Home Tools and Applications Personal & Life Coaching The Expatriate Spouse: A Need for Coaching During the Transition to a New Country, a New Culture and a New Life

The Expatriate Spouse: A Need for Coaching During the Transition to a New Country, a New Culture and a New Life

24 min read


It sounds glamorous, living abroad in exotic countries, traveling regularly, meeting new friends, and exploring a new culture. However the reality can be vastly different. The life of an expatriate (expat) means packing up all your worldly belongings, moving to a house that you may or may not have seen, in a country that you may or may not have visited before. You leave behind everything you know and are familiar with, including family, friends, and a support network. While everyone at home continues with their “normal” life, you are starting a new life, in a whole new, often unfamiliar world.

If you have children you need to find appropriate schooling, which isn’t always an easy task as International Schools quite often have long waiting lists. Then there is the arduous task of sourcing a new doctor, new dentist, hairdresser and finding the local supermarket. There are so many little luxuries in your day today life that you take for granted; yet when you become an expat, they can be huge challenges. As a general rule, many expatriates seem to underestimate the challenges of moving abroad. Often the spouse has left behind a career of their own to follow their partner.  While their partner starts an exciting new job in a new office surrounded by like-minded people, the expat spouse can struggle to find their identity. The partner can be consumed with trying to settle in him or herself and make a positive impact in a foreign environment, which leaves little time to provide support for the spouse at home. It is quite common for partners to travel regularly with their job, which means the expat spouse is left alone to fend for him or herself. The research in this paper also bought to light the toll that the expat lifestyle can have on relationships and families as each person struggles to deal with the new experience in their own way.

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  1. Maureen Morton

    May 10, 2013 at 7:58 pm

    Dear Karen
    I found this article fascinating. I often wondered and marvelled at how you coped and were coping in those early years. To have remembered and written it down is so worth while and I hope it will go into the reading package of every new expat, wherever they are going.
    I can also see a career blossoming for you, wherever you are, by introducing this concept, of providing a coach to expatriate spouses in the early days of their moves, to the Human resources manager of companies. You could certainly sell the idea on the basis of cost alone, when you think how much money they lose when an employee goes home early because the family cannot settle in a new country.
    Thank you so much for sharing this with me. I really enjoyed reading it.
    Nothing like the usual academic waffle
    love and hugs


  2. Truth always

    May 12, 2013 at 4:35 pm

    Hey, Karen doesn’t mention here the really telling background story of how she came to be an expatriate, leaving her former policeman husband for her current one that’s a banker, with three kids under 10 at the time. Plenty of grey facts about whether it was adultry as well. Not sure I would recommend her services as a lifecoach. Amazing how some people re brand themselves so anyone needing marketing tips should follow her advice. Also one of her current family members seems to be leaving the positive notes. Karen as a lifecoach is the funniest thing I could ever imagine. Would be interesting to hear her guidance in ethics or family morals


  3. e.curran

    May 14, 2013 at 4:09 am

    Truth always , isn’t it strange how people like you do not use their real name especially when they are leaving negative views, or just their side of a story.


  4. vorameghana

    May 30, 2013 at 2:55 am

    Expatriate is very important, especially for those who travel to different countries for work purposes. Expatriate can be anyone which chooses to live in a country other than the motherland.http://www.whatisall.com/people/what-is-an-expatriate.html


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