WWYD - stay or leave?

(30 Posts)
citychick Mon 20-Jan-20 01:43:39

Hello, hoping some of you can add something to my dilemma.

We live in Asia, have done for quite a few years.

Last year, DH sat down and said that we should go home to UK. Financially, we'll be better off.

So I handed in my resignation, closed my bank account, paid my taxes, said goodbye to friends, sold almost all of the furniture, did a massive clear out, took DS out of school, packed a suitcase, paid for flights for DS and myself and went home for a summer holiday and waited for the tenants to vacate our home.

DH stayed in Asia to see out the end of the tenancy. He then was offered a new contract. He took it and DS and I came back to Asia. DS back in school, I got a few hours at work back. We've been living out of suitcases and there are packing boxes all stacked up round the house.

2020 was always our exit date.

I can feel DH swithering. He's scared to leave. I would like to go home. I mentally prepared myself to go back last year, albeit at warp speed. We then had to turn around and come back.

DS and I are tired of this. We want our home, our car and a dog. Our home needs work, and I'd rather be in it, enjoying it. Because I'll have to pay for all the upgrades. Nearly all friends have moved on so social life isn't keeping us here.

I know DH is worried about having to put DS into a state school, but TBH I'm not that impressed with the international school he's gone back to. And I know DH wants to be able to keep his family financially stable. He's just not quite able to leave with no guarantees. I'm a bit less frightened. DS also heading into GCSE territory.

So, WWYD? Stay and support or put your foot down and leave?


OP’s posts: |
Mothership4two Mon 20-Jan-20 02:01:16

You sound as though you have made your mind up and want to come back to UK. Have you talked it out with DH recently and also discussed the impact of you and DS having to come back and why DH renewed his contract? I think you need to be very clear about what you want and find out what DH really wants and intends to do

citychick Mon 20-Jan-20 03:23:28

thanks for the reply.
I was totally prepared for a 2020 departure. I just had to bring it forward.
We communicate about this daily.
I guess what I am looking for is whether or not other expat spouses would tolerate this. or not.
I supported him to move abroad and then we had to turn around and plan to leave at warp speed. I had to wrap up our life here in 6 weeks. Start a new one in the UK ( for 6 weeks, anyway).
He watched me pack everything up.
He stayed in Asia, so his life remained the same. DS and I moved forward. At his request.

Now we are living out of suitcases. My job is very part time - I was lucky to get any hours at all. I work with my replacements. My income has dropped significantly but i'll still have to pay for any upgrades on our UK house. It's very frustrating.
I've told him how much is has messed with our heads. He's so stubborn. I've made it clear we cannot be messed around like this long term.

I am interested to know just how far a trailing spouse is willing to be pushed before they actually put their foot down and say, " NO I'm not willing to do this anymore."


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DarkMutterings Mon 20-Jan-20 03:31:02

As a 'trailing spouse' my red line is when it impacts the kids be it their home life or schooling. So given your DS presumably started or was geared up to start a new school in UK and then was whisked back here, I think you've crossed it. Factor in the GSCE (when you saying they are coming up do you mean next year he starts?) and I'd be asking for a clear 4 year plan and if it involves moving back to the UK within those 4 years I'd plan to do so sooner than later
BUT ...
Do either you or he have a job lined up in the UK? Because that would be a big factor in my decision. A job in Asia with the risk of moving is still better than no job back in the UK.

On a side note - why do you pay for all the upgrades to the house? Isn't that family expense?

ploughingthrough Mon 20-Jan-20 03:42:01

Go home. You sound like you're ready and state schools in the UK are largely not criminal hell holes :-)
I'm also in Asia and have a comfortable life here, but I have an exit date of June 2020 and I'm going. Theres something about being a long term expat that it is tough even if you're having a good life, and I understand the need for community

ShanghaiDiva Mon 20-Jan-20 05:12:56

We are in a similar position: go or commit to spending 4 more years in Asia for dd to complete her schooling.
In your situation I would leave.
We are leaving this summer and have similar concerns re schools. DD has had wonderful opportunities at international schools, but I don't think the standard of education is any better than a decent comp, despite the marketing department assuring me it is world class..
Luckily dh and I agree on leaving this summer, however, I know he would find it tough to refuse a lovely new expat carrot being dangled in front of his nose.

citychick Mon 20-Jan-20 05:40:22

yes, this year go or stay. He"ll be heading into year 9.
No job directly, but DH has an on the side job which will keep us going.
I've suggested that he start the drip feed to take his current job back to the UK. It's not client based and can easily be done remotely. There are company offices in UK. If he negotiates well, it would work.
As far as the house is concerned DH would of course stump up if I really couldn't afford it. But over the years the wear and tear is starting to show. I'd rather pimp the house for us.
ploughing and Shanghai , it really is about getting DS sorted.
He too has had opportunities. Some he's taken and others he's completely wasted. sigh.

No expat package for us. This has all been self funded. Whilst I enjoy living here, we've never really had a community for various reasons and i'm finding it all very inward looking, both from expats and locals.
I've reached the end. I've just got to convince DH.

