I'm scared to make "the move"! - Getting Married Multiculturally

I’m scared to make “the move”!

In the last few weeks I’ve gotten some questions about how can we overcome our fears of moving to another country? To completely change our life for love and marriage.

I had to move and start my life over 4 times, but I have to say that throughout these moves I didn’t have a fear at all. Each time was an easy, no brainer decision. But not everybody makes this life changing commitment so lightly and blind foldedly, like me. It was pretty irresponsible of me to not think through what is going to happen, or if this is even a smart decision. The older I get, the more I think about how crazy I was in my 20s, and how did my parents even let me do this?! It must be the mom talking in me!

I got to think, maybe it was so easy for me because -yes, I was young- but I also didn’t have any commitments, children, mortgage or job that would pull me back. So as I’m getting older I start to realize; man, this really is hard! I can’t even wrap my head around what made me so brave, and what gave me the courage to just pack up and go.

I’m not saying that you should be second guessing yourself, or rethinking if you really want to be with this person. I’m speaking more about what effects will moving to a new country and culture potentially have on you.

Ok, but let’s be real for a second and not assume that everybody has this dream relationship they don’t want to let go. That we all have to be ready to completely change our life for this one person. Or should we?!

You may be having a hard time making this decision because you have already established a stable life. So making this commitment requires much more thinking and planning. 

Vienna Airport – 11.17.2008 (The day I moved to America.)

Have you asked yourself: I’m a bad person for questioning myself?!

Honestly I never regretted my decision. It’s been hard to be away from my family, however I think living in America actually made me a better person, and more self aware. But let’s not be too specific, because you may be moving to a different country than the States. Making this decision is also based on what type of country are you moving into, how different those cultures are, and how much are you connected to your own culture.

The “what if?”

Who wants to talk about failing your relationship and getting a divorce?!

When my husband and I were going through separation and divorce, (spoiler alert: we ended up fixing our marriage!) I started to question my decision and was considering moving back to Hungary. But we had our daughter and separating her from both parents and her home was not an option. So I had no choice but to stay.

Everybody who is getting into a serious relationship, and want to build a life together in a foreign country needs to think about this. How much of a responsibility are you taking and how big your commitment is to this marriage? Unfortunately there are a lot of divorces and we know that not every relationship makes it all the way to the end.

I get it! This topic doesn’t really belong here, Edit! Not many of us like to talk about divorce in this stage of our life. When we are about to get married, and want to spend our whole life with one person. So I’m not trying to talk you out of moving, or to put any kind of bad taste in your mouth, but this is something that I didn’t consider! And I should have! 

Unfortunately, I do know a lot of women who ended up getting a divorce and they are stuck in a foreign country. Or it’s the opposite, they have to leave the country that has become their home.

This may be an uncomfortable conversation to have with your partner, -or to even think about!-, but it’s important to share your opinions, and to chat about how you view your life together. Just like some couples talk about financial decisions or prenups. Especially if you have a more established carrier, savings and assets.

After all, when you are committing your whole life to somebody, you have to but everything out there and be honest! And of course we all hope that this will never ever happen and we will live happily ever after!

We learned everything AFTER committing to each other!

If I want to go further into our past, when Adam and I met and fell in love, we saw everything through those pink glasses. Everything was perfect and amazing! I just wanted to be with him, no matter what happens! No matter the move and all the changes, sacrifices I have to make. I did not think twice about moving! Even if I didn’t know much about his life. I didn’t know anything about the town he calls home and the people he calls friends. About his family, past relationships, or if his parents would accept me? …and so on.

But I didn’t care! I was actually really excited to figure all of this out after we get married, and finally live together.

I’m generalizing here, but couples (who live in the same city) usually move in together before the wedding. So they can get to know each other and connect on everyday bases, not just by going out on dates. But us, multicultural couples often don’t have that luxury. We have to be in a long distance relationship, or after moving in together we have to get married immediately. To start our visa and immigration process. 

Adam and I learned everything after committing to each other. After signing the marriage certificate, and making a promise that we will be together forever. Without knowing – how does actually living with each other feels or will be down the road. I chose this person I barely knew for the rest of my life. So if you come to me and say that you are scared to make the move, I completely understand why! Because I should have been scared too!

Here are some more questions (and topics I’ve covered before) you may ask after moving:

Is he-she marrying me, or the culture I’m from?

Should I nurture my culture when living abroad?

Will I lose my cultural identity?

Why are we thinking about moving to another country?

I know there are thousands of reasons, and not everybody is experiencing the moving process in the same way I did. 

/Maybe you already live together abroad and decided to move to a new country. Or back to your partner’s home town.

/The two of you are already married, but are in a long distance relationship.

/You may want your kids to be born in that specific country.

