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  #21  
Old 31.12.2010, 18:35
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Re: Question for those with a Swiss spouse

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By raising children in their adopted country, the littles ones embrace the culture as their own. A child brought up by anglo-saxon parents but born here will feel deeply Swiss. They grow up and marry and you may find that you do have true roots via them and their future.
It is true. Although, on the other hand, and I am not just trying to play devil's advocate, many foreign kids born here do leave. I think it is good, if they come back, they enrich what's here, expose this place to new stuff, it might be accepted easier than from direct newcomers. Some expats encourage their kids to leave and get a bigger picture, learn what real life is about, sort of speak, leave the safety of the Swiss enclave...I think I would, too. It's a luxury, have a safe solid home, and collect life experiences (I think more interesting and useful for some kind of survival) elsewhere.

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Things are different here. Much emphasis is given to "independence" and the giving of "space". When I gave birth to our son - my MIL stayed away for days to "give us space". This of course can be seen positively or negatively. For me, I was so much expecting to be taken over by a tidal wave of visitors - that when it didn't happen I felt bewildered.
This was the hardest thing for me. Or having only friends that weren't mine. No work colleagues, no family. I think if one has a family here that acts all off standish for whatever reasons, counts the same as if they weren't here, in those special moments, when all you need just a bit of awe and some lame flowers at the hospital bed where you have your newborn (plus I was crushed they got my child's name mixed up and I was told it does not matter, it makes me laugh now, but man did I need to vent back then). When you don't need advice or "I did things like this". You need somebody pointing at your baby saying "look he is just like your brother, mom, dad, uncle, etc". I had people constantly measure up, too, to see if our foreign kid comes up to theirs...Stupid competitions from other local moms, rather than a nice mom solidarity and helping eachother out, unconditionally. People who invite us to their party to bring presents and quit on us right after, contact us again only before their kid's birthday. Then you find a mix of foreign moms and wonderful local misfits, right when you don't need them anymore, but it's all good, they are fun and see things similarly. I enjoy helping others settle in since I had to figure all by myself and wish I had somebody to guide me. Guess what, though, we were actually invited over for a dinner the same day! I felt trully accepted here. We made it, hahaha. The minute you realize you don't need to identically play it the way you are "supposed" to you get accepted better than if you try too hard to fit in. This culture does have a long tradition of mixing cultures up, how willingly is another thing...It is expected to blend in, but if you don't all the way, the difference will be cherished, if you give it time and stick by your guns.

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But there is much I can now appreciate about the Swiss way. At the same time, there are somethings that I'll probably never understand. The whole thing about making appointments (even to see your own family). The fact that it is SO very difficult to be invited casually into a Swiss neighbours house......sometimes the independence can manifest as an awkward distance and lead to so much heartbreak (as I recently witnessed at a funeral - I won't go into the story here as it's someone elses life and business)

I don't feel rootless here. I have actually made a pretty stable, good life here and appreciate much about what CH has to offer. At the same time, sometimes I just miss the easy going, warm, humour, the friendliness of the place where I grew up. I think it'll always be the case!!
Don't feel like you have to explain or justify, many of us were brought up the way you were. No big cash, but warm relations, no pretence and formality and awkward ceremonial procedure, but open door and support, direct advice was appreciated rather than a pointless lip service. If somebody would pull out an agenda to schedule somebody in, people would so rip on that person...cultural difference it is, but somehow it sometimes just seems an easy way out of feeling obligated, need to reciprocate, etc. People panic and quit on person way too easily rather then feeling guilty something didn't go according to a protocol. I have experienced it too, it is not really being unwilling, rather not knowing how to gel with people, social ease.

Then you switch off the radar, kick your feet up and try to enjoy the perks it comes with. I like little less intense than back home. Plus it's fun doing lotsa fun stuff and having that great excuse of being the odd foreigner... People still cut us a giant slack, tbh. They are a lot harsher on eachother. Chicks especially.
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  #22  
Old 31.12.2010, 20:15
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Re: Question for those with a Swiss spouse

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The minute you realize you don't need to identically play it the way you are "supposed" to you get accepted better than if you try too hard to fit in... Don't feel like you have to explain or justify... Plus it's fun doing lotsa fun stuff and having that great excuse of being the odd foreigner...
Brilliant MC. Exactly. Where we lived in the Aargau about thirty years ago I was well-known as that slightly mad but harmless foreigner with crazy ideas. And things haven't changed much since then.

