Author Topic: My life is a mess - or atleast it looks like that to me  (Read 3590 times)

firelight

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My life is a mess - or atleast it looks like that to me
« on: July 07, 2018, 02:43:01 AM »
Hi MMMers,

I've been battling this feeling that my life is a mess and I'm doomed to fail even though by all aspects, I have a decently good life. So I'm coming to my trusted group to help me work it out.

About me:30 year old mom to two wonderful kids (toddler and baby), have a decent career (successful by most standards, failing by mine), have a great marriage (I'm beyond lucky to have an understanding and loving husband who is perfect for me in every way), we are comfortably FI for LCOL, barebones FI for MCOL and have serious FU money for the VHCOL we are in. Parents are in great health and continue to take care of their health and finances and are super cool to hang out with. My in-laws are ok but have some health issues and some mental hangups.

Some cons in my life: I'm non US citizen, and even though I've been in US for more than a decade (came here for my undergrad), I still am on work visa and it would take atleast another 5-10 years to get green card. As a result, I can't switch jobs, companies, go remote, start a business (my goal growing up) or do anything that the vast majority of people can do. I can't even FIRE till we get our green cards. Even going back to school is a risk in current political climate. I also made the mistake of starting as a software developer engineer instead of product management or design. I'm good at my work (earn decently well for my age and experience with a good work life balance (which I highly prize and I know is super rare where I live) in a well known company so prestige is not an issue) but I feel I'm wasting my time coding since I really need to learn either design, sales or people management for it to be relevant for my business goals in future. And I can't gain these experiences in my company due to visa issues and my company policies. I feel I'm stuck. I see my friends become managers and directors and I'm worried I'm not growing at the same rate. My husband took a back seat in his career to help me grow mine and now both our careers are stalled.

I love my kids and husband but of late, I feel weighed down. As any other woman would attest, I do most of the work at home even though my husband is awesome in helping out. We've gotten better at splitting work after second kid but there is just so much work to do. We do throw money at the problem (child care, housecleaning, eat out when needed, etc) but the daily grind of tending to small kids is taking a toll on me. My husband doesn't believe in time alone. He would happily spend every waking minute with kids and expects me to do the same when we are home. He feels guilty that kids are already in full time daycare while we are working and feels it's a disservice to them to put them in more childcare while we go out or relax or do individual hobbies. I try to read books when kids sleep, carve some me time during the weekdays when kids are in school but somedays I want to run away from it all. So much so that, recently, I was jealous of a divorced friend since she got two weekends per month for herself.

We don't own a house. Even though we could've gotten one in 2011-13 period, we didn't due to some issues with in-laws. Then we didn't since we were having our first kid and were not sure how things will turn out. Fast forward now, the prices are crazy high ($2M+ for a1970s house in a regular neighborhood) and I feel stupid for not buying then and keep bashing myself. Whenever I see friends that bought at that time (almost everyone I know that have two incomes and young kids), I feel insanely jealous and feel as if I'm a failure. The constant changing homes (we rent) isn't helping either. We can't do any modifications, we have to spend time settling down at every house and it is frankly tiring to figure out the closest and best stores, parks, library, schools, roads, routes, etc everytime we move. Our networth is pretty good and on par with others (we invested in stocks and have a good cash buffer) but the emotional drama around the house is crazy.

I also feel irritated/sad that my older relatives or close friends didn't tell us how important buying a house is when we were at that stage of life. They bought houses, settled down, etc when they were our ages but didn't tell us we need to even though they knew we were thinking about it. I feel I don't have anyone IRL I can trust to give me good life advice or to tell me what to do at what times, what to look out for, etc.

My parents are good with advice but my parents and in-laws want us to move back to my home country so we can be near them as they grow older. Due to various reasons, moving back is not possible. So both sets of parents discourage any investment in US. Especially my in-laws vehemently opposed us from buying a house here when we looked seriously. And now they say we live a life of hardship since we don't own a house :( never mind the savings we have or our work life balance or our kids or the nonmonetary ways our lives are richer.

We are also not sure we want to settle in the VHCOL area. At times I feel it's best to move to a place with lower pace in life. At other times I feel I'd be missing out on the tremendous growth opportunities that our area gives. And frankly I don't want to be seen as someone that failed to thrive here and moved to a lower pace life.

Our support system is barely existent. Even though we have friends here, it's a rotating door since people come and go due to changes in life (people leave because it's crazy expensive). And it's hard to socialize with small kids in tow if you don't already have a network of friends. This contributes to a lot of feelings of unsettledness as well.

In short, everything about my life is great on paper but I'm not happy with my career, not happy with our financial choices (I'd have bought the damn house in 2012 if I knew it would cause me so much angst now) and not happy with family/friends. I'm not sure what I can do to fix it. I feel stuck.

Please help me figure out what is going on and what I can do to make life happier.
« Last Edit: July 07, 2018, 03:05:19 AM by firelight »

UnleashHell

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Re: My life is a mess - or atleast it looks like that to me
« Reply #1 on: July 07, 2018, 04:47:56 AM »
I'd focus on starting the green card process as it opens many options to you.
also ignore the parental advice re buying a house if thats so important to you. you are in the states and see what is fine to spend money on and what isn't. That'll help with the grounding.

Having the green card gives you a level of security and mental peace that you won't get with a work visa (I went the same route).
it may also stabilise the network to an extend with kids in school and settled.  if you are on a work vise you might not be able to just quit for fire anyway.
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Inzanedrop

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Re: My life is a mess - or atleast it looks like that to me
« Reply #2 on: July 07, 2018, 05:25:15 AM »
Just wanted to drop by and say that I think everything will be OK for you in the end, and good luck on your journey!


Retire-Canada

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Re: My life is a mess - or atleast it looks like that to me
« Reply #3 on: July 07, 2018, 07:00:17 AM »
In short, everything about my life is great on paper but I'm not happy with my career, not happy with our financial choices (I'd have bought the damn house in 2012 if I knew it would cause me so much angst now) and not happy with family/friends. I'm not sure what I can do to fix it. I feel stuck.

