Third Culture Kid Dating; adults who have spent their developmental years outside their parent's culture

The Expatriate Spouse and The Power Imbalance


I always wondered what it must have been like for my mom as an expatriate spouse. When my parents met, my dad worked for a multi-national French company. They lived together in Paris and a couple of years later, the company offered him a new position in Tokyo, Japan. He took the job and off they went with my older sister in tow, who was only two years old at the time. As an adult, I finally realise how much of an impact these assignments must have had on my mom, the expatriate spouse. Whereas my dad was moving for a financial improvement, an exciting new role, and a guaranteed social network in his workplace, my mom was moving to a city without a job, friends, or any foreseeable financial resources of her own. She had become an expat without the perks of a new career move.  I came across a relationship study that showed that an expatriate spouse has an increased…
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6 thoughts on “The Expatriate Spouse and The Power Imbalance

  1. I think this was very acute growing up for me as my mum was in a career that would be considered as being on a “par” with my dad’s but left everything and moved (and then left the new job there because she was so unsettled) to not separate the family into two. As she moved against almost all of her wishes and never settled, the effects were much stronger than what you talk about.
    Good article and blog – as a TCK who moved for the same reasons as you and as extensively, it’s been a good read and most thoughts have been the same as mine.

    • Thank you! Wow, I feel like that’s the sort of thing I would have chosen to do. A career is so important to me so I can truly understand why she left to see if she could find a role she felt passionate about. And still amazing that she also came back to not divide the family. I don’t know if I could move myself for someone- I guess it’s all about the circumstances (and compromising).

      • Ahh, I think you misunderstood and I wasn’t clear enough…she had a job before all the moving started and virtually the only reason she agreed to move is because she didn’t want to split the family. She had the same job lined up in the first country we went to (although the move was for my dad’s work, they arranged a job for her as well somehow) but she left the job because she was unsettled. She always stayed with us to not split the family up but everything you mention in the article was acute for her I guess – maybe she should have split. One spouse grew up in one country and doesn’t want to leave it and the other one wanted to travel a lot…
        I think it’s not a good idea to compromise and make choices when, in your gut, it’s not what you really want. Personally realised this relatively recently – I had been moving just because I was so used to doing it.

      • Tell me about it. I did that for ages. When really, it took me a while to realise that I was happier with some stability. And making changes in the place where I was rather than moving. I’m glad you mentioned that about your mom. That’s the thing about compromise. Sure, it seems like the right thing to do. But if it’s really against your core desires than I think it can also be destructive further on. I need to remember that in my own relationships.

  2. Yes, I read that in one of your recent posts I think…from Hamburg to Boston to wanting to always study abroad from there etc – it’s exactly how I felt about moving. I still move or travel, but with a purpose; not just because I was so used to it. That’s what I got from (continuously) accepting what I really want – and that’s the thing. Travel is mostly between people who I really want to see. And also…just for the “travel” (Airworld – just like what they talk about in the book and film “Up in the Air”). I don’t know about you but the time in planes, airports and hotels feel like a pretty significant part of my life. Also, when I stay in one place there is more purpose to it.
    Drop me an e-mail if you can see it here, there is something that I want to know if you’d like to collaborate on sometime – I got the idea while I was reading your blog. There is also just opened a profile there.

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