Living Abroad: Handling Marital Stress
Moving abroad and living in an unfamiliar environment can put undue strain on a relationship, which can be made even worse when one partner is working and the other isn't, as is often the case. Going on a career break abroad together can make or break a marriage, even a long-standing one, so handling life's ups and downs when you're away, and not letting them affect you as a couple, is essential.
Stress can manifest itself in a variety of different ways, and it's important to recognise the symptoms before they get out of control. Individuals can suffer from poor appetite or overeating, insomnia or the desire to sleep all the time, lethargy and an increased number of illnesses. Emotional symptoms include increased bickering and/or petty squabbles, a decreased sex drive, low toleration of the other's peccadilloes, intense irritation with the other person in particular, and feeling anxious, depressed or tense a lot of the time.
Tips for Handling Marital Stress Abroad
- Think of your career break as a shared joint adventure, one that the two of you planned together and which both of you will beneift from.You both worked hard for your break to get off the ground, and you both deserve to enjoy the fruits of your efforts.
- Exercise, eat healthily and try to sleep well. Everything looks better when you follow these obvious tips for better well-being and better health.
- Make time for each other. Choose one night a week to go on a “date” together and stick to it, even if it means just strolling hand-in-hand on a 15-minute walk.
- Be supportive of one another. Keep abreast of what the other is doing and make time daily to discuss problems, interests and each other.
- Involve the other in your day-to-day life. This is especially important if one partner is working while the other is struggling in an unfamiliar environment.
- Make your partner part of your work-related lifestyle. Invite them to a work dinner or do, or have them come visit your job for a day. Job stress compounded with marital stress make for a deadly duo.
- Be friends with each other. Too often domestic partners take each other for granted, and forget the reason they got together in the first place.
- Involve the whole family in activities together. If you have children accompanying you on a career break, it's crucial to make time for everyone.
- Get counselling. If the stress gets too much, an outsider can help. In remote areas you can even get counselling over the phone.
Career breaks, in some ways, are like holidays – and everyone knows how holiday stress can tear couples apart. Instead of making time for each other and enjoying being in a different atmosphere, people often disagree more, worry more, and enjoy each other less. What is supposed to be one of the happiest times of the year often results in creating even more disharmony.
In today's busy world stress is unavoidable, and even the happiest couples suffer from bad patches. These can only be exacerbated when placed in an unfamiliar environment when you may even have a new language, new customs and completely different way of life. But if you make time for each other and make your relationship a priority, you can stop tensions from escalating and keep your marriage on the right track.