Expat marriage – There is power in complicated

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This day and age, divorce has become very easy. In many countries. Not all.

Looking at Denmark (where I am from) it is not only easy to sort out the administrative part of a divorce, which literally takes 10 min. online, it is also easy to get help and support as a single (parent) and the majority of people are self sufficient when it comes to job/money.

Women are encouraged to be wild and free, and do not get me wrong I strongly support this, to invest and to make sure that they are always in a position to manage “it all” by themselves. By “it all” I refer to paying the bills and making the everyday wheels go round.

Men are ditto able to manage by themselves.

It appears the gap between couples that commit is getting bigger, our TV´s are flooded with dating programs and people are scattered over many platforms to try and find a partner – or the next partner.


Bottom line; We are less dependent on each other and an exit from commitment is easy(ier).


Where does that leave us?


What does it do to our willingness to invest in our relationship, and really fight for each other and our togetherness?

That is a big and complex question and highly debated. As I firmly believe that it should be.

When I am getting involved in the debate and how it fits in, in the expat business, it is because I find it important and because I think and experience, from a personal perspective, that expat life has something to offer on this – committing.

Before continuing I highlight that I will keep this article in a man/woman setting to avoid a constant inclusion phrase. However, I fully support any kind of relationship, choices, genders, and choice of life.




Most commonly, couples that expatriate do so because one part has been offered a job abroad.

Accepting that job offer involves getting buy in and acceptance from the one part that will then have to leave his/her current job and initially, for a longer or shorter period, will start working as a support function in this new lifestyle. He/she will have to get everyday life up and running, find his/her new identity and eventually find his/her own purpose.

In short, the spouse is giving something up, for his/her partner. Wearing my glasses, that is (also) love to do so, and a joint commitment to each other.


Note; My e-book explains, in details, the preparation needed and the pitfalls to steer clear off. It is free to download from the frontpage – www.expatadvising.com


Especially during the first years the load of new, learning, and adaptation is huge. The fact that nor one or the other has trusted friends or family close by, forces the two to use each other. That can be really hard, as it is a piece of work in itself, to fully understand what the other one is faced with and going through, at the same time as having to manage your own process and new identity.


“Mind you that some of the top stressors are defined as moving, changing job, and job loss (also volunteeringly)”.


During this tremendous practical and emotional pressure, our normal level of robustness might fluctuate downwards, and the “home button” can become very attractive to push.

Disregarding that as an option, the couple is forced to find ways to stand up for, and support, each other. They are also forced to take long hard looks in the mirror and come up with personal strategies, dig deep to understand the things that are hard to grasp, and to find ways to melt together again. They are depending on having to be flexible with each other to both strive.


In 4 words: Communicate, explore, fix, stay.


That is a win as an expat couple when addressing commitment.

Easier said than done. I know.

However, the forcing serves to bring forward personal strength and development, a necessary deeper insight to your spouse, a demand for finding solutions and common ground. This is all resulting in a stronger bond when the light appears at the end of the tunnel and the way forward shines up.




In my own experience, I took a long time, to open up to others. First and foremost because that is my nature but also because I was unsure how to word the pressure and loss of identity I was feeling, and obviously no one prepared me for the rollercoaster. I dealt with it, entirely relying on myself and my husband – and surely some outbursts to my mom.

A thank you to both, is certainly in place here.

Secondly, I found it hard to really grasp what my husband was faced with, and it took quite some time and a focused effort from me, to climb into his brain and empathize, hence being able to support him.

Surely there were (and still are, but less) a lot of discussions and fighting. Hours of bad and exhausted energy and certainly days and weeks where my brain was fliting with giving up.

But I did not. Nor did he. And we still do not. 5 moves, 3 cultural integration, and 9 years of almost constant adaptation into our expat life.

As the years have gone by, I vouch for the fact that we have benefitted from being forced to deal with ourselves, each other, and our commitment to us.

As a woman I am not scared of saying that I depend on my husband. It does not make me less of a powerhouse, it does not make me feel that I am not strong. On the contrary I feel a lot of relief and strength in being us. The two of us. Walking into challenges, joy, change, worries, personal development and everything in between. Together.

Remember, he too, depends on me and must apply the same mental work to understand, emphasize and support me. And us.

If I had up and left, I would not be here. As the educated and – ongoing – self reflected and developing expat spouse that I am. In its nature, we would of course also not be here, as a committed couple, looking back at overcoming very high hurdles, adding hard lessons to our bank of experience and knowledge while applying what we´ve learned, as we carry on.



We can learn, that when the way out is not a 10 min. process and you do not have a solid safety net catching you, you go the extra mile(s).

That is my claim, and surely, I´d like to emphasize, you should not stay together because you are forced to. In the direct meaning of the word.



First, I hope you find some relief in the fact that it is challenging, for most expat couples, to manage our own process alongside understanding our partners process, when we are both in unknown territory and under stress. You are normal. We are normal. It is hard.

Secondly – there are specific things you can do, to create peace, clarity and make a plan. Expat Advising does this with you. We work  individually with all of our clients, to fully get behind what is going on and what approach will best comply in assisting you.

Just send us a mail on; kia@expatadvising.com

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