It is currently Sat 30 May 2020 10:02 GMT
Change font size

Chinwags

What does being the partner of an ex-pat status worker mean?

Talk about the weather, make new friends, comment on anything, pop in to say "hello". [Please DO NOT post country-specific questions here - they belong on the relevant country forum in the In-Country Experts Forum.]

What does being the partner of an ex-pat status worker mean?

Postby StellaMarklew » Sun 12 Apr 2015 15:50 GMT

Gone is the time when it was most women's sole career to be at home and the men went out to work. Except that for some ex-pats that women's role has returned and for men it can mean a role reversal.

Most women have careers or at least have jobs which give them a sense of their own identity and financial independence, even after having children - the two parts of their lives are then combined with fathers (hopefully) taking a share of the children's upbringing. Most men view a working life as a matter of course.

But what happens when, for one of them, an irresistible job offer comes from the other side of the world? How is the sense of self, the self worth and the security of independence maintained? For a duration of six months or so it can be viewed as a pleasant sabbatical but what happens when it rolls into years and job prospects dwindle due to lack of recent experience, age and other interviewees simply having a better resume.

Are coffee mornings and handbag holding enough to sustain good inner well being? I believe this would depend on several things; the preparation and looking at reality before taking on the new job, each persons own internal sense of self and strength of identity and the solid foundations of the relationship itself.

I think it's helpful for couples to contract what they each want for themselves and as a couple - this means to discuss, allow for disagree-agree in places and settle on a plan. The plan doesn't have to stay the same, it can be discussed, disagree-agree and re contracted at any time wished or when necessary.

Many people are afraid of not agreeing as a couple - so what if you don't agree? If you both let it go sometimes, it will probably even out in the end if you want the relationship to work. Human beings are individuals and not clones of one another, the differences are sometimes what attracted us to the other person, if you are quiet you may like the way your partner is outgoing.

Another important factor is to decide on why you're going to X country; money? travel? a new cultural experience? a life change? - whatever the reason, it's important that you keep this in mind when you feel stuck at yet another coffee morning or handbag holding. Maybe you're not fulfilling your original plans and promises to yourself?

If the idea of living abroad is to heal relationship issues between you, be aware that living abroad may cause it's own stresses that will add to what you may already have and highlight them even further. Isolation for the one who isn't going out to work everyday can be painful and the cause of more problems.
Stella Marklew
counsellor & therapist
MBACP Reg (Accred)
Reminder: Premium Membership is required for access to private messages. Sign up now!
Posted by:
StellaMarklew
Free member
 
Posts: 9
Joined: Sat 4 Apr 2015 10:25 GMT

Re: What does being the partner of an ex-pat status worker m

Postby Kay » Thu 16 Apr 2015 09:35 GMT

This is very interesting, Stella. Thanks. I'm sorry I didn't reply before now. (Hectic here, as usual.)

Another aspect of this is that it's often expected that you WILL attend all these activities - whether you like it or not! This is a problem I often faced. Once I had accepted that I would "follow" my husband, my solution was to create a "portable career", ie one which I could take with me wherever in the world we went. Portable careers, aka the laptop lifestyle, is a subject which hugely interests me. There are various ways to achieve this, for example, by running an online business.

Anyway, back to the point. Some of the more traditional (and senior!) wives couldn't accept this idea of working from home from anywhere, and it could become a bit of a battle at times when my name was put down for things I didn't want to do. I'd be told that I had to sort the bottles for the tombola stall, bake cakes, and all sorts of things. It wasn't that I was unwilling to support their various causes - I'd happily have given them a donation - but that wasn't enough. They wanted my time and it didn't matter if I said I had work to do and deadlines to meet, there would be the inevitable knock of the door and some old dragon on the doorstep asking why I was late for such and such a meeting which I'd never agreed to attend. You can imagine. :roll: :lol:

I'm not sure if this also happens to men or if they're deemed to be capable of getting along and doing their own thing. It would be interesting to find out!
Not Delia - Foodie blog with lots of reviews and recipes.
Posted by:
User avatar
Kay
Site Admin
 
Posts: 15338
Joined: Wed 22 Jan 2003 13:06 GMT
Location: Kent for a couple of years

Re: What does being the partner of an ex-pat status worker m

Postby StellaMarklew » Sun 19 Apr 2015 11:29 GMT

Having an online job requires determination and self regulation. I find I have to have a set of rules by which I work and try to spread the work throughout the week so I am not working hugely long, unhealthy days.
Unwanted callers when I am working is a problem but I just don't answer the door or phone and neither do I explain. Fortunately, I am not in a corporate world where I may of be held to account for my time. Sometimes people do ask why I don't answer when they call and simply reply I was working, I don't encourage them with explanations. It's my door and my phone to answer, or not, contrary to some peoples opinions who insist on ringing and ringing phone and door bell. "You didn't answer your bell!" "No, I didn't" Is my reply.
Reminder: Premium Membership is required for access to private messages. Sign up now!
Posted by:
StellaMarklew
Free member
 
