Extending stay + wife wants to move home

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Extending stay + wife wants to move home


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Old 30th July 2011, 03:54 AM
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Default Extending stay + wife wants to move home

I'm sure this is a common topic and something most expats go through.

We are 9 months into our first expat assignment and we have several options materialising that will allow us to extend our original 2-year assignment to 3 or 4 years.

These opportunities are advancements that will continue to change career trajectory significantly for the benefit of our family.

However, my wife is adamant about moving back to the States at the end of our first term and has convinced herself that she hates living abroad and being so far from family and friends. It is also important to mention that we have a one year old daughter who was four months old when we moved.

The oddity to me is that her family has visited 5 times in the past nine months. And, we have just completed our second return trip home this year. I can't imagine a better experience.

I'm torn and am looking for some advice on how to approach the conversation. Any would be much appreciated.

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Old 30th July 2011, 07:17 AM
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The lot of the "trailing spouse" is not a happy one. You probably need to get to the real source of her dissatisfaction, because it would be a real shame if you moved back and she found herself just as unhappy back home.

Given the age of your baby daughter, it's possible she feels she is "stuck" alone in the house all day while you're off working and interacting with colleagues, customers and whatever. Add to that the fact that, as a "trailing spouse" she doesn't have the option to work while she's over there. She may simply be lonely and perhaps would benefit by finding some "young mums" groups in the area or just getting out and developing a social life for herself and the baby. (Having a baby is a life-changing event, and she needs to consider how things would be for her back in the US with a young child.)

But you need to discuss this with her in a sympathetic vein. She probably doesn't know herself just yet exactly "what" it is that is bothering her so much. Encourage her to consider exactly how things would be better for her back at home - sometimes you have to confront the notion that friends and family aren't nearly as available just because you live close by. After all, they have jobs and their own family issues to deal with. When they are over visiting you (or you are back home visiting them), you have their company and attention 24/7 whereas when they live next door, they often are "busy."

In any event, you need to identify exactly what the real problem is - then look into what your options are, both in London and back home, for doing something about the problem. At the same time, you need to look at these new developing options for you and your career and consider what the consequences will be of either following them, or of returning to the US when your initial term is done.

It's a tough call, but if you go slowly and take a long, hard look at all your options in a realistic light, you should be able to come up with a decision you can all live with.
Cheers,
Bev

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Old 30th July 2011, 08:03 AM
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A 'trailing spouse' of a worker under the points based system is always allowed to work in UK under its immigration law, provided it isn't as a doctor in training. This of course may not apply in other EU countries, who have distinct policies of their own.

But I do take the rest of Bev's point of view. Have a heart-to-heart talk with your wife and get to the bottom of it.

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Old 30th July 2011, 04:29 PM
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Some people just cannot settle when away from the familiar environment of Family and Friends and often the only realistic answer is to return to those familiar surroundings.

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Old 30th July 2011, 07:51 PM
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Do you have to give an answer right away to extending the assignment?

Being that it has only been 9 months- out of 2 years, she may very well begin to settle a bit better as time goes on. I realize she is adamant about going home at the end of the 2 years but you are not even half way through the term in question. Sometimes it takes well over a year for a place to really sink in and feel comfortable enough to consider it 'home'.

I would suggest you talk with her about what it is she is really missing, let her know in a gentle way that you still have a while yet to go there, and perhaps in time she will come around.

I don't know where you are from in the states but could weather be an issue for her?
The fact that family has visited so much in just 9 months and you have been back to the states twice now, maybe she is 'flying high' on those visits. As Bev pointed out, visits are very different from actually living near those people. On visits, you know you are going to have to say goodbye so the most is made out of that time that you specifically set aside to be together. Very different from living near people, but I understand fully how the confusion is made.

Also, you could try looking into nearby contacts for her- playgroups, mom's groups, a walking group, or something she is interested in. I think if she had more going on where she is now she will be less stressing going home.

And you're right, it sounds like a great opportunity for your family and for your career, so if you can get her to come around she may very well thank you in the long run.

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Old 2nd August 2011, 08:12 AM
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Thanks everyone for the replies and thoughts. All very helpful.

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Old 2nd August 2011, 08:17 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Annaka View Post

I don't know where you are from in the states but could weather be an issue for
Weather does seem to play a big part. We moved over in October and her first 4 months were spent in London winter.

Some of the best advice we received early on was not to have any conversation about staying or returning until after the one year mark. Unfortunately we didn't heed that advice. To your point, we are early on in the assignment and I hope things will settle a bit.

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