Five ways to cope with relocation when you are the spouse
Your partner heads off to the new work place with familiar tasks and real people to speak to. As the door closes you are left alone ready to take on all the new experiences your new home has to offer.
The honest truth is that many spouses find the relocation process tough. Their lives are completely thrown into disarray when they move with the partner to a new country and many feel that they have lost their identity. They feel the brunt of the responsibility of settling the children in, getting boxes unpacked. Sometimes their own feelings and concerns get sidelined, even if they relish the excitement of a new place, it is still hard. All the things in life what we take for granted are now very different.
I have relocated twice with my husband, for work. Through those experiences I learned a lot about how to make the transition easier. Of course there are all the practical things that need to be done, but being kind to yourself as a spouse in the early days really helps with the transition.
1 Get out of the house every day
I still believe that getting out of the house is vital and helps you find your feet in your new area. It is essential for your health and sanity, as it serves as a distraction from everything that can be overwhelming for you and gives you an immediate focus.
2 Take one step at a time, but stay focused
You won’t be able to do everything at once, especially if you are struggling emotionally. Each week make a list of the top few things you need to do, things that must be done, even if they seem really trivial. Locate all the amenities you need in your local area and then spread out this research further afield. It also means if you need this information quickly you are not rushing to find it. If this daunts you, there are services, such as my own, which can prepare personal guides and maps for you to kick start this.
3 Ask for help
Sharing worries and problems really does make them easier to deal with. Speak to your doctor if you are feeling down and talk to your loved ones and let your partner know how you are feeling. Your partner will probably be feeling some, if not all, of the same emotions and you can support each other. Many larger companies offer newcomers groups, run by more experienced expat spouses, who can answer many of the questions you may have and allow you to meet some new people.
4 Don’t rush things
I recall this advice a friend gave me to include in my book about relocation. “Very few relocation resources talk how to deal with the disappointment of leaving a good job behind when following a spouse’s career and not finding something suitable in the new country. My advice would be to prepare yourself mentally that the ideal job may be hard to come by. And also be prepared to accept something totally different or move several steps behind professionally. Understand that countries are very different and so are the job markets. And most of all, the inability to land a satisfying job is not always your fault so you need to be kinder to yourself during the job search and have an open mind.”
5 Don’t give up!
At the time it feels like a prison sentence if you are struggling with a relocation, I promise you it gets better, it really does. After a time things seem easier, more familiar and less daunting — you may still not like where you live, but maybe you will hate it a little less all the time. For some this takes a few months, for others a few years and it is gradual. All of a sudden you will be looking back on the tough times as a distant memory and you won’t even see when the turning point was but it will come, I promise.
Melanie Haynes is originally from the UK and has lived in Copenhagen for ten years. She writes about life in Copenhagen on her blog and after experiencing relocation to Copenhagen and Berlin, she runs a settling-in service aimed at helping expats called . She has written a number of practical ebooks about living in Denmark and her new ebook ‘Moving to Copenhagen – all you need to know’ will be available in the autumn.
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