Carolyn Hax: Trouble seeing past fear in possible overseas move

Carolyn Hax
Columnist May 20

Dear Carolyn:

I am writing because my husband and I are facing a huge dilemma. He cannot find a job in the United States. He recently got a job offer in Asia and wants us to go.

Carolyn Hax started her advice column in 1997, after five years as a copy editor and news editor in Style and none as a therapist. The column includes cartoons by "relationship cartoonist" Nick Galifianakis -- Carolyn's ex-husband -- and appears in over 200 newspapers. View Archive

I have conflicting emotions about this, as I do not speak the language and feel it would be very isolating for me. I would be leaving all my family and friends. We have no kids, and my husband thinks now is the time to take a risk. Any advice?

C.

I’m kicking this to the most badass motivational speaker I’ve run across:


(Nick Galifianakis/For The Washington Post)

“You gain strength, courage and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face. You are able to say to yourself, ‘I have lived through this horror. I can take the next thing that comes along.’ You must do the thing you think you cannot do.”

Eleanor Roosevelt, of course.

While “horror” is a tad strong for choosing to accept a job overseas vs., say, being deployed or deported there, I am sympathetic to concerns of isolation. Even for a gregarious person, parachuting into a language barrier and a cultural divide while your spouse heads off to work can be daunting.

But, hello — er, konichiwa/ni hao/anyong haseyo/etc. — there are language schools (in which you enroll the moment you okay the move), and expat communities, and Skype, and basic, inner resources that mankind has tapped into in the face of all manner of daunting experiences.

So instead of “risk” or “dilemma,” try on “adventure.” “Challenge.” “A chance to push my limits,” or just, “prove to myself I’m not soft.” Then see how you feel about going.

If you do agree to the move, vow to embrace it with your whole heart. In return, request a promise from him to pull the plug — after a year? x years? — should you develop a misery that your efforts can’t fix.

Just make sure you choose a long enough period of time for you to reasonably expect some roots to grow, and arrive prepared. Considering that it can take a year or more for people to adjust to a domestic move, going there with an eye on the exit date will defeat the purpose completely.

Hi, Carolyn:

I’m a 22-year-old in a long-distance relationship. Recently, his parents asked if we plan on moving in together when we are living in the same city (in a year). His parents are religious and do not approve.

We had planned on living together, and we agree that answering their question honestly is the most respectful option. How can we tell them without offending them or being disrespectful?

Between a Bible and a Hard Place

Technically, you’re a year away from this hard place. Nothing’s certain till you sign a lease, and just because his parents seem to be looking for trouble doesn’t mean you have to help them find it.

Your boyfriend can certainly set the stage in the meantime, by explaining that your being together is a year away and therefore premature to discuss, but that, for the record, he does not share their disapproval of cohabitation. His maintaining this is about him, not you, while they process this would be the kind and mature thing, not to mention shrewd.

Write to Carolyn Hax, Style, 1150 15th St. NW, Washington, D.C. 20071, or tellme@washpost.com. Get her column delivered to your inbox each morning at http://bit.ly/haxpost.

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