Editor's Note: This is IrishCentral's new advice column from Molly Murphy. Depressed by living an emigrant’s life? Dealing with relationship problems, torn between Ireland and America? Write to our advice columnist, the highly skilled relationship advisor Molly Murphy at DearMolly@IrishCentral.com.
Dear Molly, I'm American and my husband is Irish. We are both in our late thirties and have two kids, a boy, 10, and a girl, 8.
Our problem is that my Irish husband, who has lived and worked in the US now for fifteen years, is desperately homesick for Ireland even though he has been here a decade and a half.
This started off as a small issue, with an occasional argument, but more and more we clash about it. We have gone from a grounded, loving, and sincere couple to a relationship in deep crisis.
He cites his family at home, his desire to educate our kids over there, and the fact that he is missing his family and new nephews and nieces very much. Most of all, however, he misses his parents who are getting older (both in their mid-sixties) and it breaks his heart to leave them after our annual summer trip home to his people.
He initially loved the US but more and more he has become disillusioned, especially during the pandemic when three of his mates moved back.
I see it very differently. We are living the American dream in my eyes, both working in successful jobs, with my large extended family providing constant togetherness and support. My parents love him and my siblings think we are very lucky. However, I feel like there is a ticking bomb ready to go off. Basically, I don’t want to live in rural Ireland period and it is looking more like he wants to quit America. Any advice?
Molly Ivors Responds
Living a longing life, in this case for Ireland and family, is a tough experience. Your husband is facing unknown territory as he gets older and realizes he may never move home. Right now, he is trying to negotiate a safe and fulfilled life as a married outsider, which is how he may actually think of himself. Don’t believe the version of the American dream that all immigrants thrive. Just pay a visit to your local bar to see the sad lives for many who missed the gold in the streets.
So understand his fear is coming from a real place. But you too need the comfort and security of knowing how your life will be, so you both need to make a decision. one you can both agree on and stick to come hell or high water.
The decision is also critical for your kids, who I’m sure already sense the uncertainty in the marriage.
Here is my first piece of advice. You can’t live in two countries, cold and harsh but true, so don’t even try any such arrangement. You owe it to yourselves and your kids to make a full commitment whichever you pick.
Basically, you have to answer which situation is better for everyone, and staying in America, giving certainty to your and your kid’s lives wins out easily. The path back to Ireland is strewn with couples who could never connect properly again. It is much easier if both are from Ireland which makes it an equal fit, but that is not the case here.
What can be done if the decision is made to stay here? Building a suitable holiday home in Ireland if you can afford it (you mentioned you both had very successful careers) and stretching the length of stays there to two or even three summer months could end up being the smartest way to maneuver around such a complex issue. You must allow him his Irish dream while you both live your American one. As I see it there is no easy answer, only a hard road whatever choice you make.