Moving overseas with your partner isn’t always a walk in the park! Why is that? Because moving overseas is a huge stressor on relationships. There are many demands in the application stage and relocation comes with culture shock, uncertainties and homesickness.
None of this is impossible to overcome though! Below you will find eight strategies of couples who make their relationship last – and thrive – throughout the immigration process. We also include some practical suggestions of how you can follow suit.
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.
Raise your concerns, fears and worries. That way both partners know what kind of head-space 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 finds 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 can be a recipe for disaster.
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.
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.
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. Prioritizing quality time together is important.
Make time to have fun and relax while going through the motions of moving. Go see a movie, have dinner at a new restaurant, have a braai with new friends or go for a hike.
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.
Take a break and give each other some space. Go have a coffee at a corner café, go see a movie, explore a part of the city on your own or join a hobby group. Your options are 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.
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.
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.
A tip from one of our consultants who speaks from experience
Jaime Catala and his wife relocated to South Africa in 2013 and he is proud to call himself a permanent resident now. We asked what would be his top tip for a couple taking on the immigration process and this is what he had to say:
When we packed our bags and left London in 2013, we both said we would take a couple of months off before starting to work again. This is the best way to explore different areas of South Africa in order to acclimatize to the new lifestyle and the new pace of living (it is much slower here than in London). For me personally, this was not the case. After being here for only 3 weeks, I was able to secure a few job offers as I speak different languages. My advice, enjoy your initial steps in this beautiful country, don’t do what I did as you’ll have plenty more opportunities to work at a later stage, take time to soak it all in and adjust!
Jaime is a dual national of the UK and Spain and therefore is bilingual in both English and Spanish. Feel free to reach out to him via LinkedIn – he would be delighted to have a consultation with you!
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’.