MONEY Careers

Get Your Spouse Onboard With Relocating

Before you decide to relocate, find out if your new employer will pay for moving expenses. Photo: bikeriderlondon/Shutterstock

Getting the job was hard enough; convincing your spouse that it’s worth moving for can be even tougher. While employee relocations have been on the rise since 2011 thanks to the thawing real estate and job markets, 61% of people who have declined a far-flung job cited family issues as a reason, according to surveys by moving company Atlas Van Lines.

“Relocating goes way beyond what job you want to do,” explains psychologist Peter Pearson, co-founder of the Couples Institute in Menlo Park, Calif. “It requires a huge leap of faith from your spouse.” Use this talk to help you decide whether this move is the right one for both of you.

The Ground Rules

Ask about help. “Know all the details about what support package the company has to help your family transition before you talk,” says Anne Copeland, founder of the Interchange Institute, which works with families moving abroad.

Buy time. Hiring managers usually understand that out-of-town candidates can’t evaluate an offer overnight. So don’t be afraid to ask for a few weeks or more, says Brenda Harrington, president of Adaptive Leadership Strategies. “You can’t rush this. It isn’t a purchase you can return.”

When You’re Face to Face

1. Open the floor: “They offered me that job in Texas. What do you think? Should we do it?”

Why it works: Acknowledging that this is a joint decision lets your mate know that his or her opinion carries equal weight. “Spouses often feel voiceless because they’re not included in the initial exchanges with the company,” says Copeland.

2. Show empathy: “I know this would be a big change and would mean moving away from your sisters and leaving your job.”

Why it works: You’re letting your spouse know that you understand how much he or she will have to sacrifice. “It seems counterintuitive,” says Copeland, “but articulating the downsides keeps the other person from having to go to an extremely negative point of view to balance you out.”

3. Lay out the stakes: “Taking this job puts me on the path to senior management, and the town’s burgeoning tech scene could offer you a chance to move up.”

Why it works: You’re spelling out not just why the job matters to you, but also how the move could benefit your spouse and family. Showing that you’re thinking through a mate’s concerns can make him or her more receptive, says therapist Lois Bushong.

4. Run the numbers: “Let’s do the math to make sure this move will be a net gain for us.”

Why it works: Distilling the discussion to hard numbers can sway a reluctant spouse. Use a cost-of-living comparison tool, to help make sure your raise won’t be eaten up by higher taxes or home prices, suggests Fairhope, Ala., financial planner Scott McLeod.

5. Suggest a trip: “Why don’t we go there this weekend to see if we like it?”

Why it works: Ultimately, this decision is too important to resolve with a conversation. Visit your potential hometown before deciding, says Bushong. Meeting with a real estate agent, investigating the job market, checking out schools, and getting a sense of what life is like in the new place can put your spouse’s fears at ease — and can set you up for a smoother move.

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