Expat couples could face relationship strain


Relationship Strain

A new study has highlighted the potential troubles expats who are in a relationship can go through.

A PhD student at the University of Groningen in Holland, Kim van Erp, has been conducting a survey involving over 100 expatriate couples. Her aim is to examine what kind of effect moving abroad can have on people.

Her results have initially led her to believe that expat couple can go through similar stress as those who are having their first child. The effects can be especially difficult for expats who have a 'trailing spouse' which is when one half of the couple follows yet remains idle, becoming a house-spouse.

However, as with childbirth, overcoming these initial problems simply takes care and understanding on both side of the relationship, and ultimately can lead to stronger bonds than what existed before. Ms van Erp said: “The results of my research are extremely similar to those of research into having your first child. Couples go through similar experiences in these situations, realise that you will operate as a team.”

She also stressed that foreign employers should do more to accommodate new expat workers.

To learn more about settling into a new home and some of the issues new expats face, visit our Settling In and Culture Shock sections.