This was originally published at Different Truths in my weekly column, Relationship Rationale
As the world is increasingly globalized, more and more people are traveling abroad for work and settling down in nations providing better opportunities. Mostly, couples who settle abroad are hanging between two worlds. They are too foreign for their homeland and too foreign for the adapted country.
Children living abroad suffer from identity crisis at some point. Raising children away from their cousins, grandparents, uncles, and aunts is a daunting task for parents. When you live in a country where you did not grew up as a child, a part of you would always feel incomplete.
It can be difficult to maintain the warmth and love in long distance relationships. We have Facebook, Skype, and WhatsApp but to feel truly connected with others, meeting them becomes crucial. People living abroad often miss on important weddings, birthdays and family get together.
A study of over 100 expat couples living all over the world has indicated that living abroad can put as much pressure on a relationship as having a first child.
How can we maintain better relationships being seven seas apart?
This goes both ways, it is nearly as important as parents are to visit their children as it is for children to occasionally meet the parents. It allows you to spend time together and understand each other’s world better. Parents often complain about their child’s choice of living abroad and openly express their disagreement with relatives and friends. It adversely affects the relationship.
Everyone seems to look at settling down abroad as a cakewalk. Quite the contrary, it is just the opposite of cakewalk.
- Call on important occasions and events
If you are calling on birthdays and anniversaries, it makes your relatives and friends feel special. There is a possibility that one would not be able to attend family wedding due to unavailability of leave or work pressure. One should always make sure that ‘family call’ happens on such occasions. This is the best time to video call with your extended family.
- Celebrate festivals together
If you can plan your travel around Christmas or Diwali, you will never regret your decision. It becomes extremely suffocating and depressing to stay away from family during festivals.
- Communicate regularly, but not all the time
Schedule a regular time to call suitable to both places. Make sure you frankly discuss about the time zones and your schedules. As the people who have settled abroad can be busy exploring new places and new people, it can be overwhelming to take time out for friends and family in homeland.
One should always take time out to talk with the loved ones but there has to be a limit. If you are discussing every little detail about your new life, it can often get depressing and suffocating when opinions and disagreements come along.
- Patience and understanding
Both parents and children need a lot of patience and understanding to keep the warmth and love in relationship. While having arguments is normal — healthy even — for a relationship, you may realize that fighting long distance is a completely different ball game from fighting in person.
Work at expressing yourselves clearly, articulately, and recognising when the problem is actually distance. Explain what it is that is upsetting you rather than blaming the other person.