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Thread: Struggling in my expat life with husband

  1. #1
    Gold Member leseine7's Avatar
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    Struggling in my expat life with husband

    Hey guys,

    I admit I am writing this on one of the more vulnerable peaks - just coming back to my home in the Netherlands after two weeks with my family in New York. But this has been a recurring worry for me so I feel the need to write it out.

    I moved to Holland 3.5 years ago to pursue my dreams, spend some time abroad, and get a new perspective on life. Before that move, I had been jumping around to different toxic relationships and jobs, never feeling confident and always lost in my life. I jumped at an opportunity to come to Europe, and I do not regret it. In the process I made amazing friends, one of them eventually becoming my boyfriend and now, husband. We are expecting our first child in May - it has been an amazing 3 years.

    My husband is from Belgium, about a two hour drive from where we live in Holland. I am from the USA, where my entire family lives. We both love the Netherlands - the lifestyle and work suits both of us much more than our native countries. We travel to see my family a few times a year, and we visit his family every month in Belgium. It's a balance. When we started dating, we both made clear that we are flexible about where we live and if in the future we have to move to Belgium, I'm open to the change, and if I need to move back to the US for some reason, he is open as well.

    That said, the visits home to my family have gotten increasingly harder over the last year or so. My sister had her first child, my amazing niece, and I long for time with them on a regular basis. My brother also got married just in May, and all of them are living within the same 40 minutes of one another so they all get together frequently. My 91 year old grandma - one of my best friends in life - moved nearer to my parents house in a beautiful new house and it's so much easier for them all to see her at any given moment, whereas when I still lived in the US she was about a 2-3 hour drive to visit. I feel like I am missing everything, and when I am home the time goes by in a flash and the next thing I know, my husband and I are being cattled through JFK, and then I'm slammed back to reality in our apartment and my start-up job missing my family so much I can hardly breathe.

    I know that my husband does not want to move back to the US yet, and I can't handle the guilt of caving and asking him to do so. I can't tell if I really want to move back or if it is just the emotions of being so far from my family- but I didn't mean to choose this life OVER my family when I made the bold decision to move to Europe. Initially, it was just supposed to be a gap year, but when everything unfolded so positively, I went with it (consciously, and happily) and here we are. I am very happy in my new marriage and the life we have here, but I'm not sure how much longer I can handle the sadness of being away from my loved ones.

    I've looked for expat counselling here, but unfortunately the services are pretty dismal. I'm not sure what the right answer is - I definitely don't want to make a rash action that will negatively impact my marriage or my life here. I know my husband would move to the US if I said I absolutely have to, but I'm not comfortable with making that decision for us and feel a bit stuck.

    Thanks for any perspective out there.

  2. #2
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    Hi Leseine , good to see you posting , sorry it is not under better cirumstances , but massive congrats on the pregnancy .

    All I physically felt reading that was a deep longing for you to be home and it is as simple as that . I felt that need to share the pregnancy with your family , and see your Grandma , be back in the circle again ..pop in when you want to , have them pop in ...there is a deep longing coming from you .

    I can't help you make your mind up , it has to come from you , but every now and again I feel posts as though I am living it ....and right now ..all I want to do is go home xxx

  3. #3
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    I do have perspective despite my move being within the U.S. But I don't want to share my experience and my reactions to your experience unless you think that kind of input would be helpful since it could come across as "all about me" and I do not want it to come across that way. So let me know and I'll explain. Or we can PM if that works better.

    I'm sorry you're going through this.

