Dear Carolyn: In 2020, my husband and I moved from a state where I was very happy living so that he could take a new job. I had family nearby, a job I loved and a significant network of support. (I am in long-term recovery from addiction, with 10-plus years clean and sober.)
Mostly because of the pandemic, my husband works from home and has been to the office fewer times than I can count on two hands. We joke that he hasn’t had to wear pants to work for two years now.
All joking aside: I’m miserable where we are, a deeply conservative state. I miss my family, job, friends and the purplish area we lived in. And I really resent that we made this move when he continues to work at home.
I know we couldn’t have predicted a paradigm shift in corporate culture. But is it reasonable for me to ask that if he’s not going to go back to the office, we move “back home?” I shared my frustration with him once but stopped short of asking or giving him any sort of ultimatum — which I would never do.
— Sullen in the South
Sullen in the South: Oh my goodness, just say you want to move back.
Or at least say things haven’t improved since you voiced your frustration and you would like to set aside time to discuss long-range plans.
In the meantime, if you’re not doing this already: Live as if you’ll never move back “there.” Every policy made “here” may be against your beliefs, but I won’t accept that every human living “here” is.
Plus, every day we resign ourselves merely to endure is a day discarded — and although it’s inevitable that some days will be like that (sickness, grief, general crappiness, term papers), it’s a kindness to ourselves to keep those days to an absolute minimum. Find beauty. Open minds. Create. Look for fellow misfits, their sheltered places, their code words. Even if your stuff’s on a moving van within the month, you’ll be better for whatever efforts you made.
And last but most, congrats on the 10-plus years. That’s brave stuff, especially under regional duress.
Hi there: About a year ago, my good friend “Annie” introduced me to her friend “Sally.” Sally and I hit it off and started spending one-on-one time together.
Recently, Annie told me that Sally has been giving her the cold shoulder for no apparent or stated reason. I have since witnessed Sally’s coldness firsthand.
In our short friendship, Sally has never been mean to me or spoken ill of Annie to me. I don’t have any beef with Sally personally, and I enjoy spending time with her.
I’m not sure what I should do. I don’t think I can just be neutral about Sally’s coldness, but it seems equally petty for me to ice her out for it without explanation. And I also hesitate to confront Sally directly, because I don’t think their conflict has anything to do with me. Help?
— Switzerland Wannabe
Switzerland Wannabe: Feelings can change for completely defensible reasons.
We can’t be mean about it, though. Insulting, ghosting or backstabbing our way out of expired friendships is gratuitous and cruel.
Witnesses to cruelty have a duty to speak up. Witnesses to back-burnering do not.
So there’s your answer: If you witness Sally being cruel, then stand up for Annie in the moment. (“What was that about?”) Otherwise, uncomfortably, it’s for the two of them to work out as you continue your friendships with both.
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