The Trailing Spouse’s Guide to Surviving Expat Re-entry

Fun having this piece on trailing spouses, accidental expats, and re-entry blues in the Wall Street Journal‘s Expat Blog today, co-authored with a new friend who is a military spouse based in Tokyo, the blogger Susan Dalzell. In it, we give a series of tips for surviving the dreaded “re-entry” phase back into your expat country after even a short trip home.

We start,

For those of us who are trailing spouses or “accidental expats”—drawn abroad not necessarily for our own careers or sense of wanderlust but for a partner’s job, family or nationality—global life presents unique challenges and sacrifices. Western culture in particular glamorizes expatriate existence, suggesting a life of global travel, international panache, and a social circle of like-minded explorers: a slightly more multicultural, perhaps sober, version of Hemingway and his brood.

Reality can hew a little rougher, though…

My favorite tip we include is this one, drawn in part from the struggles I explore and the lessons I learn in The Good Shufu:

Don’t feel guilty if you don’t always (or even ever) love your expat “home.” As a trailing spouse–especially if you’re married to someone from the country where you live–you may have asked yourself when you’re going to fall in love with your overseas home just as you once fell in love with the partner who brought you there. If you’ve recently been back to your native country, you may have heard friends and family comment on how exciting your expat life must be and how lucky you are to live abroad. But don’t let this guilt you into thinking you always–or frankly ever–have to love the land you’re in….As long as you’re fascinated by it, or even continually learning from it, you’ll have an expat life worth its weight in yen or euros or…

See our handful of other tips for surviving the re-entry blues in the full article at the Wall Street Journal online–and add some coping strategies of your own, if you have any new ones!

 

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2 thoughts on “The Trailing Spouse’s Guide to Surviving Expat Re-entry

  1. I think the biggest mistake ExPat trailing spouses make is hanging out with people who are not happy with their life overseas. Ever. Those people need to be avoided at all costs. You won`t pull them up, they`ll pull you down. They can make you depressed about things that hadn`t even occurred to you before.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for your comment, Emily! That’s an interesting point. On a related note, some of the people and expat friends who have most inspired me have been those who are also “accidental expats” or overseas b/c of their spouses or even their own career commitments and who have found overseas life really challenging, but who have also managed to own it in some way or to make the most of it. That’s hard to do in any situation, and overseas it can be even harder, it seems. In any case, all my best to you, and thanks again for your insight!

      Like

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