Family vs. Relationship, what choice do I make?

Met a guy that lived across the country, we fell in love, dated long distance for a few years, then I decided to move 3000 miles to be with him. I left behind a bunch of really good friends, and a sister and her family with whom I am very close. As the years have gone by, I’ve gotten more and more sad when I visit home and then have to leave those that I love. I feel like I’m missing out on their lives, and especially the ability to be there with my young nieces/nephews as they grow.

I’ve decided to not have kids, so my nieces/nephews are especially precious to me, and I want to be close with them throughout their lives. My own extended family relationships growing up were nonexistent. I never became close with any of my aunts/uncles/cousins, while I watched friends have wonderful closeness with their extended families, so I feel a strong desire to foster a relationship with my nieces/nephews so that they’ll have a more whole family than I did.

I visit several times per year, but it just doesn’t feel like enough.

I love my boyfriend very much and I have a good life with him, but I worry that choosing this relationship with him over a closer relationship with my family could turn out to be a huge regret for me after my nieces/nephews are grown.

Did I think about any of this when deciding to move 3000 miles away? No. I didn’t realize the value of the relationships I had with friends/family until I left them. I lived in the same area all my life and had no idea what it would really mean to be that far away FOREVER.

Boyfriend won’t relocate, so that would never be an option.

Would ending a good relationship with him, however heartbreaking that would be, be worth it so that I could have a better lifelong relationship with my family?

Only you can decide that. My advice would be to tell him you need to sort things out and you’re going to go home for a while. Of course it will be his choice whether to wait for you to make up your mind or drop you right then and there. You’ll have to make a decision and you’ll have to live with it.

You can’t help your feelings. In my opinion, if you’re entertaining the thought of ending the relationship because you want to be closer to family, your family has already won. Good luck to you.

I had intended to respond to your post, but it looks like Kalhoun has covered everything I could have said.

Sounds like a very unpleasant situation to find yourself in, though, and I’m sorry you’re there. I hope you’re able to make peace with whatever decision you come to.

Do you think that you will some day marry your boyfriend?

Dump him or at least leave for a while. A lot of people don’t make that (correct) choice soon enough. If you knew that this relationship would end up in eternal marital bliss, that would make a big difference but nobody knows that and the odds say that it won’t. Blood is thicker than water and he is water no matter how you much you are infatuated right now.

It was the right decision, for me, to choose my relationship with my husband over my family. My family couldn’t give me the kind of companionship and conversation that I needed, no matter how much they loved me. I do feel I missed a lot and I could have never given up all that I have for a boyfriend. ** Drachillix** is my family.

No. I’m ambivalent about marriage, so I never really wanted to do it (with anyone). Marriage and children is not something I ever thought I could do well. I kind of “live vicariously” through my sis and her family.

Boyfriend is older than me, already had a family (and in fact has a new grandchild that we’ll likely be seeing WAY more than I get to see my own family—which kills me when I think about it)

I know it seems kind of ridiculous that I never considered any of this when I decided to make the move, but it was just utter naivete on my part. I just never realized the hugeness of this kind of decision until miles and time brought it into focus.

p.s. trust me, I’m not ready to just dump this guy. I would be heartbroken over him if I moved back home. I love him VERY much. I’m just trying to get these feelings out in the open and weigh it all out.

Is it that he can’t, or that he just doesn’t want to?
I think that makes a big difference.

This is a tough decision, so good luck with figuring it all out.

I don’t think there is any right or wrong answer to this. Either way there is something to gain and something to lose.

Ask yourself: On your deathbed, would you be the type to say “I wish I’d spent more time with my nieces and nephews” or “I wish I’d spent more time with my life companion and lover”?

Let your life choice be influenced by how you’d answer that question.