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MyOtherProfile Mon 20-Jan-20 05:45:09

This is awful. He is making all the decisions and not discussing it with you. He has really messed you about. No this isn't normal for trailing spouses in my opinion.

QueenKong101 Mon 20-Jan-20 05:58:48

Another Asia expat here who thinks YANBU. It's not fair to you and your DS to be in a state of limbo when you'd already agreed an exit date. If you have the means to live in the UK and it's what's best for the family as a whole, then your DH needs to get on board.

(And I say that as someone who has no intention whatsoever of returning to the UK unless I'm forced onto a plane kicking and screaming!).

Your son needs stability for his GCSE year so that takes precedence. Your DH needs to suck it up.

citychick Mon 20-Jan-20 05:59:58

Yes, he has completely messed us around. I absolutely see that.
I just need him to be able to have the confidence to say YES let's go.
How do I help him find this? I just don't know ATM.

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citychick Mon 20-Jan-20 06:08:45

I totally agree.

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lolaflores Mon 20-Jan-20 06:10:05

Agree about schools. My DD had a great time in USA but the local secondary here is wonderful. Lots of facilities and amenities, diversity clubs. She is thriving.
We came back because we have parents getting on. I needed more opportunities for myself as DD is heading to GCSE.
I made a plan. Told DH we would be back and I would be getting DD into school he should make similae5.
Ditto, pur house needs attention and that is being done in stages.
As other ppnhave said; DD education is paramount. Her international school simply didnt make me feel confident that it was doing anywhere near a good enough job of getting her educated to a standard I expected.
The expat life felt like a bubble to me. We only did it for 4 years and in that time I cant say I ever found my feet and grew very aware of how low down my own needs were on the list.
I got DD into a school here and navigated by that.

DarkMutterings Mon 20-Jan-20 06:11:34

You mentioned his side job keeping you going back in the UK, is he worried that won't be enough? Unless he's usually a total arse, it seems odd that he doesn't understand the impact on your DS - especially at Y9.

But I do think there's a sort of pressure on the Expat Breadwinner to not let the family down financially - broad sweeping generalisation there, but for the sake of a short post I'm making it! Does he think his company would let him take his job back to UK? I find some companies less open to dispersed teams than they were say 5 years ago. Perhaps he's not willing to risk them saying no?

Like I say unless he's usually an arse there's got to be something drive his reluctance...

QueenKong101 Mon 20-Jan-20 06:14:01


I don't think you can give him the confidence. He can look at the situation and draw his own conclusions as to the best course of action, however he must respect that you'll be doing the same.

Without giving too many specifics, when my DC were younger we were previously in a different location - a place that I hated. After much back-and-forth and endless circular discussions, I explained that the situation was no longer tenable for me and that I would be boarding a flight on X date. I left it up to him to decide if he wanted to join me - fortunately he did, and has no regrets about our leaving, but I made it very clear I'd be going on that date, with or without him.

filka Mon 20-Jan-20 06:40:47

We tried to come back with DCs and put into local state school in UK, complete disaster.

Firstly, they really aren't geared up for taking kids mid-year. God knows how anyone with kids moves house in the UK. There are waiting lists and the best schools are all full, so the chances of getting into the nearest good school of your choice are slim, even if you live in the catchment area.

I'm not sure, but it may be easier to get into a school in the September intake as everyone is moving around anyway. But in that case you need to be actively planning this NOW and it's difficult to do this remotely. For this you need to do leads of research about standards and ratings, OFSTED inspection reports etc., league tables. You'll need to contact the council education department who "manage" placings but in reality schools seem to do their own thing.

As a result, we had to put the kids into a not so good school and it was a complete and utter disaster. After just three days we pulled them out and sent them back abroad. This is what we experienced:
- short hours - our school finished at about 2.45
- no schoolbooks - kids can't be trusted not to damage them
- no homework (in grade 9 & 10)
- kids swearing in the classroom with teacher present
- violence in the playground - we saw video messages of one girl kicking another in the face when she was on the ground (and this is not exactly inner-city)
- teachers unprepared for lessons
- low low standards - my kids went to their maths class and were told to go to the top set because they knew something about algebra (I think how to spell it...)

So I wouldn't be planning to leave in a hurry, I would be planning to be settled in the UK in August, ready for the new school year.

Of course it's a bit different if you are able to go for private education because then you are able, within reason, to choose. But even then there are waiting lists and intake exams. Already I think some schools will be planning their Sept 2021 intake. Plus you will need about £25-30k per year, each.

citychick Mon 20-Jan-20 06:44:14

lola that's great your dc is thriving. I know for a fact that getting our dc into a good local school is important to all of us. Our closest school is oversubscribed ( he's number 700 on the waiting list!)
The other's seem ok. DS is a bit vulnerable so making sure that he'll be ok is a concern. Fortunately we've made contact with the local council and plan on chatting them up to make sure they get him in the best place for his needs. For example, many schools have a heavy black kid population, others are dominated by the local Muslim community. He's spent the past several years being the only white kid in the class, and both he and we would like to see more of a mix. Fingers crossed we can achieve this.
I could say the very same about the school he's in now. I don't think he's where he should be, especially in English, which is his weakness anyway. He's doing the UK curriculum and I've kept an eye on what he should be doing in year 8 and it's pretty close. However, he needs a second language and ATM the Spanish teacher seems to be doing her best, but the dept is new and no where near setting up for IGCSE.
Mandarin is a no go.

dark yes, he's aware of the importance of DS's education. He's part of a department, but he's the only one who does the job he does. Should he play it well, he could scoop up a fantastic job to take home.
His sideline is based in India, so it's no matter where DH is based.

