Being just a couple years out from a long distance move myself, I know the importance of keeping your marriage strong in such a stressful transition. I shared a bit of our story in Part One, and you will hear from many other women throughout the week. Hopefully you are encouraged and find some useful advice from those who have walked this road before!
Alan and I were married after a year of dating. We bought our first home in Kentucky. But four months later, Alan was offered a promotion in Chicago. As a life-long Kentucky girl I was apprehensive – we’d just gotten married and bought a house. But after MANY tearful talks and pro/con lists we decided it was professionally a good move. Later we would learn it was immensely good for us personally as well.
After one month, we bought a home. While I was still job hunting, we received shocking news – we were pregnant! Not our timing, but perfect timing. Issues like finances and friendships became escalated.
So within 18 months I’d met my husband, gotten engaged, married, bought a house, moved cities, bought another house, changed jobs, and become pregnant. For a girl who likes to meticulously evaluate a decision, this was crazy! Reflecting on that time, we both are so thankful for that first large test of our devotion to our covenant and support of each other. It prepared us for other things we had and will face in our marriage.
Here are a few pieces of great advice to help you keep it together in your new city.
Plan for the financial strain.
With only one income, we quickly developed a strict budget and plan.
1. We tried hard to eat at home most of the week
2. We would eat out once a week
3. Once a month, we would go out to a really nice date restaurant
After I picked up some hours at a local boutique we had money to plan for the baby and enjoy new things in the city. We also made special occasions memorable with creativity instead of expense. The home-cooked meal and gift my husband gave me on our first anniversary will be one I always remember as a genuine reflection of his love, simply done in the walls of our new home. At times the money issue weighed heavy on us, but we found if we were wise and planned ahead we could still enjoy little perks.
Budget for the extra expenses, but also budget date night money as a priority! My friend Heather, almost two years into their marriage, shared with me about their recent move.
In addition to traditionally setting back money, I saved with gift cards. We knew we were moving when we got married and so I intentionally saved a portion of the gift cards we received as wedding gifts. This took care of necessities for the new house as well as let me nest guilt-free. Since we moved just after Christmas, we also asked for gift cards to restaurants which gave us some free date-nights in our new city!
Also, check into the tax deductions you can receive for relocation expenses.
Make a list of local things to explore!
Take advantage of new restaurants, parks, and attractions that you may only have a short chance to enjoy. Plan to take time and spend money to help you have fun together.
Every season, Ben and I try to make a bucket list of places to eat, things to visit, and activities we want to share together. It helps us to creatively have fun together and try new things.
Live like you’re making permanent roots.
It wasn’t until I decided I would live like I was staying here forever that I really loved our new home. I’m glad I did, because our planned one-year stay has turned into our home. Find ways to meet people and get involved. Join a class at the gym, become a regular at a coffee shop, or find somewhere to volunteer. Get good at initiating friendships as an individual and as a couple. Alan and Winona did a great job of this:
Alan quickly cultivated a friendship at work, and I began to feel a bit isolated at home. I’d never moved before, but Alan assured me that finding friends takes time. After meeting a wife of Alan’s work friend that didn’t quite match up to my old friends, I had to quickly realize that I wasn’t replacing my friends but simply making new ones. Today, the couple Alan met through work are close friends of ours that we talk to regularly and even vacation with.
Finding a church and joining a small group was another important step in building a social network. They were kind and loving, and shared in our excitement of a new baby. They dog-sat for us, helped with projects, and we regularly shared meals together. I also stretched my comfort zone by meeting other moms from the shop where I worked. We had playdates or coffee, which was a healthy dose of girl’s time. It was nice to learn from moms at different stages of life, since Alan and I were treading new ground.
Whatever stage you are in, live in the present and remember to be patient. If you’re struggling with a recent move, just remember that you’re in a really special transition time and that you’re never alone. Check back during the rest of moving week for the remaining two posts!