Frequent Moves

We have moved 16 times in 18 years of marriage. Help!

Question

My husband is wonderful, but unstable. We’ve moved 16 times during our 18 years of marriage. He says each move is to find a job with more opportunity. When I bring up my desire to settle down, he promises we can stay, so I become involved in church and the community, and then we move again. I can’t get attached to any place, I’m depressed, and I feel as if I can no longer function. What should I do?

Answer

This many moves is not normal and it’s not healthy. We’ve worked with hundreds of couples, including military coupes, who have moved a lot but in our experience this sets a new record. We’re amazed that you and the children have been able to endure the instability this long. This is a complex situation and there are issues that you need to deal with, that your husband needs to deal with and that you need to face as a couple.

At the outset, we want you to know that your desire for stability and connection is healthy and normal. Women were designed to desire safety and security. They often crave the opportunity to “nest” and establish long-term relationships.

Your first step is to make sure you are taking care of your spiritual, physical and emotional health. It would be great if you could have several wise, mature Christian women with which to pray and share your heart. Make sure you are taking care of your physical health through good eating and exercise. At what point will you need to establish a boundary and say that enough is enough? We’re not encouraging you to threaten leaving him, but you may need to decide if and where you may need to draw a line.

You don’t sound angry at your husband, but you definitely sound discouraged and your depression is understandable. Two of the key symptoms of depression are hopelessness and helplessness. Sometimes depression can be an alarm or warning sign that we need to stop, look, listen and do something different. From your question we can’t assess your level of depression, but it is clearly impacting your ability to function and we encourage you to spend a couple of sessions with a professional counselor to evaluate the causes, the severity and determine if you might benefit from some antidepressant medication.

There are numerous issues that your husband needs to address. His behavior indicates he is struggling with a kind of addiction, and he will need help in understanding his “running” behavior. He needs to be able to attach to people and places. He needs to find friends, become involved in a local church and enjoy social situations.

There are several marriage issues that need to be addressed, not the least of which is marital roles and how decisions are made. Who makes the decisions in these moves? Are you and the kids involved in the process? How are the decisions made? How much prayer goes into each decision? It sounds like they are unilateral decisions made by your husband and that the criterion is more “opportunity” which usually means more money. Is that the best criteria? Is that his value or a couple value? How much time has been spent discussing what’s best for you, your husband, your marriage, your family and your future?

Don’t let yourself get overwhelmed by the problems. Turn to some of the promises that God has given to us such as Psalm 40:1-3, Matthew 6:33, Romans 8:28, Philippians 4: 13 and 19. With God’s promises, prayer, the support of some Christian friends and some wise counsel there is a lot more hope than you may presently see. Remember that change happens one step, one conversation, one decision, and one prayer at a time. You’ve already taken the first step by writing to us.

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