Expat choice: Working spouse to stay at home parent

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Expat choice: Working spouse to stay at home parent


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Old 13th April 2010, 06:07 AM
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Default Expat choice: Working spouse to stay at home parent

Anyone have any advice around the difficulty of transitioning one spouse from a FT career in the home country to a stay-at-home parent in the expat country?

My wife is a lawyer in the US so unlikely to find work in the UK. Her biggest concern (and rightly so) is that she will regret giving up her career if we move to London.

Anyone else have similar experiences?

BAC

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Old 13th April 2010, 07:24 AM
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I can tell you from experience that it is not an easy transition to make abruptly. If she will have the right to work (i.e. a work permit) it's not all that unlikely she'll be able to find a job - though she'll probably be looking at corporate work.

One thing to do is to look into some of the various expat organizations in the area where you will be living. The FAWCO clubs England - Region 1 usually offer some good support for trailing spouses in terms of things to do through the clubs as well as career guidance in the new environment.
Cheers,
Bev

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Old 13th April 2010, 07:57 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BayAreaCanuck View Post
Anyone have any advice around the difficulty of transitioning one spouse from a FT career in the home country to a stay-at-home parent in the expat country?

My wife is a lawyer in the US so unlikely to find work in the UK. Her biggest concern (and rightly so) is that she will regret giving up her career if we move to London.

Anyone else have similar experiences?

BAC
I had to give up my employment in the US seven plus years ago to move to the Philippines and be with my working wife. It was a joint decision on our part and was done so that my wife could remain close to her family.

The stay at home life can become boaring to say the least. But after a period of time your wife will probably find something of intrest to do to fill the extra time. Perhaps she can work or even donate time as a paralegal in the UK.

It was an easy choise for me when I did it even though it ment retiring extremely early...

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Old 13th April 2010, 05:05 PM
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The transition will not be easy but it can be done.
Staying in touch with UK organisations and keeping up with changes in her field is a must. I know of a number of non-US attorneys who either work in consulting functions or volunteer. this will depend on her visa. She can always contact the local chapter of the US Bar Association or the local lawyers association. martindale.com is a good start to research attorneys. She may find some who made the move from the UK.

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Old 13th April 2010, 05:24 PM
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I did it! I had a hectic full time job in the UK and when we came to Spain I had nothing - apart from housework and child care! At first altho there was plenty to do in my new home I felt bored and I felt "unimportant" and almost inferior, not having my own money or independence was horrendous. But that was my own perception, noone elses and I've got used to just doing everything at a much slower pace and accepting that my new role is infinitely more important . Now, looking back I wish I hadnt worked quite so much when my children were smaller. Family and bringing up the future generation is much harder, more forefilling and so very important!

Jo xxx

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Old 14th April 2010, 04:19 AM
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Just to explain that your wife can work without special permit or anything as a spouse of a work visa holder under UK rules (other countries have different rules, often with more restrictive work privileges for 'trailing' spouse, such as France). It doesn't mean she can work as a lawyer in UK (such as rights of appearance in court - she needs to be qualified under UK rules), but it doesn't stop her doing other work such as paralegal, administrative or advisory, or something unconnected or some sort of self-employment.

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Old 15th April 2010, 09:18 AM
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For me it was a big change and it took a while to adjust...

I went from owning my own business and having a waiting list of clients to being a housewife who couldn't understand what anyone was saying to me.

The biggest challenge for me was remembering that I'm still very intelligent, competent, or whatever you prefer to call it.

There was just something about moving to France (right on the Swiss border) that made me feel like a complete fool.

I spent a lot of time working on convincing myself that I was still a fantastic, successful person after the move to France.

I hesitate to say it was just a language issue (although that was one of the bigger challenges - 2 languages to learn plus 2 dialects).

I'd be curious to know if people moving to foreign countries that speak the same language had the same sort of adjustment challenges.

Suzele
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Old 15th April 2010, 09:28 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Suzele View Post
For me it was a big change and it took a while to adjust...

I went from owning my own business and having a waiting list of clients to being a housewife who couldn't understand what anyone was saying to me.

The biggest challenge for me was remembering that I'm still very intelligent, competent, or whatever you prefer to call it.