Deep down, I feel he's proud to be able to put DS into a prv school. It would be a huge stretch for us in the UK. We'd find a way of course, if it would be better for DS. Even boarding, but ATM DS wouldn't cope.
All DS's cousins attend fabulous private schools and boarding schools. I think he feels compelled to do the same.

queenkong yes, I'm threatening to get on a plane, with or without him.

thanks all for your replies.

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citychick Mon 20-Jan-20 06:50:13

Yes, we'd be heading for a September 2020 intake. In year applications not needed til June.

Sorry you all had a bad experience with the local system.
FWIW our plan would be to get started in local, review, get him up to speed, see him thru his gcse's and then move to private for A level.

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DarkMutterings Mon 20-Jan-20 07:34:33

Ok I'm going to make a wild guess here and you can feel free to ignore me or say I'm way off the mark ...
^Deep down, I feel he's proud to be able to put DS into a prv school. It would be a huge stretch for us in the UK. We'd find a way of course, if it would be better for DS. Even boarding, but ATM DS wouldn't cope.
All DS's cousins attend fabulous private schools and boarding schools. I think he feels compelled to do the same.^

I don't think he's ready to be 'ordinary'. I've seen how some Expats get use to their bubble - private school, help in the house, social life, living abroad - whatever it is that triggers their particular pride. And going back to the UK to a house that needs doing up, kids in a state school, cold & wet, is just too ordinary.
If he's looking at what life could be like and comparing it to both his sibling's life and your current expat life it may not seem such a great move. Many people get over this when they see the move back is for the better, be it for kids/wives whatever but it could be why he's burying his head in the sand and procrastinating.

Feel free to ignore, but it's a thought

citychick Mon 20-Jan-20 08:45:03

I hear what you say, and agree that some expats are like this.
Perhaps DH is feeling this in his own way. You make a point, I shall gently suggest this next we speak.

Our life abroad has been very ordinary, compared to many in this city. I remember when we were making the decision to come or stay, I did say that we have to leave for a better life. I wasn't leaving for something similar or too much of a compromise. We've had to compromise greatly and is hasn't been so much better as different.

In the UK I drove to whichever supermarket I fancied and did the weekly shop. Here I rattle around on public transport and lug the weekly shop around. I can't see how DH thinks this is better!

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DarkMutterings Mon 20-Jan-20 09:09:46

In the UK I drove to whichever supermarket I fancied and did the weekly shop. Here I rattle around on public transport and lug the weekly shop around. I can't see how DH thinks this is better!

But that's your life?

What's his like? Is his life better in Asia, shorter commute, status in office, social life.

Like I say, unless he's usually a dickhead there's something making him reluctant and I think you need to work out what it is before you can get him to accept/focus on the move.

citychick Mon 20-Jan-20 09:27:56

Thanks, dark
I will definitely get this into the conversation!

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lolaflores Mon 20-Jan-20 10:30:57

AND...he now agrees that her international school in comparison to here, weren't up to snuff. She has a different confidence to other kids that she gained from public speaking in international school, that she would never get in primary here bit there were far too many gaps elsewhere to make it a big enough reason to keep her there.
And the privilege Mongst some of the kids was startling to say the least and the expectations of what kids should have (minus good manners and self discipline) jarred with what we expected from our kids.

KittenVsBox Mon 20-Jan-20 12:32:40

We came back last year.
Finished the school year in old country, a few back in June. Started at the least popular state school in our town 3 weeks later - so did the last month of the school year again. Kids have had a shock academically. The expectations at the state school are much higher than at their private British school abroad. Both have gone from top of the year in maths to middle of the top set, and have gone from cruising everything else to having to work. Yes, their outlook is wider, yes they have a much more multicultural outlook on life. They have much more of the softer skills than their peers - presentations, global knowledge, dealing with different cultures. English geography and temperate climates are not their strong points tho!!!

If schooling would be better and finances would be better, what is keeping you in Asia?

Serenschintte Mon 20-Jan-20 12:40:00

Expat spouse here - long term. My DH also has the fear of returning to the UK. We have often had the debate should we stay or go. It’s hard.
I suggest you separately write the pros and cons of where you are and then life in the UK.
Also would it be helpful to get a third party involved to talk things out.
It’s hard when they get to Gcse age as then it’s harder to move. We are in this situation. Luckily I quite like where we are but I also find international schools are not always as good as their PR suggests.
But I agree if finances would be better in the UK then that’s a good reason to move
Third option is to go somewhere else - would you DH be open to that?

managedmis Mon 20-Jan-20 12:43:32

Why he so keen to have you head back to the UK? Is there another woman? Sounds really suspicious

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