“How can we make the difficult adjustment to move far from home?” Ensign, Sept. 1981, 17–18
Gayle Platt Spjut, Relief Society president, Kingsville Ward, Kingsville, Texas. Here are a few things families might consider as they approach a move away from “home” to facilitate adjustment to their new area.
First, make sure you both pray about your decision to move and about the job offers you accept. If the wife and family feel good about the husband’s decision, then the general attitude about the move will likely be a positive one. After six months of marriage, my husband was offered a job in nearby Colorado and several in Texas. I was born and raised in Utah, and both of our families were there; so the choice seemed obvious—Denver was close and much like home. But after fasting and prayer, we both knew the Lord wanted us in South Texas. He had made it clear, and we were able to look at our move as an adventure in discovering what the Lord had in mind for us.
We had our membership records forwarded to our new ward so they would be expecting us. I believe our bishop even called our new bishop and told him about us, so they were able to find callings for us in a short time. That really helped us to feel a part of the ward soon after our arrival. Once we had moved, our planned budget included a few long distance phone calls each month. A husband often has more opportunity for meeting new people on his job than his wife, who is home much of the time; so an occasional short visit on the phone with family can help ease her feelings of isolation. And of course grandma needs it, too!
Subscribing to the Church News and magazines can help you keep up with events in the Church. And regular correspondence with friends to find out who’s marrying whom, who’s on a mission, and who’s expecting a baby can make your transition much more enjoyable.
Continuing Education classes, P.T.A., volunteer work, and other service can be very rewarding in a new community. Teaching a class on a subject there was a demand for in my area has made me feel that I was making an important contribution and has introduced me to many others with similar interests. We found that our small town didn’t offer too many recreational or social activities. But when we had to choose between sitting home each Friday night or taking square dancing lessons, we took the lessons and discovered it was fun!
You might wish to organize a support group with others in your ward. There are likely many other couples who are away from their families, too. A holiday meal shared or closeness in times of joy and sorrow can be a great comfort when many miles separate family members.
If possible, plan for vacation time to visit relatives, or invite relatives and friends to visit you. The anticipation of planning early has sustained me from one yearly visit to the next. If you can’t visit, be sure their pictures are around so they won’t be strangers to your children. But don’t forget there are always things to do and see in your new location. Even short trips together can create lasting memories for families.
I am reminded of a large family in our ward that always went “home” to Utah for Christmas until the children reminded their parents that “Our home is here.” They realized that trips away at Christmas time were not very meaningful to their children, who would rather stay among friends and familiar surroundings.
Be careful not to dwell on the negative aspects of your new location. People used to ask me how I could stand not being around the mountains, and I would ask them, “Have you ever seen a sunrise or sunset that goes on and on forever because there are no mountains to block the view?” And to the question “Don’t you miss Christmas without snow?” I answer, “Well, our children will be able to ride their new bikes on Christmas and not have to wait for the spring thaw!”
Of course there have been moments when family seemed an eternity away and I have longed for their company. But the blessings that have come from our five years’ experience away from home have been undeniable. My husband and I have grown closer as we have learned to make decisions and solve problems on our own. We depend on each other. We have been given leadership positions in our ward and stake that would not have been available to us in larger wards. We have been greatly aware of the need for missionary work and the power of good example as we represent the Lord’s church to our neighbors. Our testimonies have grown tremendously, as has our appreciation for our Church membership when we realize that we are among the few here who have the true gospel. Despite the distance, our love for our families has also flourished.
If you are struggling to be happy in a new area, remember that you can either decide to be miserable or you can decide to be happy. Husbands are very thankful for wives who joyfully support them in their career goals. And wives appreciate husbands who recognize times of “homesickness” and are there to comfort and reassure. Together, you can make your new experience a positive, happy one.