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Prioritizing permanence and putting down roots

Carolyn Hax, Advice Columnist

Updated: Tuesday, September 26, 2017, 3:01 AM

Adapted from a recent online discussion.

Question: I'm at a loss as to how to put roots down and make a home. I've been moving around nationally and globally every two to three years, both within and between jobs, and I think it has affected my ability to feel at home anywhere. I really want to commit to a place, which means committing to a job, typically. I'm in a niche field, not a lot of options in a particular area, at least not in an area I like.

I'm finding that really hard to do because advancement in my job usually requires moving or changing jobs. I'm also having a hard time committing to a partner - I'd like to, but each relationship ended for individually good reasons that collectively make me look like I probably have commitment/trust issues. Therapy hasn't yielded any insights deeper than what I'd see in a women's magazine.

I've even bought homes with every intention of making a go of it, only to have my job (or divorce in one case) pull me away within three years.

Where do I even start in settling down? Drifting around is beginning to numb me.

Answer: Find the common denominator to your moves, and change it. Different line of work? Sacrificing advancement for permanence?

Choosing anything fully and permanently means automatically sacrificing something else, because you can't have everything. Moving for a career means sacrificing roots in one place; roots in one place mean sacrificing moves to advance your career; choosing this place means you never put down roots in that place; marrying this person means not pursuing or even getting to know all those other people.

It's fine to keep not making these permanent choices as long as you are comfortable with the consequences. But you're not comfortable anymore. So now that you've decided to decide on something more permanent, the next step is to start weighing one stay-vs.-go option at a time and start making up your mind.

That is, unless one of the choices is so appealing it makes up your mind for you. It sounds as though you haven't had that particular bit of luck, which is OK - it just means you have to be more mindful and deliberate in your choosing.

Question: A few years ago, my husband took a new job to "scratch an itch" about working in a particular field. I strongly objected to the job, which is in a field I have long been morally and vocally opposed to, but supported his choice.

At this point, I feel like the itch has been scratched, and it is time for him to find a new job. He disagrees and wants to continue in the job indefinitely. This divergence of views is causing tension in our relationship. What do we do?

Answer: You take it or leave it, I'm afraid. This is who your husband is. Can you remain in the marriage, all-in?

If not, tell him that's how serious this is for you - not as an ultimatum, but as a statement of fact - and take preliminary steps to get out.

Comment: I'm really curious about what the job/industry is.

Reply: Stripper? Lobbyist?

tellme@washpost.com.

Chat with Carolyn Hax online at noon Fridays at www.washingtonpost.com.

Carolyn Hax, Advice Columnist

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