Please help me figure out what is going on and what I can do to make life happier.

When you have by all accounts a great life and can't find the happiness in it that's a mental health issue. I would find a professional you can talk to. Because here is the thing even if you had bought a house in 2012, even if you were a US citizen, even if you were moving up in management, even if you had more personal time there would be things to be dissatisfied with. Your friends or family have have bought better houses and a lower price or done renos that look nicer than yours. Your colleagues might be rising faster up the management ranks than you.

Most of the happiness equation is not about external things so if you are not happy now with a great life adding a few nicer things to the mix won't change what's going on internally that is causing you grief.

brooklynmoney

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Re: My life is a mess - or atleast it looks like that to me
« Reply #4 on: July 07, 2018, 07:06:54 AM »
I think you should try to crave out more me time. Like maybe get up early to take a walk before the kids wake up or you and your husband rotate a weekend afternoon with the kids so you can go get a massage or go on a short hike or whatever.

Ms. Frugal Lawyer

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Re: My life is a mess - or atleast it looks like that to me
« Reply #5 on: July 07, 2018, 07:52:40 AM »
There's a lot to unpack here. 

I echo Retire-Canada's advice that going to a counselor for at least a few sessions may be helpful.  You can likely do that for free during work hours through your employer's employee assistance program.  It's completely confidential and can be a big help.  It would give you someone to talk through these issues, help you identify what you really want, and help give you tools to deal with the negative emotions and make positive changes.

I also think it would be good to confide in your loving husband and let him know how much you're struggling.  I understand wanting to spend as much time as possible with the kids on weekends, but not at the expense of your mental health.  He may not fully understand how hard a time you're having right now.  And given your warm description of him, he'll likely want to help and support you once he understands.  Switching off so kids are with one parent while the other gets a break is something we do all the time.  It really helps us each keep our sanity, enjoy our life, and keep us happy and grateful to be with the kids rather than it feeling like a grind.  I highly recommend it.  And don't feel bad for feeling like you need some me time or a break.  It's completely normal and to be expected when you have two small children! 

I would also try to honestly explore what options you have.  You seem to feel stuck and a bit helpless.  But I think we usually have a lot more power than we realize. I can't say what's right for you and I don't know all your circumstances, but I would look more closely at a few things.  Being a software developer, I'm guessing you're on an H-1B visa.  Can you port it over to another employer in a lower cost of living location?  That would allow you guys to buy a house if that's what you really want.  It may also allow your husband to stay home with the kids if that's something you guys wanted and would make things easier.  Again, I don't know what it is you really want though.  With two very small children, having family help can make a real difference.  Might that make it worth it for you guys to move back to your home country?  Especially if a US $ stash would go a long way there?  Or move to another country with a lower cost of living and less restrictive visa options?  It sounds like you don't have a strong support structure/community in your current location, so moving may be a decent option.  These suggestions may be way off base, but the point is to really look at what is possible.  You're never truly stuck.

Finally, I would stop looking to others to tell you what you should or should not be doing (which I get is a little ironic since I am a complete stranger telling you what you should/shouldn't do).  How can others know what you really want?  If you follow your own desires and well-thought out decisions, you are much less likely to regret your choices than if you follow what others tell you to do and it's not really what you want.  So I'd suggest time talking with a counselor, talking with your husband, and really thinking about what your options are and what it is that you really value and need right now.  Then make it happen.  Because you are a smart, savvy mustachian that can do this.  Best of luck! 

BTDretire

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Re: My life is a mess - or atleast it looks like that to me
« Reply #6 on: July 07, 2018, 08:42:52 AM »
In short, everything about my life is great on paper but I'm not happy with my career, not happy with our financial choices (I'd have bought the damn house in 2012 if I knew it would cause me so much angst now) and not happy with family/friends. I'm not sure what I can do to fix it. I feel stuck.

Please help me figure out what is going on and what I can do to make life happier.

When you have by all accounts a great life and can't find the happiness in it that's a mental health issue. I would find a professional you can talk to.

 I think a professional would help you realize that you have let the parents set expectations. And they are set such that conflict with your expectations. It is hard that you can't make some moves you want because of the citizenship situation. Just accept it and work towards getting the papers you need.
   You can do online classes to move toward some of your goals while waiting for a change of status.
   Good luck, just add a little self acceptance of your situation and reduce the parental input.
 As you say, "by all accounts a great life" and you do, you just have high expectations causing you grief.




use2betrix

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Re: My life is a mess - or atleast it looks like that to me
« Reply #7 on: July 07, 2018, 08:56:15 AM »

I also feel irritated/sad that my older relatives or close friends didn't tell us how important buying a house is when we were at that stage of life. They bought houses, settled down, etc when they were our ages but didn't tell us we need to even though they knew we were thinking about it. I feel I don't have anyone IRL I can trust to give me good life advice or to tell me what to do at what times, what to look out for, etc.


If they told you to buy in ‘07, then “life happens” and you HAD to move in ‘09, you’d certainly be singing an awfully different tune. Don’t blame others for things that are ultimately your decision to do research and make choices. That only fuels your unhappiness - take responsibility and move on. If you’re that irritated I’m sure it shows when you’re around them which causes a whole other set of issues. Especially for something that’s not their fault.

craiglepaige

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Re: My life is a mess - or atleast it looks like that to me
« Reply #8 on: July 07, 2018, 09:35:35 AM »
Most of the happiness equation is not about external things so if you are not happy now with a great life adding a few nicer things to the mix won't change what's going on internally that is causing you grief.


In this particular case, yes and no.

Like OP said, on paper her life seems great, but when examined with the information she provided, it's obvious there are a lot of things that could be better, not within herself but with the world around her.

I hated renting (actually I once rented a super cheap/awesome place that I miss once in a while) and absolutely love owning a home. That's not a mental health issue per say, where a health professional can change my mindset. I hated giving money to someone else, just like I would never lease a car.  OP feels angry that she was "persuaded" out of buying a home when the houses were affordable and now everything has gone up. I too would be upset.

Regarding personal time, absolutely nothing wrong with that either. If she knows she wants more personal time, why would a health professional try to change that? I love my two sons and wife, but yeah, I need ME time too. Just like my wife does. OP needs to have a conversation with her husband and figure out what works best for both their schedules..

Regarding the visa, I don't know enough to have an opinion other than saying, "Best of luck!".

Now, and I feel like an idiot for contradicting myself, I would still consider seeing a counselor/professional to determine there are no other issues that may be causing your depression. I don't think anything you posted is wrong or should be "called out" but I do think talking with someone and making sure you are internally solid, is a good idea.

Best of luck!
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havregryn

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Re: My life is a mess - or atleast it looks like that to me
« Reply #9 on: July 07, 2018, 10:56:14 AM »
Hey firelight, I probably can't help you much with anything concrete as we live in Europe so most of the logistics you are facing are distant to us, but I wanted to tell you that you are not alone in this as everything you wrote resonates perfectly with me and I know it then also comes with a feeling of abstract guilt that you are so burdened by this.
We also live in a supermega HCOL area that we are sort of adequately paid for but it still has enormous financial implications to buy a house and I also hate every second of not having a house but I also can't commit to this location enough to buy one.
I completely understand how frustrating it feels watching people who bought 5-6 years ago when the stuff was much more affordable and who seem to be somehow oblivious to how different it would be to buy now (even though they are all perfectly happy to share that their places have doubled in value in the meantime).
On top of that we also have family back home that is actively trying to talk us out of a major mortgage here, or my husband at least (it's his parents), who seems very receptive to it and straightout refuses to buy a house because of the mortgage it entails. So even if I wanted to take this leap there are just so many voices in and outside of my head telling me NO DO NOT DO IT.

Anyway, I think a lot of people can't really relate to how huge this frustration is and how it really becomes worse if the houses are not straightout unaffordable to you, but you need to constantly weigh this desire to do what you feel you have to do to settle into family life against what you know truly makes sense for you and your long term finances. I can't help, I have written pages upon pages of my journal in self-pity on this, I can only commiserate and tell you that you are definitely not alone in feeling this way.

Also, I have two small kids and I get this. I looked up your old posts and saw that your older kid is about a year younger than mine so here I can tell you something comforting - it really does get easier. The world really changed for me, for the better, once my older kid turned 4 and started approaching 5. It is really so much easier to enjoy parenting something that is more of a "kid" and less of a "toddler". You can have a meaningful conversation with an almost 5 year old, you can work together on projects that actually have some fun factor for you (we started making a garden on our balcony, started making compost), you can watch a whole family movie and talk about it, it is really MUCH better than having a 3 year old and a baby.
I think for me also it was the low point of everything when he was about 3 and I had just had the second one.
But now the second one is approaching 2 and the big boy is going on 5 in November and it is really a whole different experience. I think when little boy is 4 and the big one is 7 I can have my life and sanity again (and have a third kid and start over lol).

rdaneel0

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Re: My life is a mess - or atleast it looks like that to me
« Reply #10 on: July 07, 2018, 10:57:38 AM »
I think your life looks like a mess to you because of the way you're looking at it. Objectively, things seem fine. You have no major illness or disability or financial disasters looming, you have family and friends, two careers, kids, etc. When everything is "fine" but you feel really not fine, I think it's mirror time. The way you look at and describe your life starts to color what you believe, and I have a feeling you spend a lot of time speaking really negatively in your own head. It can be hard to recognize this, so I'll just take some of your own words out of context to show you what I suspect is a pattern in how you view your life:

I've been battling

I'm doomed to fail

I can't switch jobs, companies, go remote, start a business (my goal growing up) or do anything that the vast majority of people can do

I was jealous of a divorced friend

I feel insanely jealous and feel as if I'm a failure

Our support system is barely existent

I also feel irritated/sad that my older relatives or close friends didn't tell us how important buying a house is when we were at that stage of life

I feel I don't have anyone IRL I can trust to give me good life advice or to tell me what to do at what times, what to look out for, etc.

And now they say we live a life of hardship since we don't own a house



If you just read those snippets...what kind of life would you picture? I picture someone destitute with no options, a minimum wage job, no family no friends, and some sort of debilitating disorder that prevents any change from happening. Yet, in the same breath that you say you have no support system and no one to give you advice, you mention that your parents are good at giving advice and that you have friends.

You seem to view your problems as unique and insurmountable, and everyone else's life as much easier by comparison. In reality, lots of people get bad advice from parents, lots of people's careers stall for all sorts of reasons, lots of people get priced out of buying in an area. Your problems, basically, aren't the problem.

Once a person starts believing that they are trapped, have no options, and that everyone has it easier, I think achieving any form of happiness becomes impossible. Do you have a religion or a life philosophy? Do you do anything to nurture your mentality or grow your gratitude? How do you grow appreciation for what you do have? You seem to appreciate your husband a lot, so maybe start there? He isn't perfect but you say very few negative things about him, so you are able to do this! I think first you need to stop comparing yourself to others with "more" and start comparing yourself to others with a whole lot less.



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austin944

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Re: My life is a mess - or atleast it looks like that to me
« Reply #11 on: July 07, 2018, 11:18:14 AM »
@rdaneel0 hit the nail on the head.  There's not much I can add, except that it sounds like you're listening too much to the demands of your relatives, rather than pursuing your own goals.  You have to pursue your own life, and not live theirs.  If I had to guess, I would surmise that you have an Asian background, where family ties tend to be very strong.

Having a house is not necessarily going to make your life better.  There's upkeep, which is going to be a further drain on your precious time.  You may be able to move more easily with a rental (depending on the lease), so you have more flexibility in switching companies in order to advance up the career ladder, once you get the green card.  At age 30, you are still very young. You have plenty of time to pursue your career goals.  Have patience.
« Last Edit: July 07, 2018, 11:20:20 AM by austin944 »

babybug

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Re: My life is a mess - or atleast it looks like that to me
« Reply #12 on: July 07, 2018, 04:36:59 PM »
 Tldr 'I'm 30, healthy, happily married, kids and extended family healthy, successful careers, FI ...but we don't own a home or a green card, so my life is a mess!'

 

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Rosy

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Re: My life is a mess - or atleast it looks like that to me
« Reply #13 on: July 07, 2018, 05:26:10 PM »
Warning this may not be the politically correct response - but this is how I view your dilemma - from one internet stranger to another.

What you are experiencing is life in the US as someone on a work visa who has few if any choices. It just dawned on you that there are limitations.
Oh yes - it doesn't matter how good you are or how much you'd love to go into business - that is not an option - by American law.
The American way does not apply until you are a citizen and with Trump in power - it may never happen.

So - step one - accept what is - or find a way around it - legally.
Step two - at least try to appreciate that your life (financially speaking) is better than the life of at least 50% of Americans - who are citizens and struggling.

Step three - you just woke up to the fact that everyone has their own agenda - your in-laws and your parents and perhaps your own husband. None of them quite understand or are willing to consider whatever it is that "you" really want out of life.
It is your job to say I've now become an adult responsible for small children and stand up for whatever path in life you wish to take.

Parental approval is always welcome but in truth not necessary. They will eventually be gone but by then you will be stuck with their vision of your life. Their dreams - not yours. You cannot live your life on their terms - intergenerational expectations are global and tough to deal with - grow a backbone or suffer the consequences.

It isn't that your life is a mess, it's just that it took you a while to see clearly - everyone in the world goes through that phase.
The missed opportunity of a home purchase - hello - you are not alone in this. It doesn't matter - it may or may not have been a dumb decision or simply that you let yourself be influenced by parents and in-laws.

I'll even go so far as saying that the people you accuse of not telling you about what was important, so you could also benefit from a home purchase etc. - may have done so - in a very subtle way.
You might not have been in a receptive mode - you were anxious and dithering and listening to parents and in-laws instead of taking action and purchasing a home that would be perfect for your growing family.
We all miss opportunities now and then - don't be so hard on yourself.

Take a good look around, evaluate your options and go for what makes sense to you. You are the only one responsible for your actions and the only one who will have to live with the consequences.
So what if you missed a few good opportunities - it happens - life goes on.

Take a deep breath - sit down and write out by hand how you envision your future. (It helps with mental focus - no need to announce your plans to the world - quietly work out the details - quietly implement). Make a plan - ruminate - adjust - execute, after talking it over with your husband.
I get the feeling your husband has a slightly different mindset - so talk it over and make your wishes clear - very clear. He may have recognized limitations long before you did, he may not have such high expectations as you do, he may be more pragmatic. Find a compromise or stand your ground.
It is your life, your future and your happiness that is at stake here.

I have no trouble understanding your desire for a home of your own - it is immensely important to me as well. The numbers (math) don't always work in your favor when it comes to housing, but oh the happiness factor - the knowing it is "my/our place" and I can do whatever I want is priceless.
However, I do think the smartest course of action at present is to save your money and buy a house only after you become a citizen.

You are in a sense stuck, that is a correct and a truthful evaluation. Deal with it - that is the only avenue open to you. Look for alternatives, look for hidden options, forget about whatever everyone else expects from you and most of all stop calling yourself a failure.
Think about your own standards, core values if you will - where would you like to be in five years and what do you need to do to get there?

You may have to grit your teeth and ride out an unprecedented time in history in the US or find another way entirely.
None of us have a crystal ball, all you can do is your best - based on the information and circumstances at the time. Refuse to be influenced by relatives or anyone else.
You may be right that you have no one that is on the same page with you or that you feel you can trust - sometimes that happens. Good friends are hard to come by. Do make attempts to find other women in similar situations that you can talk to - it makes a difference and lifts your spirit.   
I wish you luck.

Bottomline - you are your own worst enemy. You are far from a failure - your expectations are impossibly high and unrealistic, given your actual circumstances and current limitations.
Do what you can - that is all anyone in the whole wide world can do:)

As far as time for yourself - free from demands of children and husband - there isn't a woman in America that doesn't feel that way at least occasionally.
That's the only easy fix in your lament:) - simply declare and insist that you need one weekend a month for yourself - every Saturday morning or afternoon or every evening from seven to nine, whatever is possible and does the trick.
 
There is nothing wrong with saying - hey, I need a little time to myself - there are women who hide from their toddlers in the bathroom because they just need a moment for themselves. If anyone tells you otherwise they lie. We live in a demanding world and sometimes we all need a time out.

If you have one of those husbands who doesn't understand - just tell him this is the way it is going to be from now on - you need this for your mental health. End of story. 
... and that is my five cents from an internet stranger.

mm1970

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Re: My life is a mess - or atleast it looks like that to me
« Reply #14 on: July 07, 2018, 07:05:48 PM »
One thing I want to say is -

with a toddler and a baby and a FT job.  It's exhausting.  You are in the trenches.  It can be soul sucking.  And...it will feel that way in some part until your youngest is 4.

1.  Don't sweat the house.  I'm sorry, sounds like you live in Bay Area, nothing you can do about it.  I wouldn't want to buy there anyway.
2.  Green card, yes it blows.  Many many of my coworkers are on green cards and it's very difficult to change jobs.  And I don't have a solution to that.  Except - I guess you are still young, so try to just make a plan and get thru it.  Easy for me to say because I'm a citizen, but then again I'm 48, and I feel like I have a lifetime ahead of me.

3.  Get me time.  It's great that hubby wants to be with the kids.  Take your me time.  Full stop.

lhamo

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Re: My life is a mess - or atleast it looks like that to me
« Reply #15 on: July 07, 2018, 09:31:29 PM »
Have you talked with your doctor about the possibility of post-partum depression? 
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okits

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Re: My life is a mess - or atleast it looks like that to me
« Reply #16 on: July 07, 2018, 10:37:47 PM »
Lots of good advice already.  I'll chime in on the house bit.  DH (then-BF) and I were toying with the idea of buying a house in 2010-12 and ended up deciding that the burden of it would be too much (either the mortgage payments would mean we were chained to our stressful jobs or we would have to commute an insane distance).

We proceeded to marry and have two children and the houses we were considering have doubled or tripled since then.  We are never going to own one of those houses, now.

It's okay.  We have so much more financial flexibility.  I was able to quit my stressful, high-OT career.  Various family members have gotten really sick and we have been able to be there for them more because we are not financially, logistically, or emotionally stretched to the max.  Our investment portfolio looks great. 

We'd be millionaires if we had bought a house back then but hindsight is 20/20 and it was too risky a move back then.  I'm sure most people view us as less successful because we are still apartment renters and we can live with that.  We know we have the big pieces of the life we want.

+1 to others who have said it will get easier as your baby & toddler become a toddler & kindergartener, etc.  They become more self-sufficient, communicative, and rational.  (Then you develop amnesia about how hard infanthood was and get baby fever again!)

Also +1 to taking your "me" time.  Even if your DH doesn't need it, you do, so insist.  You sound really burnt out.  When divorce starts to look appealing just so you can get some time alone, it's time to take some time to be alone.  Don't get to your breaking point.

I understand caring about how others perceive you (successful) and comparing yourself to others.  Try to let some of that go.  Comparison is truly the thief of joy.  Some focus on all you have will make you happier than concentrating on everything you don't have.  Work towards those things you want but remember to appreciate your good life, today.

Hargrove

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Re: My life is a mess - or atleast it looks like that to me
« Reply #17 on: July 07, 2018, 11:19:34 PM »
I don't know if you have depression, but I strongly recommend seeing a counselor to find out. Dealing with depression is like having a car without gas. There's a lot of advice in the thread for you, but the problem-solving has to come after you put gas in the tank. Imagine someone with a car on empty turning the key, furiously pressing the pedal, and then despairing that no matter how hard they press that pedal, it's just not working. Then they start to say it must be that they're not very good at pressing pedals and turning keys. That's obviously silly, but that's what tackling problem-solving can feel like with depression, and it doesn't feel silly to you if you have it. The first thing is that empty tank - because you're going to need some gas to get anywhere else. Even a little bit can let you get some things done, but trying to tackle all your problems while entirely ignoring a mental health issue can create a lot more problems. I say things below like "set boundaries" and "own the situation," but you have to ignore literally all of it if what you're dealing with is depression, because you are not in the best place to disentangle self-confidence, communication, and interpersonal boundary issues if you're depressed. Talk to a counselor before you bother with most of the rest of the information here to help clarify what you're dealing with.

About me:30 year old mom to two wonderful kids (toddler and baby), have a decent career (successful by most standards, failing by mine), have a great marriage (I'm beyond lucky to have an understanding and loving husband who is perfect for me in every way), we are comfortably FI for LCOL, barebones FI for MCOL and have serious FU money for the VHCOL we are in. Parents are in great health and continue to take care of their health and finances and are super cool to hang out with. My in-laws are ok but have some health issues and some mental hangups.

This is all great. There's no need for us to parse your "failing by mine" section here. Realize you set up standards incompatible with your green-card status. Beating yourself up about failing to do something impossible by definition is either perfectionism run amok, depression, or both.

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Some cons in my life: I'm non US citizen, and even though I've been in US for more than a decade (came here for my undergrad), I still am on work visa and it would take atleast another 5-10 years to get green card. As a result, I can't switch jobs, companies, go remote, start a business (my goal growing up) or do anything that the vast majority of people can do. I can't even FIRE till we get our green cards.

This sounds frustrating, but why have you convinced yourself you need all that right this second? In 5-10 years, your "barebones" MCOL FIRE stash doubles, so you're probably financially independent then if not now, and can start your own business easily. You could definitely FIRE before getting the cards, but what is it you want to do... FIRE or start a business? You can do either; why beat yourself up about missing out on both? You complain about your growth rate, but you have no one else to compare yourself to when you untether from your corporation and start your own business (or FIRE). Do you have a fear of missing out that's just taking over the ship here, or do you really think you're losing the race if you FIRE early to start your own business and need to jump some management hurdles?

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I love my kids and husband but of late, I feel weighed down. As any other woman would attest, I do most of the work at home even though my husband is awesome in helping out.

1. No, not every woman would attest. 2. Which is it? He's awesome at helping or you're doing most of the work and fantasizing about a divorced life? If you're unhappy about the balance and go through the motions of tricking yourself otherwise, that will only work temporarily. You may grow to resent him for it, and it would have been a preventable issue. Flip the scenario - why would you prevent him from helping you with a problem that's so bad, you're jealous of a divorced friend? Be honest with yourself about whether the division of work is equitable (and if that's making you unhappy). If it isn't, communicate with him - you say he's loving and perfect for you, so you should assume he would care about your needs, and the challenge is simply communicating and problem-solving.

Jealousy is the second-stage of comparison-as-the-thief-of-joy. His career is stalled for yours and, from what you tell us, he was not only fine with that, he's great with the kids. You may have room to get him to scroll back further on his career and take a bit more of the kids off your hands (if not now, very soon). It sounds like he would be fine with it, but it also sounds like you haven't considered it for some reason.

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We don't own a house. Whenever I see friends that bought at that time (almost everyone I know that have two incomes and young kids), I feel insanely jealous and feel as if I'm a failure.

Quotes like this are disconcerting. You feel like a failure for not being able to tell the future years ago? If you are in a place that it really makes sense for you to beat yourself up about this, please let yourself read that as a good reason to seek therapy. The sooner you go the better, if you're telling yourself so many unfair things at this point. I hope you wouldn't tolerate a friend talking to you the way that you talk to yourself.

