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Old 12.02.2012, 13:23
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Peeve: Swiss Spouse = Lucky You

So, after having been here a while (too long some days!), and having spoken to a few others who have Swiss spouses or significant others, it has begun to grate how often I see folks on this forum remark that with a Swiss spouse, you're lucky because they can help you with everything.

Well, lemme tell you, from experience and from what some others I know have experienced, this is not necessarily true.

Just because someone's spouse is Swiss doesn't mean anything about what they know about what a foreigner needs to do here. Most have never had to file any of the paperwork before to get a foreign sweetie here, many don't know how to drive (no need), and various and sundry other things that we face as non-Swiss.

Sure, the language may make things easier, but they have to hunt around for answers too - meanwhile, expats who come to work for the corporations are backed up by HR departments who do have experience with "helping" someone get settled here. They can tell you which insurances are more English-language friendly, they can tell you which letting agencies are too. They often also help not only the employee but dependents with language classes (often paid by company) and sometimes job search support.

So... next time someone comes to the forum saying they're moving here to be with their Swiss love, give a second thought that maybe, just maybe, things are actually harder for them in some significant ways and some ways that are significant by their very basic nature.
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Old 12.02.2012, 13:31
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Re: Peeve: Swiss Spouse = Lucky You

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So, after having been here a while (too long some days!)....... by their very basic nature.
Peg A, that's actually surprisingly true. Many Swiss have no idea at all about what kind of paperwork is required for foreigners.
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Old 12.02.2012, 13:33
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Re: Peeve: Swiss Spouse = Lucky You

Having lived in France with a French husband I can vouch for this.

The real benefit I found was in learning the language .. constant practice at home but that relies on you having a certain level to begin with .. not particularly condusive to love if you both speak one language perfectly (eg English) and the other language is just at A1 level .. obviously you are going to converse in the language that is easier to use, whether or not it is the language of the country you are living in.
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Old 12.02.2012, 13:38
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Re: Peeve: Swiss Spouse = Lucky You

I wouldn't say that I found anything more difficult having had a Swiss partner when I came here but I wouldn't say it was a great advantage either. The main plus was not what Mr L knew, but that he had a circle of friends, very few of whom spoke English, who welcomed me and helped me to find my feet more quickly (though it played havoc with my learning Swiss German as they all came from different areas of Switzerland!).

It is true that the Swiss often cannot answer our 'alien' questions, have no idea of the rules and regulations which apply to us (and not to them) and often don't realise that many things 'normal' to them are not 'normal' to their alien spouse. Certainly having a Swiss partner is not anything like the advantage that many folk imagine.
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Old 12.02.2012, 13:53
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Re: Peeve: Swiss Spouse = Lucky You

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Having lived in France with a French husband I can vouch for this.

The real benefit I found was in learning the language .. constant practice at home but that relies on you having a certain level to begin with .. not particularly condusive to love if you both speak one language perfectly (eg English) and the other language is just at A1 level .. obviously you are going to converse in the language that is easier to use, whether or not it is the language of the country you are living in.
My French husband wouldn't speak to me in French, ever. I wanted to shoot people who were like "oh your husband taught you French"...no I busted my *ss sitting in classrooms for ten years. So I agree with you that language learning only helps at a certain level. That said, he was good with the odd vocabulary word or abbreviation

They have also done studies with couples where one learned the other's language after the couple had been together a while. Couples rarely (it happens, and it probably happened to several on EF) switch languages from the one they used when they were dating.
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Old 12.02.2012, 14:06
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Re: Peeve: Swiss Spouse = Lucky You

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My French husband wouldn't speak to me in French, ever. I wanted to shoot people who were like "oh your husband taught you French"...no I busted my *ss sitting in classrooms for ten years. So I agree with you that language learning only helps at a certain level. That said, he was good with the odd vocabulary word or abbreviation

They have also done studies with couples where one learned the other's language after the couple had been together a while. Couples rarely (it happens, and it probably happened to several on EF) switch languages from the one they used when they were dating.
If I had a funf rappen piece for every time someone suggest I get hubby to speak German with me at home...

Not that it never happens but more like, it lasts for about an hour.

