Moving Out of State--Major Marital Struggle


My wife and I have been married nearly 7 years and have three young children. I currently work 800 miles away from where we live, and God-willing, this is the company where I will work for the rest of my career (I use standby airline travel to go to and from work 1-2 times per week). I provide approximately 98% of the income to support our family. I have a highly specialized job in the travel industry, and we feel very fortunate that I am able to work for this company. Since I have finally (after several employers) reached the place where I hope to spend the remainder of my career, I am wanting to move to the city where I work, so that I am able to be home more with my wife and children.

Currently, when I travel to work, I lose about 24 hours of time at home with my family, and sometimes more, since I have to allow for backup flights should something go awry. When I travel home, it takes as little as 4 and as much as 40 hours to make the journey. All of the above transit time is during my off time, and is unpaid by my employer. In a typical month, I will be home 8-11 days, and completely gone, out of town, for the remainder. For perspective, I have attended Mass with my family in my home parish once in the past three months (Yes, I attend Sunday Mass in other towns while on the road for work).

Our oldest child is in kindergarten this year. I want to be present in the lives of my family, and I know that the current arrangement will cause me to miss 50% or more of the “events” a typical father/husband would plan to be there for. I fear that I will become an absentee father by default, an also-ran in the lives of my spouse and children. Naturally, my wife is quite overloaded with the challenge of trying to raise our children all alone with me being gone so often, which isn’t ideal, either. If we lived where I worked, it is possible that I would be able to be home every single night (eventually). It is certain that I would go from not seeing anyone in my household for ~20 days each month to only being “totally gone” ~10 days per month or less, immediately.

My wife is extremely resistant to a move. She is concerned that our children will be farther from their grandparents and cousins (currently an 80 minute drive away from us). We have had marriage struggles in the past, and she is concerned that I won’t be the loving husband she needs to lean on while she is so far from her family. At times in the past, I have let the stress of my work (and my commute) boil over and reflect on my family. While I am far from perfect, I recognize this tendency and am sincerely doing everything I can to improve. Over the past few years, I have improved a great deal, but I could always do better. We have discussed this many times, and she acknowledges this improvement (and accepts my sincere apologies). While I recognize the struggles of the past, I can’t help but feel depressed that my presence in the lives of my family appears to be less important than the presence of extended family.

When I am home, I pour my soul into my family, in spite of the small amount of time we have together. Predictably, we are both exhausted by this arrangement. The present arrangement is not sustainable in terms of stress level, health, or being the family man I have always wanted to be. There are no opportunities in my specialty in the area where we live.

I’m frightened of where this road leads, and would appreciate any advice you can offer. God bless you.

I pray you find a compromise and a solution. Though I don’t have children my husband sometimes works away and we have also been a long distance couple before we were married and it does completely change the dynamic of a relationship, when you do get time together you want it to be a good time which means it’s harder to have the difficult conversations and work through problems than people who are always together.

I can see her side if she is close to her family. It’s not your fault but she obviously hasn’t been able to rely on you in the same way as them if they are physically closer. Would taking some time off to spend with your family and talk all this through be an option?

To cut right to the chase…

Your family needs to move to where you are. Your children need their father in their life full time. Your wife is married to you, not to her family. She needs to learn to depend on you and work things out with you, not them.

Quite simply, you need to live as a complete family, even if that means moving away from your families. That is what grownups do. You leave your families and create your own.

Regardless of what went on in the past, your wife needs to have faith in you now.

This. But that doesn’t mean you drag her there by the hair either. Acknowledge and apologize for (if you haven’t) your past ‘sins of omission’, and (if you’re not doing this already) pray together with her on a daily basis.

Yes, exactly. You need to make your conversations about “us,” not about what you want, as if you are a tyrant. :thumbsup:

I’m so sorry for your struggle.

My relevant background:
My husband has often has had erratic work schedules, including those that kept him away from home for days / weeks at a time. We have six children, money is always tight, and he’s the main wage earner.

My advice:

Your wife - as you well note - is exhausted. She probably isn’t able to fully reflect and consider a move in her current state. So the first step (imo) is that you’re going to have to find a way to take time off and in doing so, give HER time off. Only you two will be able to figure out how much time that will need to be (hours, a day, a few days, etc). But when both of you are basically living hour to hour (what needs done now, where do I have to be now), then neither one of you have a chance to relax and remember who you, yourselves are - and definitely aren’t able to be an effective working couple.

And that’s my second thought - after she (and you) have had time to rest and regroup, then you need to talk with her about how to solve the problem. Moving might be the solution - but it’s not one you can force. I suspect that as logical as it all sounds in your post, you’re also suffering from some tunnel vision (btdt). If she doesn’t want to move, then discuss that - explain you need your family to be first, so what ideas can you come up with for creating an income you can both be happy with while living a lifestyle you can all thrive under. Surely she’s not happy with you being gone so much either - so she’ll probably agree that your situation can’t continue - but then enlist her help in brain-storming every other possibility.

With some rest and relaxation, hopefully she’ll be in a place where she can thoughtfully look at all the options and most likely see that moving would be the best for all of you.

If she insists on not moving, have her help you come up with ways of drastically reducing the family’s expenses to match whatever employment is available locally - and if she’s against that, then the ball really is in her court to come up with a better idea.

