Today’s question is one that actually comes up quite a bit, with variations.
Let’s sit around the kitchen table and have a chat about it, shall we? Especially since dear C’s email keeps bouncing, so I can’t reply to her privately (those Mac.com emails are bouncing, huh?).
Dear Auntie Leila,
I really appreciate all your sage advice. [Aw, so sweet!] My question is this: when one’s husband is unexpectedly at the end of a career path and searching for something new (and urgently), what should we try to prioritize as a family assuming any of these might be factors – actually making ends meet, geographical location, his vocational fulfillment, school options for the children, moving nearer extended family (kind of spread out, unfortunately), low cost of living, vibrant parish? Just generally, how does a wife support him in this and help re-craft our family vision?
I think that God has a way of getting us to where we need to be, especially if we just ask Him outright. So don’t forget to do that!
Normally (I mean, barring a miracle), our children’s faith is learned and kept because the place where we worship is truly oriented to worship — church is not a self-affirmation project, little club, or entertainment center.
The family really can’t do this alone.
It’s often impossible to find this out beforehand, but the community that supports true worship would include some like-minded people — others, even one family, who are trying to live differently and who have the fortitude to commit to a life that is a bit different — other moms who are devoted to home, other families who sacrifice and aren’t putting material things first, a group of people who are more daring in terms of family size…
Nothing’s perfect, but having friends is very important! Do check out the St. Greg’s Pocket list — it might help clinch a deal!)
The Chief adds: When I talk to kids about courtship (or friendship in general), I point out that “you” are a somewhat different “you” in different circumstances and with different people. So you want to choose a spouse (or friends) who make “you” the “you” that you really want to be. The good “you.” There may be something similar about choosing a community: Try to imagine yourself living in Town A, then imagine in Town B. In which case do you see your family being what you really want it to be— and what God wants it to be?
So now you get down to the real work of finding a place to live.
And now, the uber-scientific approach to relocation, a veritable algorithm, cooked up by your resident math geniuses, the Lawlers:
The Desirability Quotient!
When the Chief and I were making this sort of change, we actually made an informal spreadsheet or glorified list. We assigned points to a house based on all the criteria, from trivial to vital, that we could think of.
We really made a science of it, if science is when you try to quantify the subjective with a changing metric.
And it passed the time when we were driving all over tarnation looking at properties.
I wish I had kept that sheet of paper.
Here’s how it worked: Assign points to every and any attribute that strikes you about a house. Like this:
[This part edited because of course I posted it wrong at first.] Add the points up. Divide that number by the asking price of the house (drop the last zeros) to get your “Desirability Quotient”!
For instance, if a property scores 40, and the asking price is $250,000, drop the zeros, divide 40 by 250, and voila! DQ = .16 — so, 16 for that house. If another one is the same price but you gave it 50 points, that gives you a DQ of .20 — so, 20 for conversational purposes; that one is superior (as long as you are considering houses you can actually afford, of course).
If nothing else, it tells you which house/location/life you really want in your heart of hearts, because you find yourself secretly manipulating points so that the DQ comes out the way you want it to.
But again, making ends meet is the brick wall! Good thing, or we’d never be sure what God’s will is, for real.
A wife supports her husband by thinking all these things through alongside of him as he discerns what his new path in life is going to be. You better believe he feels the weight of the responsibility for his family on his shoulders! Your conversations help him a lot, as does your cheerful confidence that he will do what is necessary to provide for you all.
As you know, a wife doesn’t make the burden heavier by worrying and fretting and posing hypotheticals that involve failure. Just do what you are doing. You are doing a wonderful job by trying to analyze the situation and help him figure things out.
You will see — it will all work out. There is no perfect place to live on earth, but when you’re together, figuring things out as a family, that’s heaven.
Be patient and meanwhile, use your cleverness in the many areas that will become clear as you forge ahead (being frugal, getting organized, traveling light).
Lots of love and a big hug,