There was just something about moving to France (right on the Swiss border) that made me feel like a complete fool.

I spent a lot of time working on convincing myself that I was still a fantastic, successful person after the move to France.

I hesitate to say it was just a language issue (although that was one of the bigger challenges - 2 languages to learn plus 2 dialects).

I'd be curious to know if people moving to foreign countries that speak the same language had the same sort of adjustment challenges.

Suzele
How to Deal with Being an Expat...and Enjoy It!
I think we judge ourselves far too much on our professions and how successful we think we are rather than ourselves! I've managed to find myself outside of what I did. I'm so much more than my career. I'm a housewife and a mother, the most important job in the world! So I now throw all my efforts into bringing up my children and making sure my family and home are successful - in fact I now feel guilty that I wasnt there for them more when I was being a "career woman" in retrospect that meant nothing, it was all phoney and just bravado !

My poor husband didnt have the choice really, so he has to work to earn the money and I get to run the home as a successful business. I've also noticed that because I no longer expect the world to revolve around me that everyone seems happier!

That all said, he has to commute to the UK to work, leaving me in Spain with the kids for a large part of the time, so it gets a bit lonely and is totally alien to everything I had in the UK, but its a challenge and a learning curve that I wouldnt miss for the world

Jo xxx

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Old 15th April 2010, 11:07 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Suzele View Post
I hesitate to say it was just a language issue (although that was one of the bigger challenges - 2 languages to learn plus 2 dialects).

I'd be curious to know if people moving to foreign countries that speak the same language had the same sort of adjustment challenges.
No, it's not just a language issue. Not at all. The first time I moved abroad, it was to the UK and I had all the benefits of an expat contract from my employer. It went well - but even though I was there due to my employment, I always had the feeling that to be an expat is to find out that "everything you know is wrong."

When I moved to France, though I had studied the language, I was 20 or so years away from it and had to relearn French as she is spoken nowadays. In France I couldn't work - in part due to my immigration problems, but also because I just didn't have the local experience for my prior level of employment, but I didn't have the language skills to go for "any job" at a lower level.

But there is always that element of being perpetually "out of the loop" or not really knowing what's going on. It's perfectly normal and understandable when you first get to a foreign country - but when it's happening to you, it really does play havoc with your ego and your sense of self. At first it's basic "expat stuff" - going to the doctor, buying bus or train tickets, how the queues work at the bakery - all cultural stuff if takes a while to learn.

Later on, though, it's more subtle cultural stuff. Like just this week, our local AVF had a training class for the board members. I'm on the board, and I'm the one who organizes the training classes. I thought the session went great and that the instructor was very good. But I'm now looking through the evaluations (that I ultimately have to send in to the national organization) and some of the remarks made by my colleagues just blow me away. Each nationality has its own way of looking at things and its own expectations about the way people are supposed to act. I've taken French nationality, but I don't think I will ever really think like the native born French do.
Cheers,
Bev

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Old 16th April 2010, 11:06 AM
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Well...I actually chose my area of expertise because I just REALLY like it so it's something I've kept doing.

Immigration issues kept me at home doing nothing for a year and then I slowly worked my way back into my career. It took awhile to find out how things work where I live now. I'm still learning about that!

It does require quite a bit of creativity and persistence (at least where I am) to find a place to fit, so it helps if it's something you really love to do.

And separating your value as a human being from your job title or your responsibilities or the number of clients you have, etc... (especially at the beginning) is a GREAT way to get your sense of "I'm ok" back (or maybe even to experience it for the first time sometimes!)

As unpleasant as a lot of those early expat adjustment experiences were, I'm incredibly grateful for them now. I don't know if I would have ever been so motivated to get in there and make the changes that have resulted in an ability to change the way I feel in a few seconds now.

Not to mention the infinite patience that I've developed...that stuff is priceless!!!

Being an expat forced me to go through and separate out a lot of internal processes. Well...that's not true...

I could have left everything as it was, but it sucked...so I chose to go through and remove anything that was causing pain and put it back together in a way that felt good and allowed me to move forward and enjoy my experiences.

I think that the expat experience has actually made me better at what I do than before...even though being an expat (at least for me) still requires a lot of focused attention sometimes.

Suzele
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