Life & Culture

Ask Hilary: Why won't he move north?

Our Agony Aunt dispenses advice to a worried newly-wed and a barmitzvah boy with bickering parents.


QTwo years ago, I moved from Manchester to London to be with my boyfriend. He’s now my fiancé and, while I love the life we have together, I miss my family and close friends desperately. While discussing our wedding plans recently, I raised the topic of kids and where we’d raise them. I want to be closer to my support network when I become a mother, but he’s adamant he’d never move to my part of the world. I’m crushed, but wonder if I’m making too much of the problem; after all, we’re not even married yet. On the other hand, if we’re committing to a marriage, a family seems like the next step and I’m keen to keep our options open. How can I make him understand how important this is to me?


A You’re not making too much of this problem at all. It’s much more sensible to work out issues like this before you’re married, than after. In fact, if more couples thought through their plans for the future and ironed out the differences between them before they headed up the aisle, the divorce rate would be a lot lower.

You clearly love your fiancé dearly. You’ve made sacrifices to be with him — you moved down south for him. All you’re asking is that he is prepared to do the same for you.

You need to sort this out now or resentment will start to grow. Your fiancé has to understand that successful relationships require compromise, give and take from both partners. He’s had it all his own way so far, and his intransigence about this suggests that’s how he plans to continue having it. That’s not fair.

Talk to him. Ask him why he feels so strongly about not moving to be nearer your family. Does he realise how much this is upsetting you? It’s possible that the real problem is that he’s not ready to have kids, so the idea of both this and having to uproot his life is scaring him.

Make it clear you’re not asking him to move tomorrow, just to be open to the possibility when the time is right. Believe me, when you do eventually have kids and he realises how helpful it is to have a grandparent on hand to baby-sit, he’ll probably move like a shot.

You may find it really helpful to get the help of an outside party. Why not contact the relationship counselling organisation, Relate ( They provide premarital counselling services which are a great idea for any couple about to tie the knot, especially with important issues to discuss.


QMy barmitzvah is coming up and my parents won’t stop arguing about everything — the service (Mum wants egalitarian, Dad wants traditional), the party, the menu, who to invite — everything. I just want them to stop! Nobody has asked what I want and, to be honest, I don’t care anymore. I feel like saying that I won’t go through with the whole thing. I’m stressed enough about my barmitzvah as it is without Mum and Dad making it worse. What can I do?


AHave you ever seen the film Big, in which Tom Hanks plays a 12-year-old boy who wishes he was bigger and wakes up to find he’s been transformed into a 30-year-old man? That’s what came to mind when I read your letter. You may only be on the cusp of turning 13, but you are the one being the mature, sensible grown-up here, while it’s your parents who are acting like kids — and spoilt brats at that.

We both know that they’re doing this because they’re proud of you and want the best for you — to give you the perfect barmitzvah of each of their dreams — but they’re going about it entirely the wrong way, and they should not have put you under this extra stress. It is your day, not theirs, and they’d do well to remember that.

The chances are they have no idea how you upset you’re feeling about this. Perhaps if they realised that they risk turning you off your barmitzvah altogether, they would start behaving like rational adults. You need to let them know. Bringing up an issue like this can be awkward and scary, but you’ll feel so much better once you’ve got your feelings out into the open, I promise.

Why not call a house meeting, so you’ve got them both together at the same time. Sit down around a table and calmly tell them how you feel, and ask them to stop their bickering. Make them re-focus on what’s important. They will probably feel very stupid and upset with themselves. Good luck.


Contact Hilary via email at, anonymously or not. Or write to her at 28 St Albans Lane, London NW11 7QF


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