When geography is the problem - the impact of displacement on intimate relationships

Australians love to travel overseas! We tend to do this in our twenties - see the world, and maybe meet our life partner while we're there. What happens next can be a challenge. Do we live in my partner's country, move back to Australia, or live somewhere else where neither of us are from?

However you resolve this issue, there is a price to pay for one or both partners. Separation from family and friends may be difficult enough at any stage, but can become much more challenging when children come along and you lack the support you desparately need as a new parent from your parents and others. Different cultural norms can leave you feeling that the support you may have expected to receive, or the way you anticipated it may be made available doesn't happen. New partners and parents can be left feeling vulnerable, bewildered and isolated from the people and resources they need to cope.

Relationships often pay the price. When we feel generally unsupported and unhappy, we often blame our partner - for not being enough to meet our needs, for not being able to cope and demanding more of us than we feel able to give. We can end up in perpetual conflict about seemingly trivial things that represent our unmet needs and longings.

If you are in this situation, the most important things you can do are to go easy on yourself and each other, give yourself and your partner permission to be less than super-human, and become pro-active in seeking out as much support as you possibly can. If you are unable to find the support networks you need, your may have to create them - not a simple task. Professional counselling can support you by equipping you with different pespectives and tools to manage your situation more creatively, and link you into other services that you may not have known about.

 

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