Move Out of Country or Not

Updated on January 05, 2013
C.V. asks from Grandville, MI
23 answers

I have been with my husband for 18 yrs. We have three children aged 17, 15, & 12. My husband is from El Salvador and he has decided that it is time for him to move back to his country with or without our kids and I. I encouraged my husband to visit El Salvador last year and so he returned to his country from January - March 2012 by himself. Instead of this satisfying his desire to visit his home country, he returned to the U.S. resolved to move there permanently. He has told me repeatedly that he wants us to move with him and he has made some efforts to make the move more comfortable for us - such as buying a house that has some amenities that I want such as running water, a bathroom and a kitchen. His primary reasons for wanting to move are that he wants to live a simpler life and be closer to his family. He wants to own a little store with his sister which would garner a meager income - just enough to feed our family. He also wants to help teach people from his hometown about the indigenous traditions of the past so they don't forget the ways of the past.

The problem is that our children do not speak Spanish well, have not visited El Salvador in 8 years, and have no desire to move to El Salvador. Our oldest child is already attending college here in the United States and has stated that he refuses to even visit El Salvador. I want all three of our children to have the same educational opportunities. In addition to this, I have recently returned to school to complete my MSW degree. I will be graduating in 6 months. I do not want to have wasted the time I spent in grad school by moving down to El Salvador to become a housewife.

I love my husband deeply and cannot imagine separating from him. I understand his desire to return to his home country. I do not mind living in his home country but I am extremely concerned about our children's ability to adjust and their education.

Does anyone have any suggestions on what I should do? I feel extremely confused and torn so any input would be much appreciated.

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So What Happened?

Although this hasn't been resolved yet, I want to say thank you to everyone who has taken the time to reply to my post. When I signed up here, I wasn't sure if anyone would really take the time to read it. But I've been so confused while wrestling with issue that I figured it was worth a try to write it on here. I am sincerely grateful for all of the thoughtful, detailed responses that have been offered. They have given me much food for thought as I consider my next steps.

My husband is set on returning to his home country and I think that I have finally decided that I am firm on my decision to stay in the U.S. with our children. Time will tell how this turns out. I will post another response once I know what will happen.

Thank you again to everyone for your valuable input. It is much appreciated!

Featured Answers



answers from San Antonio on

Is there anyway he could make this his dream retirement? Could he put it off another 6 to 10 years? At a minimum get the youngest though high school and settled in college...or at the most get all kids settled out of college?

Why right now?? Mid-life crisis?? Does he regret his time in the states? I can't imagine him telling you that he would move with or without you!!! Marriage is a team sport, you don't abandon the team without a really really good reason and the one he is giving doesn't make any since unless he wants a divorce and just can bring himself to say so...and this is his exit plan...???

I would not move my kids out of the country unless it was a lateral move...same level of education opportunities, style of living opportunities, etc etc...and they have some chance of learning the language...

I am having a hard time wrapping my head around he close to his children??

Good luck, I just couldn't do it...move the kids at this point in their lives...

6 moms found this helpful


answers from Chicago on

I would ask him to compromise with you. Tell him when the youngest is in college. Let him know that you both can work hard and save money the next 6 years, so that you have a nest egg when you move. Saving money in the next 6 years will mean he can help his people more too. Also tell him you will learn the language in that 6 years. Promise him you will learn more about his country too.

If he's not willing to budge with compromise, then I wouldn't go.

6 moms found this helpful

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answers from Washington DC on

Welcome to Mamapedia!!!

This is a hard decision. Only you and your husband can make it.

If you do not speak Spanish and have no intention of learning it - it does not make sense for you to move to El Salvador.

What would **I** do? I would tell my husband that I love him very much, but for my sake (my education) and that of our children, I am staying here in the United States. When our children finish high school - then we can make a decision. Until then, I am staying put.

If he chooses to move, so be it. Their education trumps his desire to move to his "home country" - IN MY BOOK!!

Good luck. This will not be an easy situation. I am sure that as adults you two can find compromise and make it work. It WILL be hard work and LOTS of compromise!!!

13 moms found this helpful


answers from New York on

Really, what both of you want sounds legitimate. What's terribly hard is that they're so incompatible.