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Old 31.12.2010, 22:25
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Re: Question for those with a Swiss spouse

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Brilliant MC. Exactly. Where we lived in the Aargau about thirty years ago I was well-known as that slightly mad but harmless foreigner with crazy ideas. And things haven't changed much since then.
Cool. And if the "foreigner" label expires, "artist" will always work, or "musician" ? It's always good to be a little oblivious.
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Old 01.01.2011, 01:18
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Re: Question for those with a Swiss spouse

Been there, done that...

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And even if you do go back prepared for the culture shock, when you get there you may find you can't 'feed your roots' which have got a bit shrivelled up anyway as they've built a motorway where your memories were. Concerning personal contacts, the inpats (as opposed to expats) don't speak the same language as you did when you lived there and certainly not the same language as you speak now. Sometimes one can feel 'lonelier' in one's homeland than when one is here, hankering after it.

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I will always have my British roots and will never lose my British identity. I will, also, remain here for the foreseeable future, maybe 'til I die (who knows?), and will probably never be completely "Swissed". Over the years, I have lived and worked (previously), in different locations within England and abroad. Because of this lifestyle, new friendships are forged and old ties slowly (unintentionally) become cut. In each situation I have found myself surrounded by some very good friends, colleagues and acquaintances, that were part of that time and place. Despite the best intentions, I have found it almost impossible, with time and distance, to maintain the majority of these connections - this is accepted by all concerned - so I find myself unable to directly relate to the consoling aspect of your enquiries. I have accepted that the book of my life, consists of several vaguely- and un- related chapters.
Outside of family there is no one that would require me to visit them, as in most cases there is little or no contact.
As for family, in 10 yrs, I have returned 3 times -- 2 for family occasions, and one just because it was time for a visit; and my mother has had 4 visits here. I have phone contact with my 2 brothers, but we have our own lives to lead, and no one feels put out if we haven't seen each other or spoken for a while. However as my mother becomes older, with the negative aspects that that entails, I may have to consider a visit next year (possibly/probably alone), to assist with any changes that may be required.
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Old 01.01.2011, 12:19
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Re: Question for those with a Swiss spouse

See, I don't think not being present and not constantly seeing friends should mean cutting people off...one can feed meaningful friendships even if you don't see people all the times. Emails, letters, calls, music, carepacks. Infrequent ones count. I feel bad for those who quit their homeland and quit on family and friends, thinking now they live here and those there don't matter anymore. Too much of spreading oneself too thin, living here and there constantly does bring certain degree of schizophrenic feeling, at the same time - if something is working, why cut off. To have the best of both worlds is cool. I have never needed constant touch, I don't need to see my best buddies, sometimes years pass with us checking with one another once a year, or five, but the fact I know they are alive and I am here if they need me...that counts. I think people should invest themselves into friendships, even if they are long distance. With family it's different, then your kids come in play and they are entitled being exposed to larger group of relatives, etc. Kids need them, we need their help too and they need us. If I cut people off and let things fade, I am not sure how proud of that I would be, proly not. I feel this obsessively unintrusive culture is pleasant for hermits and loners, but why change so much if one's personality doesn't match the way things are done here..
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Old 01.01.2011, 12:25
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Re: Question for those with a Swiss spouse

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Cool. And if the "foreigner" label expires, "artist" will always work, or "musician" ? It's always good to be a little oblivious.
My girlfriend is a bit eccentric, but as soon as someone hears hears that she is a "figlia d'artista", it's like, 'OK, that explains it'!

Tom
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Old 01.01.2011, 12:31
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Re: Question for those with a Swiss spouse

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My girlfriend is a bit eccentric, but as soon as someone hears hears that she is a "figlia d'artista", it's like, 'OK, that explains it'!

Tom
I think it goes like this: Furiner, artist (muzzak, whatever), girl, teacher. Hahah, don't we all have an excuse to be a tad eccentric. If not, good timing for new year's resolutions!
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  #28  
Old 01.01.2011, 15:22
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Re: Question for those with a Swiss spouse

You are lucky you only live in the UK and flying back and forth is quick. I'm from the U.S. and all my friends are in California and my family in Philadelphia. I don't make a ton of my own money here and its hard to get back, due to cost and time. I looked for tix for this July when I have off and it costs $1,300. I haven't been back in a year and 2 months now, but who's counting??!! Every friend I have made here has gone back to U.S. or Canada. And, I live in a small village so it makes it extra hard. I will never have familiy/friends here like I did in the U.S. Although, I love my husband, living here has been a huge sacrifice on my mental well being. And, he doesn't want to move to the U.S. anytime soon, so I have to suck it up and make new friends who plan to stay here.
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Old 01.01.2011, 15:45
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Re: Question for those with a Swiss spouse

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Hubby wasn't 100% thrilled about it - and that's the point. Sometimes it seems, especially if you've been here a long time - they seem to forget that your roots and loved ones are actually far away - not here.
I DO think going home 4-5 times a year is a lot even if you pay for it yourself.

