A move is considered by counselors and therapists as one of the most significant sources of stress in a relationship. And when the move is to a foreign country, the extra level of adjustments both in personal and public life required from the partners, can seriously damage a relationship, especially if the move has been forced upon one of the partners. If you find yourself in such a situation with your partner looking at an expatriate life while you are reluctant to uproot yourself, there are a few things you can do.
Talk about it
When you thought things were going along perfectly well, a partner who announces that he/she wants to move to another can come as a bit of a shock. Despite the temptation to give in to panic, try to be as calm as possible since this is a situation which requires some cool thinking which is practically impossible to do when you are freaking out or yelling at each other. Instead talk with one another about your values, needs, and expectations of the change. Think like a team, one which sticks together through thick and thin. Listening to each others hopes and dreams can be a positive experience if you create a sense that you’re both working towards the same end and want to support the other in achieving his or her goals. If you have kids, take inputs from all members of the family to see how each feels about the prospect of change and how it can enrich your lives. Having a discussion will also make it clear to you whether your partner is open to moving alone or whether he/she expects you and/or the family to tag along; either situation will have its own complications, a long distance marriage in case of the former and the stress of moving in case of the latter. Once you get talking about the proposed relocation, you will have a fairer idea about the issues involved and possible solutions.
Find out more about the place
One of the first things you can do is to check out the place where your partner wants to move to. Research the country, province and city in question before making the decision to move. Be realistic about cost of living and security concerns. This will help you gauge the quality of life at the new location on fronts that are important to you and your family – for instance the quality of healthcare, educational and professional opportunities, recreational facilities and support network available in the new place. Certain parts of the world have cultural restrictions of movement of women in public and even the law is less than forthcoming about their safety. These concerns could be relevant if you or your partner have been used to the cultural, social and sexual freedoms of western societies. Find out about the place from the internet, check with friends and acquaintances about feedback on the place or tap social networking sites to gather more information. If possible, try to physically explore the place together so that you have an actual idea of where your partner wants to move to and the kind of life possible there.
Think about opportunities for yourself
The most important objection to moving along with a partner is perhaps the issue of your own career taking a backseat. You may have been doing well in your job with even better prospects in near future and now suddenly being asked to leave the job or even go for a lateral move is sure to seem unfair, if not actually damaging. If a negative impact on your career is your only objection to the move, then how about exploring work opportunities in the new place. Do a search online or talk to the HR people in your own company and start building a resource database or spreadsheet of possible employers or networking opportunities. Prepare your resume and reference letters before you leave. Having a completed portfolio, resume and employment package ready will enable you to apply for positions as soon as they become available in the city where you are going. An even better idea would be to take professional help like applying to a headhunter or talking to a career counselor about your job prospects in the new location. Keep in mind options like telecommuting or self-employment. You can also look at internships if you're seeking a career change. If your family can survive on one salary, look at educational opportunities. Most cities have local colleges or trade schools that offer various programs and can give you useful advice. If you've wanted a career change, find out what is needed to make that leap. Also, check into e-learning programs that allow you to study at home. This can be a great alternative for those not in a major urban area or if the preferred institution is too far away to commute. Thus moving may not always imply a setback to a career - instead this could be a great time to assess career expectations and desires or perhaps to start something new.
Consider other options
However if you see no merit whatsoever in moving, suggest the option of a long distance relationship to your partner. These days’ incredible changes in internet and communication technology have made it easier than ever to stay in touch with a loved one across vast geographical distance. Alternately you can toy with the idea of taking a sabbatical from work or applying for a research grant that will allow you to accompany your partner at the new place for some time but not involve a permanent break with your career. however keep in mind that a long distance relationship isn’t for everyone – if you or your partner have a tendency towards emotional insecurity or if it is important for either of you to be physically connected in love, a long distance relationship may leave one or both emotionally unfulfilled.
In the end, you need to weigh the pros and cons of making the move – both in the context of individual aspirations as well as relationship needs. Weighing the benefits of moving along with your partner as opposed to the benefits of staying back will put the situation in clearer terms and in the process help you take decision that you will be able to live with, in the days to come.