After ten years, my daughters (ages ten and fifteen) and I left our homeland to live together with my husband (their father). My husband and I had agreed that it was best to live apart during those ten years so he could work in a foreign country, losing our family unity as a result….

Now neither my daughters nor I want to live here, because everything is so different. We want to go back to our own customs and culture. The loss of our homeland seems more important to us than living together as a family. But my husband is not ready to return with us. He could possibly come after five years….

I don’t like it here…, but I ask myself, what is best for the girls…?

Dear Friend,

We are sorry to hear that your adjustment to your new country has been so difficult. And we understand how hard it is to see your daughters unhappy. It has been very traumatic for the three of you already, so it seems easiest to return to the life you were accustomed to.

However, the fact that you are asking for our advice indicates that in your heart you know that living apart from your husband is not a good option. Every week we hear from women just like you, whose husbands are working in another country (see Case 38). We have even heard from children whose fathers are working far away from their homes (see Case 33). The great majority of the time, the couple ends up never being reunited, for one of the two usually falls in love with someone who lives close by and whom they can see on a regular basis.

It is remarkable that you and your husband have been able to stay married even though you have lived apart for ten years. But we can’t keep from asking: How many school events have your daughters participated in without having their father there to see them? How many nights have the little girls gone to bed without having their father there to kiss their foreheads and tuck them in? How are these girls going to develop a healthy view of marriage when their own parents don’t think it is important to live together?

From what you have told us, your family has had a plan all these years. The plan was for you to be reunited as soon as possible. Now that has happened, but it is not all you hoped it would be. You are unhappy and your girls are unhappy. But how unhappy and lonely has your husband been without you for ten years?

History is replete with the cases of people who have found it necessary to move from one country to another. Most of the time it has been difficult, and all of the time they have missed their own familiar surroundings and culture. But because it was important, they have learned to adjust to the new circumstances and to eventually make a better life for themselves.

We are not necessarily advising you to stay in your new country, but rather strongly advising you to stay together with your husband and to make your future plans together, no matter which country that leaves you in.

Honor your husband by staying by his side, as you promised to do in your marriage vows. If you make up your mind that the most important priority in your life is to be by his side, you will adjust much more easily to your new country. And you’ll find that your daughters will eventually follow your example as they too learn to adjust.

May your family stay united,

Linda and Charles