Expat life while exciting can be a challenge to couples. Good relationships are the core of mental health and happiness. When working with couples I teach them relationship skills to ensure healthy, strong and happy relationships. Being an expat can put a new twist on the relationships as there are many new things to adjust for both people. These new stresses can often put individuals in a relationship at odds with one another.
To make love last, couples must always put their relationship first, above any individual needs and wants. The idea of of the relationship is a bit abstract. It is the entity that you create when you and your partner come together. The relationship is NOT your partner. It is not about doing things for your partner, but rather doing things that are good for the two of you or your relationship.
Individuals, in a relationship, each have their own needs and wants, which are often in conflict with their partners. Couples in trouble are those that put their own needs ahead of the relationship. Learning how to negotiate a win-win is one key to make love last. Becoming an expat couple can require you to renegotiate relationship agreements or contracts that you had worked out in your home country. Moving abroad, things that used to work, now stop working. Rather than trying to keep doing things the same old way, couples will need to renegotiate this relationship contracts. Such things that often are in need of reassessing are parenting duties and responsibilities, time together and time apart, how weekends are spent, sex lives, family time vs couple time vs individual time. These are just a few.
To make your relationship strong you must always make choices based on if it will help or hurt the relationship, not if it’ll help or hurt you or your partner. It’s easiest if you think of your relationship as if it’s a third entity created out of you and your partner coming together. In a relationship, you are always looking for a better choice, even if that means neither one of you gets 100% of what you want. So next time before you pick a fight, or make a choice, evaluate if your choice will help or hurt the relationship. If it’ll hurt, are you willing to do the hard work to repair the relationship? Next, evaluate how many more “hurts” can your relationship handle at this point.
So if you are not completely happy in your relationship, look to the part you have 100% control over yourself. If changing what you are doing will help the relationship, go with that, no matter whose fault it is or how unfair it. There is no happiness in an eye for an eye or a tooth for a tooth. Putting your relationship first is the way to couple happiness and will help you adjust to life as an expat.
Tammy M. Fontana, MS, NCC, CTRT professional marriage and family counsellor. She has over 10,000 hours of experience and training. She is a Certified Choice Theory Reality Therapy Therapist and completed Gottman’s Level 2 Marriage Counselling Training. She is also a sex therapist. She can help you with making love last in your relationship.
Call 9030 7239 to learn more.