I actually really respect your husband's desire to connect with his indigenous heritage. I think it's just as legitimate as your professional aspirations, but it's not MORE legitimate. You shouldn't have to give up your entire career for this.

The two paths I can see -- aside from separation -- are, first, is there any way you can be a social worker, or something comparable, in El Salvador? Are there any US or international NGOs you could work for, for example?

Or (and this would probably be my own choice), are there any diasporic Salvadoran communities in the US where you could live? Immigrant communities often have a high need for social workers, and if your husband is committed to maintaining indigenous values and traditions, he might have more of an important leadership role here, where these values and traditions are more fragile, than at home. He'd be far from his homeland, but he'd be doing more important work for La Puebla. And between his commitment to indigenous traditions and values, and what sounds like your commitment to education, your kids would have a shot at the best of both worlds.

Buen suerte,


12 moms found this helpful


answers from Columbus on

I feel for you. I have many friends who married men from other countries and have seen this problem with quite a few of them. Only you can know your heart, but in my opinion, your loyalties are to your children. They didn't ask for the decisions you and your husband made along the way, they didn't choose you for each other, and their wellbeing should be your first consideration. Personally, I would not move. You are not simply moving laterally to a similar lifestyle in a different culture -- they would be not only losing their culture, but also their lifestyle and possibly security. I would suggest to him that he can move there and come visit you or you visit him with the children. But I would not move -- it's very clear from how you outlined it that no one wants this and you would be giving up a huge amount.

10 moms found this helpful


answers from Tampa on

Does your husband work here in the US? Does he have a green card to be able to? If he is unable to earn a living here, then I can understand his desire to move somewhere to where he can work.

HOWEVER, it sounds like the move will be bad for your family. You are almost done with school and should not throw that away. Your children are not on board and this would tear them from everything that they know. If he is insistent about moving, I would try to convince him to put this off until your youngest finishes high school. It is not fair to uproot your children because of your husand's wishes. You need to put your children's needs first. Is moving to El Salvador in their best interests? It doesn't really sound like it...

8 moms found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on

i wouldn't do it. let him go there, plan to visit him as often as you can afford, let the kids visit him there. but they shouldn't be yoinked out of their country to move somewhere they don't know, and you should have the opportunity to make the most of your education.
it doesn't have to be a lose/lose, though. he can still go and fulfill his dream of simplicity and of honoring his country and its heritage, and you can still be a part of his life. make it a win/win by letting your kids live here while they experience visits with their dad's homeland, and the two of you spend as much time together as your budget allows.
there are no perfect solutions but there are do-able compromises!

6 moms found this helpful


answers from Boca Raton on

This is just me personally, but I would tell him that I will be available to move to El Salvador in 6 years, when our youngest is 18 and hopefully off to college.

If your children were very small it might be a more realistic option, but at their ages it would probably be much harder. That's not to say that it's impossible.

Good luck with the decision.

5 moms found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on

Wow.....tough situation. I guess I would try to imagine life--yours and your childrens' 5 or ten years from now in both scenarios. There, with him, or home without him, and choose the path that fits the best. Personally, I don't think El Salvador is one adventure I would want to undertake, but I didn't marry a guy from there. My first thought was as another poster said, wait until the children are done with school, but as a second thought I don't think I could move that far from my children, ever. Please keep us posted and good luck with your decision.

5 moms found this helpful


answers from Houston on

You are in a bit of a pickle. When you and your husband started having children and created your own family that should have become his main priority. I can understand his desire to move back and be closer to his family; however, the timing is not right for YOUR family. When we become parents, what we want is secondary to what is in the best interest of the family. I would explain that to him.

I say that a compromise is that once your youngest is 18, you would be willing to move but until then the family needs to stay together in the United States, and that includes him. IF he is willing to put his needs ahead of you and the children then that is his choice.

Good luck!

5 moms found this helpful


answers from New York on

Sounds like your husband is feeling homesick for his home country, wants to help his sister with the idea of the store and is perhaps going through a mid-life crisis all at the same time. Who can't understand that longing to be in your homeland? I suspect however that once there he's grow tired of it in a year or two since he's become accustomed to the conveniences of US living. BUt he went back to his homeland for a while and probably yearned for his youth and felt those "carefree days".

