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  • Angelic Ingram

Dilemmas of the Expat Spouse

Being an expat spouse isn’t as easy as one might think. Sure, having the opportunity to venture away from home and explore new cultures and see the world is exciting but what happens in between those adventures when things are at a lull in your new home and environment?

You see your spouse off to work every morning as they embark on their new professional venture, meeting new people and interacting with the outside world while you’re at home trying to figure out who the hell you are now that you have left your own work behind to support theirs. I completely get it!

So many issues come up around this topic for relocating couples and the main one that I see so many struggle with (and I did myself for a long time!) is suddenly becoming financially co-dependent on your spouse. I used to feel like a little kid having to ask their father for allowance, I remember feeling so ashamed and guilty for not being able to contribute and support myself. It really sucked!

My husband and I would have arguments around it all the time and sometimes, out of anger, he would make snide remarks about me not being able to work, sitting around the house with no worry. Then he would ask the ultimate question that would push my button, “What do YOU do all day?!” Ohhhhh, man! That was the one that would make my blood boil! How dare he?!

Needless to say, the communication between us started to break down and I started to slide deeper into a depression. Not only did I think that I had made a huge mistake about relocating but I couldn’t even express myself to my husband (who was then my fiancé) and get him to truly understand what I was feeling.

Finding acceptance around this issue was really hard for me but thankfully I was able to wrap my head around it eventually. One morning I had the realization that I didn’t want to be that person anymore, I didn’t want to be sad, hurt or angry. I just wanted to be at peace and enjoy life with my husband who I adore. I sat down with him that night and we had a good talk, we shared our feelings and thoughts and I felt comforted knowing that he supported me fully and really did understand my inner dilemma.

Maybe you’re feeling that way too? Tired of the negativity within and around you. Wishing there was some way that you could break free from the hurt and all the feelings that come with being an expat spouse. Take it from me, moving past it isn’t as easy as people telling you to ‘hang in there’ or ‘think positive’. Those were statements that I didn’t want to hear either when I was feeling down and out. They just didn’t get it.

You’ll know when it’s time to make a change, just like I did. You’ll wake up one day and realize that the only thing that can change is you and you’ll want to do whatever it takes to move through it. If the will and love is truly in your heart, you’ll find the strength and courage to do the work.

Here are some of the practices that helped me through the feelings of shame, guilt, anger, etc… of having to depend financially on my husband;

Don’t take anything personal; one of the four agreements I learned from Don Miguel Ruiz

Don’t make assumptions; second practice of the four agreements.

Find the things that bring me joy; create meaningful ways to fulfill my life.

Connection; staying connected to relationships back home and making new ones in my new community.

Self Care; giving myself the love and compassion that I would unto others, creating rituals to empower body and spirit. This is when I started a regular meditation practice.

Now these changes didn’t happen overnight. Mindfulness is a practice as we are constantly learning from our experiences through life. Patience is definitely a virtue that you will endure along the way!

Living through mindfulness practice is rewarding in so many ways. It gave me the opportunity to live more peacefully and harmoniously. I’m learning how not to sweat the small stuff anymore and increase my tolerance to the negative and the ability to let it go. I’m finding a more balanced way of life and honoring my need for self care and love. I’ve learned how being clear and honest with my words when communicating makes life so much easier. Not that I was always lying all the time but I would never express myself on many issues that I felt strongly about. I would usually agree to avoid conflict and suppress my voice when I really wanted to speak out. I no longer have as many colds or sore throats like I used to and my relationships are that much stronger. I no longer feel any doubt or worry of those relationships that need to end. Improving my communication skills has been a HUGE reward for me!

These are a just a few ways that living mindfully has changed my life and as I mentioned before I’m constantly learning with each and every day.

If you’re under some stress, whether it’s around being co-dependent on your spouse, a change of roles after relocation or a communication breakdown, I hope that you will remember my story here and seek some guidance from within. Following your intuition is your first step into finding the answers you desire. Listen to what it’s telling you.

‘Yes’ I was suddenly financially dependent on my husband and that was ok. In the end, I knew that my husband was at peace and content with the situation but most importantly I knew that it didn’t make me any less of a person. I was still me, a loving, adventurous, understanding and supportive wife who took a leap of faith and followed the man I love to create a new home together and THAT, my friends, is quite the gesture. Whatever the outside world made of that didn’t matter to me because after all, nothing else matters.

I wish you well on your path

With Love & Gratitude,


P.S. If you're interested in the Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz, you can find his book HERE on Amazon. One of the many books that changed my life!

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