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Have we made a huge mistake?

(39 Posts)
SallyQ Tue 17-May-05 09:43:14

Hey everyone,
This is my first ever Mumsnet posting, I am really in need of some advice or just someone to hear me.

My dh and I moved abroad 9 months ago when our dd was 3 months old, and we thought it would be the solution to all our problems. While we are much better off financially, it is driving us apart. We live high up in the mountains in a tiny village, and I am so lonely. I have tried to fit into the village but it is very hard, my German is not so hot and people here find me strange. I feel as if I have given up my whole life - no job, no friends, nowhere to go, nothing to do. Although it's great for a child, my dd has started wanting to see Brum brums and loves to see different places and lots of people. There are only so many times you can go and say moo to the cows, believe me. Also, I don't think it's ideal that she only meets very conservative white well off people.

DH is absorbed in his new job and says we have no choice but to stay here a few years. A FEW YEARS!!! I can't stand it. I have got to the point of seriously considering moving back to England or even to a city here without him. I still love him but he does not seem to understand why I am not happy. Also we have not had sex in 18 months and I don't feel like he fancies me anymore, or even sees me at all. As long as I look after the baby and clean the house occasionally. Of course he speaks 100 languages (ok, seven) and doesn't see why I get so frustrated trying to learn ONE.

My dd loves her dad and I don't want to split up the family. But I am really dying inside. I miss having friends so badly, and I have nothing of my own, no money, no job. He refuses to have a joint account (I don't understand why) so I have to ask him for money for groceries and things for dd and I can never buy anything for myself. This makes me feel that he is in charge and I am just a skivy rather than being a team. I've tried to talk to him but he simply says we have no choice. What can I do???

Thanks if you have read this far.

compo Tue 17-May-05 09:47:13

So sorry to hear you are going through ths. I think you need to try and talk to im again, make him understand the seriuosness of the situation and that you are thinking of leaving him. If the move was to improve things financially then I don't understand why he can't give you money for you.

runtus Tue 17-May-05 09:52:03

Sally, have you tried writing down how you feel (or even just printing off this post) and giving it to him? I know it sounds daft but maybe seeing it in black and white would make him realise how seriously you feel about the whole situation. He may simply think it is teething worries on your behalf and as he is so happy he probably thinks you will be soon too?

Also, have you tried to find out if there are any other ex-pats living in the community? Long shot I know and hardly the reason you moved there but worth a try if it would make your life more bearable for a couple of months. What about mother and toddler groups over there? I know they would all be german but I'm sure they would recognise another new mum over anything else. Do you have a car/access to transport? How about taking the two of you out for the day/weekend and if he doesn't want to go with then thats fine.....leave him at home. It sounds like you need to build up your self confidence and there would be no better way than coping on your own out and about for the day. Scary prospect I know but what the worst that can happen??

Sorry i can't help more.

hayleylou Tue 17-May-05 09:56:55

Sally you could be living my life!!! I am also in the same situation but we live is a small town in germany. I know what you are going through, my ds was 11 months when we moved here and since then I have had a dd who is now 10 months and it is hard.

Enid Tue 17-May-05 09:59:25

Sally I felt like this when we moved to Dorset from London five years ago.

You must get a joint account.
You must try to integrate into whatever community there is there.
Do you speak German?
Can you get a part time job/volunteer somewhere?
How far away is the nearest town?

Lonelymum Tue 17-May-05 10:00:00

He has no excuse for not having a joint account with you. How demeaning for you to have to ask for money all the time! I know many people live with separate accounts, but I couldn't do it for a moment. I don't earn any money, but that is because I am one half of a team and my role is the childcare. Dh's role is earning the money, and, although I would like to earn money and I would like him to be more involved in the childcare, well... that is not the point. At least our joint account keeps me feeling we are a partnership.

But is the money side of things really what this is about? I don't think so. You sound incredibly lonely and isolated, and no wonder, living in a small place, not knowing anyone and not speaking the language very well. It can be isolating enough just being a SAHM in ones own country! Your dh really needs to be made to understand how bad it is for you.