This is what popped into my mind: your nieces and nephews will grow up to make their own lives, which may even involve what? Moving elsewhere. Another adult fulfilling your emotional needs may be more important to you than you realize at the moment as well. I am curious about how old you are - sometimes separating from family when you are fairly young is particularly difficult in a way that might get easier as you get older. I consider my partner to be my family first, which is something the rest of my family supports - that may have more to do with my particular family culture. You maybe want to go home for a decent amount of time before you decide to move back there. I don’t know how long you’ve been gone, but sometimes after a while, living there again feels really different than it used to and you just can’t tell from a vacation.

-Jelly, who moved from the East Coast for graduate school and hasn’t been back in 9 years.

I’m 38, so I can’t blame it on youth! I’ve been here in CA for almost 3 years. My boyfriend has lived here all his life. His lifelong friends are here, his daughter (and now granddaughter) are here. His son died here. He’s not budging. Plus, he hates winter and mosquitoes, 2 things that are part and parcel of the midwest!

There are a million psychological reasons I moved out here (besides loving him). I wanted to get out of the rut I was in back home: unsatisfying job, felt like I hadn’t accomplished anything with my life. Part of me was probably running away from all of that and looking for excitement. He’s a very loving, patient, almost fatherly type (and yes he’s older so you can get all Freud about that!) and I can’t deny that part of me loves being taken care of by him. He’s also “easy” in that he’s not looking to be married again, and he doesn’t want to have more kids, so the pressure’s off in those areas. And yet maybe coming out here was running away from those very things: getting married and having kids. That is a frigging scary question.

I do like** Qadgop’s** advice about asking the deathbed question. My quick answer would be “family” but maybe that’s not the best answer.

I’m going to go against the crowd here and say that you should stay with him.

A few things are a bit worrisome here. It sounds like you want to fulfill the desire to have children vicariously through your nieces and nephews. How are you going to feel about things when your parents are long gone and your brothers and sisters are middle-aged? It sounds like you want an immediate replacement for creating a family of your own but no matter how much you want it to be true, it’s not a true replacement. At some point you have to go out on your own and become something separate from your family. Why don’t you want to have kids? Are you afraid of them inheriting something you’d rather them not have? If so there’s always adoption. The thing is that you have a desire for the parts of a family that you’d be getting if you had one of your own.

Extended families are nice and all, but not everyone is like that. Being around your nieces and nephews so they can have some kind of feeling of an extended family is not a good idea. You have to think about your future here. I’m especially curious as to why you don’t want to have kids, yet feel an intense desire to have that relationship with your nephews/nieces.

If you don’t care about any of that, then i’d suggest going to a therapist, or some kind of mental health professional who could help you make more sense of this. He can help you work through this stuff about 10 times faster than you could do alone, or with input from people like us.

If you don’t do that, talk to your family. What do they think about you moving back home to be with them if it means leaving a nice guy behind.

And if you get really desperate, give him an ultimatum and see if he won’t move with you. Or maybe you decide that you do want to have kids? Tell him that.

I just think that while it may not be unhealthy to fulfill these desires through your blood relatives, it’s probably not the best choice. I love my family and all, but I would never choose them over a family of my own. I’m looking forward to be a father one day and I don’t ever want that to be taken away.

So essentially you’ve had a “mutual agreement” with your boyfriend to not do the things that would alternatively satisfy a lot of needs. It sounds as if he made it clear from the beginning that he wasn’t into kids or marriage anymore from the get-go and you agreed to it and convinced yourself that you liked it. Now I think that you feel that your options are limited here.

But who knows? Maybe you could move home, find a new man, and then you’d have the best of both worlds. If you found a new guy back home who wanted marriage and kids, would you say no? And as for the deathbed question? Well you’re 38 now, the kids will be grown up in at most 18 years (no idea how old they are) when you’ll be 56. What will you do for the next 29 years if you end up making it to 85?

That’s not the vibe I’m getting at all. What I’m hearing is that xanthous was never into marriage or kids and was lucky enough to find a partner who agreed.

