Recently I was interviewed for a book on Expat life, one of the questions was around the benefits of moving abroad. I love questions like this because they make me stop to reflect upon the past 5 years. The biggest benefit has been strengthening of our marriage, which is odd because this last week when our plumbing went to pot and I had to fix the SH***T coming out. Meanwhile he was on yet another business trip......
My husband is the complete opposite from me, he will often just listen to me and I head off on one of my rants about something I tried to organise or routine that hasn’t quite worked out, before quietly telling me it would all be ok everything doesn’t have to fit into a schedule! He brings out the best in me, seeing things from a different perspective and believing in me more than I do myself.
Its also been pretty tough some days, we have experienced our fair share of challenges especially when it comes to expat life. The long business trips, lack of family to support when one or other of you gets sick, amongst others.
There is no 1-2-3 formula to divorce proof your marriage, but here our my reflections on how expat life has helped us get to 11 years.
Lack of friends - we only had each other to hang out with when we first arrived, so we would do everything together. No separate families or university friends to go see, just the two of
Spontany - We didn’t have any other friends, there were very few obligations either of us was bribing the other to attend, we had free weekends were we could decide what to do based on what we felt like rather than because it was booked in the calendar 6 months ago by your partner.
Lower financial pressure (we had a great contract that helped us pay bills, rent, school fee’s and our health care) so the day to day financial grind was significantly minimised.
Mutual place - Johannesburg didn’t have any other baggage to either of us, we could start a fresh and explore the city together, creating fresh memories together.
Supportive Partner - Whilst I hated not working, it has made me much less stressed and more balanced in home and work life. I am way more open to supporting Matt both practically and through small signs of affection most days.
Absence makes the heart grow fonder - whilst matt is away on business trips, its easy for us to not take each other for guaranteed, to pick up each others roles (I have to say its even more helpful when I also leave for a weekend or few weeks so he also learns what I am doing with the kids and for the family).