Spouses share their stories

Sondey (USA), about Mexico:
‘…I handled most of the details - housing, immigration issues, getting a driver's license – on my own. It was like jumping into a cold lake.

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It's uncomfortable, frightening, everything is on hyper alert because it is so different. There are times you are fed up and depressed. Sometimes you are in shock and the only person who understands is another expat.’

Anonymous (Belgium), about Singapore:
‘Singapore is truly great, and as a family we are happy here. At times, however, I get insecure when I think about the career I gave up to come here.

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Sometimes I wish I could share these concerns with someone else than my husband. My local social circle is still limited and mostly linked to my husbands company. My friends at home think that I am a spoiled expat so I have no reason to complain.’

“Sally” (USA), about Fiji:
‘When me and my husband followed his work to Suva, I found myself in an alien world with few resources to help me adjust to the new life.

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Previously the manager of a web design business, I was unable to obtain a work permit in Fiji. Cut off from family and friends, ignored by my husband’s employer, uncertain about the future and, to cap it all, it rained solidly for the first three weeks after our arrival, it brought on early signs of depression and lowered self-confidence.’ (For privacy reasons not her real name)

Gerda (the Netherlands):
After my husband was promoted, we moved from an apartment in a big city.

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to a large villa with a big garden in a village in the countryside several hundred miles away. These were all reasons to be happy, in my opinion. Still I did not feel happy and couldn’t understand why. My coach pointed out that by moving to the countryside, I had lost the close contact I had with my friends and family and that grief is a normal reaction in such a situation. In fact, I made things worse by demanding myself to be happy and by blaming myself for not being happy.’

Annelies (the Netherlands) about the Ivory Coast:
As an expatriate in Ivory Coast, I experienced the challenges and difficulties as an expatriate spouse. First of all, it was the first time in my life that I was not treated as “me” but as “the wife of…”.

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It felt as if I had lost my identity. Secondly, being away from my friends and my family was more difficult than I had anticipated. It was hard to explain to them that although we lived in a beautiful compound with a swimming pool and a tennis court, life was not perfect. My husband made long days and despite the fact that I worked, I felt pretty lonely. As a blond European woman, I stood out anywhere I came. Finally, the political unrest in the country gave me a feeling of insecurity.
Of course, on the other side this was an great life experience for my husband and me and it really felt like an enrichment. I would never have missed it but -on hindsight- the experience could have been more rewarding if someone would have helped to recognize my issues and to cope with my situation.

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