On the other hand, I can understand that he can't just drop his job and take you where you want to go, and I suspect, deep down, you understand that too. Maybe living apart for a while will be the answer (if he joined you at the weekends) or maybe you need to make the effort to integrate yourself into the community. I know it will be hard (I can't do it myself!) but it may be waht you have to do. The church would seem the easiest way in. Church members should be welcoming. Is that a possibility? It doesn't matter if you don't believe in God. Look upon it as a way of making friends. Your child is young enough to act as a way of introducing yourself IYKWIM.

Alternatively, there are a number of Mumsnetters who live in a similar situation to yourself. (I know Moondog for instnace lives in a mountain community in Turkey). Perhaps they will see this post and be able to offer more practical suggestions.

If all else fails, keep talking on Mumsnet. That should take away some of your isolation.

albert Tue 17-May-05 10:30:01

Sally, there are quite a few of us in this sort of situation. My reason for joining MN a year ago was to see if anyone else lived here - they don't but I have to say things for me have improved hugely in the past year and I really feel that MN has played a big part in keeping me sane. Is there a playgroup that DD can join? My DS started playschool even though he couldn't speak a word of the language (Italian) and now he is fluent. I've met a few (very few) Mums and struggle with the language but at least I have someone to talk to. Most of the people here think I'm wierd because the locals here are born and bred here and never leave the place. DS and I went so regularly to the toy shop that my best friend is the lady who works there and speaks surprizingly good English. I've met a few nannies and au pairs in the park with DS. They seem to be more friendly than the Mums. And I managed to get part time work in an international agency which works in English although apart from the Director I'm the only English person here. DH and I don't, and never have, hold a joint bank account, can't say it worried me even when I was a SAHM, it just stopped me from spending money on chocolates without thinking! Things may seem different for me, I live in Venice which can hardly be considered quiet but 90% of the people here are transient and you never see them 2 days running so it's actually very lonely. Oh, and DS is also very keen to see and travel in cars and buses of which there are none here, only boats which hold no interest whatsoever to him now. And a cow, well that would be a real novelty!!
Keep posting here, feel free to CAT me if you like and we can whinge together!

KatieinSpain Tue 17-May-05 10:55:26

How lonely - moving is but it seems badly exacerbated by lot of other things. Do you drive? Do you have access to a car? How far is the nearest town/city? Could you go there for classes - a sure way of meeting other people.

We moved out to Spain 9 months ago and it is hard. I must be honest and say it is the local expat community here that has kept me sane. In the short term, can you have a trip back to the UK to have some "friend and family" time?

Long-term, what do you want for you, for your DD, for your family say five years down the line? If it isn't a variation on what you have now, then you need to sit down and have a very serious talk.

I really think it takes that bit longer to integrate into a foreign community and is that bit tougher given the language and cultural barriers - don't get me going on the Spanish and shoes . Take care and anytime you want to chat, I'm usually around.

Oh, last thought, how about doing some English classes - it'll give you a bit of an income and make you some contacts.

Leogaela Tue 17-May-05 12:05:39

hi SallyQ - where are you living? What is your dh doing? is there no chance you can get a job? It would help you integrate more into the local community and maybe learn German. Can you get a local to help you with German, maybe another mum who could be interested to speak English. Perhaps you could teach english?

SallyQ Tue 17-May-05 12:29:43

Oh wow thankyou everyone I never expected so many replies!

To answer some of your questions, we don't have a car and the nearest big town is one hour and 20 mins away by train! There are no mother and toddler gps or anything like that here, and only playschool one afternoon a week from three years old. I have tried to integrate by helping out with kindergarten and working as a ski instructor over the winter but the local swiss instructors basically ignored me.

I asked dh about the joint account again this lunchtime (over the TV of course). He rolled his eyes but said he would "try" talking to the bank. However, he then said we were short of money at the moment and he was worried I would spend too much. Well, thanks.

I do not want to leave, but he will not talk to me. As soon as I broach a serious topic, he just clams up and goes back to the TV. His TV watching and swearing in front of dd is driving me crazy. How can I get him to listen to me??? Yes, maybe I should tell him that I am considering leaving, but I will try other things first.