I was taking it badly until I spoke with some friends who also have Swiss spouses, they go through the same things, I felt a bit better. Misery loves company n all that.
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Old 12.02.2012, 14:09
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Re: Peeve: Swiss Spouse = Lucky You

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So... next time someone comes to the forum saying they're moving here to be with their Swiss love, give a second thought that maybe, just maybe, things are actually harder for them in some significant ways and some ways that are significant by their very basic nature.
Sorry but I disagree.

With a Swiss spouse you have a support system from the beginning unlike other foreigners who have to built up a social network from scratch and whose families are too far away for giving practical help. Even if the Swiss partner doesn't know about regulations for foreigners and the necessary paperwork it is much easier for them to find the relevant information because language isn't an issue - google with the right keywords or phone conversations with administration employees.

And they know the place - how the healthcare system works, where to register a car, what the supermarkets sell, disposal of trash etc...
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Old 12.02.2012, 14:09
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Re: Peeve: Swiss Spouse = Lucky You

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Just because someone's spouse is Swiss doesn't mean anything about what they know about what a foreigner needs to do here. Most have never had to file any of the paperwork before to get a foreign sweetie here, many don't know how to drive (no need), and various and sundry other things that we face as non-Swiss.
Good points, Peg. Having been on the other side of the fence, i.e. the partner of a foreign national in my own country in the past, I partially agree with you. Someone who lives in its own country often has no clue about immigration procedures, needs, etc. (I certainly did not). I also agree with you that speaking the language is a big help, but doesn't automatically and immediately help you find the answers you need, especially with matters such as immigration, finances, and similar.

However, someone with a local spouse/SO will always have an advantage over others in my opinion: access to "the network". Unless the SO in question has lived abroad many years and has lost contacts with its circle, a local person often has a circle of friends, relatives, a buddy at the relevant office here, a parent's former schoolmate there, and so forth, which prove to be invaluable when finding and obtaining information and help for and by the foreign partner. When I was the local GF of a foreigner, I didn't have the answers to all questions by any means, but I had a pretty good grasp of how everyday life worked, and I had plenty of trusted people whom I could ask for the answers/help for the rest. This by far beats any HR support (which is nonetheless very useful), IMO.
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Old 12.02.2012, 14:15
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Re: Peeve: Swiss Spouse = Lucky You

I think it depends on the Swiss though. We've had several threads on here from desperate aliens whose Swiss OH didn't seem particularly helpful in resolving official matters for his/her partner.
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Old 12.02.2012, 14:21
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Re: Peeve: Swiss Spouse = Lucky You

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Even if the Swiss partner doesn't know about regulations for foreigners and the necessary paperwork it is much easier for them to find the relevant information because language isn't an issue - google with the right keywords or phone conversations with administration employees.
Language may not be an issue but the question is whether the Swiss spouse is interested or willing to search for the information.
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Old 12.02.2012, 14:24
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Re: Peeve: Swiss Spouse = Lucky You

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I think it depends on the Swiss though. We've had several threads on here from desperate aliens whose Swiss OH didn't seem particularly helpful in resolving official matters for his/her partner.
This is exactly the problem I have. Hubby not so motivated to help, some of the things I now know I only know because I found them out either from this forum or from direct contact with other non-Swiss.

So far as "network" goes, I've only started to become close to my brother-in-law the past few months, when I've gone out of my way to involve myself directly, despite hubby's constant desire for a peaceful day off doing nothing. Hubby has no particular interest in spending time with anyone - not even his mother, so anything social is totally on me, forget about actual help from "network."

So, the general assumption that is frequently made here is what grates so. Perhaps qualifying it as "hopefully having a Swiss SO will make things easier" would be better than what often is actually said.

As I said in my most recent post in this thread: I used to think I was the only one going through this this way here but I am not. Some of my friends who are married to Swiss spouses DO have it "lucky" and easy, but not all, and when they don't help (or even worse, resent the need to help), it can be very miserable indeed.
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Old 12.02.2012, 14:29
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Re: Peeve: Swiss Spouse = Lucky You

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Language may not be an issue but the question is whether the Swiss spouse is interested or willing to search for the information.
But that's a whole different issue. I'm in the french speaking part and even here, being fluent in German helps enormously when I'm looking for infos online.
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Old 12.02.2012, 14:38
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Re: Peeve: Swiss Spouse = Lucky You

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Sorry but I disagree.

