Accepting a job offer in the Netherlands and thus, starting a new life is exciting! The newly arrived will face challenges, develop skills and talents, meet new people and ways of living, build a social network...
But what about the partner?
For trailing spouses this is a life-changing experience too: he / she has to adapt to the new environment, take care of the house and children and of course, support the transferee.
Undeniably, this is a difficult procedure. Feeling alone, isolated or even neglected at the same time your partner is expanding his / her social circle is not the ideal way to start a new life.
What’s worse, in many cases and for a number of different reasons, the trailing spouse does not communicate his / her real feelings until it is too late, and this may have devastating consequences for the whole family.
How to tackle it
› Be honest
To start with, you have to be honest with your partner. Let him / her know how you feel and try to work together of these issues.
The spouses’ dissatisfaction is the leading cause of breaking contracts so you both have to realise that adjusting to your new roles is essential.
You do have to leave your friends and acquaintances behind when moving to a new country. Of course, you will keep contacting them through email or skype (among others) but at some point this might not be enough.
You do have to create a new social network:
- Join your husband’s of wife’s network of colleagues and meet their partners.
- Spot and attend (expat) meetings and events.
- Take advantage of your free time to (re)discover hobbies and interests and sign up for workshops.
Last but not least, socialise with locals (neighbourhood, your children’s school environment etc.) and investigate how they live and think. Integrate!
› Build a career
Finding a job in the Netherlands and start earning your own income may drastically change your life:
- Ask the HR department of the company your husband / wife works to inform you about possibilities and networks. They may even have a budget for career coaching or studying opportunities.
- Talk to professional coaches and let them help you to better understand what drives you and how to make a new start.
- Contact employment agencies and learn more about the Dutch labor market. In fact, sometimes these agencies offer both coaching and mediation.
- If you feel ready, start your own company (ZZP, Professional worker without employees) and follow your dream.
You can do it
Is it worth trying? Absolutely!
Note that you are not the first to try and of course, you are not alone. Many spouses have given a shot in the past and there are specialised agencies that can severely minimise your effort and improve your chance of success.
Besides, you are fighting for more than your personal happiness. Your family needs you more than ever.
Enjoy this wonderful trip & good luck!
Els Brouwer is an Expat Service Provider, who works as Manager Interim Professional for an agency specialising in Recruitment & Career Coaching. She works with expats and international companies for more than ten years now. For more information, please comment below or visit Projob.