My very good friend was also in the same position as you and popped off back to England at every possible opportunity.

She failed to pick up on her husband's resentment and one day she found out he was having an affair with the neighbour. After a traumatic separation and subsequent divorce she ended up going back to England for good, leaving her 11 year old son here.

Think you should be very aware of your husband's feelings and if he is beginning to resent you going away so much be careful. Maybe you should limit your visits.

Did you ever red the book "Portrait of a Lady" by the way?
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Old 01.01.2011, 16:24
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Re: Question for those with a Swiss spouse

Although I wouldn't necessarily recommend it, perhaps one of the things which made me learn the language and make Switzerland my home from the very beginning (as opposed to making it my country of residence) was not just wanting to be with my Swiss boy-friend, but that I couldn't really afford to go back to the UK during my first year here. Flights and train tickets were just too expensive and none of the modern communication forms were available. Snail mail once a week to the UK and meet up once or twice a week with the boy-friend. Spending holidays in Switzerland helped me to get to know the country better. Had I gone back to England for the breaks I'd have missed out on a lot of things here. Being wrenched out by the roots wasn't very nice but maybe it gave me more inclination to make new roots here.

Fortunately, working out in the sticks, we were all, to a certain extent, in the same boat, Swiss and alien alike. The other workers needed someone to talk to too so it was easier to get to know one another. I still have contact with one of the Swiss girls I worked with back in 1968, and, luckily for me, she didn't speak a word of English.
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Old 01.01.2011, 18:17
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Re: Question for those with a Swiss spouse

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I DO think going home 4-5 times a year is a lot even if you pay for it yourself.

My very good friend was also in the same position as you and popped off back to England at every possible opportunity.

She failed to pick up on her husband's resentment and one day she found out he was having an affair with the neighbour. After a traumatic separation and subsequent divorce she ended up going back to England for good, leaving her 11 year old son here.

Think you should be very aware of your husband's feelings and if he is beginning to resent you going away so much be careful. Maybe you should limit your visits.





I can see what you're saying. Much of my going back and forth in the last year or so has been connected with work which directly has a very positive impact on my husband. He has been fully supportive completely of that.

My next scheduled visit which will double up with work, is not until Easter. Going for 6 or 7 months without returning is difficult for our son. He has such a very close relationship with the grandparents, aunties, uncles, cousins and family there and is an only child here - with only sporadic contact with family here. I also have to take that into account. To me this is as much about providing him with as balanced an upbringing as possible.

I try the best I can - because the way it is, is I have people I love dearly both in Switzerland and the UK. I've lived out of the UK for nearly 20 years. Before I had our son my visits were less frequent, perhaps twice a year. But since having him my visits have increased because I would like him to grow up being familiar and having a good relationship with his family in the UK.

Believe me there have been times when I've thought, it'd just be easier to stay put here in CH for the holidays, because leaving and returning was often so energy draining.

The very best times are of course when my husband comes with us back to the UK (every other Christmas)

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  #32  
Old 01.01.2011, 19:01
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Re: Question for those with a Swiss spouse

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I DO think going home 4-5 times a year is a lot even if you pay for it yourself.

My very good friend was also in the same position as you and popped off back to England at every possible opportunity.

She failed to pick up on her husband's resentment and one day she found out he was having an affair with the neighbour. After a traumatic separation and subsequent divorce she ended up going back to England for good, leaving her 11 year old son here.

Think you should be very aware of your husband's feelings and if he is beginning to resent you going away so much be careful. Maybe you should limit your visits.

