Carolyn Hax: Can a relationship with different climate needs be saved? – Lifotravel



Hi, Carolyn! My boyfriend and I are at a crossroads. I just moved across the country to a dream city and want him to join me. It’s a chilly northern city. I love the snow, cold, mountains and am unhappy in hot climates. I left the D.C. area because the summers were killer for me. He is a sun-seeker from the Southwest and doesn’t want to live somewhere cold and dark.

I want him to move here with me, and I feel that it’s easier to put on a sweater and plan warm vacations than to suffer in hot climates day-to-day, and I’m struggling to find ways I could live somewhere hot. Is there any hope of compromising in this scenario? Do we trade off climates every few years?

Hot and Cold: There is no hope of “compromising in this scenario” as long as your plan is to decide unilaterally and without evidence that it’s “easier” for him to accommodate you than for you to accommodate him. After you’ve already moved.

That is the logic of someone who needs to be single right now.

If instead you are sincere about being coupled, then you will ask your boyfriend, not me, the trade-off-climates question. (Is he pro-roots or pro-novelty? Do you know?) If you’re sincere, then you will curl up together with your favorite search engine to see what climate offers enough of what each of you likes to make both of you happy, since not all heat is D.C. swamp heat.

And you will have done a lot of the preliminary talk while you were still dating, because these are not obscure remedies or conversations of advanced intimacy. They’re, “Hey, what about Northern California?”

So the real question is what your real question is. You want what you want and you already moved away from your boyfriend to get it, and he already nixed your mountains or else there’d be no issue to write to me about, and meet-each-other-halfway climates were so obvious you either ruled them out or left before you looked.

I’m not sure what else that leaves, except the question between the thermometer lines: whether you’re ready to admit to yourself, and him, that you’re choosing place over person. Right now, you aren’t ready so you’re just declaring it logical that his needs don’t count.

But if preferring mountains over man is how you really feel, then saying so is more of a kindness than dragging it out under the pretense of, “Gosh, gee, what do we do?”

Dear Carolyn: My sister and I have teen children close in age. My sister is very structured and rule-based, but as my kids have gotten older, I have relaxed the rules and I allow them to self-regulate. I don’t have rules about screen times, for example, because my kids are involved in lots of other activities and don’t overuse their screens. I don’t have rules about food because I generally just buy food I consider wholesome and they eat what is available, though we do sometimes buy soda and chips, etc., and the kids will snack on them.

When my sister and her kids visit, she is always resentful that she has to relax her rules with her kids because I don’t impose them on mine. Is there a fair way of handling this? Our teens are 16 to 18, and I feel my kids would resent their cousins’ visits if it meant their freedoms were curtailed. We don’t visit my sister’s home for the same reason.

Relaxed: The cousins are 16-plus and still can’t eat chips, what?

That’s not what this is about, but it’s kind of too distracting not to say out loud.

I think you might be distracted, too.

The lunacy vs. sanity parental-cage-match narrative is seductive for sure and probably makes both of us feel all fist-bumpy and right — but it’s a pointless battle that siblings can only (both) lose.

With luck you two will have 80-ish years together, of which you’ll spend maybe two in conflict over late-teen-snacks-and-screens policy. What you think of your sister’s rigidity is less important than your commitment to flowing around it … somehow, just for these last couple of years, just for the greater good.

Plus, you have older children with enough agency — both inherent and parentally bestowed — to help decide how to navigate these differences. They know their cousins have different rules. They know their aunt is holding onto those rules past their sell date. So how do they suggest approaching family visits, toward emerging with bonds intact?

“With more than self-interest in mind” is the right answer, of course, both in general and specifically because their cousins are in the tougher spot. At a minimum, your kids can choose not to be jerks at Auntie’s. They might not even need your nudging to grasp this. It’s a great exercise in empathy, the essential companion to self-regulation. Not to mention a life skill unto itself.

This will get harder before it gets easier — surely chips aren’t the kids’ only temptation? — but stay focused. This will resolve itself.

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