So you’re moving to another country. It’s most like for one of two reasons; you need a change in your life and love to travel, or you fell in love.
There are a surprising amount of people who move countries to live with their spouses.
Moving to another country is stressful enough, but when you’re moving for love – it can get a little more complicated.
Take it from us, it is really easy to become resentful, annoyed or bitter about changing your life and moving to a new place to make your relationship work. Even if you’re like me and love to travel and experience new things – moving to another country is a lot different then just traveling to one and takes a while to get used to.
The first time I moved to Belgium (August 2013) – it was really (in my mind) just a “pit-stop” on the way to a life together in Canada. I was pretty set in my ways that as soon as K finished school, we’d be heading back to my homeland.
After 10 months of reluctantly living in Belgium – my visa was about to expire and I had to move back without him. That move completely altered how I felt about Belgium. The weeks leading up to my departure, I realized just how much I had grown to love it here.
The second time I moved to Belgium (February 2015) was a completely different story. I was so excited to get back here – not just to K and our new home, but to Belgium as a whole. I missed the history, the beauty…even the repetitive news broadcasts.
With 2 moves behind me, I completely understand those little resentful thoughts that can creep in on those bad days…
“He has all his friends, and I just left all of mine…”
“He has his cat, and I left mine back in Canada…”
“He can see his parents every day, and I won’t see mine for another 5 months…”
“I’m the one having to change jobs and learn a new language here…”
No matter the thought – I’ve had it! If you’re having one of those days – don’t feel terrible about it, it’s completely normal. Having a little resentment or frustration doesn’t make you a bad spouse. Holding onto that resentment does. K and I have a pretty fair rule when it comes to things like this: Talk about it, then drop it.
We have both made some life-altering decisions to keep our relationship going and we’re both happier people because of it – but that doesn’t mean it was easy!
So here are some tips to help keep your romance thriving while you adjust to the changes of a new country.
Be open minded.
Things will be different. His house, his parents, his friends, the language, the culture, the store hours – you will find a bunch of things to be annoyed with, because you miss your own country and the familiarity that comes with it. Change is hard for some people, but just give yourself the space and positive energy to let the changes roll in!
Let yourself adapt! Be willing to make the changes, because you’ve already come this far.
Don’t let resentment build.
Like I said…TALK ABOUT IT. THEN DROP IT.
Being frustrated about having to learn a new language, leave your job, your friends and your family behind is pretty valid. But you can’t use that excuse every time there is an argument.
Don’t let that resentment build, because you’re in this together. Talk about your feelings, even if they seem strange to the other person. Sometimes I tell K I’m frustrated with him because his language is too hard to learn and his accent is pissing me off that day. He takes it all in stride and allows me to vent for a while until I feel better.
Sometimes he vents about how he can’t “just spend a night playing video games” and how I nag at him about cleaning up after himself.
We hear each other out, and then we move on. Letting out your frustrations to each other in a healthy way is so much better then just bottling them in.
Be brutally honest and come to mutual decisions.
Every “big” decision you make needs to be a joint one or this will never work.
It’s normal to disagree on small things like where to go out for dinner or who’s day it is to do the dishes – but making decisions about houses, cars and finances is something you both need to be brutally honest with each other about.
These are things that could cause really, really big arguments in the future if you’re not honest about them now.
Don’t keep score!
“I know you are staying in tonight because I want you to, but I moved here for you.”
It’s just such a negative outlook on things, and it will definitely eat away at your relationship. We have BOTH made compromises, and we never ‘keep score’ about who has made more of them, or how big those compromises were. That is just a recipe for disaster.
You did this for both of you – not just for them.
Getting into the “I _______ for you” mindset is the most dangerous thing you can do. Never use the words FOR YOU, because you didn’t do this for them. You did this for your relationship. You did this for your happiness, as much as theirs.
Getting into that negative mindset can cause so many arguments and make the other person feel like they “owe” you, which is not healthy for the relationship as a whole.
Think about them.
As weird (and selfish) as it sounds, the first time I moved here I really didn’t think about K’s feelings in all of it. I was felt like I was drowning in new-ness. The language, the job market, the schools, the culture, living with my inlaws. All of it just felt so overwhelming, I cried at least once a week.
I was so focused on adjusting on how I felt about things, I never really stopped to think of things might be effecting him. He is the one who had to pick me up off the floor after an anxiety attack or listen to me vent about missing my friends.
Moving in together is a big step for any couple. The actual ‘first time living together’ thing tends to be forgotten because of how big the whole ‘moving to another country’ thing is.
I can honestly say we are the happiest we have ever been, even with the compromises we’ve both had to make to get here.
I left a career in social work, but I found a job here and now have more time to travel and blog about it. I left my friends and family – but that made me realize how many people care enough about me to fiddle around with Skype for half an hour trying to see me through a bad internet connection.
He moved out of his parents house – but in with me, and realized that wasn’t as scary as he’d thought. He learned how to be romantic and decisive. I learned how to be calm and quiet. He is teaching me to drive standard cars and I am teaching him how to cook.
Every person comes with flaws, and every relationship comes with compromises.
Long distance relationships often need more compromises, but that’s okay, because when you finally move in together and you spend your nights watching Netflix and cooking dinner together – it’s just worth it.
Check out our related post last week; 7 Tips for Making Your International Move Smoothly