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    removed ...what I said was irrelevent

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  6. #5
    Bronze Member BecxyRex's Avatar
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    I hear you. I moved to the states when I was around 20 but my home is Berlin, where my family is still as well. Now that i have a daughter I long more than anything to be around my family, to have my baby be around her grandparents, cousins etc. Doesn’t help that childcare in the states is expensive as all hell... anyway, I think now that you’re pregnant the need to be around family just becomes stronger. I have no advice for you, I just know how hard this can be. There are incredible benefits to have your child grow up bilingual and have family in many different countries. It opens up the world and opportunities to them that many people might not have. It’s also one of the most difficult dynamics, because at the end of the day we all long for just a home, especially as we get older.
    My fiancé and are starting to prep for a move to Berlin, hopefully this year, but how long we’ll stay we don’t know. I hope you guys can find the best for all of you.

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    OK so I'll share my feelings too. I can relate to feeling like you're missing out. Since I am good at keeping in touch I (naively) thought my friends would do the same- meaning by phone not visiting - and I was wrong with respect to two good friends. I feel that once you commit to relocating with a spouse that your first priority has to be to that commitment. I see that your husband also committed to being flexible and moving back to the U.S. and it's possible since he is not pregnant he doesn't relate 100% how even more vulnerable/emotional that can make you feel - I understand that before you met him it was not supposed to be a permanent move and that your family would take priority. Now your family is you, your husband and your soon to be born child - does that definition, that perspective, work for you? Yes, your parents and extended family also are your family, of course! - but now you've created a new family with your husband.

    Is your grandmother able to skype or can that be arranged? Can you visit more often without your husband (infants often travel very well on long flights -they very often sleep a lot!)? Can family members come to you after your baby is born? It's a personal decision and from what you wrote I agree broaching the subject to relocate now is probably too soon under the circumstances.

    I'm sorry you're feeling homesick!

  8. #7
    Platinum Member Jibralta's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by leseine7
    I know that my husband does not want to move back to the US yet, and I can't handle the guilt of caving and asking him to do so.
    I think you should ask him. Don't expect him to say yes or anything, but give him a chance to think about it. He may surprise you.

  9. #8
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    I agree with Jibralta in asking your husband.

    You at the very least should bring up your feelings about this, as he otherwise probably thinks you're happy as a clam, la-di-da in Holland. You do not want resentment to build within yourself where, several years from now, it comes out in some sort of anger/upset that wouldn't be fair to him. He is not a mind reader.

    You are not wrong to feel this way. You miss your home. You miss your family. You love your husband, and you love your friends there. You are in between two worlds, and I'd venture to say that what you are feeling is completely normal and expected.

    In fact, I have a feeling that it's the permanence that has you now realizing what's going on....you're having a child, and you're afraid that this is it. Visits to the U.S. will be even more expensive and less frequent with a child, and your fear is that you will never return to your home. So, talk with your husband, and see if you two can't get on a compromise schedule of U.S. visits and a possible move back. I bet he'll be more understanding than you think he will.

  10. #9
    Platinum Member catfeeder's Avatar
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    My heart goes out to you. Having a baby changes everything, and I can appreciate why you'd want to be close to your family.

    Originally Posted by Jibralta
    I think you should ask him. Don't expect him to say yes or anything, but give him a chance to think about it. He may surprise you.
    Yes, or at least confide how you're feeling. Leave it with him, and see how he responds.

  11. #10
    Platinum Member DancingFool's Avatar
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    Feeling nostalgic is normal and can come in waves. There are a lot of changes happening with your family and you are far away and feel out of that loop. However, there is also the fact that the rosy life you are imagining them leading wouldn't be the reality if you were to move back. The reality would be that your family would be busy with their day to day lives, jobs, chores, and aren't quite flitting back and forth from each others houses like you think. When you are far away and only come home to visit, you get the best of them, not the every day of them, which is quite different. I think you need to try and have some perspective on that.

    The other part of it is quite frankly you are pregnant. Congrats on that, but consider that that is also making you more emotional and the drive to nestle is very real, thus pining for family, much more intense feelings, etc.

    All I can say to you is try your best to focus on the great life you have built for yourself where you are currently. Your job, friends, husband, etc. The grass really isn't greener, so don't throw it all away on what is really an emotional impulse.

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