The best... library? The best... roads? Some might tell you "look, if you don't want to carry the emotional burden of all these things, let it go - maybe it's not the best... library." However, if that idea sounds insane to you, anxiety or depression (or both) may be a problem - a therapist would be your best bet, again.

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I also feel irritated/sad that my older relatives or close friends didn't tell us how important buying a house is when we were at that stage of life. They bought houses, settled down, etc when they were our ages but didn't tell us we need to even though they knew we were thinking about it. I feel I don't have anyone IRL I can trust to give me good life advice or to tell me what to do at what times, what to look out for, etc.

You have to own your situation, because you can't enjoy ANY control if you don't believe it's possible, and with statements like "irritated... they didn't tell us... even though they knew we were thinking..." N. O. You are in charge of whether you buy a house or not, informing yourself on the pros and cons, and so on. The good news is, that means you can decide to DO it - today, tomorrow, never. Unless, of course, you have to deal with depression, in which case you own your situation by tackling that first.

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My parents are good with advice but my parents and in-laws want us to move back to my home country so we can be near them as they grow older. Due to various reasons, moving back is not possible. So both sets of parents discourage any investment in US. Especially my in-laws vehemently opposed us from buying a house here when we looked seriously. And now they say we live a life of hardship since we don't own a house :( never mind the savings we have or our work life balance or our kids or the nonmonetary ways our lives are richer.

No one likes to hear this, but you have to set boundaries here, for their sake and your own. You internalized an obligation that you disagree with. That's hard to shake and it's frustrating, but make a decision eventually, or else you will be stuck twisting your hands over it until you respond to pressure instead of what you want. They "can say" whatever they want, and that should not dictate your life. You are letting them set the tone of your failure even as your last sentence suggests you strongly prefer what you made for yourself - read it again. "Our lives are richer."

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We are also not sure we want to settle in the VHCOL area. At times I feel it's best to move to a place with lower pace in life. At other times I feel I'd be missing out on the tremendous growth opportunities that our area gives. And frankly I don't want to be seen as someone that failed to thrive here and moved to a lower pace life.

Failed to thrive? You can retire early, apparently as early as now. You have a family and a husband who helped you move your career forward. The purpose of life is deciding the purpose of life - do YOU believe choosing that path is a failure to thrive? Who is it you are afraid to be "seen as someone that failed" for retiring early with the "perfect" husband and two kids you love? Sometimes clarity has more value than the elusive "right call." Picking where to settle and on what terms may do wonders for you if you're paralyzed with over-analyzing the call you're trying to make.

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Our support system is barely existent. Even though we have friends here, it's a rotating door since people come and go due to changes in life (people leave because it's crazy expensive). And it's hard to socialize with small kids in tow if you don't already have a network of friends. This contributes to a lot of feelings of unsettledness as well.

This is super important, and probably something a therapist would point out could be helpful, if you can carve out some time for it. Hire a sitter, don't have the kids in tow, make it a priority. If you find out you are depressed, loneliness is one of the more common culprits in causing it (and so building a friends network could do wonders to help alleviate it).

Best of luck to you.
« Last Edit: July 07, 2018, 11:24:35 PM by Hargrove »
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Sun Hat

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Re: My life is a mess - or atleast it looks like that to me
« Reply #18 on: July 08, 2018, 06:43:12 AM »
Moving every few years does suck. It really is exhausting to have to learn the best routes, stores, where to find a postbox and milk at 1am. I spent my military career moving every 2 years (with the exception of a 4 year stint abroad), and it sucks to always be settling in to a place. What made it easier for me was knowing that it wasn't going to be like that forever, that I would eventually settle down. I took to viewing each new place as a test run: what do I think of living in the suburbs; what about this layout; how about downtown; semi-rural? Start compiling a mental list of the things that you've liked and disliked about the various places you've lived with mind to the home that you eventually buy when you FIRE.

Career advancement is a mixed blessing. Sure, it's good for the ego, and can offer more challenging work, but it can also suck. Managing other people means listening to them whine and make excuses. Managing projects often means overtime - like you need more things to make your evenings busier! As much as it's hard to see the downside of advancement when it's not open to you, try to appreciate the quiet routine of a job that you've already mastered. While your kids are little and life is tiring, be thankful for a job that doesn't add more stress to the pile.

As for peer envy (I know it well), I'd suggest reading some of the wise words by @shuffler    and @Malkynn  in: https://forum.mrmoneymustache.com/welcome-to-the-forum/how-do-you-handle-peer-success-when-you're-looking-to-fire/msg2062970/#msg2062970

Shuffler mentions catastrophic thinking, which is one of the common cognitive distortions. I find it useful to try to identify them in my everyday thinking - I think that you'll find that they're insidious, and that when you reframe your ideas, that life isn't so bad. https://psychcentral.com/lib/15-common-cognitive-distortions/
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mm1970

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Re: My life is a mess - or atleast it looks like that to me
« Reply #19 on: July 08, 2018, 08:53:58 AM »
Lots of good advice already.  I'll chime in on the house bit.  DH (then-BF) and I were toying with the idea of buying a house in 2010-12 and ended up deciding that the burden of it would be too much (either the mortgage payments would mean we were chained to our stressful jobs or we would have to commute an insane distance).

We proceeded to marry and have two children and the houses we were considering have doubled or tripled since then.  We are never going to own one of those houses, now.

It's okay.  We have so much more financial flexibility.  I was able to quit my stressful, high-OT career.  Various family members have gotten really sick and we have been able to be there for them more because we are not financially, logistically, or emotionally stretched to the max.  Our investment portfolio looks great. 

We'd be millionaires if we had bought a house back then but hindsight is 20/20 and it was too risky a move back then.  I'm sure most people view us as less successful because we are still apartment renters and we can live with that.  We know we have the big pieces of the life we want.

+1 to others who have said it will get easier as your baby & toddler become a toddler & kindergartener, etc.  They become more self-sufficient, communicative, and rational.  (Then you develop amnesia about how hard infanthood was and get baby fever again!)

