As part of our community blog content at ON THE MOVE, we present our interview series, where we invite movers to bring their thoughts not only on the physical move but on the intensely personal experience of moving house. Here we explore the spirituality and psychology of Home and why where we live means so much to us. We want to hear your story, please share it with us.
by Pam M.
When a loved one moves with you, new challenges arise.
At some point in your career, you may be faced with a choice of whether or not to relocate to a new city, state or even across the country for your work. In the corporate world, where takeovers and reorganizations are a fact of life, this is often a reality. Even if you never find yourself forced to move for your current job, you may choose relocation as a way to follow a new career path or move up in your company.
Experts say that relocating for your career can be one of the most stressful things you'll ever face. It may mean leaving a hometown full of family and friends, or a city that you love. On top of adjusting to a new job and a different set of workplace characters, you have to create a new home for yourself and get to know a new town. There's no doubt about it - relocation is a challenge.
But if you have a spouse or partner who agrees to relocate with you, then there's someone else who is struggling with the transition and change as much or more than you are. For him or her, the stresses, sadness and frustration may be even greater than your own. You, after all, are moving to accept a new opportunity. For your partner, the future may seem very uncertain.
The period following your relocation may put a lot of stress on your relationship. As you adjust to the demands of your new job, your partner may feel alone and left behind in a new city. It is easy to become resentful during this chaotic and confusing time.
If you allow it, built-up resentment and lack of communication can make an already stressful time even harder. By being aware of the many emotions your partner may be experiencing and expressing your support, you can help your relationship to not only survive but thrive during this transition.
Things to Consider Before and During Your Move:
Your Partner's Career
Relocations are often most difficult for couples where both individuals are working professionals. After all, in order for one person to accept a new opportunity far away, the other person may have to give up her job to come along for the ride.
If your partner is unhappy in her current job, then this can be a blessing in disguise. The move provides an opportunity to take some time off and maybe start fresh with a new career. But if your partner enjoys her current work life, relocating will be an even larger sacrifice. She'll be giving up something that provides her with professional satisfaction to move into unknown circumstances.
In either case, carefully research opportunities in your partner's current field or career paths of interest before your move. Relocating to an area with very limited opportunities in her areas of interest may be shutting the door to her dreams, and ultimately not worth the sacrifice.
Your Partner's History
Has your partner always lived in the same hometown as her family and close circle of friends? Up until now, has a "long time" away from her parents constituted a two-week vacation with you?
If so, then expect that the transition may be especially difficult for her. If up until now "visiting Mom and Dad" or "hanging out with my best girlfriend" has always entailed no more effort than jumping in the car and heading up the road for her, the realities of being without close ties in a brand new town may hit her hard. Be prepared for homesickness, loneliness, and perhaps increased demands on your time as she adjusts.
On the other hand, if your partner has moved frequently throughout her life and is used to starting over in new cities with or without family and old friends close by, then relocating with you may be just another adventure. She may even be able to help you with the transition.
Your New Home and Neighborhood
Selecting your new home will be critical for both your and your partner's long-term satisfaction. No one wants to pack up and move across the country for a job, only to end up living in a run-down apartment for months on end.
Of course, you may need to make temporary arrangements. But make finding your home in your new town, whether it be a rental property you both love or a home on a suburban street, a top priority. It will be critical to "build roots" early on, especially for your partner, who may not yet feel connected to his new community through a job.
Social Life and Opportunities
For you, meeting new people and getting involved in the world around you will come somewhat naturally as part of your new job. But for your partner, it will be critical that your new community offers opportunities to participate in activities that interest her and help her make new friends.
If she's always lived in the big city, a move to a small, rural town may make her feel isolated and deprived of stimulation. She'll miss just being able to wander up the street to grab a coffee with friends, browse in a bookstore, or hit the market. Likewise, if up until now she's lived in small, close-knit communities where everyone smiles and says hello, she may feel overwhelmed and inhibited by the hustle and bustle of city life and the relative distance of strangers who pass each other by on the street.
Children and Schools
What are the school systems like in your new area? What are the private and public school opportunities, and what kind of social activities are available for young ones? Are there many families with young children in your new neighborhood?
Chances are, if you are relocating for your job, your partner will be the one who is most involved in getting your children enrolled in a new school and helping them adapt to their new neighborhood. The stresses your children face will impact your entire family.
If you don't yet have children, it is easy to overlook these considerations. But if you're planning to have a family in the future and hope to build your long-term career at your new organization, it is well worth your time to research these concerns now.
Your Own Availability, Patience and Support
In addition to moving and adapting to a new town yourself, you'll be enmeshed in learning your new job. For the foreseeable future, your work days will be filled with new people and challenges.
Meanwhile, your partner will be doing his best to build a place for himself in your new home and community. But he'll need to feel that you're concerned about his happiness and available to him.
Will you be able to leave behind the stressors of your new job to be supportive and helpful to your partner when you aren't at work? Can you be patient and understanding if he goes through periods of being unsatisfied, frustrated, homesick or even resentful? Will you do your part to keep the lines of communication open and work together to get through rough patches?
Things to Suggest to Help Your Partner Find "A New Niche"
Even when you've considered all of the above and thought through your partner's possible reactions and how you'll handle them, there may come a time when she's floundering and feeling lost. Unlike you, she doesn't yet have a career opportunity in your new town to provide her with a sense of focus and connection. Instead of moving forward, she may spend her time missing her old work, friends, activities, home and community.
When this happens, of course you want to offer understanding and affection. At the same time, providing her with ideas for getting involved in new activities can help her find her place and feel at home. Below are some things you can suggest.
The Little Things Mean The Most ... What Can You DO To Help Your Partner Adjust?
In addition to making suggestions about how to get focused, connected and involved in a new town, there are things a partner can do to make the transition easier for the one whose career has been relocated.
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