I say stick with the partner. The nieces and nephews will grow up faster than you can imagine. Since they already have parents, it’s unlikely that the limited time and patience kids in their teens have for adults will be spent on you. I really think you’ll end up left out and wondering how you ended up alone.

The parents may become unhappy with you as well. It’s possible that they could begin to see you as trying to take over part of their family and feel threatened.

Finally, you may resent the same people you left your boyfrind for if the “happy extended family” thing doesn’t totally live up to your expectations. It’s one thing to sit 3000 miles away and picture nothing but family picnics and warm and cozy group get-togethers. It’s another thing to always be the third wheel, the extra, the one that has to be included because "Look what I gave up to be here! " Resentment all around!

It sounds to me like your “Family Portrait” has a large dose of fantasy to it. Sit back and take a look at what you have that’s real.

…except that the partner WAS into marriage and kids, just not with her.

I’d seriously think about this. He can leave you any time he feels like, andthere you’d be.

I’ll not condemn the fella, as I have a very good friend just like that and he and his SO have made a truly wonderful relationship; over 20 years strong now. I’m just saying, be very sure, and best wishes.

Has anyone else reading this thread had the reaction of “xanthous has not found the love of her life?”

Hopefully one never has to choose between one’s family and one’s SO, but if you ever DO have to make that choice, it seems to me that the life partner - when you’ve found that one person you really commit to, forever - wins, hands down.

This is not a criticism of the feelings xanthous is experiencing, of course. Nor is it a vote for “stay with the boyfriend.” It’s more along the lines of wondering if this relationship is worth making major sacrifices for.

I guess I’m unusually lucky, but there is No. Question. Whatsover. that I’d place my relationship with my spouse above all other considerations (with the exception of our son, but they come as a matched set so that’s okay).

It also seems that xanthous has outlined a bit of a false choice here. If I understand correctly, family is in the midwest and SO is in California? That’s not exactly an earthshattering distance. (Try keeping family relations going when in-laws live in Ohio, parents live in Mexico, we live in Egypt, and our American house is in Hawaii.) What about e-mail, Skype, birthday presents, and holiday visits? I know that doesn’t make you as close to a kid as daily contact, but heck, if you do want to be THAT close, it is time to reconsider the “no kids” decision.

Apologies if any of the above sounds irritible or critical. It isn’t meant to be at all - xanthous, you have my full sympathy and respect - but I’m trying to keep my SDMB habit a little under control and not lavish hours of attention on every post I make. So that’s my quick, not-edited-for-nuance take on the situation.


raises her hand

When my aunt was made to chose between her husband or her blood family, she chose husband.

We know that if we ever try to make Middlebro choose between us and his wife, she wins. He’ll drop apointments with us on a whim from her. We just bite what we’d say, most of the time, but there’s been already a few times Littlebro and myself have notified him that we’re not counting on his help for some project or other because, well, we know we can’t count on it. If he’s there fine, if not he’s not allowed to get on his high horse about it.

In a group training for “women looking for jobs,” we had this exercise where we had a list of 15 values to put in order. I was the only one who didn’t put “Family” up top; I even had “Friends” higher than “Family”. The other students were aghast; the instructor laughed and said she would have been very surprised if I came up with the same list as the others. I asked them whether by family they meant “parents and siblings”… or “husband and kids.” Ah. Turns out most of them would put “friends” before “parents and siblings,” oops, even though half the group was her parents’ primary caretaker.

This relationship you’re in may be the love of your life. But if it is, sounds like you’re at a point where you really need to evaluate your needs and his and make some changes.

This is pretty much me, except that I’ve yet to find Miss Right (and have stopped looking), and only knew one of my grandparents (the others having died).

Are you really, absolutely, sure you don’t want children? Because it sure sounds like you do.

On the other side, what’s wrong with ringing them frequently and flying over 3-4 times a year? Also consider that your nephews and nieces may currently be in X but there’s no guarantee that they’ll stay there. Are you going to continue to follow them? Because that would be creepy. And what if one set go one way and another set go somewhere else?