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  • Henriette Johnsen

Expat spouse dependency - Camilla's experience

Updated: Feb 13

I love living overseas with my husband and our infant daughter. I’ve been an expat wife for one and a half year now and it’s one of the best decisions we ever made. That said, it hasn’t always been easy. It’s been lonely at times, I’ve been homesick, and I’ve had to redefine my self-image.


Back in Denmark I had my own career. I worked long hours and when I was off, I had a busy social life. This changed overnight when we moved to the States. I had no job, knew no one besides my husband, and I found myself sitting at home waiting for him to come home from work every day.


The balance in our relationship shifted: He became the sole provider - and my sole companion. I became extremely dependent on him. Not only in our personal life but even in the eyes of the state: I need to show our marriage certificate every time I face the bureaucracy over here. It felt like I had been diminished, that I was no longer my own person, but simply the wife. I no longer felt like an independent woman and it bothered me. At that time, I wasn’t particularly happy with our new expat life, and in dark moments I would blame my husband for moving us overseas - even though I was just as much on board with the idea as he had been (maybe even more).


Luckily this has changed, and we’re both very happy here now. Even though my husband is still the sole provider economically, I now know that I provide us with many other things. That I might be dependent on him in some areas in life - but he is just as dependent on me in others. And that dependency isn’t necessarily a bad thing.


Moving across the world and building a new life together has ultimately brought us much closer together, because we were forced to be not only husband and wife, but also each other’s friends and family, since we didn’t have any of that here initially.


But before we could get to this point, I had to find something to spend my time on. Something that was meaningful to me. For me this has been a mix of some freelance jobs, volunteer work and - most importantly - setting some goals. For example, I decided to learn how to invest and now have my own stock portfolio. I also went out and actively sought out peers and created a social circle for both myself and my husband.


I still do all the classic housewife things like cooking and cleaning, but now I can actually enjoy doing these things because I have something else. Something that I do for me and that gives my day meaning. I think that’s one of the most important things you can do as a trailing expat spouse: Find something that gives your day meaning. It might be cooking, cleaning and caring for your children (this has enormous meaning to me as well), but you might also need a new hobby or a volunteer job - something that you do only for you. As least, that’s what has helped me become a happy expat wife!


Thank you to Camilla for sharing her experiences; they are much appreciated :-)


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