I wish you and your family all the best. It is NOT easy. We’ve come up for different solutions at different times. Sometimes my husband has turned down work - even though it would have provided better income, because the situation was not right for us. Sometimes, I’ve made major sacrifices so he could work a certain job because it was in our family’s best interest at the time. There’s no “right” answer.

God bless,

I agree 100%.

The kids need their dad more than their grandparents. The family needs to move.

Marriage is an equal partnership and this is how this must be approached, It is presented here from one point of view so we are hearing one side of the story only . Not fair!

From the wife’s point of view she is being asked to give up her support network and move to an unfamiliar place. Even if it would be better in the long run it’s not going to be easy for her. As said before this woman is exhausted and may worry how she will cope in a new place. Would visiting the area as a family be another option?

This is my family situation as well, has been for years. Hubby is home on weekends and that’s about it. I’d recommend doing anything you can to get your family to move. Your wife may end up being very resentful of you; when she’s with the kids doing 100% of the work…it’s hard. And even though you are gone working, she may still feel abandoned. She’s turned to her family because they are always there- you’re not. But you are significantly more important.

How to get her to move? Show her, over and over if necessary, how sad you are to missing things from not only your kids lives but hers as well. She’s probably afraid of moving and not having you to really help her- it’s an understandable fear. When I’m stuck with sick kids and I’m sick and I’m doing everything I can to survive…and hubby is across the world- not good.

Do you get discounts on airfare? Can you promise a trip home at regular intervals so wife can visit family?

Good luck. This isn’t easy. You have my prayers.

Realistically, how often do your kids see grandparents and cousins? I cant imagine it is daily or even weekly with an 80 minute drive one way.

I think the move needs to happen, but if she is unhappy with the current situation, and the option of moving as well, it isn’t enough to simply oppose those options.

I’d ask her what would she suggest as a way to help things’ You have presented what you believe to be the best scenario (of the two options, moving or staying as is). What is it she suggests that gives enables those things that are critical to your family?

She is asking your children to give up seeing you on a daily basis so they can see their cousins and grandparents on a more frequent occasional basis. That isn’t tenable. Children want to see their parents. Even if it is one hour a day, no one else can substitute for that. This is particularly true for contact between children and their fathers when the children are in grade school and high school. More to the point, you want to sleep with her more nights a year. Even if they lived two doors away, how could her sisters substitute for that?

I would suggest you look at your work schedule and lay out how you propose to travel to see her relatives when you move farther away from them. For instance, if you have two weeks of vacation each year, pencil out how you are going to spend at least a week of that with her family as a family. Show how you will have the time and energy to get to see her family on some weekends. Show how much more often you and she will be able to get a sitter and spend time with each other, how you will be home so that she can take a class herself one evening a week, watching the children yourself.

You also need to show her how the move is going to be accomplished. She cannot do it herself. Having said that, the first year of school is by far a better time to relocate children than after they make school friends. The time to move to your permanent job location has arrived.

You might also consider a Marriage Encounter weekend. It kind of forces you to pull all your issues out of the drawer and communicate about them for a weekend. The drawback is that these weekends offer a chance to communicate, not any solutions, but I’d think the first thing you two could use is a chance for each of you to feel the other one has taken the time to hear what you have to say. That’s the place to start.

Absolutely. I’ve fallen short in the past, and apologized for such occurrences. Human nature being what it is, I will fall again, no matter where we live. Past experience with a HIGHLY stressful job shows that my job stress is very much reflected on my family. Fortunately, I was able to move on to the next step in the career ladder, and our marriage and family life got instantly better. Things are still better than they were then, but we need to keep working on it. “I’m sorry” are words I say (and mean) far more quickly and frequently than I used to. I have a greater recognition of the times I need to say something and the times I need to “suck it up and move on.”

We need to pray together more. Certainly. Thank you for your feedback.

I recommend you open up the computer and ask your wife to take the love language test at the official 5lovelanguages website, and you too. Based on that, you may find the right way to make your wife feel secure and lean on you. The test result will give you an idea of what makes her feel loved and what makes her feel unloved.

Your children are looking up to you and would want to mimic you, not the grandparents. For your children, you are the best man they know of and can trust, not the extended family. Not only you need them, but they need you and your wife does too. Move together to where your work is, and put the same effort you do now with all this traveling and work, to your wife and conquer her again. A loved wife and happy husband equals to healthy family.

One additional thought… if you are apologizing for similar things repeatedly, that’s a problem. It’s hard for her to believe you’re sorry if your behavior doesn’t change, even incrementally. I strongly recommend confession and rosaries (in that order) to defeat Satan on this front. Speaking from personal experience, long-term, confessing the same sin the second or third time to the SAME PRIEST is a very good start on that front.

So many people have been helped by that method of discerning how to communicate affection and gratitude!!

I wish to add my personal preference. For me, a simple sorry from my husband doesn’t mean anything, I require amendment or make-it-up-to-yous. If not, I won’t take his apology seriously.

Right now, he’s bringing home 98% of the income, spending very little time with his family, and spending a terrible amount of his life traveling. He’s making huge sacrifices, and for the sake of their ability to live as a family, now she needs to make some.

Man or woman, if you can’t move away from your family of origin to meet the needs of your spouse and children, you shouldn’t be getting married. “Leave and cleave” and such.

So if he apologizes before he has time or opportunity to demonstrate changed (or attempted changed) behavior, you withhold forgiveness until you have evidence? That can’t be what you mean.

DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit