Adjusting to a new culture evokes a rollercoaster of emotions. Cycles of Change cultural coaching helps you deal with the phases you go through. And it’s even more effective if you involve your partner.
“Many aspects of culture are hidden but have a really strong impact. They may make you feel angry or sad, for example, because they are not aligned with your own cultural values or your personality,” explains Global Connection coach and consultant Karlijn De Broeck. “Our Cycles of Change coaching sessions help expat partners realise that culture shock is real and profound. You learn to recognise the emotions you experience during the various stages of adjustment and identify personal coping strategies.
I always encourage expat partners to share what they learn with their spouse or partner. Because this helps expat couples to better understand and respond to each other’s needs during the time of adjustment, and to avoid conflict. For example, in the early days and weeks after arrival, your spouse or partner may feel exhausted from starting a new job, while you can’t wait to explore your location together. When this happens, it’s important to find some middle ground, where your spouse or partner still makes an effort to go out, while you dial back the activities you had planned.
However, when your excitement of being somewhere new wanes and the reality of having moved abroad sinks in, you may sometimes feel like you just want a break from expat life: shut the curtains, stay on the sofa, and binge watch your favourite tv-series. On days like that, it’s very helpful if your spouse knows this is not a good time to ask why you still haven’t called the landlord about the leaking roof; since you don’t seem very busy…
And it works both ways: If your spouse or partner comes home and you recognise all the signs of, for example, the frustration phase, then you will want to be careful not to add fuel to the fire. So it’s all about communication and knowing how to handle your partner. Talking about the Cycles of Change is an interesting conversation to have. Both of you will have a better understanding of what’s going on and that these strong emotions are all perfectly normal when adjusting to a new culture – not much fun perhaps, but perfectly normal.”
This article was originally published for the thousands of expat partners that Global Connection supports around the globe. It is reproduced here in its original form.