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  #81  
Old 30.11.2014, 11:08
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Re: Stay-at-Home Spouses [unemployed, depressed, bored to tears]

Sooooo where should we meet and when??
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  #82  
Old 30.11.2014, 11:14
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Re: Stay-at-Home Spouses [unemployed, depressed, bored to tears]

HopeInAJar, like many posters on this thread I also understand what you are going through, and empathize.

As you can see from responses on this thread you are not alone. And I do hope that the stories others have told here will help you see that you have options. Perhaps the obvious paths, those that you had hoped to follow, might not be open at this time - but there are always other paths to explore. Many of us have had to re-invent ourselves here... and, although it might have taken quite a while to realize it, many of us are now glad that we did.

(I know that sounds suspiciously fluffy, but it is true.)

So...

Here are some of the things I did after trailing behind my husband and then going through something similar to what you are experiencing when the reality of being a stranger in a strange land hit. Maybe some might spark ideas for you.

I wasn't ready to let go professionally altogether, but I could not work here (permit and lack of local language) so I did a bit of freelance work for old clients back home. If you have clients, colleagues, connections, employers who were sad to see you leave, any kind of network back home - keep those contacts alive. Drop a hint, or better yet a proposal - you might find that folks back home who already know your professional worth would be happy to avail themselves of your services for a week here, a project there. Are you able to travel back home once in a while, or could you work remotely?

I didn't work much, just enough to keep my hand in and my personal pride intact. Mostly it helped when faced with those soul-destroying, panic-inducing Apero introductions: 'So, what do you do?'

And keeping my hand in helped me to stop idealizing my lost glorious career days and remember what the nitty-gritty was really like. That was the point where I realized that I was now in the right frame of mind to re-invent myself.

---

The one thing that helped when I first arrived was to enroll in an intensive German class immediately. The intensive class, 5 days a week, was a life saver because it gave me structure. I had learned from previous turns on the expat merry-go-round that an unstructured day would lead me into the Slough Of Despond pretty quickly. Anything you can do to make studying German part of the framework of your day will help - both from a skills as well as an emotional perspective.

You mentioned that your husband's parents are ailing - do you get on well with your in-laws? If so, could you spend more time with them? This would be a fantastic opportunity to improve your German. The simple things, stopping by for coffee and a chat, do so much to brighten an elderly person's day, which I'm sure would be a weight off your husband's shoulders - and you'd likely find your German improving by leaps and bounds.

---

Although many of us have set a goal of integrating into local culture, making Swiss friends, living 'the Swiss way', don't be afraid to make expat groups your primary circle of activity for now. There are far fewer barriers to developing pleasant acquaintances - and hopefully friendships - among fellow 'outsiders'. Towards that end, two groups that gave me a much-needed soft landing were ZIWA (Zürich International Women's Association), linked above in Belgianmum's post, and the AWC, American Women't Club (I think I remember from another post that you are an American, oder?)

Now, I not a club-joiner by nature, but I did find activities and people that I enjoyed and made some good friends along the way. I’m not very active anymore, except for a ZIWA book club. If you love to read then join a book club or three - a chance to stretch the little grey cells with like-minded folks, a fun way to bring people together.

---

As I was dis-engaging from my career, I started volunteering. And along the way my volunteer activities became my overriding life’s passion. (That’s the re-invention part.) Now, Switzerland is different from every other country I have lived in, as much of what is done via volunteer work in other countries is professionalized here, there are fewer obvious opportunities. You might need to be a bit creative in looking for a place to put your enthusiasm to use.

I did so by volunteering with a group in Germany, international volunteer engagement is often an easier option. But keep your eyes open, there are indeed groups needing help here. In fact, both the expat women’s clubs often need volunteers within the club, and both get involved in local charities - another reason to consider joining.

