3 Things to Do When You and Your Partner Don’t Share the Same Global Life Vision

If you and your partner are on the same page about how to live your ideal global life, that’s awesome!

But what do you do when you don’t agree?

From conversations I’ve had, and my own experience, this is a common dilemma. In my case, Aaron and I were on the same global page for years…until we weren’t. I share our story in my Re-Entry Roadmap workbook, so I won’t go into it here, but I will say that it was a challenging time…until we found a solution that works for both of us.

3 Things to do-2

Is this You?

It can be difficult if you want to, say, move abroad, while your partner would rather remain near friends and family. Or if…

You’d prefer to use your hard-earned savings to travel around the world, while your partner leans towards investing that money in your 401k.

You pictured yearly international vacations in adventurous locations, while your partner keeps suggesting a quiet week at a local beach.

You’re itching to return to expat life, while your partner is happy to be home.

You’re willing to try that risky job abroad, while your partner prefers to play it safer by keeping the jobs you have.

If you can relate to any of these situations, you’re probably feeling disappointed, frustrated, and maybe even angry. You may feel like you’re in a win-lose situation and wonder if you’ll ever find a solution that doesn’t require one of you to settle. You may also find yourself stuck in commiserating mode, which makes it nearly impossible to move forward.

3 Ways to Get on the Same Global Page

I get it. I’ve so been there. And I can assure you that you can find a win-win solution (provided your relationship is on stable ground – if not, you may need to work on other issues first). To do so, start by doing these three things:


#1 – Be (really, really, really) open to new possibilities.

Once I realized that Aaron and I were no longer on the same page regarding our global life, I committed to finding a win-win situation. To do so meant that I had to let go of the singular vision I had and be completely open to new possibilities.

It wasn’t easy at first; I felt like I was letting go of a long-cherished dream and like I was selling out or giving up by considering other options. But when I opened myself up to new possibilities that I hadn’t ever considered, that’s when I thought of the win-win solution that currently works for us.

#2 – Understand your partner’s why. 

When I realized that we were no longer on the same global page, I wanted to understand why. At that time we’d been together 10+ years and our lives had changed; we were no longer grad students just starting out in our careers. Through our conversations I began to understand the motivation behind my husband’s current goals and dreams.

I hate to admit this, but it took some effort on my part to see my husband’s not-so-global goals and dreams as equally valid as my globally-focused ones! But once I understood his why, I realized that we were on the same page about how to live our lives, we just had different approaches. I also found that the more I sought to understand his why, the more he wanted to understand mine.

We also discovered that what makes me feel safe and secure – moving around, jumping into new experiences, changing things up – makes Aaron feel stressed out and insecure – and vice versa. What makes him feel safe and secure – planting roots and deeply getting to know a community and workplace – makes me feel stressed out and trapped.

We now understand why we each automatically pushed back against what the other wanted to do, and we now have much more empathy for how the other is feeling.

#3 – Identify, and then discuss, your Global Life Ingredients.

Things really came together for us when we identified and share our Global Life Ingredients with each other.

(What are GLI? They’re the 3-5 things/people/connections/ideas/etc that are most important to you, right now, no matter where in the world you are. The Re-entry Roadmap workbook has a big section all about how to find your GLI and use them as your compass to find your best next step in re-entry).

Once we understood what was most important to each of us and why, we had a compass to guide our goals and decisions. As our conversations began to focus on how we could include all of our Global Life Ingredients, we felt like we were in a win-win situation because neither of us had to give up what was important to us.

 

It took some work but now we’re both happy and satisfied with our global life. It can be the same for you!

 

Helpful resources:

About the Author: Cate Brubaker

Dr. Cate Brubaker is a re-entry/repatriation coach, consultant, and author of the Re-Entry Roadmap creative workbook and the Study Abroad Re-entry Toolkit. Cate has lived in Germany, worked and traveled in 36 countries on four continents, and has helped all kinds of globetrotters successfully navigate global transitions for over 20 years.

4 thoughts on “3 Things to Do When You and Your Partner Don’t Share the Same Global Life Vision

    • For now, we’re in North Carolina. I’m a part-time nomad, so I travel a lot, which helps me be ok with having roots. 🙂 And we prioritize international trips so Aaron can spend time abroad, too. There are so many positives to living here that it was the clear winner, for now at least. We’ll see what happens in the future!

  1. Well, thats an interesting thought, im a step behind that i cant find a partner who wants to live globally! I think thats even harder..

    • It can be a challenge! But I know many people who were initially hesitant to live abroad and then grew to love it. There’s usually a very valid concern or fear behind “I don’t want to live abroad.” Still, it can be frustrating to not be on the same page!

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