Thursday, September 25, 2008

How to Stay Married Overseas

I should be working right now. I am researching an article about relationship challenges overseas: how does your relationship with your husband change when you move overseas? Did you give up a job to follow him, and if so, do you resent him for this or are you happy with your decision? What are the major stressors in an overseas marriage (loneliness, lack of communication skills, lack of car??)? How do you keep your relationship on track?

Funnily enough, lots of people are willing to talk to me, but no one wants to go on record. So I can’t write, for example, “Julie Smith remembers the time she locked her husband out of the bedroom when he told her they were moving.” It’s a great topic, though, and I’m learning a lot as I research. Problem is, I haven’t found a structure for the article yet.

Today, Shay is home from school with a bad cough – the same one that is decimating our neighborhood. Tomorrow, I’ll be at school all day for the Terry Fox run and the kindergarten barbeque and learning to read seminars and tea with the Chinese principal and gawd help me but I don’t know how I’ll fit all of this into one day.

My article isn’t actually due for another week, but next week is a holiday, and I’ve given my ayi an entire week off. Can I do it? Can I survive a whole week on my own with four kids (no school next week), no ayi and a writing deadline?

I know some of you out there reading this have tons of experience with overseas moves, so tell me – if you dare – what are some of the biggest challenges you’ve faced in keeping your marriage happy? What’s the stupidest post-move argument you’ve ever had? And please: what are your tips for others out there who are ready to throw the dishes at their husbands and hop on the next plane out of town?


Simple Answer said... [Reply]

I don't think I qualify for your article as I only have 60 days overseas experience under my belt...but lack of a car has been the absolute worst. I feel like a whore trying to get anyone to pick me up. But, it hasn't resulted in any marital conflict 'cuz he's pretty sensitive to my frustration.

Good luck next week! Will we get to read this article somewhere?

Shannon said... [Reply]

Do not talk, or even think of talking to your spouse about the next post before the HHE has arrived. We hit Germany August 1st and to date I think my husband has suggested at least 2 dozens countries for our next post. Let me unpack first, please!

Jill said... [Reply]

I'll happily go on record... so ask any questions you would like.

I gave up a great job to move to our first overseas assignment. In my previous life I was a Franchise Training Manager at the corporate headquarters for Johnson & Johnson Pharmaceuticals. My income far surpassed my husbands - so needless to say, our first stress overseas was one income and me not having a paid job... though I was a relatively new mom. I am happy with my decision overall, though the first 6-8 months were very difficult. And now I'm going through it again as my girls are in school and I have a little free time on my hands.

The ideas of moving have been easy, but the planning stages are always difficult. Scheduling pack-outs, home leave, everything that goes along with being in the States, insurances, and arrival "stuff" at a new post causes lots of anxiety and stress. Not having a spouse there to help with the pack-out or un-packing of stuff is also difficult... because as you know, the Embassy will NOT survive if he's gone even just one day!

I don't mind the lonliness at the beginning - it's much easier to be a hermit and get everything settled. Though friendships appear to be formed early at the school and upon newcomers arrival - so if you don't put yourself out there at the beginning, you're often left out of adult play-dates.

My husband realized early on that in order for him to be happy, I have/had to be happy. That means, immediately upon arrival we rent a car. I will not be stranded. We've now done that at all 3 posts - and this time we actually bought a car several months before our arrival, and had it waiting for us. We also had to immediately get me a cell phone, and put in for internet and television to be hooked up. I can't stand being "stranded" from the rest of the world.

I could go on and on, but I don't want to bore you anymore here. Let me know if I can be of any help.

Good luck without your ayi... I'm going crazy without one here!

Tobi said... [Reply]

I wish I could help, but Texas does not qualify as a foreign country (Please don't tell Texas I said that). Much luck, I am sure your article will be fab!

GutsyWriter said... [Reply]

I can tell you a few things that I've written about in my memoir about living on an island in the Caribbean with our 3 sons.

1). It was strange to argue with my husband and have nowhere to go. What do I mean? We were stranded on an island. After an argument I couldn't walk to a neighbor's house, they were all rented out to tourists.

2). I couldn't drive away. There weren't any cars or roads, and if I rode my bike after an argument at night, I'd have a five mile beach ride with plastic bottles, syringes and other cruise ship debris, intertwined with sea grass, and nowhere to go but a small discotheque, "Jaguar Paw," in town where the tourists would hang out.

3. There were bars along the beach and I got so mad on a Sunday afternoon, I rode to a resort bar. Our caretaker came looking for me on his bike, and I was sipping a lemonade with an expat at the bar. He gave me such a look that rumors soon spread that I was having an affair. There are more stories than that after one year, 3 sons, numerous arguments, island fever and telephones that don't work, so you can't call a girlfriend and bitch.

Lynda said... [Reply]

I have been thinking about this topic a lot lately - and have also started an article. Problem is, it is a liquid subject - there are good days and bad days.. this morning my Dear Husband gave me a kiss as he was leaving for working in the dark.. he came home after I went to sleep last night. Suddenly I was in love again... he has been so busy but took the time to remember ME... Interesting responses...

American in Norway said... [Reply]

Oh girl.... the STORIES I can tell... throwing plates...crying... "you have ruined my life...". "I used to have a life" Oh ya...not things I am proud of... but moving overseas(FOR GOOD) was one of the most difficult things I have ever done. 3 years down the road I am in a much different place. i have made a life for myself, & I am learning to take the good things about living in Norway & doing them with my family.... If I can help, I will also go on the record... (seeing as we aren't posted here..but here FOREVER..) not sure I am what you are looking for... But I am here...

Please. Write your own stuff.