Rosanna in France writes:
I met a man online in November 2007. He lives in New Jersey, I live in France. We are both unhappily married and both in the process of getting divorced. We have managed to meet several times. I have visited him and he has come to France. Once all this is settled and we are both free of our present ties he would like me to move to the States with him. I love him dearly and there is nothing I want more than to live with him, however, it would mean leaving my daughter behind.
She is 17 and will be finishing high school in June. After that she will go to university, but she is very young and even though my friend assures me that I will be able to fly over to see her whenever she needs me, I am torn between my love for this man and my love for my daughter. She is an only child and her father is a lot older than me, I’m 47 her father is 73. Am I being selfish and irresponsible if I go and leave my daughter behind?
Should I insist that my friend move to France (he doesn’t speak French) or should I give up this love which I feel is very special and unique? Many questions and my future is so very uncertain. My job prospects in France are not brilliant and I am not even sure that I’ll be able to support myself once I am divorced, nevermind my American friend. Also I feel that I need to give a strong image to my daughter. Show her that I can manage and also that I can give her support when she needs it. My friend is impatient for us to be together. He has waited all this time but will his patience run out if I say I need more time? Is it fair to ask him to wait even longer?
As we say in America, you are putting the cart before the horse. You are worrying far too much about situations that have yet to develop. Your energy would be much better spent if you focus on these issues as they develop.
Your first challenge is finalizing your divorce process. I’m not sure how things work in France, but it doesn’t seem as if there is currently much movement in that arena – so you do have some time to adjust and plan for all of the changes that are coming your way. Just take things a step at a time. Until there is more clarity with your separation and divorce, all of your worries are taking place on a hypothetical plane.
Start now to prepare yourself for eventually being divorced. The settlement you receive is presenting as fair, but it will not put you in a care-free position. Even though your job prospects in France may not be the greatest, you can secure employment that will generate a modest income. This is something you can create now. Unfortunately, you will be facing an equal amount, possibly greater, challenge in the career arena in the United States. Because of this, you may want to consider brushing up on you education and skills before you start planning an international move. While your boyfriend may promise to take care of you financially, generating your own income is looking like something you want or need to do.
Your daughter is a level-headed young woman, and while she will always need you, she doesn’t need you constantly holding her hand. She is 17, not 7. With or without relocating, the relationship you have with your daughter is about to change. She will quickly adapt to life at university, and, as kids do, embrace her more adult-like responsibilities and freedoms. You certainly aren’t going anywhere before she is settled in, but once she is, it will be easier for you to consider what comes next for you. Your daughter may initially be shocked and face some insecurities over the thought of you leaving the country, but she ultimately will be very supportive.
Your boyfriend is a bit impatient, primarily because he has no certainty that you are willing to leave your old life behind to start a new one with him. He fully understands that you need to know that your daughter is going to be okay, however, he will not wait forever. Understand that he will become more insistent once your daughter is in school. When this happens, I would advise you to arrange for an extended visit to America, to quell your concerns of if you are doing the right thing, and for the right reasons. While there is no question that you and your boyfriend are very much in love, a bit more experience with him would be wise before you pack your bags and move in. This “test run” will make the transition easier on and for all of you.
When you do move to be with this man, you may feel as if you are abandoning your child, and that is something you will have to work through. The adjustment will be challenging, but you will never be more than a phone call away. The hardest adjustment will be coming to terms with only seeing her a few times a year, but this is something that will be harder on you than on her. She is growing up, and while she loves both you and her father dearly, her energy and interests are focused more on experiencing life than hanging out with the folks.