Job relocation can be exciting an invigorating experience…or at least it should be. If your spouse is less than thrilled with the idea of moving, relocation can instead be difficult, stressful, and sometimes even damaging to your relationship.
After all, while you get to enjoy a new career opportunity and all the excitement that comes along with it, your spouse is being asked to turn his or her life completely upside down. It’s not easy to accept change, even if the opportunity is ultimately worth the effort.
If you’re considering relocation and your spouse is reluctant to move, here are some things you can discuss:
Discuss Their Concerns, No Matter How Small
When you discover that your spouse is reluctant to relocate, it’s a good idea to talk about why. Is it the fear of something new? Concerns about finances, distance from family, loss of a favorite activity or hobby, or a change in lifestyle? Talking through your spouse’s concerns about relocation – even the most trivial concerns – is a great way to make your spouse more comfortable with the idea.
For example, losing the NFL package might not seem like a big deal to you, but your husband might be genuinely upset about that loss. Talking about it out loud is a great way to find a compromise.
Recognize that Change is Hard and Sometimes Even Scary
At some level, all humans have difficulty with change. We are creatures of habit, and we can become set in our ways so much that the thought of uprooting our lives is very upsetting. Some of us suffer from substantial anxiety when we’re asked to move, and it’s important for you to recognize that natural human feeling in your spouse.
Put another way, moving is tough on almost everyone. The great unknowns of moving include:
- What the new city is like
- How the move will happen
- How often you will be able to see your friends and/or family that live nearby
- What new schools will be like for kids
- How you will adjust to a new climate
These concerns can quickly compound and create an overwhelming level of stress that can paralyze your spouse. Therefore, it’s essential that you treat your spouse’s feelings with respect and compassion. Your job isn’t just to help them deal with the actual details of moving – you also have to help them overcome their natural anxieties and fears.
If Necessary, Slow Down the Process
When you’re offered a new position and a relocation package, your excitement can make it seem like relocation can’t happen soon enough. However, for your spouse, the relocation process may feel like it’s progressing at warp speed.
If this is the case, you need to try to slow down the process. Sometimes this is just as simple as taking a few days off to help your spouse with moving and arrangements, but other times it might be a good idea to arrange for temporary housing for a few weeks or months while your spouse gets to a place where they’re ready to move. (Your company relocation policy, though, will likely encourage (and incentivize) you to complete the move as quickly as possible, so as to get you in place and focused on your new job).
Take Advantage of The Resources Your Company Offers
Most companies now outsource their relocation function to third-party relocation companies. You will typically have a dedicated counselor who will walk you through your relocation benefits and help you through every step of the process; for example, by coordinating the movement of your household goods or your homefinding trip. Your counselor is also there to simply listen to your concerns and to help allay any fears or reservations you might have.
Create a Positive Experience
Before you make the big move, visit the city once or several times with your spouse. Try to create positive experiences by:
- Visit cultural places like museums
- Go out for a special dinner
- Spend time walking/driving around the city
- Have a picnic in the park near your new home
- Find a festival or sporting event that your spouse enjoys
By following these tips, you can help reduce your spouse’s fears and anxiety and help prepare him or her for what lies ahead. Remember that while a new job might be exciting for you, your spouse might be anxious, nervous, and stressed out about your move. You’ve got to work all of that out together.
After two cross-country job relocations, author Jason Lancaster understands how stressful a relocation can be. Jason also writes for TRC Global Solutions, an international employee relocation service that offers free sample corporate relocation policy documents.