Living Overseas Can Be Hard On Love: Making Your Relationships Work When You’re On The Move

by Lisa McKay on November 5, 2014

Before we moved to Laos, I worked full time as a stress-management and resilience trainer for humanitarian workers. During those years I saw first-hand the pressure that living overseas places on people and relationships. After my husband and I moved overseas ourselves, I decided to focus my energies on supporting relationships—particularly long distance relationships—and last week I pressed “publish” on a new, free resource I want to share with you on making long distance relationships work.

How To Make A Long Distance Relationship Work: 50 Best Tips

If you’re NOT in long distance relationship

If you’re not in a long distance relationship you’re probably wondering if there’s anything here for you, so let me speak to you first.

When you move overseas, you’re hit with myriad challenges all at once. You need to make a thousand and one decisions in quick succession. You need to learn a new environment, new people, a new job, and maybe a new language. You need to do all of this at the same time your normal support systems (familiar friends, family, routines, jobs) are stripped away.

Moving overseas when you’re single has it’s own constellation of additional challenges. It can be less complicated in some ways, but lonelier. If you’re single and missed these posts recently right here on ALO, check them out—Not An Afterthought, and A Life Alone.

If you move overseas with a partner and/or a family you’ve carried a very important part of your identity and support system along with you. In some ways this is great—some of the bumps of transition can be softened when they’re shared. In other ways, however, partners and families add an extra level of complexity to a taxing situation. And partner and/or kids can want extra attention and support right when you feel stretched to the breaking point yourself, when you’re struggling most with your own overload, fatigue, and ricocheting emotions.

What’s the bottom line? Moving overseas can take a real toll your most important intimate relationship. When you’re in survival mode during those early days following a move it’s extremely difficult to actively invest in and nurture your relationship with your partner. And once you start to emerge from survival mode, it can be difficult to reshape the new patterns you have been laying down and fumble your way towards a closer connection again.

I acknowledge all of that, but I’m here today to say it’s really important to make your relationship with your partner one of your top priorities. There are many reasons to do this. Here is just one: Marriage and relationship problems are one of the most common reasons people need to leave the field and returning home.

Where to start with this? There are many things you can do to build connection with your partner. Today, why don’t you check out the following articles from the long distance relationships tips page. Set aside a bit of time, pick one or two and discuss them:

If you live overseas and you’re in a long distance relationship

If you live overseas and you’re in a long distance relationship, well… you like to keep things extra-interesting, don’t you? If it’s any consolation, I’ve been there. So has Shannon Young, Steffani Taylor and Dawn Othieno.

Come visit us over at Modern Love Long Distance. We’d love to share with you, support you, and hear more about how you make your long distance relationship work.

Your turn to share your stories and strategies with us.
What are things you and your partner do to help “make your relationship work”?

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About Lisa McKay

Lisa McKay is a psychologist and the award-winning author of the memoir Love At The Speed Of Email, the novel My Hands Came Away Red, and several books on long distance relationships. She lives in Laos with her husband and their two sons.
  • Josh Shepeg

    Honestly, relationships are a lot of work. On top of that,
    you need to be invested in it. I personally read a lot of relationship books
    and things like that to help me, but it didn’t help me as well as one on one
    interactions. I actually signed up on multiple forums to get help with problems
    like this and even at http://relationshipsandadvice.weebly.com to be led in the
    right direction. By doing this, my relationship has been extremely healthy now!

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