Posts: 9
Joined: Sat 4 Apr 2015 10:25 GMT

Re: What does being the partner of an ex-pat status worker m

Postby Kay » Sun 19 Apr 2015 15:26 GMT

You're tougher than I am. :lol: Mind you, if you live on a compound - which we did - everyone knows your comings and goings and there's nowhere to hide.
Not Delia - Foodie blog with lots of reviews and recipes.
Posted by:
User avatar
Kay
Site Admin
 
Posts: 15338
Joined: Wed 22 Jan 2003 13:06 GMT
Location: Kent for a couple of years

Re: What does being the partner of an ex-pat status worker m

Postby ruggie » Sun 26 Apr 2015 18:38 GMT

My wife Phyllis and I have experienced two different approaches, both hingeing on the fact that we had two school-age children at the time. Even back in the UK, she avoided the coffee morning set like the plague, so she was already adept at finding activities and social circles that led her to meet interesting people and get involved in doing things she found stimulating

The first time, we spent 4 years in Paris and Phyll started by befriending our French neighbours. She is no linguist, but has always managed to understand and make herself understood by people from many countries in the world. Next, she got involved with the parents' association at the international school our children attended. This led to us accommodating some very bright and interesting children who came from other schools in Europe, while they took part in competitions and other activities. We very soon realised that sports competitors were dull and boring, and concentrated on music, maths and drama events.

For my second foreign assignment, the children were in UK boarding schools and Phyll was working - partly to pay for the schooling and partly because she would not have been permitted to work in the United States. My employers paid for her and the children to visit me twice a year, which worked very well. However, we were already used to maintaining a strong relationship while living apart for extended periods (and to the associated long distance telephone bills). While I was working in Edinburgh & Glasgow, Phyll had held three different Occupational Health posts. Our home was in Forres (east of Inverness), and I had a small house midway between Glasgow & Edinburgh. While she worked in Dounreay and had a small house in Thurso, we took it in turns to meet at weekends in Forres or Thurso. Later, she had the whole of south west Scotland as her territory and we had various flats in or around Edinburgh as our common base during the week. At one time, Phyll had the whole of Devon & Cornwall as her territory,which meant driving 45000 miles a year as well as running up large phone bills...

Flexibility is a useful asset for expat couples.
Whether you live in France, or just find the country interesting http://www.franceforfreebooters.com/201 ... nts-up-50/
Posted by:
ruggie
Supporter
 
Posts: 3196
Joined: Sun 28 Nov 2004 09:09 GMT
Location: France

Re: What does being the partner of an ex-pat status worker m

Postby Kay » Mon 27 Apr 2015 07:04 GMT

Great post, Mike. Thanks for joining in. It was good of Stella to start such an interesting conversation.
Not Delia - Foodie blog with lots of reviews and recipes.
Posted by:
User avatar
Kay
Site Admin
 
Posts: 15338
Joined: Wed 22 Jan 2003 13:06 GMT
Location: Kent for a couple of years

Re: What does being the partner of an ex-pat status worker m

Postby ruggie » Mon 27 Apr 2015 19:40 GMT

Thanks, Kay - and Stella for kicking the subject off. Let me pick up on one of Stella's points: about people who think moving abroad could help solve relationship problems. I have never seen this work, any more than emigrating blindly to a place you know nothing about will make you any happier or more successful than you were at home. In fact, the reverse is generally true - new stresses added to existing ones are not a recipe for mending a relationship. Why should either partner huddle closer to one they already mistrust, when the going gets tough? We were watching a group of people who seemed to spend most of their time going out to dinner and hanging around in bars that attracted expats, and Phyll remarked to a friend: "give them another 6 months, and they'll be wife-swapping". Her rather less experienced friend was horrified and refused to believe her. In fact, it took just over 3 months.
Whether you live in France, or just find the country interesting http://www.franceforfreebooters.com/201 ... nts-up-50/
Posted by:
ruggie
Supporter
 
Posts: 3196
Joined: Sun 28 Nov 2004 09:09 GMT
Location: France

Re: What does being the partner of an ex-pat status worker m

Postby Kay » Tue 28 Apr 2015 10:29 GMT

"Wife-swapping" sounds a bit dull. It suggests that wives are the property of the husbands to use as they wish. I would much prefer husband-swapping. That could be great! Maybe polyandry would be even better!

