Hi everyone. My wife and I of ~3 years found out we’re having a baby a few months ago. I’ve grown up in the United States and am an attorney while my wife grew up in Poland and is a 3 year US resident (we met in Europe). Anyways, we have a great relationship except for the fact that ever since she came to the US she has wanted to move back (well for both of us to move back). She is studying here to earn a college degree and we live a decent life and visit her family at least once per year usually for about 2-3 weeks and her family comes to visit here. Unfortunately, lately she is constantly miserable - she has caused fights with my family here as well as our mutual friends who are Polish-Americans saying such things as they are unpatriotic for living in the US etc. Now with the child on the way I’m terrified. Although the US economy still stinks I can provide here, in Poland I can not. I’m not against the idea of moving there, however I simply cannot afford to raise a family in Poland, even with my advanced degree - partly because US Bar exams and legal education simply doesn’t transfer to Poland - at the same time I still owe tons of money for school loans which need to be paid. We pray together every night and I pray for the answers and wisdom - in the day time it’s fighting, misery on her part, and depression. God Bless you all and thanks for the feedback.
Marriage takes a lot of flexibility, and international marriages even more so. I’m a white American and my husband is Korean. During our 26 years together, we’ve lived in the US, apart (really NOT recommended), and in Korea. I hate to say it, but you’re probably not even at the most difficult time yet, which is when dealing with elderly parents. I’ve learned that there is no utopia and everywhere you live will be a compromise of some sort. On the other hand, a good upbeat attitude and sense of adventure can take you over some rough spots.
For us, and many other international couples we know, the primary concern when deciding where to live revolves around what is best for your children. This too can be a compromise. For example, our standard of living was visibly higher in the US (our small apartment in Seoul costs a whole lot more than our large house back in suburban Ohio), but it is much easier to raise children in Korea since adolescent rebellion is very rare and kids feel pressured to study hard.
If your primary reluctance to relocate has to do with job availablity I would try to explore all the possibilities. There are literally millions of expats living abroad and working (vs. immigrants). Many expats are NOT required to know the local language. Your opportunities would increase even more if you are willing to consider non-legal careers, though there are some legal positions available in international business law. When my husband decided he wanted to find a position in Seoul (he was working in New York city at the time), he contacted an executive head hunting firm that handled international positions.
I think it’s important to realize that any decision you make does not have to be a once and for all decision. You can reassess where you would like to live every couple of years (since most contracts last three years or less). Should you move to Poland you may find that you like living abroad, or your wife may find that she misses the US.
You and your family are in my prayers.
You have a very touchy subject. Sorry to hear about what you are going through. Honesty still is the best policy. Tell her you cannot provide at ( What $$ level ) abroad vs here. Not so long ago my wife urged me to look at a different career. Yes, it would have been less hours. less travel etc. But, when we broke it down to $$$$$'s and cents. It then became an issue of here is where our lifestyle would be if I did this. Maybe that would help. It was as simple as that.
Thanks for the replies Sirach and Jerry.
@Sirach - Just out of curiosity can you tell me the story of your own childrens’ education - did you send them to a regular or an American school in Korea? How did that work for you?
You and your wife might read Dugan Romano’ s book Intercultural Marriage, Second Edition: Promises & Pitfalls.
It seems that you both were not ready for international marriage and its consequences. I used to live abroad for 10 years so my opinion is tainted by my own experience and people I knew. Your wife is not happy with her life right now and she is scared. Being pregnant in a foreign country is a really very scary situation. She might feel trapped in the foreign place. She made sacrifices moving abroad and she is not feeling strong emotional support from you. You both will have to find the way how to comunicate your needs and expectations. It is tough now and it is going to be tougher after the baby is born.
My husband and I are in a similar situation, wanting to move to my home country in a few years. It will be up to me to provide for the family at the beginning while he eventually finds a job (in our case it would be next to impossible for him to find a job while not living there). I completely understand your fears because it is not an easy decision to make.
If I were you I’d sort out the loans before making a decision to move.
Sirach has some sound advice: start investigating all the possibilities for getting a job abroad. I know of people who did conversion degrees in law for example, or switched to a different field when they moved abroad. Countries like Poland are developing and there is opportunity for foreigners to find good jobs.
Keep praying and researching the options
When we first relocated to Seoul we home schooled. We found the children were lonely though since they were having trouble making friends with the neighborhood kids (language barrier) and the English speaking home school kids were located too far away to make frequent contact with. Our kids are now enrolled at an International Christian school that is taught in English and follows an American curriculum and calendar. There are about 500 students there coming from 44 different countries this year. It’s a great school and the kids love it. The downside is that it is quite expensive, though my husband’s company picks up the tab for one of the children. Tuition to private schools is a frequent perk for expats, but some companies limit it to one or two children.
We have two children in college now back in the US. One great thing is that you retain your state residency while living abroad and your children can usually qualify for in-state tuition at public universities. .