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Old 01.12.2014, 20:20
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Re: Stay-at-Home Spouses [unemployed, depressed, bored to tears]

I'd just like to add that having a child doesn't necessarily make it any easier to adjust to living here - I can say that from experience. Please don't assume that being stuck at home with a small child means that you aren't lonely.

We moved here almost two years ago. From the middle of an Australian summer to the middle of a Swiss winter that seemed to last forever. I went from having a part-time job, having my own business and a solid circle of friends to being completely alone with no purpose other than being a wife & mother. I felt like I'd completely lost my identity, and I spent the better part of the first year feeling miserable & homesick. I also suffer from quite severe depression - I'm medicated, and there's certainly nothing to be ashamed about it.

My daughter & I went back to Australia at the beginning of this year for seven weeks, as we had sold our house. This helped immensely, as it took the gloss off 'life back home' and I haven't been homesick since.

Children or not, being a trailing spouse is hard. The working spouses live in a completely different Switzerland to us. Generalisations coming, beware! They have the familiar routine of going to work every day, of seeing the same people every day & having the opportunity to forge relationships with them. Their contact with the 'unknown' is minimal compared to ours. For us, EVERYTHING is different, and usually difficult. I can vividly remember my first day here, trying to buy something to eat, and having to resort to just jabbing at the window like an idiot - and I speak basic German. You have to psych yourself before every single interaction, and it's exhausting. It becomes far easier to just stay at home. Also, having a child, I had to try and keep to some level of basic functioning, where I would have dearly loved to just crawl into bed and emerge a few years later.

Having a child did eventually help me to create a good circle of friends - and as another poster pointed out, start with one and more will come. But it's not all sunshine & puppies for us either.

Also, please don't discount us as people to connect with. We have already lost some part of our own identity when we had a child, and then even more of it when we moved here. We are still people too, and there is more to us than the fact that we have given birth. And believe me, most of us would jump at the chance to have some time away from home without our kids.

You need to tell your husband how you are feeling. You are partners - you are in this together. If you can think of anything at all that you or he could do to alleviate things, speak up. He may even have some suggestions for you. Please don't suffer in silence. It's lonely, but you aren't alone.
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  #102  
Old 01.12.2014, 20:29
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Re: Stay-at-Home Spouses [unemployed, depressed, bored to tears]

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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.
Persevere. It will happen.
TheSpouse: How do you (or did you) muster the focus to continue German classes? Did you eventually hit a point where you felt is was worth it or do you just force yourself? WhAT IF down the road, when I've progressed in level of the language, I still don't like it here?

I know it's all individual, but there is a point when you hear the voice inside, getting louder, and tells you maybe a place is not right for you? Do you avoid listening to that voice? How long do you wait and postpone your life?
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  #103  
Old 01.12.2014, 20:30
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Re: Stay-at-Home Spouses [unemployed, depressed, bored to tears]

After reading so many stories... if anybody is bored, feel free to send me a message, I'm often bored, too (even being Swiss) and would enjoy conversations with interesting people!
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  #104  
Old 01.12.2014, 20:40
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Re: Stay-at-Home Spouses [unemployed, depressed, bored to tears]

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I'd just like to add that having a child doesn't necessarily make it any easier to adjust to living here - I can say that from experience. Please don't assume that being stuck at home with a small child means that you aren't lonely.
threebells: Agreed. It sounds more than stressful to be honest. On one hand, there are a lot of mom meetups (so you kind of have a bit of an instant network) but it sounds so isolating and depressing as a new foreigner and mom somewhere where you lack good friendships, family and can't even speak the language.

wow. that sounds like a very difficult adjustment. I'm assuming you came because of your husbands job? He is Swiss?

Will you ever move back to Australia?
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Old 01.12.2014, 20:45
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Re: Stay-at-Home Spouses [unemployed, depressed, bored to tears]

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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.
Brilliant post, thanks. Been there, done that - and it works. It was only due to becoming fluent that I was finally able to go back to studying and having my own professional life. It was a life-saver for me. In Stepford wives' suburban UK, I would have gone mad if I had not been able to do that when kids were all in school.

Even if you do not stay forever, learning a language is NEVER a waste- and having a good knowledge of German can open so many professional doors elsewhere- and it is fabulous for your brain too.

