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QUESTION: My husband has been offered a prestigious two-year work placement in Washington. However, I can’t accompany him because of my work commitments and our children’s schooling. Last time he worked abroad he had an affair, which nearly ended our marriage. He says he would fly back once a month, but I fear we will quickly become estranged and he will stray again. I want him to turn down the job, but he says this will jeopardise his career and make him resent me. What should we do?
ANSWER: This is a tough call. Big geographic separations put strains on almost all relationships, as any Armed Forces wife will tell you. But those women will also tell you that they wouldn’t want to stand between their spouses and the occupation they love.
At least service wives know what they signed up for. You, on the other hand, expected to cohabit with your husband, so this is a challenging development.
On top of that, your sole experience of your husband working away from home saw him having an affair. How can you trust him a second time under those circumstances?
Most of the relationships I know that have flourished despite overseas work placements didn’t entail separations that were longer than a year. Happiest of all were the scenarios when the spouse travelled, too, ensuring the memories were shared ones.
However, I can see the dual whammy of your own working life and your children’s schooling makes it reasonable for you to stay put. So the question is: how unreasonable is it for your husband to go? The answer depends on your spouse. If he lives for his work and draws his identity, security and status from it, then it would be a body blow to turn down a prestigious position and could lead to resentment.
Having said that, you are within your rights to ask him to turn down the post, considering the breach of trust that happened when he last worked away.
But you need to be absolutely clear what that would mean.
Living with a person whose ambitions have been thwarted is difficult: one partner feels circumscribed and the other feels blamed. The best relationships allow space for each partner to be the best versions of themselves.
While many spouses would not contemplate letting their other half work abroad on their own for a lengthy period of time, let alone after a previous infidelity, it seems to me someone has to give in gracefully in this scenario.
Either your husband has to, of his own volition, and put you and his family before his career. Or you have to forgive his betrayal and find the strength to let him take up this post in Washington.
Isn’t it possible that your husband could take this position, but that you and the children could be more involved? Rather than your spouse flying home every month, couldn’t you fly out with the children? Or spend all the school holidays in Washington?
The truth is all relationships entail a degree of trust. The trick is to minimise the risk so that you can love equably with each new challenge. - Daily Mail