He's Keeping Her from Her Family

Q: My husband and I have had a great relationship since we married three years ago. At that time I left my country and haven't been back to visit my family, for lack of money. We only have enough money right now for one person to go, and that person would be me. My husband wants to bring my mother here but I want to go over there because that way I could see my entire family and friends that I miss so much. He told me that I will never go back by myself because no husband would let their wife go across the world by herself. He said he is worried that something could happen. I don't know what to do. I don't know what is worth fighting for, him or my family. --Tatiana

Dr. Susan: It's always been hard for women to leave their family of origin behind and start a new life far away with a new husband. Let's give your husband the benefit of the doubt and assume he does try to understand what you're going through, what you've willingly given up to be with him. Four years is a long time to be far from all your friends and family. And no one should be put into a position of feeling they have to choose between husband or family. I wonder if he knows how strongly you feel about this visit. You need to talk with him to find out why he's so intensely uncomfortable about you taking a trip on your own. It's not enough for him to say "no husband would allow it." That's simply not true, but I suspect that in his circle of friends or in his own original culture, it may indeed be true. He might fear you won't come back to him. Or if it's a dangerous part of the world (and what isn't?), he might be afraid to have you travel there alone. Is it you he doesn't trust or the rest of the world?

It would be ideal if you two could go together. That would be a bonding experience for the marriage, rather than a threat. You said you can't afford this, but I wonder if you've considered every possibility. Perhaps if you waited another several months? Maybe you could borrow some of the money? I rarely counsel anyone to go into debt, but this is one case where the benefit to both of you might outweigh the usual inhibitions. Worse comes to worse, bring your mother here, since you don't want to postpone seeing her until it's too late. Then start saving toward a trip for both you and your husband as soon as you can manage it. Above all, figure out a way to solve this problem together.

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