Also +1 to taking your "me" time.  Even if your DH doesn't need it, you do, so insist.  You sound really burnt out.  When divorce starts to look appealing just so you can get some time alone, it's time to take some time to be alone.  Don't get to your breaking point.

I understand caring about how others perceive you (successful) and comparing yourself to others.  Try to let some of that go.  Comparison is truly the thief of joy.  Some focus on all you have will make you happier than concentrating on everything you don't have.  Work towards those things you want but remember to appreciate your good life, today.
We live in So Cal, and we bought at not a great time (2004).  So I feel your "hindsight is 20/20" pain.  Our next door neighbor's house is basically the same as ours (on both sides of us) and they paid $290k and $200k less than we did because of timing (they bought in 2011 and 2012).  This means we have a tiny house, one bathroom, awful school district, no room to expand.  Friends with better timing or just better risk tolerance than me have much nicer houses.  And we are pushing 50.

mm1970

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Re: My life is a mess - or atleast it looks like that to me
« Reply #20 on: July 08, 2018, 08:57:15 AM »
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1. No, not every woman would attest. 2. Which is it? He's awesome at helping or you're doing most of the work and fantasizing about a divorced life? If you're unhappy about the balance and go through the motions of tricking yourself otherwise, that will only work temporarily.

1.  I won't attest because we split 50/50.
2.  It can actually be both, because it's a sliding scale.  He can be awesome at helping but still only be doing 30%.  Thirty % is probably massively larger than most of our fathers did (speaking from my own personal experience, and general trends), but still not half.

Hargrove

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Re: My life is a mess - or atleast it looks like that to me
« Reply #21 on: July 08, 2018, 09:33:34 AM »
Quote
1. No, not every woman would attest. 2. Which is it? He's awesome at helping or you're doing most of the work and fantasizing about a divorced life? If you're unhappy about the balance and go through the motions of tricking yourself otherwise, that will only work temporarily.

1.  I won't attest because we split 50/50.
2.  It can actually be both, because it's a sliding scale.  He can be awesome at helping but still only be doing 30%.  Thirty % is probably massively larger than most of our fathers did (speaking from my own personal experience, and general trends), but still not half.

I bet we can disagree about whether 30% checks the box "awesome at helping" in a partnership without, in principle, disagreeing that OP could benefit from identifying and communicating a needed change in the percentage.
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PDXTabs

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Re: My life is a mess - or atleast it looks like that to me
« Reply #22 on: July 08, 2018, 09:46:55 AM »
Some cons in my life: I'm non US citizen, and even though I've been in US for more than a decade (came here for my undergrad), I still am on work visa and it would take atleast another 5-10 years to get green card. As a result, I can't switch jobs, companies, go remote, start a business (my goal growing up) or do anything that the vast majority of people can do. I can't even FIRE till we get our green cards. Even going back to school is a risk in current political climate. I also made the mistake of starting as a software developer engineer instead of product management or design. I'm good at my work (earn decently well for my age and experience with a good work life balance (which I highly prize and I know is super rare where I live) in a well known company so prestige is not an issue) but I feel I'm wasting my time coding since I really need to learn either design, sales or people management for it to be relevant for my business goals in future. And I can't gain these experiences in my company due to visa issues and my company policies. I feel I'm stuck. I see my friends become managers and directors and I'm worried I'm not growing at the same rate. My husband took a back seat in his career to help me grow mine and now both our careers are stalled.

I'm a US citizen, but I have family from all of the world, and many of us are not. The US kind of sucks right now, I would personally leave. That is, why fight through years of horrific US immigration in a country with horrible health care when you could get PR in Europe (with a blue card as a skilled migrant - I assume based on your background) in less than two years?

We don't own a house. Even though we could've gotten one in 2011-13 period, we didn't due to some issues with in-laws. Then we didn't since we were having our first kid and were not sure how things will turn out. Fast forward now, the prices are crazy high ($2M+ for a1970s house in a regular neighborhood) and I feel stupid for not buying then and keep bashing myself. Whenever I see friends that bought at that time (almost everyone I know that have two incomes and young kids), I feel insanely jealous and feel as if I'm a failure. The constant changing homes (we rent) isn't helping either. We can't do any modifications, we have to spend time settling down at every house and it is frankly tiring to figure out the closest and best stores, parks, library, schools, roads, routes, etc everytime we move. Our networth is pretty good and on par with others (we invested in stocks and have a good cash buffer) but the emotional drama around the house is crazy.

You are in good company. Owning a house is not the main point of mustachianism. I don't own a house and I may not ever.
« Last Edit: July 08, 2018, 09:51:08 AM by PDXTabs »

firelight

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Re: My life is a mess - or atleast it looks like that to me
« Reply #23 on: July 09, 2018, 12:34:56 AM »
Thank you so much for the advice and good words. I agree I have some work cut out for me to figure out what satisfies me the most and take things in that direction. I did have a mild case of ppd after both kids, so I'll see if a therapist can help with current scenario as well.

I'm reading and digesting all the replies given. The one I can do immediately to solve some issues is to get some me time. I hope my discussion with husband about alone time goes smoothly.

Goldielocks

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Re: My life is a mess - or atleast it looks like that to me
« Reply #24 on: July 09, 2018, 02:18:58 AM »
Hi Firelight.  I will share my story, and insights.  Some of this is unique to me, only you can tell which parts may be relevant to you.

I moved to the USA (San Francisco area) on a L1A via, with husband and kids aged 4 and 6. 

1.  First, x100 about young kids and intense stress of being a working mom with young kids.   Some of this, I felt in every place we lived in.

2.  We rented, after owning a home in Canada prior to this.  Before, we were within 7 years of paying off the mortgage on a nice home, and then we rented a very small place on the outskirts (but close to work).   Renting was AMAZING.  We saved so much money, not just in monthly payments and maintenance, but also in NOT buying all the extra "home owner" stuff -- like getting the curtains cleaned, or buying shelving for the closet.   