Last edited by Odile; 01.12.2014 at 21:08.
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  #106  
Old 01.12.2014, 21:05
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Re: Stay-at-Home Spouses [unemployed, depressed, bored to tears]

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TheSpouse: How do you (or did you) muster the focus to continue German classes? Did you eventually hit a point where you felt is was worth it or do you just force yourself? WhAT IF down the road, when I've progressed in level of the language, I still don't like it here?

I know it's all individual, but there is a point when you hear the voice inside, getting louder, and tells you maybe a place is not right for you? Do you avoid listening to that voice? How long do you wait and postpone your life?
Oh, absolutely, I forced myself. I am the only person I know in my four years at my school who has kept on going to class to reach the "C" levels with only a background in English. Everybody else reaches a certain point, (around the A2 level), and they say, "ok, that's enough of that bullsh*t. I can speak to shopkeepers and waiters, so I am good to go."

In my case, it wasn't enough. I want to communicate in French EXACTLY like I communicate in English so that people know that I'm not stupid, I'm not an idiot, I have a sense of humor, I have a personality, etc.

I sold a million dollar business where I worked more than 80 hours a week to come here as a trailing spouse. But now, after six years here, I never want to go back. I LOVE it here. But that's only because I can talk to everybody and make myself understood at a level that I am comfortable with.

Read my blog, www.trailingwife.blogspot.com, and go back to the very beginning and you will see how difficult it was for me.
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  #107  
Old 01.12.2014, 21:12
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Re: Stay-at-Home Spouses [unemployed, depressed, bored to tears]

Can I just add one little thing that could make the world of difference to so many of you:

Get out of Zurich.

If your spouses are happy to spend a bit longer on the train (and that downtime can be quite pleasant once you get used to it, with the right book or music and plenty to look at out the window) you can find somewhere friendlier, cheaper and - depending where you move - sunnier than anywhere in Zurich.

I'd recommend Glarus, myself: the fog usually ends in a big wall at Bilten, leaving warm, foehny Glarnerland bathed in bright sunshine. But there are other places, almost as nice, on the Linthebene and elsewhere.

Swap this:



for this:



You won't regret it!
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  #108  
Old 01.12.2014, 21:23
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Re: Stay-at-Home Spouses [unemployed, depressed, bored to tears]

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Can I just add one little thing that could make the world of difference to so many of you:

Get out of Zurich.

If your spouses are happy to spend a bit longer on the train (and that downtime can be quite pleasant once you get used to it, with the right book or music and plenty to look at out the window) you can find somewhere friendlier, cheaper and - depending where you move - sunnier than anywhere in Zurich.

I'd recommend Glarus, myself: the fog usually ends in a big wall at Bilten, leaving warm, foehny Glarnerland bathed in bright sunshine. But there are other places, almost as nice, on the Linthebene and elsewhere.

Swap this:



for this:



You won't regret it!
It is interesting - as I think in Zurich you have so much to do and take part in, but, I do think we lucked out and often have sunny weather when down by the lake it is fogged in...we are just up the other side of the hill from Uznach...
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  #109  
Old 01.12.2014, 21:30
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Re: Stay-at-Home Spouses [unemployed, depressed, bored to tears]

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It is interesting - as I think in Zurich you have so much to do and take part in,
I used to think that, but we do so much more at weekends than we used to do in Zurich - partly because sunshine makes one less inclined to say "sod it, let's stay in bed and watch DVDs", but also because there's so much going on up here - most of it slightly mad. If it's not cowbell parades at six in the morning, it's bonfires (surrounded by children smoking cigarettes with the full approval of their parents) or brass bands marching down the street or UB40 paying off their tax bill or cheese markets or...

We're less bored here than we've ever been. Not bad for the back end of nowhere!
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  #110  
Old 01.12.2014, 21:44
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Re: Stay-at-Home Spouses [unemployed, depressed, bored to tears]

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threebells: Agreed. It sounds more than stressful to be honest. On one hand, there are a lot of mom meetups (so you kind of have a bit of an instant network) but it sounds so isolating and depressing as a new foreigner and mom somewhere where you lack good friendships, family and can't even speak the language.

wow. that sounds like a very difficult adjustment. I'm assuming you came because of your husbands job? He is Swiss?

Will you ever move back to Australia?
No, he's Australian too - he works for a big company whose head office is here, and was offered a job over here. It was a big decision, and the thing that kept me going when it was the toughest was knowing that it was best for our family as a whole. It's slowly becoming best for me too.

