Do You Wish You Felt More Purpose In Your Life?
Maybe you imagined an overseas posting would be a wonderful change of pace—the Facebook pics from other expat families looked like so much fun! Now that you’ve relocated, your spouse works long hours at his or her job, and you’re left at home without purpose or direction. As you navigate the challenges that come with moving overseas to support your spouse’s career, you may have a new understanding of what it means to be called a “trailing spouse.”
Do you wake up wondering how you’re going to get through another day? Do you feel as if you’re not contributing anything meaningful to society? Were you hoping to work in this country, only to find that you’re unable to do so because of visas, Status of Forces Agreements or other restrictions? Possibly you feel regret over your own neglected career. Maybe you’ve done some sightseeing, found a hobby and attended lunches with other spouses from the community, but you still feel a nagging emptiness. You might be tired of mandatory functions you don’t feel comfortable attending, or worry you just don’t fit in with this expat community. Do your days seem increasingly lonely and meaningless?
Trailing spouse depression can occur for many reasons. Perhaps your host country’s cultural norms demand that you hire staff to do the things you’d actually prefer to do yourself. Or, maybe you dislike the lack of privacy you have in a home with servants. It may be that your spouse doesn’t understand your frustration and discontent, leaving you feeling even lonelier and more isolated. In your heart, maybe you’re realizing that solely supporting your spouse isn’t enough to fulfill you.
If You’re Struggling As A Trailing Spouse, You’re Not Alone
Every spouse in an international lifestyle experiences the challenges of having to start over—again and again. It can be exhausting and isolating. Maybe you finally figured out the subway system, or found the perfect nanny, or discovered the only store that sells Oreos. It often happens that you’ve just hit your stride when your spouse is reassigned. Then suddenly, it’s back to square one.
Every time you move, you need to reinvent yourself. The language, the culture, the expectations, the community…everything changes. And change is hard. You leave the close friends you’ve made and need to find new friends. To make matters more stressful, it’s common for present relationship issues to become amplified with each move, pulling you and your spouse further and further apart. In the midst of so much change, it’s common to lose sight of who you are and what you want.
Luckily, a trained therapist—especially one who has firsthand experience with moving for a spouse—can help you find your way—personally, socially and professionally. With guidance, you can come into your own power by connecting with what brings value to your life.
With Therapy, Trailing Spouses Can Learn To Feel Valuable And Adapt With Ease
In counseling sessions, we focus on how to lessen your discomfort and increase your sense of empowerment. Let me assist you in finding a greater sense of personal value and satisfaction in your current situation. I can help you maximize the resources available to you and guide you in finding support and opportunities in your new community.
The ability to move out of your comfort zone can greatly increase your feelings of success. If you’re willing to be slightly uncomfortable (i.e. put yourself out there) you can move through the stages of cultural adaptation more rapidly. Let me guide you toward developing or renewing a sense of adventure. With patience and compassion for yourself and your new environment, you can cultivate a sense of fulfillment anywhere you live.
My therapeutic approach is tangible and action-based. In sessions, we can discuss real-world scenarios and identify real-world steps you can take to become your own advocate as you navigate the effects of culture shock. For example, I can help you learn not to take things personally. When working within the many different cultures of your new community, remember: these challenges are not happening to you, they’re just happening.
Through our work together, you can see how change and growth occur by taking calculated risks. The personal challenges you’re experiencing can be turned around to create more meaning in your life. Learn to give yourself permission to make mistakes as you explore these growth opportunities. Let’s figure out what you’re great at and what you find enjoyable, and how you can bring more of that into your current situation.
In addition to my professional training and experience working with expats, I’ve been a trailing spouse for 15 years. While I may not share your exact experience, I’ve lived through situations similar to the one with which you’re currently struggling. I fully understand the nuances that might be hard to explain to someone not familiar with an expat community. Those faux pas, that feeling of not really belonging, not succeeding, and on and on. I know how challenging it is to constantly recreate yourself and adapt to the newness of each location.
I also know that it’s possible to use this experience as an opportunity for growth. I can help you use this adaptation process to your advantage, creating a more resilient, confident and satisfied version of yourself.
These trailing spouse issues definitely resonate with me, but…
There’s nothing wrong with me. I don’t need a therapist.
Seeking therapy doesn’t mean there’s something “wrong” with you or that an issue exists that needs to be diagnosed. Many people find it helpful to simply have an unbiased ear—someone who will listen without judgment. Wouldn’t it be nice not to filter your words? In my sessions, I encourage people to speak freely. Let’s have a raw, honest conversation about what’s really happening in your life. My advice can allow you to become a well-adapted, flourishing expat spouse.
I don’t want to damage my spouse’s career.
Our online sessions are 100 percent confidential and are not routed through your insurance carrier. There’s no possibility that your spouse’s career will be affected. Sessions are done in your home, at a time that is convenient for you. All of our communications - both written and in video - are HIPAA compliant and completely secure.
Talking to a therapist means I’m failing at this lifestyle.
The difficulties of being an unemployed spouse are usually kept quiet in expat communities. As we work together, you and I can let go of the façade of the perfect expat lifestyle. Yes, this is an enviable opportunity, and in many ways, you and your family are lucky. But it’s OK to admit it’s also challenging! Reaching out to a neutral, understanding therapist is not failing…it’s the first step to thriving.
Find Purpose In Your Life—Be More Than Just ‘The Supportive Spouse’
Find fulfillment and a sense of ease in your international lifestyle. Reinvent yourself with confidence and enthusiasm. I offer a FREE 15-minute consultation.