Wishing you all the very best.
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  #83  
Old 30.11.2014, 11:52
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Re: Stay-at-Home Spouses [unemployed, depressed, bored to tears]

Give it some time and things will brighten up. In our case we could chronologically divide expats clock into:

- 0...1 year ticking nada bored, stressed and frustrated but already making some friends and contacts helping to set future foot in the right doors,
- 1 ... 2 years part time jobs and making more friends, private tennis lessons, things started shaping up,
- 2 ... 5 years full time job and more private tennis lessons, more friends and activities,
- 5 ... 7 years full time job and regular private lessons with reputation well established, good friends, always invited by somebody, new ideas for volunteering and charity work emerged, life is great
- 7 ... unknown future we believe things can only get better

That mini chronology shows that everything is possible and things take time. You can also do it. Good luck!
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  #84  
Old 30.11.2014, 21:17
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Re: Stay-at-Home Spouses [unemployed, depressed, bored to tears]

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LittleGirl,

thank you for the kind post.

Are you originally from the States? I'm curious how your experience there and what prompted you to move back to Europe?

.
Yes, I've lived in the Midwest (sadly), NH for awhile, the south years ago and will return to AZ this week to finalize the move. My husband is British and tried to work the American culture of on-call 24/7/365 and was exhausted by the lack of work/life balance and didn't get along with his boss in Az. So we decided that he needed to look for positions in Europe again so that he could have that work/life balance and job security which is so lacking in that states. Because I wanted my spouse to be happy, I agreed to the change and frankly, had a difficult time in AZ with isolation even though I spoke English and so did most of my neighbors. They kept to themselves. It's hard to move around when you don't know anyone. My BFF was in Phoenix but that was still 100 miles one way so we didn't get to see each other that much. It was odd to experience isolation in your home country so I hope that I don't have to go through that again here. I have identified what I want to do long term and hope to make that job transition once we get settled into our permanent place in Jan-Feb.

I hope your knee is doing better these days. I recommend taking long soaks in an epsom salt bath (found in Mullers) and hope that your mobility improves despite the colder temps. And get your thyroid levels checked and your Vit D which can be a cause of your depression along with pain meds that can mess with your serotonin levels. Good luck and contact me when you are interesting in meeting up for a day trip. I can come to Zurich or you can come to Basel! Cheers!
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  #85  
Old 30.11.2014, 21:29
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Re: Stay-at-Home Spouses [unemployed, depressed, bored to tears]

Hope, I haven't posted until now because I saw that you were already getting loads of good advice.

The turnaround came for me around year 3 when I met someone in my French class and we really clicked. Gradually, we both brought in other girls that we knew to our little circle of friends. Three years later, we meet at each other's houses for coffee, our husbands all know each other and we have a little clique, if you will. It just takes making ONE friend and then go from there.

Good luck. Hang in there. You can do it.
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  #86  
Old 01.12.2014, 09:49
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Re: Stay-at-Home Spouses [unemployed, depressed, bored to tears]

Before I moved here last year, this forum and its members warned me about the prevalent depression of a trailing wife. It didn't actually help my frame of mind before coming here and I have steered clear of the forum for this reason...just dipping in and out now and again. And I'm not depressed, I have thrived in this environment and met some great people. Maybe you need to join a sports club, book club and just get out and about. You might surprise yourself and meet a good group of friends. Also agree about the weather not helping at this time of year though. Hope you manage to ride this out and settle into swiss life.
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  #87  
Old 01.12.2014, 12:20
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Re: Stay-at-Home Spouses [unemployed, depressed, bored to tears]

Wow this seems quite common. It has not happened to me? I am not bored or depressed. Is it because I haven't been here long enough?? (7 months today) Those of you who feel/have felt this way, did it suddenly hit you towards the end of the first year?? Or did you feel it creeping up right from the beginning? (I'm feeling slightly nervous that all this might just be around the corner or something!)
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Old 01.12.2014, 13:09
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Re: Stay-at-Home Spouses [unemployed, depressed, bored to tears]

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Wow this seems quite common. It has not happened to me? I am not bored or depressed. Is it because I haven't been here long enough?? (7 months today) Those of you who feel/have felt this way, did it suddenly hit you towards the end of the first year?? Or did you feel it creeping up right from the beginning? (I'm feeling slightly nervous that all this might just be around the corner or something!)
You have children which makes a huge difference IMO. Even if the conversation level is a bit basic you do at least have interaction with the kids on a daily basis and a reason to get out of the house. It also gives you the opportunity of meeting other mums and conversing with them occasionally.

