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Ask Ellie: Wife feels pull of the city, husband wants to stay rural

Marriages survive best on compromises, short-term breaks and long-term agreements.

Dear Ellie: When my husband and I first got married, we saved up and bought a comfy home in a small town surrounded by cottage country. My husband still loves the whole environment.

Both our children were born here, learned to swim, ski, hike trails through the woods, and camp outdoors.

But I still feel some isolation, especially in dreary November. So, I starting taking the kids to see the city’s stand-out features such as the latest Bond movie or musical theatre productions.

Now I’ve been thinking about moving back there. The children are older teenagers who drive and want to party with their friends, not us.

Then COVID-19 brought a change. City-based families who could afford it, moved here. Renovating and building projects escalated, so more people are doing well in the trades and young families are settling here, just as we did.

My husband still doesn’t want to move. How can I get him to accept that my choice is equal to his?

Relationship Standoff

Yes, you share the right to promote your preference, but there’s much to consider. Since, so far, he’s firmly against moving, are you willing to commute from country to city to make this work? Also, can your family budget afford renting a city apartment/house or condo for part-time use?

Most important, will your marriage survive spending less couple-time together? Or, perhaps, having some “couple-space” is what you’re needing most.

These are serious decisions you both need to make through open discussion, and maybe some marital and/or individual counselling.

Dear Ellie: I’ve been working in my father’s business since I finished college. We’ve mostly gotten along well, but recently he started saying that I “need something else for my future,” and I should take courses to “expand my opportunities ahead.”

I asked if he was actually firing me. He denied that but kept suggesting “upward career moves.”

He didn’t even sound like the father I’d known. I started working after classes in high school and took on more tasks in the business when I graduated.

Since then, I’ve looked after ordering stock, kept an inventory of his available goods and those that had to be shipped or received, while also insisting that we get the best price for them.

Four years ago, my mother became ill and died within months. My father was extremely sad, lonely and detached from the business. He started online dating after a few months of living alone.

Six months later, I had a step-mother. I keep wondering if she pushed to “encourage” me to leave my job.

Should I confront this woman who’s not yet tried to become friendly with me? Or should I ask my father if she actually pushed me out? Also, I’m now very curious to see his will!

Hurt and Sad

Your father’s need for a companion after his wife’s death is not an uncommon reaction to grief. You don’t know much about his wife, but she’s apparently not seeking a family bond with you.

Perhaps the background years of you working with/for your father, caused her to feel left out. We don’t know. But how you’ve managed since leaving the business is instructive. Since you’re a clever, adaptive, hard-working and focussed person, I’m hoping (expecting) that you did take any needed courses to achieve a good position in another firm. If not, forget about his wife and focus on your future.

As for your father’s will, ask if he’s willing to discuss it. If not, understand his needs at the time, and rise above it. You have the energy and abilities to achieve your own security.

Dear Ellie: I met a friend five years ago and found her an interesting story-teller early on. Within very few weeks, she’d told me all the internal politics at her workplace, and detailed complaints about difficult neighbours who I actually know.

Then I woke up and wondered what she’s told others about me! My life as a single woman isn’t as interesting or complicated as hers, but I still worry that she can’t stop herself when she has new information to gossip about.

Should I just get “too busy” to get together or chat online? I’m feeling guilty just listening to her.

Too Much Gossip

Story-tellers often see themselves as entertainers, amusing and astounding their audiences. Some others prefer just finding “the dirt” about people around them.

I’ve seen it in some social circles and workplaces as a form of seeking power through information and trying to control her surroundings. Watch out. Distancing is wise.

Ellie’s tip of the Day

Marriages survive best on compromises, short-term breaks and long-term agreements.

Send relationship questions to [email protected].