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Would you relocate your life for your partner’s career?

/ Feb 22, 2013 7:46AM / Print / ()

Would you relocate your life for your partner’s career?

Most of us have a plan. Whether it's a carefully written five-year plan charting our dreams and aspirations or simply an idea in the back of our minds – we all have some notion of where we want to be in terms of our career and personal life.

But what if your partner's career disrupts that plan? How do you deal with the prospect of uprooting your existing life for the sake of his or her career?

Relocating interstate or overseas for your partner's new job, promotion or career change can be a challenging prospect for any couple. While it may present a huge career opportunity for your partner, as well as significant financial gains for the both of you, making the move also has the potential to create tension within the relationship.

"This kind of move or promotion can bring many benefits to a couple or a family unit, but it can also create feelings of resentment or what I call score keeping," says psychologist Sabina Read.

Weigh the pros and cons

When faced with the possibility of moving interstate or overseas for your partner's job, the first step is to outline the advantages and disadvantages that the move may bring.

This process, says Read, should be done with your partner, as a unit.

"One partner may have significant losses that are gains for the other like career advancement, learning and stimulation, and financial growth," she says. "Both partners need to weigh up those benefits and losses for each of them before deciding to move."

During this discussion both partners should also identify what motivates and drives them, both personally and professionally. While some people will value family and friends over career advancement, Read says others will value financial security or risk-taking behavior more highly.

"All these factors weigh into the decision. I would advise making the most of this opportunity – if you haven't already done so in the relationship – to explore what drives each person and what they want at this time," she says.

"The goal of this exercise is not to agree but to manage these differences, as opposed to ticking the same boxes. Avoid making assumptions about what matters to your partner and aim to reevaluate regularly."

Do some research and get support

Once you've talked through the pros and cons, it's a good idea to do some research. And again, it's best to do this together.

Psychologist and director of Suzie Plush Consulting, Suzie Plush, advises taking some time to research the area, as well as any opportunities for your career by looking at the relevant industries, job availability, networks in the area and even work experience opportunities.

"Look at what's available, weigh up the pros and cons and see what that looks like for your career," she says.

Deciding on whether to make the move is, of course, a more difficult decision when children are involved. In this case, Read emphasises the importance of creating support structures.

"Obviously when kids are involved there are more individuals in the mix. Moving can be difficult for some children, but for other children it can be a wonderful experience," she says. "Creating support structures for everyone is really important."

To do this, Read suggests contacting other expat families or other families new to the area. By reaching out to these families and even signing up for certain activities available to new families in the area, you will feel supported by other people going through the same transition.

"Most importantly, depending on the age of the children, talk as a family before you go, about what some of the challenges may be," says Read.

"If your kids are old enough, ask them for ideas on how to manage those potential difficulties. If they're raising concerns about being away from their peers, ask them how you can deal with that."

Making a move

After discussing all the pros and cons and doing your research, it's time to make a decision. That decision, says Read, is all about showing each other that you care enough to honour each other's needs and goals.

"Whether you go or stay, your relationship needs to share the same goals and you need to feel that you actually matter to each other," says Read.

"All meaningful relationships need compromise, empathy, negotiation and sacrifice to meet the needs of each partner."

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