I would never disrupt the kids' life at this point. The teen years are so tough to begin with that if they were picked up and moved to what is practically a thrid world country your kids will probably develop huge resentments towards their dad. It's tough enough to move to a different town or school let alone a different world. You need to remind your husabnd that he has a primary responsibility at this point to raise his children, not to chase his dreams if they are going to disturb his family. (There are exceptions - if you had always lived as a missionary family, if you were both out of work and there were no options here, etc.)

Ask him why did he come to the US to begin with? What drove him to leave his home country and start a brand new life, with all the hard work and sacrifice? Ask him has anything changed in those situations since then? Ask him does he want to risk his kids resenting him and having anger with him for their life? Commiserate with that feeling he probably had when he was there - remembering his youth. Remind him that with a wife and 3 kids it would not feel remotely the same - particulary with 3 unahppy teenagers. (YIKES!)

Until your youngest is out of high school I think you must stay here. It's 6 years, not an eternity. Remind him of how quickly the last 6 years passed - the next 6 will fly by too.

However, it does sound like a lovely idea for a part-time retirement lifesytle. I have a relative who is in her 70's and her husband is from Europe. They met here when he came to America to earn a living since there are no jobs in Greece. They spend half a year in Greece and the other half here in the US. Both prefer their own homeland - but they've compromised.

Dream with him and even begin to make plans for the day in 6 years when you can spend extended time and consider a permanent move. Having been a retirement counselor I know that any expert will suggest that you don't sell everything you own when you want to relocate, but instead go and rent in that community for a year and see if it really ends up being as good as you think it will be.

And, contrary to what another mama has said here, I don't think it's unusual for a 17 year old to refuse to even go to his father's homeland. He's 17 and a knucklehead. I know plenty of 17 year olds who don't even want to go on vacation with their family for a week if it means begin away from their girl/boy friend for those 7 days. Teenagers are like aliens sometimes - they're just different.

Good luck mama - I can't even imagine having to deal with this dilemma on top of 3 teens.

5 moms found this helpful


answers from Dallas on

I think he is living in a fantasy world. He is willing to sacrifice his family's lives to live out his dream. Sounds like a midlife crises. Not something I would be willing to sacrifice my education or my kids education for. They need an education to fulfill their own desires someday. When you had three kids, you give up some degree of autonomy. When push comes to shove, you are a family. Your best decisions are for the whole, not just Dad.

Turn it around. Let's say that your H had about 6 months to go before he got a Master's degree. Your children are at the same real points in their lives. Suddenly you want to go to a 3 rd world country and run a store that will barely give you a living. That would be fun as an empty nester but not at this point in your lives. Ask him to put it off for 6-7 years.

I have to wonder if this has to do with your degree. He is feeling fear that his life is changing and going to get much more complicated. He wants familiar, consistent, simple as a reaction. He needs some counseling together with you to get him over this convergence of fear and midlife crises. You should have the tools to help you call this kind of thing. This is real life social work.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Oklahoma City on

With your educational background you have more ability to understand how deep his desires are. And how this will effect everyone emotionally.

I think this is a great desire but at a terrible time, I can't say his timing is even close to being good....

I suggest you make a compromise with him. Tell him that you and the kids will visit a lot during the next 6 years and that once the kids are out of high school you can plan the move and go. That way all the kiddo's will have a USA education and be able to be accepted to the college of their dreams which you will be able to pay for with your income from your new job when you graduate.

If he is about to have his midlife crisis and it's a do it now or else type of situation and you don't want divorce consider this.

Plenty of women with children are married to servicemen. They manage the home for sometimes years where the other person is not living with them. If you plan ahead how this will come to pass he may feel more listened to and be able to put his dream off.

There are tons of people moving to other countries to make these kinds of changes. They all seem to be doing it when they are a bit older though.

I'd see how the kids feel about moving, the oldest if feeling forced into a life he doesn't want. The next 2 are young enough they'd adapt but at what cost to their futures?

So make a compromise. If he has to go now or suffer mentally let him go and do it like he's in the service. Visit him for a week or so and he can come visit you a couple of times per year. Or meet somewhere in the middle.

It will be like a honeymoon each time you get together. Life will go on and if both people have the attitude that this is a way for your future to come together then it should work smoother.

