Make your relationship last when moving overseas with your partner

moving overseas with your partnerYou may think moving overseas with your partner won’t affect your relationship, but we’re here to tell you that you could be wrong.

Yes, some couples start a new life in a new country and come out of the experience stronger, but just as many couples find themselves struggling to keep things together after a while.

The reason why some relationships fall apart? Moving overseas is a huge stressor. It makes many demands in the application stage and comes with culture shock, uncertainties and homesickness in the settlement phase.

None of this is impossible to overcome though, as is evident in the many relationships that do survive a move overseas.

Here’s how the successful couples do it:

1. They communicate

It’s common knowledge that communication is key in sustaining relationships. Keeping the lines of communication open becomes even more important when you’re moving overseas with your partner.

What you do:

Raise your concerns, fears and worries. That way both partners know what kind of headspace the other one is in and you can support each other. It also prevents little issues from becoming huge arguments.

Don’t forget to mention the good stuff too, whether it’s complimenting your partner on how they handled a visa issue or sharing a story after your first day on the new job.

Balance is key!

2. They have common goals

Not everyone find living and working overseas appealing for the same reasons. For some it’s an opportunity to make money, others simply want an opportunity to travel more.

These goals aren’t necessarily mutually exclusive, but when a couple have vastly different goals neither wants to compromise on, it’s a recipe for disaster.

What you do:

Sit down and discuss what each of you are hoping to get out of a stint overseas. In an ideal world, you’ll have the same goals, but if you don’t, discuss how each person can compromise a little bit to give the other one what they want.

3. They have a plan

Of course you’re going to plot and plan a move overseas, but planning in this case, when you’re one of two, ensures that both partners knows exactly what’s happening.

What you do:

Start from the beginning, from the visa application. Then work your way right through to finding a house once you’ve arrived in South Africa.

Your list should also include who’s responsible for what, not only so that things get done, but also to limit ‘but you were supposed to do that’ arguments.

4. They make big decisions together

You may be responsible for finding a new home, but you should never sign on the dotted line without first speaking to your significant other. Life-defining decisions should always be made together.

What you do:

Exactly that – make the big decisions together, like where to stay or whether you’re going to buy or rent a house. Sit down, go through all the details and make a decision before continuing with your day.

5. They make time to have fun

Successful couples know that emigrating can’t only be hard work, so they schedule regular time-outs.

What you do:

You make time to have fun and relax while going through the motions of moving. Go see a movie, have dinner with friends or go hiking, whatever takes your fancy.

Once you’re settled in South Africa, make time to visit tourist sights, explore your neighbourhood and taste the local flavours.

6. They spend time apart

Most couples are not used to spending all their time together or being dependent only on each other. Most couples also know that not taking a break could eventually very well lead to frustration and tension.

What you do:

Take a break and give each other some space at least once a week. Go have a coffee at corner café, go see a movie, explore a part of the city on your own or join a hobby group. Your options are virtually endless!

7. They reach out

Being homesick and lonely happens to couples too and when it does, successful couples reach out to new friends, while also reconnecting with family and friends back home.

What you do:

When you miss home, send a text to a loved one or arrange a Skype call. When you want to make new friends, reach out to other expats or join those hobby groups we mentioned above.

8. They decide if and when they’ll return home

Unless it’s a temporary work contract, with a definite end, the question of when to return home, or whether to do it at all, is sure to pop up. Unless both partners are clear on the details here, this issue could lead to fights down the line.

What you do:

Discuss if it’s a permanent or temporary stay. If it’s temporary, how long do each of you want to stay? Talk about what happens if one of you decide it’s time to go home, despite all that’s been discussed. Also chat about the possibility of moving to more countries.

Let’s summarise your strategy for moving overseas with your partner…

The most important thing you can do for your relationship when moving overseas with your partner, is talk. Talk about how you want this adventure to play out, talk about your feelings and definitely discuss the big decisions.

When you keep the lines of communication open, your relationship is set to survive The Big Move.