Did you ever red the book "Portrait of a Lady" by the way?
I am not sure if it says something about the lady or this hubby of hers, to be honest. To deroot somebody after a life spent in another country, to accomodate him to actually move here and then put up with some resentment on his part and say his affair is her fault...She is probably better off without him. We can't tell what the reasons were. People don't only need to go to see family (and I am with Stephanie on the kid being exposed to her family as well, especially if they are more up for it, warmer, more supportive...), it is often work or school, paperwork, other important things. We are not hostages here, we are not forced to rough it in the boonies anymore, take up whatever job there is regardless of our former careers and qualifications, forget about our life back home as if it was a closed chapter..Sure, if we had to go through it because there was no other choice back then, decades ago, maybe I would have felt like a heroine, probably not, though. People do have the luxury these days to actually have the best of the both, due to technology, cheap flights, education and career synchronizing, etc. It is important to focus on local life and all the cool things locals have here to their disposition, including high quality bonds and friendships here. It does not happen without investment, but one can multitask. Keep the good ones there, nurture the new ones here. And remain the odd furiner for local entertainment.
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Old 01.01.2011, 20:54
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Re: Question for those with a Swiss spouse

Can I ask you why your family and friends are also not flying over here to visit you? That would help bridge that gap between your both countries , save you having to fly so often.

I've been living closer to France these last 2 years and I don't see why I still have to be the one who does the traveling especially with 2 children. I have realised that apart from my mom I don't have more visitors than when I used to live in Africa or Asia...my dad came one weekend and my uncle too.
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Old 01.01.2011, 21:01
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Re: Question for those with a Swiss spouse

They used to come out fairly frequently - but don't anymore. They did (all apart from my mum) come over just for 2 nights in December last year. There are reasons for this - but they are complex and I'd rather not go into them on a public board
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Old 03.01.2011, 14:22
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Re: Question for those with a Swiss spouse

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I am not sure if it says something about the lady or this hubby of hers, to be honest. To deroot somebody after a life spent in another country, to accomodate him to actually move here and then put up with some resentment on his part and say his affair is her fault...She is probably better off without him. We can't tell what the reasons were. People don't only need to go to see family (and I am with Stephanie on the kid being exposed to her family as well, especially if they are more up for it, warmer, more supportive...), it is often work or school, paperwork, other important things. We are not hostages here, we are not forced to rough it in the boonies anymore, take up whatever job there is regardless of our former careers and qualifications, forget about our life back home as if it was a closed chapter..Sure, if we had to go through it because there was no other choice back then, decades ago, maybe I would have felt like a heroine, probably not, though. People do have the luxury these days to actually have the best of the both, due to technology, cheap flights, education and career synchronizing, etc. It is important to focus on local life and all the cool things locals have here to their disposition, including high quality bonds and friendships here. It does not happen without investment, but one can multitask. Keep the good ones there, nurture the new ones here. And remain the odd furiner for local entertainment.
See what you mean. Just wanted to say if you are aware that your partner is resentful you have a choice to either carry on regardless or rethink your strategy. Anyway, I'm probably just jealous because I never got away for more than once a year because it's not so easy with 3 children
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Old 12.01.2011, 15:47
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Re: Question for those with a Swiss spouse

I have been married to a swiss 11 years, she just filed for divorce yesterday. So in a few months i will be happily living alone, the question of who will look after me when i am old pops into my head from time to time, me im 40, i feel great, ..so im going to worry aboût who will look after me when im old later .. for now im just going to shag all the women i can between now and 50.

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Old 12.01.2011, 16:25
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Re: Question for those with a Swiss spouse

Nevermind flying 4 or 5 times to the UK which is a stones throw away, I fly back to Canada 4 or 5 times a year (on top of the travel to Hong Kong)! I do it for my own sanity and because I simply cannot last here past a couple of months without becoming extremely depressed. I figure I probably spend 10K CHF a year just on flights.
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Old 12.01.2011, 17:03
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Re: Question for those with a Swiss spouse

Nobody Important ..

Sounds like you should move back to Canada, I live in the region of Baden ...if your board drop me a PM.. i have a few drinks set up in Zurich on Friday night.
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Old 12.01.2011, 17:34
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Re: Question for those with a Swiss spouse

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How often do you need/like to go back to your "homeland"? (If indeed at all)

In the event of a tragedy here - would you have the kind of support and love you'd have back home?



I think those of us married to a Swiss are in a slightly different situation to expats out here both of whom are non-Swiss.

I've been here for 10 years - we spend every other Christmas in the UK. I have to admit - I find the holiday period slightly challenging here on CH - mainly because I miss my family and friends dearly. This has been really brought home recently with my best friend going through a terrible time and not being able to simply pop over and see her. Skype and phone are great - but nothing beats actually sitting and drinking a cuppa with someone!

When I look at my average year - I see that I fly back to the UK around 5 times a year. This may seem alot - but I realise that actually I need to do this in order to maintain some kind of a balance. I realise that with my parents, brother, sister, niece. nephew, cousins, friends - that I'm just not willing to decrease visits.

