In most cases, the only time a marriage would become worse when moving abroad is if there is a problem with addiction (alcohol, drug, sex, etc) from one or both spouses. If addiction is an issue then we highly recommend staying where you are planted and work out these issues that have taken control of your life and marriage, rather than move abroad.
As a general principle if there is no addiction from either spouse, moving abroad will not impair marriage any more than it already is and it would be silly to think it would. People ruin marriage by their own undoing and bad choices they decide to make in life and it doesn’t matter where in the world you live. Although some places may speed up the process.
Blaming moving to a new country as the cause of your marriage troubles takes the blame off you so you don’t have to face them. No one wants to think they are the culprits of their marriage undoing. Reality says differently though. As much as mainstream culture would love to keep blaming divorce on places, other people, and circumstances, a weak marriage always points to the two people in the marriage and the choices they make.
If there are weak spots in your marriage, moving abroad may or may not make things better. Moving abroad can make marriage better because couples spend more time together rather than apart (like they did before), which actually gives them a chance to get to know each other better. Spending quality time together can actually humble us to a point where we find we want to be respectful towards each other, which causes us to have a happier marriage. It’s managed better.
When we give love, which are many “principled actions” we receive love in return; when we give respect, we will be respected; when we forgive, we will be forgiven; when we value our spouse, we become valuable to them.
Time for Each Other
This is exactly why we say, leaving behind work, careers, family and friends can make a person less stressed and unburdened from the feeling they have to live up to certain expectations with all of the above. Moving abroad releases you from certain people and things that before tied you down and kept you behaving a certain way or that actually influenced your behaviors in a negative way that may have been detrimental to your marriage.
Bottom line, moving abroad gives couples more time for each other.
However, it’s always best to take care of marriage troubles FIRST before uprooting your lives and moving abroad and especially if there is an addiction problem. If you do not take care of an addiction before moving abroad it most likely will get worse after you move and that’s why some couples divorce when they move abroad. It was bound to happen anyway, but the moving abroad part just accelerated the process. A foundation built on sand, collapses at the point of being shaken when the storms come.
Being a happier and more content person is not found in a “place”. It’s found within the choices we make; what we do, and how we react and behave with the people we are supposed to be loving (principled acts of love), such as our spouse. The truth of the matter is people become better spouses for each other only when they decide to, not when they move somewhere else. In other words, you either have a good marriage or you don’t and only YOU can change what your marriage is or isn’t.
Marriage takes commitment and what goes along with that commitment are actions of love from both spouses. Moving to a new country does not change the people we are. If you have a strong marriage and understand that marriage needs principles of love such as respect, duty, forgiveness, compromise, caring, etc then you have absolutely nothing to worry about moving abroad.
Mainstream cultures of the world do not understand “principles of love” that make a marriage work because they have been taught that love depends on feeling “in love”. The problem with that is anytime the smallest of issues arise in the marriage they blame it on that they are not “in love” with their spouse anymore. Most people in marriage want to feel good and get something but they don’t want to give anything and make someone else feel good.
We could say so much about this and already have over the years but marriage is what you make it to be. We’ll say it again, you could move to Timbuktu and it wouldn’t matter one iota to the marriage relationship if you do not know how or care to know how marriage works.
Love is not that giddy, infatuation kind of feeling you had with your first puppy love; that’s not love but something else; however, often times couples associate that feeling with their spouse of ten, twenty, thirty years and that’s where they err. LOVE is something we do and something others do for us when they want to show their love. Don’t expect to feel love, but first “show love” and it will come back to you.
Frank and Angie have been encouraging couples in their marriage since 2002 at Heaven Ministries Marriage Healing Ministry. They write a monthly, sometimes weekly newsletter, answering marriage concerns and questions, helping couples all over the world to understand how marriage works according to the One who designed and established the marriage relationship from the beginning. What one controls, one owns. So if you think your marriage is owned by the state then you will not know how a content and happy marriage is really supposed to work.
Source: Heaven Ministries - Marriage Healing Ministry
Until we write again, you might like to read these articles about marriage and living abroad.
We're an Expat Family of Five, Living Frugal, Healthy and Happy Abroad. We live in Cuenca, Ecuador and travel the Ecuador coast whenever we get a chance. Come along and enjoy some of our experiences with us!