Now, let's see what I would have. One who was rich. One who was exciting. One who was good at DIY. One who was... Ach, this is getting boring, too many husbands to keep track of. Remembering all their birthdays would be a nuisance. But is it reasonable to expect all that from one person. And if not, then why should it be the "norm" to aim for this?

Is monogamy really what nature intended for humans? Is it a cultural thing, inbred in us from our British Victorian values which still rule many Brits today? Is it beneficial in any way? Why not have non-traditional households if they're mutually beneficial?

I'm not a supporter of "family values" regardless of what political flag they're flying under. Live and let live. Embrace diversity. Yep, the support and security offered by monogamy is probably a good thing, but perhaps it's only the need to conform to our society's current way of thinking which makes it so.

It seems that a lot of our opinions on matters such as this are shaped more by our conditioned thinking than by rational thought. The concept of romance also has a lot to answer for.

Bring it on. :D
Not Delia - Foodie blog with lots of reviews and recipes.
Posted by:
User avatar
Kay
Site Admin
 
Posts: 15338
Joined: Wed 22 Jan 2003 13:06 GMT
Location: Kent for a couple of years

Re: What does being the partner of an ex-pat status worker m

Postby ruggie » Tue 28 Apr 2015 13:31 GMT

I'll put my nerdy hat on for a moment, to discuss the underlying biology. In contrast with all other primates (and other animals, as far as I know), human females have 'concealed ovulation' - it is not obvious when they are in a state receptive to fertilisation. This keeps males in attendance to support females during the very long fraction of their lives that humans take to reach puberty, which allows them to pass on learned skills. For those intent on producing offspring, monogamy is a good choice for the majority of the population. However, polygamy works for the wealthy minority, and did so for pioneering populations when death in childbirth was common. Where the raising of offspring is not the goal (a valid and useful choice in advanced civilisation, by my reckoning - in the long run, some ideas created by people will far outlast their genes), monogamy provides no obvious advantage to the species, and polyandry is as valid as polygamy.
Whether you live in France, or just find the country interesting http://www.franceforfreebooters.com/201 ... nts-up-50/
Posted by:
ruggie
Supporter
 
Posts: 3196
Joined: Sun 28 Nov 2004 09:09 GMT
Location: France

Re: What does being the partner of an ex-pat status worker m

Postby StellaMarklew » Tue 5 May 2015 21:43 GMT

How would it be not to expect everything from one type of relationship?
Our partner can, hopefully, bring satisfaction to SOME of our needs but perhaps family and friends are also supplying some of our needs and wants in terms of relationships?
In my experience, we too often forget that we need to satisfy our own needs and wants that others are unable to - fulfilling and giving ourselves permission to undertake things, projects, aims and interests - REGARDLESS of others needs and wants that they must themselves fulfil.
The other area that often gets disregarded is the lighter weight relationships that enable us to have less obligation - brief contact and minimal emotional involvement while bringing us the human and social requirements we need. A quick wave and "I love the new car - I have been looking at those myself" fulfills a basic need for engagement, being part of something and, if the response is right, a feeling of acceptance. Bingo! - some personal needs and wants met.
Of course it's far more complex than this and these are only some basic ideas but I feel it provides something to start some processes off that may otherwise go unattended.
Reminder: Premium Membership is required for access to private messages. Sign up now!
Posted by:
StellaMarklew
Free member
 
Posts: 9
Joined: Sat 4 Apr 2015 10:25 GMT

Re: What does being the partner of an ex-pat status worker m

Postby Dave » Sun 10 May 2015 12:52 GMT

Another great post, Stella.

I think the lighter weight relationships can make a big difference to the overall quality of life. You're never going to get a deep and meaningful relationship out of the kind of casual exchanges you get over a shop counter. But a few pleasantries exchanged with acquaintances like that, or even with random strangers you meet eg on public transport, do make for a happier life. For all that Greater London's decried as a big, anonymous, uncaring city, there are certainly pockets within it where the people seem to be friendlier.

Of course, it could be a chicken-and-egg thing; if you make the effort to strike up a conversation with whoever happens to be around, you may find that people are friendly. But my experience is that there are regional and even local variations. [Edit:] A bit of second-hand experience: the family of a friend of mine moved to Norwich in the late 1960s. Although the father (an Ulsterman) shopped regularly at the same market stalls, it wasn't until about 20 years later that the stallholders started responding to his attempts to strike up conversation.
British Newspapers Online - your handy guide to the UK's national, regional and local press!
ErgoGuides - Great travel and business eBooks from British Expat!
Posted by:
User avatar
Dave
Site Admin
 
Posts: 7267
Joined: Tue 21 Jan 2003 15:04 GMT
Location: Currently UK


Return to Chinwags