On Friday night we are actually going for a night out to see a band, something we always did pre baby, for the first time since she was born. Perhaps going for a night out together will help. I know that he cannot simply change his job, and the soonest he could now would be at the end of the next academic year. I feel so bad because it was as much my idea as his to come here, but I was not prepared for how isolated we would be (he told me we would have a car and the nearest town was 30 mins away).

I know that we need to communicate more but he gets really cross and defensive and so I take the line of least resistance. However, that approach is not working.

Thanks again,

Bubblegirl Tue 17-May-05 12:30:43

Hello Sally,
You must be pulling your hair out, and you have the patience of a saint. I think you really need to force your DH to listen to you, and really keep at it until you feel heard. Otherwise it's going to drive you apart. It may mean having a huge showdown but at least start off reasonable and broach the issues again, even if he's heard it all before, YOU need to talk about it even if he doesn't want to hear it. It's about you too. The balance of your relationship is out at the moment and he needs to know what you're going through. If it means it will have to lead to wild arguments, so be it. Is there anyone you can leave your dd with for a couple of hours so you can have a scream if you need to? Also you need to talk very clearly about what's happening or 'not happening' in the bedroom. My DH is totally off sex at the moment as I am pregnant but although it's no big deal to him it's something I needed reassurance about and MADE him talk about it till I felt ok. However I still have fears about how it may pan out after the baby, I will give it time but if I find it doesn't return somewhat to normal, we'll have to review our relationship somehow, I can't bear to feel unwanted and I'm sure it's the same for you even if you have grown used to it. It gets easier to talk about it after a few times but don't let him fob you off! I hope this is of some small help to you, it's rotten feeling isolated - good luck X

SallyQ Tue 17-May-05 12:33:15

By the way we are in Switzerland, in the middle of the Alps. My German is improving and a lovely local woman is helping me, but then they all speak Swiss here and it is very different. You have to learn High German first, and pick up the Swiss. At least my daughter will be bi-/trilingual and won't have these problems, that is one of the things keeping me here.

Lonelymum Tue 17-May-05 12:35:48

Any summer work you could do? A good english speaker must surely be a plus in the Alps in the summer. (I have spent many a wonderful holiday in the Alps and met my dh there - I envy the wonderful scenery that must surround you, but I know that isn't going to help you with your problems)

ggglimpopo Tue 17-May-05 12:37:39

Message withdrawn

Hausfrau Tue 17-May-05 12:38:23

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

eldestgirl Tue 17-May-05 12:48:41

Oh dear, that sounds really grim...and familiar. I have been living in SE Asia for nearly 4 years as an expat wife. I think you are suffering from a bit of culture shock. It's when you realise that as beautiful as somewhere is, or novel, or feels like being on holiday, it's not where you want to be, which is home in the UK. Between 6-12 months is prime culture shock territory. It WILL get easier, but you desperately need some friends.
It's a bit different here, stuck in a teeming city, but someone (I think it was Roxy music) said loneliness is a crowded room. It has taken me a long time to find some friends here. Maybe mumsnet will help to relieve some of your sense of isolation.
MAKE him open a joint account. I think that's medieval, having to ask for money. It's a team effort living where you are, and you are entitled to spend some money on yourself once in a while!
I also would throw out the TV whilst he is at work. Force the issues out into the open. You need to communicate to him how unhappy you are and that you are prepared to leave if things don't change.
What kept me sane during my first year here were long visits to the UK to see my parents and friends and family. Summer is coming. Can you arrange to go back to the UK for 4 weeks, stay with family/good friends and see how he likes being on his own for a while? A taste of solitary life might be the incentive he needs to improve the quality of your life.
Good luck, and keep posting! It always makes me feel so much better when I get replies...

Chandra Tue 17-May-05 12:52:23

Sally, I'm sorry you feel like this. there's so many things you can do as people has suggested here, I have tried them all and they all worked for some time, but at the end, I'm not happy here, I have tried veeeeery hard but still, no single day passes without me thinking what on Earth I'm doing here. I have been here seven years, but still miss home really badly.

So my suggestion would be to be honest about how you feel to your husband and set up a time for when it is reasonable to integrate in your new surroundings. 2 yrs is a reasonable time.

