My wife and I moved abroad to Thailand for three years back in 2016. At that time I did not want to move abroad because my parents were elderly and my father had Parkinson’s. We moved abroad anyway and I left my job for her job as a trailing spouse. We spent three wonderful years there. Now we are back in United States. She now wants to move abroad again but my father has progressed quite a bit. I have spoken with her and told her that I want to be closer to my parents because I’m worried about their health. She has given me ultimatums a few times saying that we are different people. We have two small children. I want to be there for my father but I don’t want my marriage to get ruined and not be able to see my children. Should I leave my parents, or should I separate to care for my father? I don’t want to ruin my marriage over this but she will not compromise.

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Your marriage is already ruined due to the fact that your wife is unwilling to compromise. Marriage is a team effort that requires working together to achieve an end you BOTH agree upon. What if the tables were turned and you were issuing your wife an ultimatum, forcing her to move away from her elderly parent who had a serious disease? How would she feel about that? She doesn't seem to have empathy to be able to see how important it is for you to be there for your father and also keep your marriage together, at least for the sake of your children.

You already gave up your job once and left the US when you didn't want to, if you do it again, you may live to regret it once the resentment kicks in. Then the marriage is compromised AGAIN, even more than it already is!

It sounds like some marriage counseling is in order, if, of course, your wife is willing to see that it's necessary. If not, you have some very serious thinking to do about your future and what you want it to look like.

I'm sorry you're being forced into a corner like this. My husband and I just had a talk last night about teamwork and how vital it is to make a marriage work. Wishing you the best of luck with all you have on your plate.
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Don't let the kids leave the country under any circumstances. It sounds like she wants them out of the US before she files for divorce in a friendlier (to her) jurisdiction. And it does sound like she is orchestrating how best to divorce you.
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Santalynn Dec 2021
I think BikerBob is onto something here quite possibly; consult an attorney just to cover your bases.
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I'm pretty sure you would be getting different advice if you were a woman posting the same dilemma, you need to be there for you children, their needs 100% take precedence over those of your parents.

Your description makes your wife come off as a ball busting alpha witch and you as a milquetoast doormat, do you feel that is an accurate representation of your life? If so then maybe some counselling could help you set healthier boundaries in respect to both your wife and your parents.
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Your marriage takes priority, especially since you have minor children. Is it possible your wife wants to move because you are spending too much time/effort/attention with your parents? Will your father ever be able to transition into a care facility once he can't live on his own (and if he's still married, it may become too much for his spouse to handle)? Will he have the funds for it? Would he be willing, or is he "assuming" you into the caregiving role? As his disease progresses, if he is able and willing to move into a care community he may get better daily care and have more social exposure than being a prisoner in his own home and having his son orbit around him for all his needs. Aging-in-place sounds romantic but often is anything but, especially for the adult children caregivers.

That being said, being given "ultimatums" by your wife isn't healthy. Maybe a few meetings with a marriage counselor will help objectively put things in perspective for the both of you. Your anxiety and sadness are real and understandable, but so is your wife's expectation of not being forever tethered to your parents. A counselor can help sort through it so you both can (hopefully) come to a unified decision.
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BurntCaregiver Dec 2021

Moving further away from aging family to avoid being pressed into caregiver service is understandable. Families have been known to do just that and no judgements.
Packing up their spouses and children then leaving the country is a bit excessive. If they were dealing with my mother, going to the moon to avoid becoming the caregiver would be understandable.
The more probable explanation is the wife wants out of the marriage but doesn't want to be the "bad guy" and just be truthful about it. Making her job the "bad guy" and the reason for an international relocation of her husband and kids, takes any blame off of her.
The poster should start talking with a few divorce lawyers and see what his chances look like to get custody of his kids so they don't have to be uprooted and moved to Thailand.
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Never married person here, but for what it's worth, why would a person want to drag others across the world without discussion or compromise with the significant other? Not only that, but what about the kids? Would they gain from this move? I don't know the state of your relationship, but giving up jobs, family, and friends based on the whim of someone else seems a bit abusive.
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Save your marriage.. My husband and I have been together 11 years. We spent the first 8 constantly taking care of first his mom and stepdad then his dad and stepmom, between being caregivers and working we had no time for each other. Both sets of parents passed 3 years ago and shortly after my husband was diagnosed with Cerebellar Ataxia with Parkinsonism, it progressed quickly so now he is wheelchair bound as the right side of his body is completely useless and his left side is at 50%.

Looking back we realize we should have lived our lives, his parents had had theirs, they had travelled, lived and loved, we never had or will have that again. If he is in a place that takes care of him you have done your job as a son. Zoom him and talk, visit him when you can, but live YOUR life.
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Ok, this may seem harsh for the crybabies, but ill just throw it out there. The wife doesnt auto get the kids in this day and age, so you can keep them and she can hit the road. If she makes more then you get spousal and child support. If you want to care for your dad in his end of life stage and you can handle it until you cant anymore “do it”. Seek out in home care even if just for a couple hours a week to help ease in care by others, and a little free time for you and the kids. Teach your kids compassion, patience, kindness and love. Its all that really matters in this life.
Helpful Answer (13)

lealonnie1 is right. Your marriage is already ruined. It seems to me like your wife is putting this impossible ultimatum on you because she doesn't want to be married to you anymore. By doing it this way, it lets her get out of your marriage and also gives her a way to put the blame on you. She'll use "work" as an excuse for going back to Thailand because that's where she wants to be. It's where she wants to be, not where she has to be. Remember that.
Stay in the United States if that's where you want to be. Don't stay here for your parents and don't become their caregiver. Stay for yourself. I don't know you, but it sure seems to me like you're probably the one who made most or all the sacrifices and compromises in your marriage. That's not fair.
Maybe speak to a divorce lawyer. Also remind your wife that the kids are American citizens and you are their father. That should maybe deter her from getting cute on certain things. Good luck to you.
Helpful Answer (12)

I am surprised you are having this dilemma at all. The idea that you would think about letting go of your marriage and in particular your children, to care for your parents, sounds a bit strange to me.
I would consider taking a good look at your relationship with your wife before deciding anything. Is it possible you have often put your parents first? It is good to look after our parents but how will you feel after they are gone and you have let your children go in the mean time? How will your children feel about that as they grow up learning they did not come first?
You have not said anything much about your relationship with your wife and why she might feel like this but your first step might be to get to the bottom of why she is unhappy and then make decisions on how to compromise.
Good luck.
Helpful Answer (11)

Unfortunately, it appears your wife may be using the situation for control. When someone starts with an ultimatum, "choose me or them" rather than compromise, they usually have an intended plan. In the era of COVID, such a move is not a wise decision for your children. Her insecurity (jealousy?) may cause you to make a decision for your parents care that you will regret later, ultimately destroying what already appears a shaky marriage. You have my sympathy.
Helpful Answer (10)

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