Many families move to this country from elsewhere, leaving behind their support network and often times good and stable positions. As a result, their relationship may suffer.
I was inspired to help couples going through these struggles by delivering relationship advice when I received a question from a young European lady who recently moved here with her husband and 2 little kids. She left behind a Marketing Director position in a middle-sized company.
This is what she asked me: “Lana, I hope you can give me 5 golden rules how a couple can keep perfect relations when they are in the process of adaptation after moving to the USA and having a baby?”
There is no such thing as “perfect relations” — only in dreams. So, let’s settle on decent. And each case will be very individual, depending on your background, but when it comes to how to deal with stress, especially during a move, there are certain ways you can help your relationship.
1. Revisit and renegotiate your roles in the family.
We’ve seen many examples of situations like this: Back in Europe, a woman occupied a very high, well-paid position, made a lot of money, was respected and well-connected. Then either he gets a good job offer here, or they win a Green Card lottery (or something similar) and they decide to move.
What is likely to happen? She will feel out of place, especially if they have kids and she will need to take care of them — especially with a baby, like in our example.
So, inevitably, she will feel lost and upset. And he will feel too much responsibility and stress because all the family well-being is on him now. So, what do we have? Both people are super-stressed, tired, angry, and blaming each other for the problems. Relationship suffers. Sounds familiar?
What you need to do is renegotiate the roles in your family. Meaning that if one person, for the time being, is a breadwinner, the other takes care of the kids and the household, but it is not taken for granted by the other spouse.
The spouse respects the wife’s participation like a job (because it is!) and tries to do the best to help. You negotiate what exactly each one of you does. If the wife is the breadwinner, then vice versa.
And try as soon as possible to get engaged, professionally, in your new community. Both of you. It will make you settle in your new society faster and gain self-respect.
2. Share openly on a weekly basis what problems/issues bother or upset each of you.
Whether it is just life issues or your relationship, vent, show empathy first, and only then calmly try to figure out a solution. Schedule a 1/2 hour to 1-hour session a certain day of the week to do it.
Be open with each other, and try not to take it personally. The key here is to give moral suppor and a feeling of togetherness.
3. Find a babysitter and plan date nights for just the two of you at least once in 2 weeks.
Vary what you do. Don’t go to a restaurant or a bar to eat out every time. Plan something more unusual, maybe a picnic by the ocean at sunset, or a ride to a new location, natural or historical.
Go to a local museum or maybe to the beach. Walk together not talking about everyday problems, just enjoy the here-and-now of being together! Hold hands while enjoying the view. Don’t let the romance die!
4. Socialize with other couples and families.
Try to choose people who both of you like, so that both of you have fun. Try to socialize with ethnically mixed groups, so that you start blending in the society faster. During these outings takes turns in watching the kids, so each of you gets time to have fun and enjoy.
Sometimes have days when he hangs out with his buddies and you watch the kids, and then you hang out with your friends, and he watches the kids. And do not forget to have a healthy balance in it.
5. If you feel nostalgic or regret your decision to move, share it with your spouse.
This happens often, but just be honest about it. Ask to be heard, not criticized. You don’t need arguments or speeches about why it’s a good decision to move; you just need an understanding, and support, and empathy.
Hold each other and allow yourselves to be emotional, to cry, not to scream. Acculturation is not an easy process, but you can make it easier if you navigate it together.
Don’t forget the importance of physical touch. Be sensual, intimate, and sexual regardless of how tired or moody you are. This will help you to keep connected.
Originally written by Lana Cole on YourTango
Photo by Ketut Subiyanto from Pexels