thinking of the consequences. Grief (over the anticipated death of his parents) and guilt are also mixed up in his thinking. 

Many people feel unwarranted guilt for not being able to look after ageing parents, even though they can’t provide for their every need, and it can be hard to live far away. However, while I sympathise with his feelings, it is unreasonable of your husband to expect you to uproot your whole life to move hundreds of miles from your children. 

In the long run, he might regret it too – has he considered, for instance, that his children would then have a similar dilemma when you both reached old age? This needs careful negotiation. 

I very much hope it won’t mean the end of your marriage, and I don’t think it has to. Ideally, you and he – and his sister and parents – should sit down together and make a plan for your in-laws’ future care. 

Your husband can perhaps spend a week each month with his family to make the most of his time with them. 

You would both need to ensure that you nurture your own relationship in between. But as there is an impasse, I recommend couples counselling, too, to help you resolve the situation (


Q: I’m a woman in my 50s struggling with a situation I’ve had all my life. I have an almost obsessive need to watch my words carefully in public in case I speak out of turn or cause offence. 

Whenever I meet people at work or socially, I feel on edge and under pressure not to do anything to upset anyone. 

I’m never free to be myself because I’m so concerned with pleasing others. I then replay everything in my mind and often assume I’ve said something I shouldn’t. 

Recently, I was complaining about an email from a supplier at work and now I’m worried that a colleague overheard and thought I was complaining about her. 

Sometimes I’ve been more able to manage this problem but it has got worse again after having quite a controlling boss (who has, thankfully, now left) and it has become almost unbearable.

A: This must be so exhausting and stressful for you, but discovering what’s behind it will help you to find a more peaceful inner dialogue. 

Perhaps you were constantly criticised as a child – either by your parents or your teachers (or even a sibling) so you doubt your own judgement and always feel your opinions are not valid. 

Hence a controlling and critical boss would intensify this self-doubt. Alternatively, these thoughts could suggest obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD), which can present as a repetitive fear of saying the wrong thing or causing harm.  

Unfortunately, OCD is often joked about or trivialised but it can be very debilitating. It is sad you have struggled with all this for so long. So please, be kind to yourself. Contact and to find appropriate support and counselling.

  • If you have a problem, write to Caroline West-Meads at YOU, 9 Derry Street, London W8 5HY, or email [email protected]. You can follow Caroline on Twitter @Ask_Caroline_ 

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