Friday, February 22, 2008

The Expat and Marriage

Here's a really interesting article in The Wall Street Journal on the strain living abroad as expats puts on a marriage. We've seen a fair share of marriages fall apart in foreign countries and this article offers several interesting explanations.

"Being abroad shows people their 'naked' marriage without the web of family, long-time friends and a known place in society around it," says Anouk Turksma. I've never thought of it that way before but it does make me think. Personally I never really felt as if I had truly 'grown-up' until I lived abroad, but I could have merely moved within Canada, as long as it was far away from my parents. Don't get me wrong- I love them dearly. But family and close friends are your support system- when you move abroad- you go alone. And if your marriage is not really strong, you're going to have problems.

The article gives some good practical advice to think about before each expat move:

"Consultation -- spouses need to be stakeholders in the move, which means they need to be in the know and not kept in the dark about the process.

Respect and support -- they are the basics of a solid relationship anywhere but vital in an expat one.

Equality -- which just means you both count and must work as a team.

Certainty -- that the spouse won't be left high and dry for someone in the office or a language instructor.

And, finally, love -- I always remind women that they must love the guy. Why else would you throw your life upside down for him?",

says Robin Pascoe, the author of A Movable Marriage: Relocate Your Relationship Without Breaking It.

Good advice, although I think some of those are easier than others!

12 comments:

Rositta said...

Back in 1996 my husband thought we should live in Greece. He went ahead to check it out and I followed for a look see. In the end I told him it was a "deal breaker" for me. I admire people who can leave their home and start over somewhere else, my parents did it but for me, not...ciao

Lynda said...

yes it can be a touchy subject - either the relationship is strong enough or it flounders. It works for us..

Maria said...

Thanks for the article. Because of basketball, we switched countries annually, and in doing so, our relationship strengthened, but we also saw a lot of others fall apart. expat life is not easy, but it is especially hard if your marriage is not strong to start with...and you are moving twice a year...to different countries... Anyway, thanks.

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susanna said...

Interesting article. It has some terrific points. I think for me, the best advice is the first one - consultation. It's so important that the couple educate themselves or talk with a professional who knows the work visa & living situation in the country they are considering moving to. I found that most of the advice that I received from people "who knew someone who moved - " was rarely accurate or up to date. It's important to find the current facts and then make the big decision whether to move.

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