Some expat couples look forward to spending more time together abroad. Other expat partners, however, find it difficult to have their partner around all the time. Sophie* is one of them…
“Back home in Germany, my husband was always away for work. He travelled about 37 weeks per year. People around me used to say, ‘How awful for you that you have to do everything by yourself!’ But I actually loved it: with two young children, I could run our family exactly how I wanted. And it was fun when my husband was home at the weekends. Of course, there were some disadvantages to this lifestyle, but on the whole, it worked very well for us.
Our move to India, nine months ago, turned our routines upside down. My husband is a factory manager now and hardly ever travels anymore. It’s been a big adjustment for him, for me, and for the kids. All of a sudden, there’s another adult in the house every day with views of his own on how the kids should behave, for example. Another issue has been the differences in our sleeping patterns. My husband likes to stay up late, but I have to get up early with the kids on school days.
I’d never considered the impact of spending more time together. It felt like an extra hurdle to take on top of all the other challenges that come with an international relocation. My husband and I had quite a few arguments in the beginning, but luckily things have settled down. So I guess we’re on the right track. To other expat partners, I’d say: think beforehand about how you are going to cope with having your spouse around a lot more (or less, as the case may be). If possible, try to talk about it as a couple, confide in friends who are in the same boat, or speak with a life coach.
It’s difficult to say that you don’t want to see more of your husband without sounding negative. After all, it defies the stereotype that couples should be under the same roof. Back in Germany, I found it almost impossible to explain. But fellow expat partners here in India understand what I mean. They agree that, even if you have a solid marriage, it can be quite nice when your partner is away for work. We call it a holiday !”
* Name changed at request of interviewee
Photo: Psyberartist – Flickr