I want to be close to family

It's Wednesday. Let's chat at 1.

Hi Meredith,

My husband and I married a little over a year ago and we have a very healthy, loving relationship. However, we seem to keep having the same fight over and over and have never been able to come to a reasonable conclusion. The fight is always about where we plan to eventually settle down and live.

I grew up on the West Coast surrounded by a large, close-knit family, who all still live in the same city. I am very close with my family and think it is important that my future children are able to grow up in that type of close-knit family environment.

My husband grew up on the East Coast and is also a part of a smaller but still very close-knit family. I know family is important to him, but he doesn't seem to think it's important for us to live near family like I do. He thinks it would be nice if it happens to work out that way, whereas I think its important that we make it work out that way.

I know some people probably think this is a conversation we should have had prior to actually getting married, and we did, but we're relatively young (mid 20s) and settling down just always seemed so far away that it was never something we needed to resolve right away. But now we are approaching the end of grad school and the job searches and location decisions that come along with that. Everything suddenly seems much more real and urgent.

Obviously I would prefer to move closer to my family. I am the only member of my family that doesn’t live in the same city and it's very difficult for me to be far away. However, I know it's not fair of me to demand that he pick up and leave his family so that I can be closer to mine. I have requested that we try to only focus our job searches on areas where we have family nearby; it doesn't matter if it's mine or his. He thinks we should just go wherever we get the best job and feels like I'm being unfair to limit him like that. I have even tried to compromise and say that we can go wherever he wants now, but once we have kids (which is still a few years down the road) we will need to move close to family, but he still finds that limiting.

I know you can't tell me what to do, but I would really like some advice on how we can resolve this. I'm worried that one of us will end up resenting the other no matter what we end up deciding.

– Lost and Drifting, NC

I hate to put it this way, LAD, but you're right and he’s wrong, at least when it comes to communication. Marriage is all about compromise, and from what you've told us, you've offered up a number of options to make this easier for him. You've told him that you'd stay close to his family as opposed to moving to be near your own. You've told him that you're open to moving around for a few years before you settle down near family to have kids.

Has he offered up any compromises? Has he budged at all? Because I can come up with a few compromises on his behalf. Maybe the solution is to apply for jobs within a two-hour drive of family. Maybe, depending on what you do for a living, you can spend a few weeks every summer close to the people you love.

My guess is that he's worried about finding any job right now and that he can't get his head around making sure it's in the exact right spot. Or perhaps this is about age, and he can't quite envision a reason he'd want or need to be so close to family.

My advice? Explain to him that you've taken two steps toward him in this debate. Now it's his turn. You’re not asking him to pick up and move to your parents' house; you're simply asking him to show good faith and add to your list of compromises.

During the conversation, ask him what scares him about these decisions and what his ideal living situation would look like. These might be questions he hasn't even asked himself, and they might help him learn to take baby steps in your direction.

Readers? How do you teach someone to compromise? Any ideas for them? Is this about job search angst? Will they change their priorities as they get older? Advise.

– Meredith