'My partner is miserable after our dream move abroad'

Welcome back to The Sex Column, our weekly advice series where we get the experts to resolve your dating dilemmas.

Last week we chatted to someone whose boyfriend fails to tell them anything… Even when he got a work promotion.

This week we’re answering the question of what to do when you move locations with your partner and they hate it.

How do you support him when he is clearly unhappy? Do you move back again? Or break up?

Let’s see what the experts say.

The problem:

My partner and I recently moved to another country, which was something we’d talked about doing since we met five years ago.

We got jobs in a city we love but, a few months into our new life, he lost his job. He did secure a new one but it’s not what he wants, and he’s miserable, stressed and critical.

Although I’ve been supportive, I’ve bitten back a few times recently. We’ve always been a little fiery but it was easier when we had friends and family around us.

While he continues to job hunt, how else can I support him?

What the experts say:

Tension builds when things are tight and static, and it sounds as if you’re keeping yourselves on a tight leash.

‘He’s snapping, you’re biting back,’ says James McConnachie. ‘Do you ever allow yourselves some emotional release? Storms can be painful but they can clear the air.’

Your partner might feel frustrated he hasn’t yet managed to live your shared dream and may be questioning his motives for moving.

‘We have an innate need to make sense out of things, and that often involves blaming others for something they had little control over,’ says Dr Angharad Rudkin.

‘Unreasonable though it is, your partner may be blaming you for the move not working out, which comes out as irritability and criticism.’

Consider an honest talk about his deeper feelings.

‘The other way to defuse tension is by seeking out change and movement, so go for a walk together,’ says McConnachie. ‘It’s often easier to talk openly when you’re moving and both looking in the same direction rather than at each other across a room.’

What you’re also discovering is your past comes with you when you relocate.
‘Couples often move in search of an idyllic life together and feel disappointed when the same old annoyances continue but with no social network to turn to,’ says Rudkin.

‘This is something you’ve already identified,’ adds Rupert Smith, ‘so perhaps while you continue adjusting, make a point of connecting with your friends and families.’

You could also look for change from a higher vantage point. ‘Could you agree, perhaps, that if he still isn’t happy in three, six or 12 months, you will reassess?’ asks McConnachie.

Do your best to remind each other that this is another transition you’ll get through together.

The experts

Rupert Smith is an author and counsellor

James McConnachie is the author of Sex (Rough Guides)

Dr Angharad Rudkin is a clinical psychologist

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