Going from owning to renting was hard mentally, but I loved it.    We also looked at over 100 homes to buy at that time, and the $'s did not make sense -- the mortgages were like 30 year handcuffs with high payments and it would take a very long time to get any sort of equity in the home.

3.  After 2 years, I decided to apply for the greencard.  I was tired of "living in limbo" with the visa status, dependent on one employer, etc.    Don't discount this -- having a growing family and desire to set down and establish a home / roots for them did not match the "lack of greencard, could be forced to move with 30 days notice if my employer chooses" .   I was at the mercy of my employer.. They could have told me my job was now in Denver, instead, and my only choice wouldhave been to move to Denver, or leave the USA in 30 days.  Moving kids from school, uprooting everyone, etc.   I was doubly glad not to own a home that I may not at any time be permitted to live in.

4.  BUT - it was going to be about 5 years to get the greencard.  Even though I was on a L1A, in an occupation (engineering) that was in demand, spoke perfect english, etc.  At the time, the immigration processing had their quotas, and would just stop for the year once they were met.  My classification stopped processing in February that year.   I did not want to be in limbo like that for that many more years.

5.  We decided to move away.   My husband got sick for many months while in the USA, then had trouble getting a job without an open work visa (only something tied to my visa), and the stress was killing me.  We had no family anywhere close to help, only nice, but newer, friends.

Moving out of country back to where our families were, was the best decision for us.  I was able to find a (lesser) job that paid almost the same (adjusted for lower cost of living), and we packed up and moved.  Now I had help with the kids (sick days), and had family on hand incase my DH fell ill again.

TLDR -- in addition to the stress of a young family, don't discount the stress of being "IN LIMBO".  Being in a sort of purgatory with your job, and inability to buy a home (because you are smart enough to know better than to do this in a HCOL area while on a visa) is huge.


PS-- WRT the visa, I found out just before we moved that the company was able to "fast track" the paperwork if I had demanded it, and it may have cut off a couple of years.   You would still need to qualify, but there was a "fast track"  to have it evaluated-- so look into that if you can.

carolina822

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Re: My life is a mess - or atleast it looks like that to me
« Reply #25 on: July 09, 2018, 09:31:43 PM »
I'll say this, there is no chance in hell that I would buy an expensive piece of real estate in the US while in the work visa limbo, not in the current political climate anyway.

You've gotten a ton of good advice in this thread, so I'll defer to the other posters on that front. To me, you sound exhausted. I think anyone would feel that way between a job you work very hard at, little kids who require so much of your energy, and the stress that the visa limitations put on your future plans. You sound like the kind of person who has always been a go-getter and high achiever, which is a good thing. But don't let the drive to mark the next box on your "life checklist" get in the way of being content with what you've already achieved. I'm not saying to give up your goals, just give yourself permission to take a breather and get through this phase of kids/marriage/greencard stress before putting more demands on yourself.

firelight

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Re: My life is a mess - or atleast it looks like that to me
« Reply #26 on: July 11, 2018, 07:28:23 PM »
Thank you so much. This thread has really helped me think through a few things and have a heart to heart discussion with DH. More than the work visa dependency, my stress is coming from the current political climate. It exacerbated when a few friends that visited Europe were denied visas coming back. As a result, they are stuck in a limbo. So we've decided to work on plan B - moving to Europe or Canada. It's going to take atleast a few months to get everything going but now that we have a backup plan, I'm calmer.

Also as someone said up thread, being grateful and taking pride in all that I've accomplished so far is what I accomplished them for. And even though there are people who are better and more accomplished than me, there are people who want to be me. So I'm  doing a gratitude session of two minutes every time I catch myself feeling bad. I've also started doing a daily exercise where I take ten minutes a day staying connected to things around me and being in the moment. I live in a gorgeous place with so much sunshine that it's lovely summer but not so much that you are sweating a lot. I might as well enjoy it when I'm driving to work, walking outside, etc. I've also started hugging my kids more consciously. They are little only so long and I'd rather hug and cuddle them more than keep doing things for them but not enjoy them.

Thanks again for the kind words and for sharing your experiences. It helped a lot to know I'm not alone and that I didn't do anything really wrong.

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Re: My life is a mess - or atleast it looks like that to me
« Reply #27 on: July 11, 2018, 08:39:20 PM »
More than the work visa dependency, my stress is coming from the current political climate. It exacerbated when a few friends that visited Europe were denied visas coming back. As a result, they are stuck in a limbo. So we've decided to work on plan B - moving to Europe or Canada. It's going to take atleast a few months to get everything going but now that we have a backup plan, I'm calmer.

Oh god -- no wonder you are stressed!

I remember how nervous I was that DH would have his student visa revoked before his greencard came through.  We actually decided to get married when he was visiting me in China.   I was there for two years of language study and fieldwork research -- he came over several times to visit me. Technically I should have applied for a fiance visa for him before he went back, but he had a TA appointment to get back to that he didn't want to lose, etc.  Luckily we ended up getting through both the green card and his citizenship process without major disasters -- though we almost had to start over with his citizenship application (swearing in notice kept getting sent to the wrong address).  He was not actually thrilled about taking US citizenship, but we had just started working for an organization that did sensitive work in China, and I didn't want to end up being one of those wives with a sign outside the consulate if they ever decided to throw him in jail.  At least as a US citizen he would have consular support, I figured.  Luckily that never happened to us, but I was constantly nervous when we lived in China, especially when we had a huge part of our net worth tied up in an apartment there.  I just was always waiting for the other shoe to drop, and for us to lose everything due to the whim of some Chinese bureaucrat (who would have had incentive to target us if they would end up with even a small share of our apartment).

I'm glad to be back in the US, since I am from here, but if there was an easy way to do it I would love to get Canadian or European citizenship!  that sounds like and excellent plan b to me.  IT will be stressful while you do it, but hopefully well worth it in the end.  Good luck!

Wherever you go, there you are