Try to convince him that you need more suport with the language even if is just to get DH to take care of DD while you attend a German class.

I have been here waiting for the things to be better for years and.... I'm still waiting... Yeah, he has a better salary and lots of recognition but the money and his success don't make us less lonely. So my advice would be to set a deadline for when it is reasonable to integrate, try as hard as you can but if it doesn't work... be prepared to take steps to move back. I believe there's a little window that opens from time to time which presents you with the oportunity to go back home. We decided to ignore many of these oportunities and now, we are unable to go back as all that we have left in our respective countries is not there anymore, we don't have the contacts any more, and we have got used to different things and the thought of starting again from zero after all these years is simply terrifying. I think there was a time when we could have gone back without a problem but that time is long gone.

Sorry I can't be more positive about these things, I believe that you should try very hard but that you are also allowed to recognise defeat and head back while you still can.

expatinscotland Tue 17-May-05 12:59:18

Hmm. Isolated with nearest town a long, long train ride away and no money. Plus a man who won't communicate and treats you like a child.

I think I'd be on the first plane back to England and sort things out from there.

There's nothing worse or more soul-degrading than feeling absolutely powerless.

Sounds like you've tried to talk to him. He isn't having any of it. And you're not in a place that has easy access to relationship counseling.

He doesn't seem to be getting the message. So perhaps you just have to be a little louder. As in the sound of jet engines.

hayleylou Tue 17-May-05 13:01:24

Hay Hausfrau I am in paderborn germany how long have you been there for?

Hausfrau Tue 17-May-05 13:05:10

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

hayleylou Tue 17-May-05 13:06:30

Moved here November 03, we are moving back to the UK in February next year... cannot wait!!

Hausfrau Tue 17-May-05 13:06:58

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

gossifer Tue 17-May-05 13:25:17

it made me so sad to read your post and i want to send you big cuddles firstly! no man has the right to make a woman feel like a 2nd class citizen just because she has the job of primary childcarer and it sounds like time your man realised this - so you're a bit hard up at the moment but does that me he can degrade you to the point that you have to ask for every penny? is that what you both got together for? can he remember why you both love each other? looks like some serious talking needs to be done and you should stick up for yourself, or, as expatinscotland has just said, get back to your support network and some sisterhood and see how it all looks from there, good luck and my thoughts are with you - noone deserves what you are going through!

SenoraPostrophe Tue 17-May-05 13:38:42

sally - I could have written a very similar post 3 years ago - we lived in a small village in Spain and i felt very lonely.

My advice is move - not necessarily back to the UK but to a bigger town - we did and everything is much better now. (also mumsnet helps!).

as to the money thing - how about some sort of regular allowance? in a town of even modest size you might be able to find some work teaching english (1 to 1, so you wouldn't need childcare).

moondog Tue 17-May-05 13:45:24

SallyQ,as you can see,there are a lot of us in the same boat. Thank God for MN,it really makes life much more pleasant I can tell you. You are dealing with three difficult issues-a strange place,parenthood and an a*e of a husband if one is to be honest.

I am in a remote part of eastern Turkey with my dh and two small children,and it has been hard (even though I have lived and/or worked abroad most of my life) but is getting much easier.

Practical issues first...

Learn the language. I have a university student come to the house every day,so that I don't have to leave my children. You musn't feel that people ignore you (like the ski instructors.) I really don't believe this happens,but paranoia can and does creep in when you're on your own a great deal.

Get driving/learn to drive. I was terrified,but now whizz all over the place,through what looks like an Indiana Jones movie set. If you can't run to buying a car,then rent one for a bit. This is what we have done.

Get involved in something. Even voluntary teaching EDnglish in primary schools. A job is a big part of making a new life abroad.

Go home every now and then (the girls are right. Your dh will appreciate you a million times more.)

I'm glad to say that I have a lovely husband who is very understanding and aware of the fact that life is often lonely and dfficult for me. Things will get better though. over a long cold winter, Ican honestly say that some days i didn't want to get up but gradually Iam making friends,getting around,doing intersting things and dare I say it,enjoying buggering about the house all day with the children.

Your dh needs a kick up the backside though.

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