I first want to say that I understand my situation is mine and may not be of interest to most people. On the other hand when things were at their lowest I tried to find how other couples dealt with moving to another country and wasn’t able to find much on the web. Most people said it was hard, some said the relationship would strengthen, but very few offered any real life experiences.
My partner has posted his suggestions to making a relationship work during a move, reading his blog might offer a good alternative text to my observations.
I had dreamed of moving to NZ for four years before I was able to get on the plane. That might not seem like a long time but I’ve had quite a few dreams, first Japan, then Jordan with the Peace Corps. Considering everything four years was a chunk of time. I had decided that I would move to NZ by myself if needed, I understood that it is unfair to expect anyone to move across the world just for a relationship. Most Americans want very much to stay in America. But from the beginning I REALLY hoped my partner would come with me.
I tend to be the paper pusher in the house, so our relationship was spared most of the stress until the actual packing, a huge blessing I suppose. I had ideas that it would be somehow romantic to sell off everything we own. Spend the last few nights in our house empty of everything but our cats. I definitely watch to many movies.
Moving sucks, selling everything and then moving is a hundred times worse. Selling the small stuff was somewhat tolerable, we posted adds on Craigslist and just camped outside with beers while strangers went in and took whatever they wanted for pennies. Selling the truck and motorcycle were the beginning of what would be nine months of worrying about money.
I didn’t have that many friends in Austin, this was part of my reason for wanting to leave so badly. But even my partner, whom had called Texas home for most of his life was having to deal with finding out just who of his ‘friends’ can’t make it to say goodbye. It was clear that most people thought we were crazy, or at least didn’t understand why we were going.
By the time we cleared out of our house and moved in with my partners mother for the last two weeks before our flight we had lost all romantic ideas. We were still presenting a unified front, but private time tended to be a struggle. There was a longing for the whole thing to be over, just most to NZ and we would be happy.
I will never move to another country without a job again. I had dreams of working as a substitute teacher for the last few months of the year, before picking up a permanent job in January. Looking back it only took 2.5 months for my partner to pick up a job, and four months for me. Considering we came on a visitors visa and had no contacts, we did pretty well.
These first months where hell. Every dollar spent was painful. But so was the boredom. We started to resent each other. I felt guilty for buying a cup of coffee, and then angry when my partner would buy some beer. There seemed to be this unstated rule in the beginning that under no circumstance should we talk about how shitty we felt. Since we weren’t really seeing NZ, because that would be a $5 bus fare, we weren’t doing anything fun, having conversation with any interesting people, or otherwise engaging ourselves in anything but our growing discomfort with each other.
As the months went on my partner talked of going home. Out of those conversations came the idea that we would both stick it out for four months, then part ways if things were still not working. I’ve heard many times growing up that some extremely high percentage of marriages end due to, or during financial hardship. Looking back I don’t know how that percentage is not 100%. Being broke sucks, but being broke with another person is much worse.
About a month into the move we met another American couple that had made the move the same time as us. They also seemed to be at the same stage of a troubled relationship that we were at. It was great to talk with her. We were experiencing many of the same problems, the money, drinking, boredom, general annoyances. Though as time went on I became certain that my partner was attracted to her. I knew then that it was just that he wasn’t going though all the stress with her, but I still couldn’t get it out of my head.
When my partner got a job it only made things slightly better since we were not spending so much time together. But again money issues were always there. He was making the money so it made sense that he got to spend it. I was making nothing, so I should sit down and shut up. We never brought it up in discussion until months later, but that’s what I felt like at the time. I thought once one of us got a job things would begin to improve but that was not the case, until both of use were working, spending time away from home, and had our own money to spend things continued to suck.
It has now been nine months since my partner and I moved to NZ. We have had many conversations about splitting up in that time. In the end it came down to us forgiving each other. To say that we treated each other horribly during our moving experience would be an understatement. Neither of use had ever been through something so stressful, and we both cracked.
Before the move I read a bunch of blogs from people that had moved to another country. Many of them mentioned it taking at least six months before things settle down. I thought this was ridiculous. Even during the hard times I thought I was settling in faster then those people. I was wrong, it has taken me nine months.
I won’t say that this move has made my relationship with my partner stronger. The only thing that has gotten us to this point is the decision to stick it out for at least four months. We have both since agreed that all wrongs during that time were do to extreme conditions, conditions we will never allow ourselves to be in again.
Moving to another country sucked. Moving to another country with my partner made our relationship suck. But things become normal again. There was a light at the end of the tunnel, it was just much further away then I first imagined.
Filed under: general tips on moving, written by amber | Tagged: American expat, auckland, immigration, job, marriage, moving, new zealand, packing, relationships, stress, teaching, visa | 9 Comments »