I personally could never live in a different country. I am a city girl to the max. I live in a smallish town of about 25,000 and large towns are all around but I still feel like I live in the boonies. But I do it because the cost of living and housing is crazy cheap.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from New York on

i would compromise. tell him to wait for you to complete your degree requirements, and save at the same time so that your beginning would be easier. by then i assume the 15 year old will be going off to college. the last kid goes where parents go.
one mama here said ask him why did he come in the first place. my answer to that would be, whatever it was, it seems that it's no longer there for him.
i know, i came here 13 years ago, and what i was looking for was here but not any longer. i'd move somewhere else in a heartbeat.

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answers from San Francisco on

I suggest you check with Homeland Security before you move your family to El Salvadore. Your husband is probably torn between loyalty to his family in El Salvadore, his birth country vs the safety and comfort of his immediate family here. You may have to make the decision to keep your children safe.

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answers from New York on

El Salvadore, not in this lifetime. Australia; I would be packing. I cannot envision any teenager agreeing to this. Sorry.

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answers from Austin on

Your son is not even willing to visit his fathers home country? I think there is more to this story,.

You and your children can learn any language if you want to. This is your husbands home country.

I think you all need to figure out a compromise.

Is there any way for him to find a home that can be purchased that he can live in and you all can go and visit in the summer? He could start looking and you all can save up/ In the mean time, you all need to take some time and visit there.

Imagine if this was all turned around and you wanted to move back here. but your children did not want to ever even visit here.

I would think your family and marriage need to figure out some sort of compromise. Your family and each member is just as important as the other..

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Norfolk on

If I was told we were moving to New Zealand I'd be thrilled.
El Salvador? No way!
What's his sudden rush to move back all about?
Why can't he wait till the kids are grown up?
He's been gone from there at least 18 years - why must he go back now with or without you?
His plans for the future sound - I'm sorry - they sound completely mad to me.
He's looking FORWARD to barely making a living?
Is this his way of saying he wants a divorce?
He's making you choose between himself and the kids and I don't think the kids (or your) future in El Salvador is a rosy one.
Prepare to be independent and finish raising your kids on your own.
I would not follow him.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on

I wonder if he has a rose-colored, nostalgic vision of his home country. He should not move -- with or without you -- until he has researched the realities: Can he really live on what that little store makes? What is the political situation, the level of crime in the area where he wants to be, the potential for increasing his income (because someday he might want to retire)? Does he have family members who are pressuring him -- are you aware if this is really all him or if he's not telling you perhaps that family members are pressuring him to return? Does he perhaps have elderly parents who need care and he's feeling regretful that he only has a short time left with them? You need to probe what is making him so intensely fixed on this that he would divorce you for it.

The fact you say he'll go with or without you -- wow, that got buried. Sounds like serious and intensive marriage counseling is needed but you never mention the possibility, and you're going to be a social worker, so it surprises me that you don't say you've told him you both need counseling before he makes any dramatic moves. I don't see any other option BUT couples therapy or counseling immediately, because he is entirely looking at only what he wants, not at what you or your children need.

And your kids? They will ALL refuse to go. You could force the two younger ones to move but they will resent you deeply for the rest of their lives if they are unwilling to go and you force them. Do you want that? Does he realize that the kids will resent him and possibly cut him off if he forces this on them?

And what about schooling? Where and how would they get educated, especially if they do not have enough Spanish even to cope everyday, much less enough to get the kind of education that will get them into college? Their education should be the absolute trump card here but it sounds like your husband has given that zero thought -- or is coming up with rosy scenarios like your teaching them at home. If he hasn't mentioned it, ask, because I'd almost bet that he's not thinking straight and has in his mind already pictured the kids getting an education from you somehow.

I would give him an ultimatum because he has given YOU one: He says "We go or I leave you and go." Now you need to say, "I love you but we cannot even discuss going until you agree to and fully participate in intensive couples therapy right NOW. Only then can we even discuss this." If he balks, tell him that the children do not want to go and he is putting his family there ahead of the children he fathered here and while you don't want to divorce, you do get a say in the family's future and so do your kids. Therapy, counseling, now, no further planning or discussion or decisions until then.

I know I sound unsympathetic towards him but I am married to someone from another country and he would never dream of putting his beloved family there ahead of his child here and her future educational prospects. I do get the feelings of separation, homesickness, etc. But your husband is in danger of moving back "home" to find he misses not only his family but the lifestyle he had back here.

