Moving Abroad Can be as Stressful as Having Your First Child

A recent study of over 100 expatriate couples living overseas has revealed that living abroad can be as stressful as having a child.

The research, which was conducted by behavioral scientist Kim van Erp, found that the biggest cause of stress within expatriate relationships was caused by the feelings of the trailing spouse, the individual who has relocated in other to progress their other partner’s career.

According to Kim van Erp, the loneliness and lack of direction felt by the trailing spouse leads to a sense of injustice and this can place an enormous strain on the relationship.

“The results of my research are extremely similar to those of research into having your first child,” said Ms van Erp.

“Couples go through similar experiences in these situations. Don’t think ‘I’m going abroad for my work and my partner’s coming along’, but realize that you will operate as a team. You really do affect each other.”

Within her research findings Ms van Erp recommends that employers do more to assist couples when they move overseas in order to prevent relationship issues impacting the success of the overseas posting: “Companies should also assist the partner properly. This will increase the effectiveness of their staff member and reduce the chances of that staff member throwing in the towel and wanting to return home early.”



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