With a Swiss spouse you have a support system from the beginning unlike other foreigners who have to built up a social network from scratch and whose families are too far away for giving practical help. Even if the Swiss partner doesn't know about regulations for foreigners and the necessary paperwork it is much easier for them to find the relevant information because language isn't an issue - google with the right keywords or phone conversations with administration employees.

And they know the place - how the healthcare system works, where to register a car, what the supermarkets sell, disposal of trash etc...
Unless of course the Swiss spouse has spent all her adult life in the UK- lol. So yes, we've got friends here already and language, but didn't have a clue about so many things.
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Old 12.02.2012, 14:47
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Re: Peeve: Swiss Spouse = Lucky You

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Language may not be an issue but the question is whether the Swiss spouse is interested or willing to search for the information.
In this case, we can only assume the problem is also on an other matter.
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Old 12.02.2012, 15:00
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Re: Peeve: Swiss Spouse = Lucky You

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In this case, we can only assume the problem is also on an other matter.
Yes and no, in my case, some, yes. Meanwhile, some people are "helpers" and some are not, of course folks who are uncomfortable helping are do it poorly just like people who are not "teachers" have troubles teaching.

Looking and feeling stupid isn't an easy thing to overcome, which often is the case when someone who is not good at helping (or teaching) somehow suddenly needs to.



Anyhow, I didn't want the thread to be about me and my relationship (else I'd have posted it in Family Matters), but rather to help some other forum members see that assuming having a Swiss sweetie automatically guarantees the easy fit into life here isn't necessarily helpful, let alone true.
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Old 12.02.2012, 15:06
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Re: Peeve: Swiss Spouse = Lucky You

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I think it depends on the Swiss though. We've had several threads on here from desperate aliens whose Swiss OH didn't seem particularly helpful in resolving official matters for his/her partner.
That is rare though. Most of the time you are a winner with a local.
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Old 12.02.2012, 15:39
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Re: Peeve: Swiss Spouse = Lucky You

Some people are more helpful than others, I'm afraid. In any country. Perhaps a 'native' married to a 'non'native' (again anywhere) is much more likely to be helpful if s/he has lived abroad themselves and been through the same or similar hurdles, and remember how lost they themselves felt.
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Old 12.02.2012, 15:45
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Re: Peeve: Swiss Spouse = Lucky You

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My French husband wouldn't speak to me in French, ever. I wanted to shoot people who were like "oh your husband taught you French"...no I busted my *ss sitting in classrooms for ten years. So I agree with you that language learning only helps at a certain level. That said, he was good with the odd vocabulary word or abbreviation

They have also done studies with couples where one learned the other's language after the couple had been together a while. Couples rarely (it happens, and it probably happened to several on EF) switch languages from the one they used when they were dating.
Indeed, my wife speaks only Italian as her Swiss-German father never spoke it at home (except with friends). And, while she understands some English (as I speak it with my kids and some friends), we only speak Italian together. Been great for my Italian, though!

Tom
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Old 12.02.2012, 16:47
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Re: Peeve: Swiss Spouse = Lucky You

I think the challenges are probably different, rather than easier or harder, for someone moving here with a Swiss partner. Both my husband and I are British so we've had to face administrative problems but nothing that common sense, googling, this forum and a bit of basic German can't overcome. However, for someone moving to be with a Swiss partner, I guess there are lots of cultural differences that affect home life whereas I haven't had to cope with any changes "at home" if that makes sense? Also, if your Swiss partner has to take on the role of dealing with everything because they're the local one, I can imagine that this can't be good for the other person's self esteem and independence. It must be very easy to become reliant on your partner and to leave everything to them.

I must admit that when we first moved here, I was jealous of people whose company provided them with a relocation package, temporary accommodation etc. But we've managed to sort it all ourselves and actually I think having to be independent from the start probably helps with integration in the long term.
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Old 12.02.2012, 16:52
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Re: Peeve: Swiss Spouse = Lucky You

I think I know what Peg A is saying.
In the first few months in Switzerland I appreciated being able to come home to my Polish husband and discuss our experiences. I was happy to have this enclave where everything was easy to understand. It was one island of constancy in the sea of novelty. I think it eased off my culture shock considerably.
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