My husband has now lived in my country for a total of 6 months. Just today I presented him with a small token gift to celebrate. He arrived on a cold and cloudy February night and has seen the changes from winter, to spring, and finally summer. This change of seasons has been almost exactly like his adjustment thus far (sprinkle in a few thunder and lightning storms even on the best of days, however!). After the initial excitement, he came to the realization he hated this country. I was devastated, naturally, as I thought after being apart during the long immigration process, we were finally together and ready to live happily ever after. That was what it was supposed to be like. I have since realized there is no real ‘supposed to be’ in life.
I completely underestimated the power of culture shock. Having travelled quite a lot myself and never really experiencing the full affects of culture shock myself, I was not prepared for what my husband was going through and took a lot of it personally. I began to question our relationship and was very worried. However, just like the seasons, I saw him changing and getting used to life here and I, too, began to relax and realize it was a matter of adjustment. Some days I still fail to remember this but I am getting better and better.
There have been-and continue to be-endless obstacles. Starting over from the beginning-and I mean driving licenses and first menial jobs-has made me appreciate how our society really eases children and teens into responsibility and real life. Being thrown in is tough if you do not have support and if the 9-5 life is not your cultural norm. Luckily, he had me, but, for those who arrive not knowing a soul and are struggling through daily life, I have an entire new respect for them. The culture in the west really can be shocking. My husband has made several comments about how he feels people here are truly unhappy despite having it all. He feels they do not respect or care for their families as much and the dollar is king. Well, what can I say? From his perspective and in comparison it can be true.
I cannot speak for his personal journey but can speak from my perspective and I can testify that adjustment is a daily battle. Leaving behind every person you know to move across the world to be with one you love is a difficult thing as romantic as it may sound. The realities can be harsh-for both parties. Several times I know he was ready to throw in the towel and tried to get me to move back to Eastern Europe but I reminded him that I had already done my year there and now it was his turn to give me a year here. I am hoping by the end of the year, and after a visit home, he will feel more settled. I know brief trips home always made me realize not much has changed at home and the country is not going anywhere so I may as well make the most of my time abroad.
As you know, supporting my husband through his time of transition is one of the big ones on my list of 30. This is ongoing, endless, and difficult and I think I have been doing a great job. In the last 6 months, I have been a warrior-seeking out and conquering on his behalf. Now, for the next 6 months I realize I must take a step back and further empower him to take on his role with confidence. By the end of the next 6 months, I think he will feel a lot more affection and appreciation for this great country and after his visit home next January, I think he will be happy to come back again. If not, gamarjoba Georgia! (hello Georgia!). Just kidding-we will see what happens. All I know for sure is that flexibility is key.