With a greater network of access and an entire industry devoted to cushioning change for expats, those accompanying their other half overseas no longer need to dread the distance from their past life. Back in 1987 Jo Parfitt was starry-eyed, smitten and on her way half way across the world to accompany the man she’d married to a place she’d fingered on a map once, and visited twice. Her husband Ian had lived and worked in Dubai for two years prior, but Jo, mad with the edge of excitement, had made no prior preparations and had haphazardly let expectation fall to the wayside. She departed for the Middle East in a heady cloud of anticipation – antsy to begin her life in the romantic sphere of expatriate living. But like so many before her, and so many still to come, Jo hadn’t foreseen the degree of difficulty and the extent of both physical and psychological hardship that this kind of move involves.
With all the planning that goes into moving abroad it’s easy to neglect those members of your family that don’t have a choice in the matter. Children typically find out about the big move once the decision is made, and parents seldom know how to help kids make this very important transition in their lives.
Expatriate coach Nicola McCall talks about her personal experience of belonging to an expat women’s group and why she can recommend you do the same.
I became a trailing spouse in 2002 on our move to Dublin, Ireland. I didn’t realise at the time that I was an “expat” so when it was recommended to me by my midwife that I join the International Women’s Club of Dublin, I thought why on earth would I want to join a pampered set of bored housewives who do lunch and buy handbags? That just wasn’t me at all.
But after wandering Dublin’s streets first lonely and bored, then pregnant and finally with pushchair, I decided to go to a mum and tots meeting, and couldn’t believe I hadn’t done it sooner.
With all the packing and planning that goes into moving abroad, many couples forget to prepare for one of the most important changes of all: the one their marriage goes through. Studies show that moving abroad places numerous stresses on a marriage – stresses that can either make or break the relationship.