We have no plans to move back at this stage. We are at the usual expat-two-year stage, and the thought of moving is frankly terrifying - it was such an enormous move that I have no desire to do it for a very long time! My husband loves it here, my daughter does too, and she's now started at the local Swiss Kindergarten. Once I eventually started to settle, I realised that there certainly is a lot to love about it here. But it's still not what I'd consider an 'easy' place to live as an expat.
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  #111  
Old 01.12.2014, 22:02
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Re: Stay-at-Home Spouses [unemployed, depressed, bored to tears]

I hate to rain on anyone's parade, but it's not only stay-at-home women who suffer here. Men are often stuck in high-stress jobs with the axe constantly over their heads with no time to have a life outside of work and home. OK, being stuck at home and bored is bad. But being an office slave and forced to spend most of one's waking hours at a desk surrounded by tyrants and opportunistic co-worked who would not hesitate to step on you to climb one step higher, well, it's a special type of hell reserved for men who have no choice because they are usually the main bread winners. Throw in an aggravating commute, and this is the life of quiet desperation that many men put up with most of their waking hours. OK, rant over.
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  #112  
Old 01.12.2014, 22:14
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Re: Stay-at-Home Spouses [unemployed, depressed, bored to tears]

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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!!!!
I would definitely go to such a meetup I'm a trailing spouse as well, no kids and no job yet. Before I came here my whole life was centered around my studies and career, and I don't have anything now; it drives me insane!
Most of my friends here work or are fine with the fact that only their partner works. They (logically) don't understand where I'm coming from or how I'm feeling so talking about it with others who do would be nice.

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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.
The funny thing is, I'm an outdoor person but I don't really enjoy it anymore because I constantly feel guilty for doing something I like, instead of looking for a job for example (even though I do everything I can).

Last edited by Anke_; 01.12.2014 at 22:26.
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  #113  
Old 01.12.2014, 22:16
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Re: Stay-at-Home Spouses [unemployed, depressed, bored to tears]

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I hate to rain on anyone's parade, but it's not only stay-at-home women who suffer here. Men are often stuck in high-stress jobs with the axe constantly over their heads with no time to have a life outside of work and home. OK, being stuck at home and bored is bad. But being an office slave and forced to spend most of one's waking hours at a desk surrounded by tyrants and opportunistic co-worked who would not hesitate to step on you to climb one step higher, well, it's a special type of hell reserved for men who have no choice because they are usually the main bread winners. Throw in an aggravating commute, and this is the life of quiet desperation that many men put up with most of their waking hours. OK, rant over.
I think everyone understands that the life of the working partner is no picnic either. But this is a thread about the stay-at-home spouse
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  #114  
Old 01.12.2014, 22:21
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Re: Stay-at-Home Spouses [unemployed, depressed, bored to tears]

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I hate to rain on anyone's parade, but it's not only stay-at-home women who suffer here. Men are often stuck in high-stress jobs with the axe constantly over their heads with no time to have a life outside of work and home. OK, being stuck at home and bored is bad. But being an office slave and forced to spend most of one's waking hours at a desk surrounded by tyrants and opportunistic co-worked who would not hesitate to step on you to climb one step higher, well, it's a special type of hell reserved for men who have no choice because they are usually the main bread winners. Throw in an aggravating commute, and this is the life of quiet desperation that many men put up with most of their waking hours. OK, rant over.
Yep- I get that too, totally. And then get it in the neck as soon as you are home by bored, depressed and fed up partner. Been there, done that (yes, guilty as charged- stuck at home with a disability, then 2 small children, and an OH who worked all hours in the day, night and week-end)- but then realised that this would not change, so I had to change myself and find my own niche and life, via language, study and my own professional life. It took a while, but worked, for both of us, and the children too. But this is not particularly a Swiss situation- we were in the UK, and it would be the same all over- and perhaps worse in the US.
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  #115  
Old 01.12.2014, 22:24
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Re: Stay-at-Home Spouses [unemployed, depressed, bored to tears]

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I hate to rain on anyone's parade, but it's not only stay-at-home women who suffer here. Men are often stuck in high-stress jobs with the axe constantly over their heads with no time to have a life outside of work and home. OK, being stuck at home and bored is bad. But being an office slave and forced to spend most of one's waking hours at a desk surrounded by tyrants and opportunistic co-worked who would not hesitate to step on you to climb one step higher, well, it's a special type of hell reserved for men who have no choice because they are usually the main bread winners. Throw in an aggravating commute, and this is the life of quiet desperation that many men put up with most of their waking hours. OK, rant over.
I have no doubt that this is also a real problem! However, the more naive part of me hopes that, should this problem of office-slaving husband / wife coincide with the problem of unemployed, depressed and bored other half, the family would just leave. If nobody is happy, why continue?

