Dr. Mike,

My husband has been offered a promotion to a new position on the West Coast, but his company needs him to relocate by March!  If he doesn’t accept, they will give him a severance package, but then he’s without a job and I stay at home.  The move would have a higher salary, which is great, but I know for certain that moving abruptly will be difficult on our 3 children since Ashburn has always been their home.  It will be especially difficult for our two older children in high school.  My parents live in NOVA and my husband’s parents live 2 hours away in PA, and the children will also lose their connection to their grandparents if we move.  Simply put, he wants us all to go, and I don’t.  His point is that he has a very high position (he’s a VP in his company) and positions and salaries like his don’t come along every day, which is true.  My position is that he should put his family first and money second.  Period.  Even with my not working, we’ve saved and invested well and even if he’s out of work for an extended period of time, I’m confident that he’d eventually find something good in NOVA and it will all work out.  Your help is appreciated.

Help in Loudoun

Dear Help,

There are several factors to consider here, and I agree that your children’s needs should be a big part of the decision you make as a family.  However, your husband’s point that finding employment as a VP could take time is a valid one.  In his sector or industry higher level positions may not open often, and he may indeed remain unemployed for an extended period or he may need to settle for a lesser position in the area if he rejects the offer.  I think the two of you need to evaluate your finances and your long-term goals.  For instance, if your husband doesn’t relocate, how long can you maintain your current standard of living?  Could not relocating impact your retirement plans?  Rather than thinking of your situation as an all or nothing moment where your husband gets his way or you and your children get yours, is there the possibility of a compromise as an alternative option?  This could include your husband relocating to the West Coast on his own and flying back and forth for visits until the end of the school year.  COVID-19 has demonstrated that teams don’t need to always work physically together to be successful, and perhaps he could take the role while remaining virtual a portion of the time?

With the likelihood of virtual learning continuing, perhaps your children could try to complete the year in their current schools virtually from the west coast?  This may allow them to maintain social connections, which will certainly be harder to do in a new school when managing social distance.  If you consider this on a trial basis, your family could make the move and see if there are benefits to the new town and how they feel about it while still attending NOVA schools.  If at the end of the school year the children’s struggles seem to great, then perhaps your husband could start a job search back in NOVA, with the added benefit of his higher title and broadened experience to aid in his search.  In my experience as a psychologist that works a lot with families, children and teens adjust fine to work related relocations as long as the approach to the transition and new experience is reasonable.

Unfortunately, there is no right answer to these types of decisions.  The key is to support each other, to listen to each other and to maintain an open mind to new experiences as a family.


Michael Oberschneider, Psy.D. “Dr. Mike” is a clinical psychologist in private practice.
He can be reached at 703-723-2999, and is located at 44095 Pipeline Plaza, Suite 240, Ashburn