You are probably correct in thinking that your husband will always have a reason why “this isn’t a good time” if he has difficulty dealing with change. Some folks hate change and avoid it all costs and some folks hate the status quo and are always looking for excitement. It can be difficult to be married to either personality type, if they tend toward the extreme end.
It sounds like you have tried backing off and giving him time, but now that you are ready to move forward he is digging in his heals again. I’m sure that his mother’s illness is a huge stressor and could be wearing on him a great deal, however, focusing on getting your house ready to sell and looking forward to new surroundings could be a nice distraction, if he could reframe the whole situation.
I also agree that as a spouse, you can’t change him. You can try to understand and empathize. You can try to develop a strategy that takes into account his anxiety or resistance. But, you can’t change his personality or life-long patterns of thinking. What you can do is request that he seek help. He may benefit from medication to help with any possible anxiety or depression that could be an underlying issue, but most importantly, I would suggest that he seek counseling. In this case, both individual and couples therapy would be the best approach. Having a therapist or mediator in the room will help you approach an old conversation in a new way, hopefully aiding a mutually satisfying resolution.
All the best,
Dr. Holly Counts