Have you ever had a disagreement with your partner that lasted for days, weeks, a month? When you both had two different points of view but neither wanted to budge? That was my life for the month of May. My husband was recently offered a job in Switzerland and he wanted to take it. I, on the other hand, did not want to go and still part of me now does not want to go. I have been an expat for over a decade now. I am familiar with moving, starting over, all that it involves. But we have been in Abu Dhabi for 8 years now. Whilst it will never be our home, it sure feels like it for now. We are comfortable and familiar with life here.
MAKING THE MOVE
We argued about it, we talked logically about it, we even did a debate night where we wrote out all the pros and cons of moving vs staying. It was exhausting. Still after all of that was done and it came time to make the final decision – we were still split. Yes vs No. I view myself as an open, empathetic person and tried to understand my husband’s point of view, but when it came to moving I just didn’t want to budge. There are a million other reasons I could give for not going. We are comfortable here. The kids are happy. The numbers don’t add up. The list goes on and on. Even knowing that this move could potentially be an amazing adventure, I did not budge. It seems crazy. I know it is crazy! Moving to Europe is an incredible opportunity that most people would snap up in a heartbeat but if it is something that you don’t want to do – it doesn’t matter where or how wonderful the location is. After all the discussions, we were not budging on our points of view. It was so serious, it had us questioning “Why are we even together?” The thought of packing up and moving the family back to the States and letting HIM work in Switzerland appealed to me more than actually moving our family there. “FINE – YOU GO THEN!” My inner child coming out.
Well…after all the arguing, not talking, showing contempt by not bringing him his morning coffee (Oh no – she must be mad!!!), more discussions, I realised he wasn’t going to budge either. My husband is not happy and desperately ready for a change. I had to really think about it and ask myself some serious questions:
- What is keeping me from seeing Switzerland as an opportunity? Why don’t I want to go?
- What are his intentions for wanting to go? What are my intentions for wanting to stay?
- Would the regret of not going be greater than the regret of staying?
- How would staying affect our relationship? Would there be resentment?
- What is the worse that can happen?
In the end I gave in. One of us had to if we want to keep functioning as a unit. After asking myself these questions, I had to think about what was most important to me. Different scenarios played out in my mind, trying to come up with the best solution. In the end, keeping my family together and happy wins. A Happy Wife, A Happy Life, we have all heard this saying before, right? Well this is true of husbands too. There is just no cute way to say it. Sad Dad, Too Bad comes to mind but that is not really fair, is it? It would be great to stay where I am but not at the cost of my partner’s unhappiness. He has a busy workload which consumes all of his time – which itself has had a major impact on our family life these past few years. A change would be better for him – especially for his health. A change could be better for all of us. The idea of a more active outdoor lifestyle, being able to add fitness to his daily routine again and having more time to spend with the family is a major appeal. For him, this decision was based on a lifestyle change which includes more family time and I can’t fault him for that.
Imagine what it will be like once I can speak German
I realise what was keeping me against moving was Fear. I am in my comfort zone and I don’t want to leave it. I have my friends, I have my routines, I am settled. I am familiar with the UAE culture here so I know what to expect. Changing that all up is a big shock to the system for all of us. My greatest fear is the language barrier. My children are young and will most likely absorb the language and be speaking German within 6 months. I am dreading those first few months when they have to go and sit in a classroom without understanding what is going on. On a personal level, I have never done particularly well with languages and German does not rank high on the imaginary Languages to Learn bucket list which include Italian, Spanish and French in the top 3 spots. I have never had any desire to learn German (which is one of the 4 national languages in Switzerland) but I need to look at it from the prospective of Imagine what it will be like once I can speak German that helps change from negative to positive. Perhaps if I make speaking German a reality, the other bucket list languages will be a reality too.
When it comes to relationships and decisions making, it is great when everyone shares the same thoughts. When they don’t – it leads to a lot of emotional conflict which is draining for both people involved. Major decisions can not be made overnight. When both parties disagree – the process is even more difficult.
These are tips that I used to helped me focus in my decision process:
- Ask yourself a series of questions about what is hindering you from changing your point of view. (see above)
- Look at the Big Picture. Why is your partner standing firm on their decision? What is the end result? Is it a shared vision?
- Imagine what life would be like if the decision did not sway your way. Would it be the end of the world? Is it something that you can handle?
In a perfect world, my husband and I would agree on everything. When we don’t, something has to give. One side has to accept the change. This time it was me. It is not defeat but an opportunity to try something new and different. I have been given an opportunity to go on this amazing adventure with my family. Even if it is not what I would have planned, as long as we are together, I trust that it will all work out in the end.