I think it's the trailing spouses who find themselves alone all day long while there OH is at work who find it the most difficult.
When we went to Lyon I spoke next to no French ( o level French gets you nowhere in the real world), my OH was working long days, there was no email or Internet in those days and for the first few months we didn't even have a television. There was one store which had a limited selection of a English books at extortionate prices and that was it. I was totally miserable, fed up and bored right from day 1 but I forced myself to go out for a walk every day whatever the weather. It took at least 6 months for things to improve and for me to see the light at the end if the tunnel.
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  #89  
Old 01.12.2014, 14:36
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Re: Stay-at-Home Spouses [unemployed, depressed, bored to tears]

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I didn't work much, just enough to keep my hand in and my personal pride intact. Mostly it helped when faced with those soul-destroying, panic-inducing Apero introductions: 'So, what do you do?'
I always respond to this with: "I'm a trophy wife."

Seems to shut them right up...
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Old 01.12.2014, 14:39
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Re: Stay-at-Home Spouses [unemployed, depressed, bored to tears]

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I always respond to this with: "I'm a trophy wife."

Seems to shut them right up...
I actually usually do the same; but, without exception, I've only ever had people laugh uncontrollably.
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  #91  
Old 01.12.2014, 14:41
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Re: Stay-at-Home Spouses [unemployed, depressed, bored to tears]

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I always respond to this with: "I'm a trophy wife."

Seems to shut them right up...
Nice one, will have to remember that one !!!
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Old 01.12.2014, 14:41
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Re: Stay-at-Home Spouses [unemployed, depressed, bored to tears]

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Wow this seems quite common. It has not happened to me? I am not bored or depressed. Is it because I haven't been here long enough?? (7 months today)
It never really happened to me either. Mind you, I had the opportunity to join a big band when I'd been here 7 months, and I'm still with them 14 years later. Music is my sanity check; I always feel good after rehearsals and gigs even if I really didn't feel like hauling my backside off the sofa to leave the house in the first place
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Old 01.12.2014, 15:30
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Re: Stay-at-Home Spouses [unemployed, depressed, bored to tears]

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I always respond to this with: "I'm a trophy wife."

Seems to shut them right up...
I always say I am retired (and I am nowhere near retirement age, btw).
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Old 01.12.2014, 15:57
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Re: Stay-at-Home Spouses [unemployed, depressed, bored to tears]

Hopeinajar, i know exactly how you feel. I could as well be the author of your words. Since i came here 3 years ago I struggled with all these problems and some of them are still present in my life. I don't think it will ever be perfect but I know I have to try and do my best. Switzerland has very specific microclimate and I think how you feel is normal so don't blame yourself for not being happy. Sounds like you are doing everything o change this situation.
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Old 01.12.2014, 16:43
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Re: Stay-at-Home Spouses [unemployed, depressed, bored to tears]

And while you're working your way out into whatever adaptation process that suits you, you might want to enjoy the entertainment here on EF
It is in itself a virtual social network where everyone comes, rants, gossips, suggests, LOL, discusses,etc..etc..
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Old 01.12.2014, 17:05
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Re: Stay-at-Home Spouses [unemployed, depressed, bored to tears]

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You have children which makes a huge difference IMO. Even if the conversation level is a bit basic you do at least have interaction with the kids on a daily basis and a reason to get out of the house. It also gives you the opportunity of meeting other mums and conversing with them occasionally.