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answers from Dallas on

Your husband is asking you and your kids to move away from their home, everything they know, all their friends, etc. to go somewhere where running water, a kitchen and a bathroom in the house are considered amenities? Oh, hell no.

Something here isn't quite right. Does he seriously think your kids would be eager to move to a 3rd world country where they don't even know the language? I understand your husband wanting to be closer to his family, etc, BUT it seems odd that he'd be willing to go off and leave his wife and his children in order to do that. Why does he value this above his own kids? Above his own wife? His timing is also interesting in that he wants to do this just a the time when you're about to graduate, achieving a goal, and gaining greater independence or power. I would be VERY worried about this move, especially leaving the relative protection of the U.S. The most I'd promise is to buy a vacation house when you retired to be able to spend part of the year there either together or separately.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Detroit on

What was he doing here for income? It sounds like you were doing very well for yourselves to afford a trip for him, send your son to college, going back to school yourself, etc. And he wants to give all that up? and expect you and the other 2 kids?
I mean yes it is possible to adjust. But to give up everything familiar just because he's restless and wants to run a store with his sister? He could teach the old ways to people here that are from El Salvador. Surely he could run a store here too.
What could your possibilities be there for using your degree? Is there a reason he can't have his family visit here? What would he expect the other two kids to do after relocating? Give up their opportunities to go to college?

I get a bad feeling about this. Something just doesn't set well. I keep getting visions of the movie Not Without My Daughter. And I would keep my feet firmly planted here, finish your schooling, graduate, let your other two graduate. If you have to live separately for a while do so. If it comes to a legal separation...are you prepared for that? Better secure the accounts and assets now so that one or both of you don't get wiped out.
It is possible to live more simply here too.

I was married to a Swede. And while that isn't quite the same as El Salvador, there were times in his last years that it got on my last nerve. Every time he'd go home, he'd 'morph' ahead of time with an attitude about Americans and how fat Americans are and do a real diss job. As if he were preparing himself to fit back in when he went home. After going the trip alone ultimately, it was clear to everyone here who knew him that his heart was there. I even tried suggesting he move back because we weren't doing very well as a couple, the comments on US and Americans were increasing, as well as the favorable comments on the perfection of Sweden, and he wouldn't move back. I suggested it because I truly believed he'd be happier there. I lived there at the start of the marriage and adjusted. But ultimately, after just short of 7 years we moved back. 2 kids 2 cats 1 dog included. I never enjoyed going back for even a visit. It wasn't that I missed my family either. I just didn't like the invisible barrier between the people there and myself. It was real. I loved my inlaws. Did not like his friends back there. But he wouldn't move back. When he passed away, everyone on this side of the ocean thought it'd be fitting to send his ashes back home where he was happiest. That got shot down big time. They didn't understand that his heart was there and I wasn't going to tell them that their precious boy had feet made of clay either! For all intents and purposes they believe we were a solid couple.

That's my story. Take what you can out of it. I don't think you're getting a lot of backing here to transplant yourself. None of it makes sense.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Detroit on

First why didn't you all go between jan-march? Or at leat for a couple wees n than return. Does your husband work here? Maybe do a visit with the kids come summertime and see how they feel about it than decide. The seventeen year old is an adult he. An move n be on his or her own. It's hard because if your HSBAND does this and decides its not going to work to move back n rid a job is difficult. Unfortunately if he's real gong ho about it. He's going before you guys. Plus make sure there isn't an other reason why d he come to the states anyway if he so lose to his family?hes build a life here now he wants to drop it n move back sounds fishy to me after visiting for a month or two.

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answers from Los Angeles on

I think for now, a compromise needs to be found. Perhaps the whole family (possibly with the exception of the oldest child) return to El Salvador for two months every summer until the youngest is in college (or finishes college). After that, you can look into making a permanent move there. By going in the summers, your kids will still get an American education, but will be able to learn Spanish and start to assimilate to the culture in El Salvador. It will also give you 5-10 years to utilize your new degree before moving permanently.

I don't think he's being fair to the family by saying he's going to go whether you join him or not. I think you may need to find a therapist or mediator to talk to together, just so you have a neutral party who can objectively help you find the best solution.

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