Expat Survival Guide : Infidelity and Relationships on the Rocks
Expat Survival Guide
Infidelity and Relationships on the Rocks
Your relationship is about to be tested – especially if your move revolves around one partner, rather than both, taking up employment. If it’s your first posting abroad, there could be more around the corner than you were bargaining for.
The Sweet Shop
Few would argue that John Brown’s ‘attractiveness’ increases about 500% on taking up his foreign posting. In many countries, he is the ultimate catch, drawing more female attention than he’s been used to. It’s a heady cocktail for any man: lovely ladies giving him the eye, a position of ‘power’ at work plus greater disposable income (since expat jobs are always better paid than ‘home postings’). It’s hardly surprising that an apparently devoted husband can have their head turned. They can become intoxicated by their new perception of themselves and, let’s face it, are in a ‘sweet shop’ of available females. Add alcohol to the mix and not all decisions are wise ones.
Remember that friendship and mutual support are the backbone of your partnership, so be ready to listen, speak honestly and be supportive – even if you do feel like giving your spouse a piece of your mind.
Not all marriages last the distance, regardless of moving abroad. Decide which direction is going to bring you most happiness together and make efforts to see that happen.
A word of warning – expat affairs can also originate from a sense of loneliness: yours at being the ‘trailing’ partner who has lost their identity; or your spouse’s, as they watch you drifting away from them.
If you’re feeling desolate, don’t assume your other half won’t understand (or hasn’t noticed that you’re not yourself). Avoiding difficult subjects doesn’t make them go away; instead, small resentments will stew and multiply, which won’t do your relationship any favours.
Infidelity is a path easily taken yet impossible to revoke. Keep in mind what’s really important. If you want to improve your relationship with your partner, an affair obviously isn’t the way to achieve that. Where marriages survive infidelity, it can take many years to rekindle trust; sometimes, the damage is irreparable. Think on!
If you do hit the rocks and wish to seek counseling, needless to say, this won’t necessarily be readily available in your native language. Where counseling is offered, you may find advice being given through a different cultural prism: even European countries differ greatly in how ‘the norms’ of relationships are viewed. In addition, adultery is a criminal act in a number of countries (including some non-Muslim states).
You may find clarity by taking a holiday together outside of your host country. This will allow you to view the situation more objectively and may remind you of what you like about each other. Speaking to friends who’ve been through divorce can be a double-edged sword, since their views are shaped by their own experiences (which are likely to have been bitter). Chatting to those who managed to come back from the brink may be more useful.
Embark with Care
There’s much truth in the adage that moving abroad will not fix problems in your relationship. Rather, the strain of unfamiliar surroundings and upheaval is likely to show the cracks more readily. Only embark on that journey together if you feel your relationship is strong enough to weather rough waters.
As for John Brown, keep those feet on the ground and decide who you want sharing your life in 30 years’ time.