I think it's the trailing spouses who find themselves alone all day long while there OH is at work who find it the most difficult.
When we went to Lyon I spoke next to no French ( o level French gets you nowhere in the real world), my OH was working long days, there was no email or Internet in those days and for the first few months we didn't even have a television. There was one store which had a limited selection of a English books at extortionate prices and that was it. I was totally miserable, fed up and bored right from day 1 but I forced myself to go out for a walk every day whatever the weather. It took at least 6 months for things to improve and for me to see the light at the end if the tunnel.
Strangely, I seem to have had more low days since my husband retired. It was a huge adjustment and I felt I had lost my freedom. A year on and I am beginning to enjoy having hubby around, but I still need my space.
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Old 01.12.2014, 19:58
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Re: Stay-at-Home Spouses [unemployed, depressed, bored to tears]

Hopeinajar,

Wow I could've written the same post. You are not alone. I'm also an unemployed spouse (from the US) and have lived here for 9 months. My husband is Swiss and we thought I'd find a job here by now, but I feel completely unemployable and discouraged with the job search. It will take time until I'm fluent in German (I have enrolled in classes as well but I agree, it's a long road) There's nearly nothing in terms of volunteer activities in Switzerland.

I don't know exactly where you live, but here around Zug it is VERY suburban...there are a few expensive/mediocre restaurants and a Starbucks but not many interesting hangouts, cafes or bookstores and it takes an hour to get to Zurich. There are mainly families here, so not much of any kind of nightlife or urban, arts or young scene like I am used to, which is difficult if you are more of a city person. It is so quiet and dead on the streets in the evenings. I'm not big into hiking mountains every weekend/Sunday . I'm also someone that doesn't really like Sports or cold weather (California girl) and prefer a vibrant city life.

We do not have kids (I'm told it's a million times easier to connect and make other "mom" friends here over babies) Kids also take up most of your time.

I have also done a lot to try to keep myself busy and integrate, including going to meetups, out with husbands' friends, day trips all over to other cantons, misc hobbies, etc. but it's been a very difficult lifestyle adjustment. I think it would be a nice place to retire, but for a single person (or young couple with no kids) it is quite monotonous. Compared to other places I've lived, making friends is a slower process.

I appreciate the people that posted a timeline on how they adjusted. It gives me something to at least consider before deciding it is maybe not a good fit, and trying to move back home (though to be honest, everyday I dream about that)

Someone here (maybe even me ) should start a trailing spouse meetup or something....it sounds like there are many women here in the same boat!!!! It's a much different situation than if you came here with a job, or with your family/kids, if you're an avid skier/mountain biker, etc. It can be very lonely/depressing staying at home most of the day and not speaking the language. thank you for posting.
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Old 01.12.2014, 20:03
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Re: Stay-at-Home Spouses [unemployed, depressed, bored to tears]

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Strangely, I seem to have had more low days since my husband retired. It was a huge adjustment and I felt I had lost my freedom. A year on and I am beginning to enjoy having hubby around, but I still need my space.
Yeah I can relate to that. I have mixed feelings about hubby's retirement.
You can get very used to having your own space 5 days a week.
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Old 01.12.2014, 20:10
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Re: Stay-at-Home Spouses [unemployed, depressed, bored to tears]

Bliss, the single most important thing you can do is to keep up with your German classes. No matter the cost in time, headaches and money, it will be worth it. You will be amazed as you progress through the levels how your confidence and outlook grows. It is so painful, I know, and, at times, you will feel like you are making no progress and have reached a plateau, but, eventually, you will reach a certain point where you say to yourself, OMG, I am understanding and talking to these people and that horrible, horrible feeling of being a complete idiot will go away.

Persevere. It will happen.
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Old 01.12.2014, 20:13
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Re: Stay-at-Home Spouses [unemployed, depressed, bored to tears]

Retirement certainly takes a lot of adjustment. Physical space (eg lots of it)and so does a OH who is very self-reliant and has real interests/hobbies outside work- and who is also used to seeing you as a real separate entity from the family (due to your own profession, work and outside interests)- I imagine it could be harder if your OH has had a busy job and you have been sahm.

If OH expected me to be at his beck and call when he retired, it would have driven me absolutely bonkers. A piece of adivce from an experienced retiree- start as you mean to go on! Don't cancel meetings and lunches with friends, or classes, clubs or activities- and never ever cook and plate up for him when you go out. He is quite capable of making himself a sandwich or rustle something up.

Last edited by Odile; 01.12.2014 at 20:29.
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