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The responsibility of a partner

The other evening I was having a chat with one of my closest friends here in Melbourne. She’s also an expat and we got talking about partners. More specifically about the responsibility of being a partner to an expat.

Anyone who has moved from one country to another knows that it always comes with a lot of changes. Some great ones and some not so great ones. One main thing that I struggled with during my first few relocations was that my friends a family were too far away to celebrate significant things with. Of course it was pretty obvious that I had actually chosen to move far away from them, but it still felt a bit lonely sometimes and naturally I missed them a lot.

As expat life goes, it’s not uncommon to meet someone from another country whilst living overseas. It does not really matter if they are from the country your are living in or if they are from somewhere else. Because the responsibility of that partner tends to become bigger than what sometimes seems fair, simply because they become your only nearby family. Remember that a partner does not need to be a romantic one. It can just as well be a travel partner or a housemate.

If you have a partner in your life and can identify with the above thoughts in your life, you might find this helpful:

  1. Someone that you love or miss dearly is never more than a thought away. Make sure to let them know you care about them no matter where in the world you are and how far away they are.
  2. Remind yourself of and tap into all the different support networks you have access to and use them in a way that serves and supports you. Chat, read, share experiences, give advice or simply listen. Support networks could be anything from expat communities, online forums or work to friends, partner and family.
  3. Find new ways of celebrating things to include friends and family far away. How about a Skype birthday party or Sunday dinner with the family?
  4. Make sure that your happiness is not depending solely on your partner in your new home, just because he/she seems to be the only one nearby you can lean on and really trust. It’s not sustainable and I’ve seen many expat relationships crumble because of this.
  5. How do you support your partner? Every relationship is different and every person needs different levels of support and interaction. Sometimes it can be very useful to sit down with your partner and ‘put the cards on the table’, be honest with the type of support you want from them and also find out what support they need from you.

My boyfriend and his family have been the most amazing support for me here in Australia. Equally important for me however is that I speak regularly to my family and friends in Europe and that I have close friends here in Australia to share, cry, laugh and celebrate with.

How do you find the balance in these things in a way that works for you?