Can a long-distance relationship survive?

Long-distance relationships are not easy. The heat in the relationship can burn harder as you miss each other or one's attention can wander.
Long-distance relationships are not easy. The heat in the relationship can burn harder as you miss each other or one’s attention can wander.

My wife has just been transferred to another state for work. It is a promotion, and there is no question she should have taken it. I have no prospects in that city, so we have decided to have a long-distance relationship. We see each other most weekends, but I’m finding that I don’t want a part-time wife.

You do have prospects in that city: a full-time wife. But that doesn’t seem to appeal because you are not prepared to pay the price of diminishing your career. And why should you? Your wife hasn’t; she’s flying high. And even if you were living in the same place, you probably doubt that she’d have much time for you.

The truth is that both of you have put your careers ahead of your relationship and both of you are likely to reap the consequences of that decision: the end of your marriage. There is a myth circulating in modern society that both parties to a marriage have the right to fully advance their career. Although this is a very noble idea, it rarely works in practice.

Have a look at the divorce statistics. A successful marriage is much more difficult than a successful career. Making the marriage the lesser priority is fraught with danger.

These days women expect to be treated equally. They want the opportunity to pursue fulfilment in their careers and they want their husbands to accept their ambition as legitimate. At the same time, both women and men have high expectations of marriage. They desire companionship, intimacy and satisfying sex.

As you have found out, balancing these competing needs is tricky. While your wife is happy focussing on her career, you are left alone. Your career is not enough to sustain you during the lonely weeknights.

Marriage endures when both parties to the marriage have their fundamental needs met. Being able to meet each other’s needs makes a couple compatible. Your wife’s needs are being met, she has her career, but your needs are not being met.

The reality is that one person has to put their career on the back burner to ensure a happy marriage. In the past, it was nearly always the woman who gave up her career. Equality for women means that now this can be either the wife or the husband.

Clever couples prioritise their careers before they are married. Some couples take turns at pursuing their career with a 5 to 10 year turnaround. Some decide on the basis of preferences or personality, the most ambitious pursuing the career and the most nurturing putting their career second.

You and your wife are not compatible. To be so, one of you has to willing put their career second. I do not discern anything in your letter that suggests such willingness. Heading interstate now won’t save your marriage. You would demand some sort of compensation for sacrificing your career, something that she can’t deliver, like lots of time together. Coercing her back won’t work either. Her resentment would destroy the relationship.

Your best bet is to confront the issue of your unmet needs and finish the marriage. Then look for a woman who wants to be a full-time wife. Have the sense to then make your marriage your highest priority.