Although I know quite a few people here - it hasn't been so easy to cultivate true friendships - and my closest friends remain in the UK and Australia.

I was discussing this with hubby this evening. He was off out to meet a friend he's known his whole life for a drink in the city. Feeling slightly sorry for myself I told him he was so lucky to just be able to go and meet up like that with a good friend, for the price of a tram ticket.

My oldest and closest friend in the UK is going through a huge crisis right now - her hubby (age 40 - who I've also known most of my life) has been diagnosed with Non-Hodgkinsons lymphoma - it's v. aggressive. They have 3 kids under 10 (who call me aunty Steph) and I'm flying over to help them out and just be there for 5 days in January.

Hubby wasn't 100% thrilled about it - and that's the point. Sometimes it seems, especially if you've been here a long time - they seem to forget that your roots and loved ones are actually far away - not here.

Fortunately I have a job and my own money (to a degree) so the freedom to just take off as long as I organise it properly.

This and the fact that a friend here in CH recently lost her husband at a young age (only 43) and also hearing about several other people who are sick really does set me thinking. If/when I go through sickness and old age - who would truly be there? When I really reflect on it - the kind of care and love, the warm familiarity that would I imagine help at such a time - could only come from my family and close circle of friends - none of whom live here.

Sorry - it's turned into rather a depressing sounding thread - but I'm curious to know how others married to Swiss feel about this?
In short: CH is lovely for the efficiency, UK is lovely for the company! Anyone agree?
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Old 12.01.2011, 18:19
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Re: Question for those with a Swiss spouse

Stephanie, for me it is the other way round - our house in Switzerland when I was a child/teenager was always 'open house' - always filled with people who popped in unannounced- meals prepared on the hop, friends sleeping over. And now that I live here again, after 39 years in UK, married to a Brit, and with daughters and now granchildren who grew/grow up there - it is the same again. Neighbours pop in for coffee and chat, old friends ring the bell and stay for a meal, a night or a few days. No appointments necessary at my or their house, I can assure you. The Jura and Yorkshire look a bit similar- and perhaps they are 'twins' in other ways too. Perhaps it is much more about rural/city, in both countries?
When in the UK, I loved it and felt really 'rooted' as you say. Had great friends, built a good career for myself, just loved England and most things and people (but of course felt that some things were 'strange', or cold - hated living for some years on a suburban estate, having coffee mornings with women who seemed to have no opinion of their own, and posh dinner parties. Had to find my own way, go back to studying and working, and friends I could talk and share with. It took a while, but I got there. I was very fortunate I got an OH who did not feel 'threatened' but my wish to study and have my own career, and who supported me all the way. We visited my parents and friends regularly in CH - and loved coming, but loved going back to England. Funnily enough I kept in touch with many 'old' friends from childhood - because I lived abroad. My parents would always come for Christmas, as we couldn't get away at that time, and then we went to CH they came for a couple of weeks in Summer. They loved it in England. As they got older, it became a nightmare. For the past 10 years, I came back and forth like a yoyo- trying to keep them afloat- in and out of hospitals, old people's homes, back home, and having to find support staff. I had to give up my job and 're-invent' my career around them. I was sooooo lucky my OH never resented me going to CH to look after them- sometimes at a couple hours notice- as he just loved my parents as a son. Then he retired and we found that a house we really liked came up for sale near them- and totally out of the blue, decided to buy it and move. Our house sale in the UK was very difficult - but we finally did it. Mum died just before we moved, dad a couple of months later. A very tough year. Now we love it here- but are torn the other way, as daughters still in the UK, and even more important - grand-children. They know in case of an emergency, I'd be straight to the airport and on next plane- but they of course couldn't look after me- which is normal. I'd never ever expect my children to look after me- they have their own life to lead.
I meet people here who've always known me, know every member of my family for several generations - I know the houses my parents and grand-parents were born in - we meet lots of my old friends- some of them I've known since I was a baby- and went to school with for 15 years! My OH has no roots, as he and his family constantly moved around- and feels his roots are here somehow. We go back to the UK 4 to 5 times a year- and kids/grand-kids come here, or we meet for holidays elsewhere. Same with OH's family. I truly feel I have 2 homes, 2 homelands, 2 lives - and I love it that way- but it is a wrench not to be closer to grand-children. When they are older, they will come and spend long holidays here - can't wait.

Last edited by Odile; 12.01.2011 at 18:38.
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