/You two have to be separated, waiting for the visa approval.

/The two of you just met a few times, fell in love and want to move in. (That’s us.) 

Are you moving to a third world country, or to a more westernized country, or a highly religious country?

Are you moving to your partner’s hometown or to a neutral place?

Will you live in a big city or a small town?

So many questions!

Change is risk!

That’s why people are usually scared to do it. Getting out of your comfort zone, your comfy little bubble is scary! It’s filled with unknownness. But that’s actually what makes us grow as a person, and makes us experience life. I grew each time I moved somewhere. Saw how people live their lives and had some comparison to help me understand what happiness is about.

I’m trying to encourage you that making a move is a good choice. Even if it turns out badly, (like it almost did for us) and you have to go back heartbroken, there are still things that you learn and experience along the way. So you can do them differently next time. Experiences in life is what makes us stronger! If you never try it, you’ll never know what would have happened!

Why are you so scared to make “the move”?

1, I have a hard time living away from my family.

2, I’m scared to move very very far.

3, What if I don’t like it there?

4, I don’t speak the language.

5, I don’t like the food.

6, What if the locals don’t like me because im a foreigner?

7, What if we have kids there? They will start school, but we’ll have to move again.

8, I’m scared for legal reasons! Have to get my visa that costs a lot of money. And what if I get denied?

9, I’m worried if I can find a job. I can’t work until I get my green card.

10, I need to find a new doctor, dentist, school, hairdresser…

This is what you can tell yourself to feel better.

1, You’re doing this for an amazing reason. You are in love!

2, If it doesn’t work out, or you don’t like it there, you’ll move back. Or the two of you will move somewhere else.

3, It’s just temporary! You want to try different things out. Makes you feel less pressure.

4, You’re traveling the world, and it’s so exciting to explore new things. (food, language, clothing, friendships…)

5, You can cook your home meal. Just find some recipes, and ask your family to send you the ingredients.

6, Start working on an ongoing project that connects you to your home. Write down your experiences and feelings in a blog. Take pictures of your adventures. Don’t forget to share them!

7, Children are flexible! There are a lot of global kids (‘third culture kids’ as we call them) who move all the time. This lifestyle -I believe- has great benefits for them.

How can you prepare yourself for the move?

Practical preparation:

/ Get documents ready. Paperwork, visa, etc.

/ Get financials ready. Credit card, savings, airplane tickets, furniture moving expenses, apartment rental…etc.

/ Did you have any savings or belonging together as a couple?

/ Do you need to sell or buy a house? Are you going to rent an apartment? What paperworks or ID is required? 

/ Do you need to apply for a job and go on interviews?

/ Do you have any furniture that needs to be relocated? Or you just going to back your life in two suitcases, like I did.

Every other preparation that’s helpful:

1, Go for a visit if you can. Photos are not enough, and in my opinion it’s worth the financial and time investment to go there for a couple of days and look around. Do you like the weather? How big is the city? What lifestyled do you want to have? I didn’t do this when I arrived to Washington State, but before we moved to Arizona, my husband and I came down to check things out. Best decision ever!

2, Make the commitment and goal that you will come back and visit your hometown and your family as often as possible. Makes it easier to set up expectations financially, and at your job. (So you can request all the vacation time you’ll need.)

3, Find local cultural communities, Facebook groups, meetups. (Join the Getting Married Multiculturally group.)

4, Hook everybody up to Skype before leaving, so you have a way to connect with your family and friends. (We use Facebook Messenger and Viber.)

5, Load up with movies, books, music in your language.

6, Get a different perspective. Try to connect with couples who’ve already been through this kind of move. So you’ll start seeing that this is normal, lots of families do this. It makes you feel like you belong, and that you are not doing anything wrong, strange or something you would regret. (I usually find people on Instagram by using hashtags like: #hungariansaroundtheworld #livingaborad #expatlife )

7, If you’ve moved before in your life, that helps a lot. Try to refresh your memories. How did you feel? Why did you move? What would you do differently?

8, Talk with your partner about plans, dreams, wishes, but that’s ok if they change. (Carrier, job, kids, cultural traditions, lifestyle..etc.)

9, Set up expectations, but don’t rely on stereotypes or other people’s single opinion. Do your research about the country you’re about to move to, and use your own judgement, because other people have different perspectives. (Read about my perspective on moving to America or my reverse culture shock when going back to Hungary.)

Let’s get planning!

To make the move a little bit more organized and FUN for you, I’ve created 4 pages of multicultural planner stickers. It has dates, places, flags, little words in different languages, and quotes you can use in your traveling / moving / planning notebook, organizer and calendar. I sell them on the Getting Married Multiculturally Shop, but you can grab them now FOR FREE! Just click here, sign up, download, print and enjoy your stickers!

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