I, at least, know that I want to stay here despite my current lack of purpose in life, because my husband likes his job and my kids like pretty much everything here. If that wasn't the case, we'd be packing our bags as I speak! But since so much good has already been achieved, I feel that it's more likely for me to find a way to be happy here, than for the entire family to settle in smoothly somewhere else.
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  #116  
Old 02.12.2014, 12:41
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Re: Stay-at-Home Spouses [unemployed, depressed, bored to tears]

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I hate to rain on anyone's parade, but it's not only stay-at-home women who suffer here. Men are often stuck in high-stress jobs with the axe constantly over their heads with no time to have a life outside of work and home. OK, being stuck at home and bored is bad. But being an office slave and forced to spend most of one's waking hours at a desk surrounded by tyrants and opportunistic co-worked who would not hesitate to step on you to climb one step higher, well, it's a special type of hell reserved for men who have no choice because they are usually the main bread winners. Throw in an aggravating commute, and this is the life of quiet desperation that many men put up with most of their waking hours. OK, rant over.
Sounds like rat race corporate life in NYC - I thought people came to Switzerland to escape this sort of work climate, and find work/life balance, etc? People always tout how Switzerland is the most supportive of families, great social system, economy....anyways, this is a totally different topic but interesting to me.
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Old 02.12.2014, 12:48
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Re: Stay-at-Home Spouses [unemployed, depressed, bored to tears]

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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.
You are so lucky you live in a non-German speaking part. French and Italian are lovely languages (much much easier to learn as well!)

Swiss German has to be one of the worst sounding, difficult, useless languages to me at least.... Unfortunately, the majority of jobs for non-EU people seem to be located in Zurich or in German cantons.
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Old 02.12.2014, 13:09
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Re: Stay-at-Home Spouses [unemployed, depressed, bored to tears]

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Can I just add one little thing that could make the world of difference to so many of you:

Get out of Zurich.
You won't regret it!
We travel every weekend out of Zurich and yes, it's often sunnier (which is a HUGE bonus!!) but as I mentioned, I am a city lover, so spending all our free time in the rural mountain areas and cow pastures is not very exciting or mentally stimulating for me (although it can be relaxing...) I'm also highly highly allergic to farm animals

My main problem here is feeling a complete utter lack of purpose (with no job/identity) or meaningful social connection in this country. Taking German classes everyday has not helped this situation either - but I know it will take more time.

I will try some of the suggestions and activities/groups that others have posted here. I will continue to search for volunteer opportunities.
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Old 02.12.2014, 13:18
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Re: Stay-at-Home Spouses [unemployed, depressed, bored to tears]

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On one hand, there are a lot of mom meetups (so you kind of have a bit of an instant network) but it sounds so isolating and depressing as a new foreigner and mom somewhere where you lack good friendships, family and can't even speak the language.
And then sometimes the "mom" meetups make matters worse. I remember the first expat mom group I went to where all the moms apparently had known each other forever and had formed their own cliques. They had obviously seen faces come and go a lot, were jaded, and more or less politely ignored me no matter how much I tried to put myself forward. At one point I felt I found a sympathetic, interesting woman to talk with - only to have another woman wedge herself in between us, with her back to me, and take over the conversation like I was not there. Not my imagination - she did this a few times! I guess she thought friends were in short supply and I might take hers away

Anyhow, long story short the kids were not really into the group and it left me feeling more lonely than not, so I gave it up after a month. Good news is, the next group I joined was much more open and fun. I still have friends that were made from it and it made all the difference in settling in here.
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Old 02.12.2014, 13:20
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Re: Stay-at-Home Spouses [unemployed, depressed, bored to tears]

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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.
I'm not too worried about him finding things to do and he's used to me having my own life and interests it's just the getting my head around the idea that he'll be at home all the time.

He hasn't really worked long hours since we moved here ( actually he probably has but he chooses to start work really early so we have nice family time in the evenings) and he already does his fair share of the cooking so I might actually end up getting a gourmet meal every day when the time comes.
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