My wife and I are in our 50s and have been together for 25 years. until Two years ago, I was in a high-pressure job, with stints abroad; Then I moved to a much less pressured job in London, where my wife also works. Our marriage has had his ups and downs, but was eager to build a better relationship and find a way to rebalance things.
Then the pandemic hit. My wife and I they both switched to working from home, but we react differently. Isolation makes me irritable but my wife loves it. She was always more introverted and I felt liberated from the burden of commute daily and also, I suspect, to be between other people much of the time.
Now she is obsessed with how loud and horrible London is, and yearns to move to a rural setting; I think it would get rid of any cultural benefits in a jiffy. The idea of movgoing to the country it feels like a step in the wrong direction and is scaring me considerably. I already I’m thinking, it’s a pied-à-terre remotely affordable? Is there an intermediate solution? This different need for social interaction has always been a thing for us, but blocking has been put it in sharp focus. IIf I stopped working and didn’t replace work relationships with alternatives, I would wither as a person, but I don’t know how to fix things so that we can both get what we need.
You don’t need to do anything yet; in fact, it is better if you don’t. No one is living a normal life right now. You were ready for a less stressful life, with no more work abroad, which would have given you more balance, and you haven’t fully experienced it yet. I think they both need a period of time after the pandemic to see what life is really like since the change they already made. Maybe there is more balance than you think.
The psychotherapist I consulted with, Chris Mills, and we both thought it was his credit to have thought through this dilemma and to know what motivates him. I moved to the country side (from central London) 14 years ago, but the change was two years in planning and conversation.
One thing is vital: know yourself. The essence of who you are does not change, it accompanies you wherever you live. So if art galleries / theaters / good cakes / shops / whatever is key to your happiness, you have to take that into account. There is no point in thinking that you will magically change once you arrive in the country, so it’s great that you have already worked. that was.
Of course, this also applies to your wife. It’s one thing for her to be an introvert in London, but will it be too introverted to be in the country for her? That is why it is necessary to speak. At the moment everything is theory. Mills and I were surprised that you seem to think that the solution is for you alone to solve it – it is not. Talking more thoroughly with your wife will help you.
He also seems to equate moving to the country with stopping work; it doesn’t have to be so all or nothing. I know you didn’t want to commute, but it might be okay if you don’t have to go to the office every day.
At the center of this situation is a couple who realize that they want different things, so what matters is how to bridge this division. “Probably,” Mills suggested, “you have been able to live your lives without stepping too much on each other. The blockade has brought to the surface many things that may have been swept under the rug before. Perhaps now they are both facing what their marriage really is. “
He said the problem is “you don’t know how to talk across the division of differences.”
You may need help doing this, possibly with a counselor (even a few sessions can help, see links at the end for registered professionals). How did you discuss the differences before? Or have you never really done it?
You may be able to get a pied-à-terre, but those nuts and bolts are for later (you don’t want him to end up living in the city and his wife in the country). And a pied-à-terre doesn’t have to be in London, it could be in the country. You could also try renting a more rural place; Some people may think that is wasting money, but if it brings it closer to a decision, it is well spent.
This is by no means a curtain for you and your wife. See it, Mills said, “as a very good opportunity to get to know each other better.”
Every week, Annalisa Barbieri addresses a problem related to the family submitted by a reader. For advice from Annalisa on a family matter, send your issue to [email protected]. Annalisa regrets not being able to establish personal correspondence. Presentations are subject to our terms and conditions: see gu.com/letters-terms.
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George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism