how moving abroad impacted my new marriage

I originally wrote this guest post for Bonnie’s ‘Love Week’ while she renewed her vows in Wales and figured I should reblog it a month later since it will give everyone a better understanding on our timeline before moving abroad. It’s important to me to discuss how moving abroad impacted my new marriage and what I’ve learned from the experience because it’s something I never thought about before deciding on this lifestyle.


moving abroad impacted my marriage

B and I met at a happy hour in Washington, DC while he was working in finance and I was working on the Hill. Okay, okay… so it wasn’t exactly a happy hour because it was late and I was a little¬†really tipsy, but that sounds better than saying we met at a bar, right? Right. Anyway, things obviously worked out because one year later we were engaged to be married.

While I was trying to plan a long-distance wedding and juggle a Congressman’s schedule, B brought up the idea of moving abroad for his job. I was overwhelmed and had just experienced my first anxiety attack at work, and honestly, quitting my job to move abroad to Scotland sounded like a fairytale. And a good excuse to take it easy for a while.

married and moving abroad
Postcards from Rachel wedding photo

We got married in the Midwest, left for our honeymoon, returned to DC a week later, and started hauling all of our belongings to a storage unit in Virginia. I had my last day of work and a few days later we hopped on a plane to the UK. This all happened in about three weeks.

Because everything happened so quickly and we still needed to find a place to live in Scotland, we fought. A lot. Living out of a suitcase in a cramped hotel room for two weeks wasn’t my idea of newlywed bliss and I had a difficult time adjusting to unemployment. Eventually we found an apartment and things got a little easier, but I found myself not wanting to get out of bed. I didn’t realize the move would have such a negative impact on me.

I felt out of place, I missed my friends and family and most of all, I was completely bored. While I was working in DC, I didn’t really have any hobbies, so I didn’t know what to do with my time in Scotland. Because I was sad, I contemplated returning home. When I realized going back wouldn’t work, I took out my frustration on my husband. He worked long hours and I was constantly alone so I blamed him.

Then one day things changed. We suddenly realized that since we were living in a foreign country without any support from our loved ones, we needed to be each other’s biggest cheerleaders. We learned to rely on one another, worked on our communication skills, and helped each other through rough patches during our expat adventures. We planned date nights and vacations, talked about our future and before I knew it, B became my best friend once again.

Even though expat life was hard, it was the best thing that could have happened to us as a couple. Would we have learned this much about each other in DC while we were both working full-time? Eventually, yes. But because we were thrown into this situation we developed a stronger trust.

It’s been a little over two years since our wedding. We’re still moving around, we still have our ups and downs, and we continue to grow.

moving abroad for love

Do you have a similar story?


Filed Under: Expat, Lifestyle, Marriage44 Comments
  • Erica

    I love your story! I can definitely relate!

  • Chelsea Diamond

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  • Chelsea Diamond

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  • Chelsea Diamond

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  • lost in travels

    such such SUCH a great post rachel. i absolutely love this! jeremy and i went through a similar process. it can be such a hard adjustment but once it ‘clicks’, you realize what a blessing all the messy chaos actually was. you can learn so much through it. and we had a similar situation in korea! our apt wasn’t ready yet so we stayed for two weeks in a love motel (you can rent by the hour or the day…classy)

    ps sorry for all the deleted comments, it kept posting it from my other email account even though i was signed out of it!

  • Shannon at Beginnings in Bayern

    Yep! I can totally relate. I graduated college, got married, and moved to Germany in the space of 3 weeks. Crazy!! It was an adjustment but it definitely brought us closer.

  • Letitia – The Fashion Editor


  • Kam

    And I thought I had it tough moving from one part of England to another when I got married! But I can still relate to what you’re saying – I think things like this test us as married couples and can only help to bring us closer.


  • Alice Bradshaw

    What a beautiful post, I love it… it’s a beautiful story ! I have lived the same thing with my true love, not abroad but far from our friends and family. He’s the most important person in my life !


  • Jenna

    I think this post was actually how I found your blog after reading it on Bonnie’s! I love how open and honest it is… because we all really do have our ups and downs. And moving abroad just adds to the intensity of being a couple. We also found it difficult when we moved to Johannesburg in 2010, away from both families, only one car, and absolutely no place to live and no furniture. But in the end… it’s definitely made us stronger. We now often look at one another and say “remember when we only had two plates and one chair… and you had to do your homework on your lap?” Then we just laugh and say “I can’t believe how far we’ve come!” It really is quite amazing! xxx

  • Rachel

    That is a huge challenge to face right out of the gate in marriage!! I’m sure you guys did learn so much–and it’s good to get all of that learning done right at the beginning!

  • Stephanie

    I love this! I am glad you are so real about how it affected your marriage instead of skipping the bad stuff and saying it made you guys closer.


  • Kristian

    Wow, very brave of you to put this all out there. Thanks for sharing.

  • Brittany Ruth

    Thanks for this post. As a newlywed expat, I can totally identify. Glad things changed for the better!

  • Brittany F

    Thanks so much for sharing this and being so honest about your ups and downs. Beautiful story.

    Brittany @ Everyday Thoughts

  • Ace CB

    Thanks for sharing – I agree that moving abroad puts new stresses on a marriage, but making the realization that you work through it together is the key. Glad you guys found your groove to navigate it together!

  • bashashhazbaz

    good for you! thanks for sharing!

  • Ashley R

    You guys are so adorable and I loved reading this story. Thank you for sharing!!

  • jackie jade

    living somewhere new, especially abroad can be so tough. and living with a guy for the first time can be rough too, so i can only imagine combining the two! glad you two were able to take a difficult experience and turn it into something to make you stronger!
    — jackie @ jade and oak

  • Susanne V.

    This is soo sweet. Thank you for sharing!
    Sometimes the hardest moments in life bring to people closer to eachother than they already were.


  • Danielle E. Alvarez

    Amazing! I hope, hope, hope to have a story like this one day. Guess I’ll be going to happy hour tonight ;)

  • Irene

    That’s a great post and I can totally relate to your situation. My boyfriend and I come from different countries and since we got together almost four years ago we have changed countries several times. Following him and has been hard, especially the first weeks in every new place when I’m still readjusting and don’t have a job yet. In those moments I usually take out my frustration on my boyfriend. But eventually we’ve become best friends and are each other’s best support – as you say, it probably happened faster because we were expats with no family or friends to rely on.
    Nice to know I’m not the only one struggling from time to time

  • Danielle

    I love this! What a beautiful story that really emphasizes what it is to be married and in a committed relationship depending on each other and building each other up at the same time. I really love your love story!! Thanks for sharing! :)

  • Quyen Nguyen

    Thank you for sharing such an honest story! Traveling with my boyfriend (now husband) for the last 7 years has definitely made our relationship stronger!

  • 2justByou

    Such an amazing story, and it’s crazy how everything happened so fast with the wedding, honeymoon and the big move – in just a matter of weeks! Thanks for sharing. The experience made you two stronger as a couple, I’m sure.
    I haven’t visited in awhile, and I’ve been missing your posts – they always have some of the best photos ever. =0)
    I’m now following on Instagram (I’m new there – @2justByou).

  • Kelsey Eaton

    Such a neat story! What a fun/different/hard way to start a marriage. Thanks for sharing!

  • Lisette

    It’s amazing what can happen when we start becoming best friends with out spouses. Loved this!

  • Jessica M

    I’m curious to know more about your experiences moving country to country with your dogs (I see them in the last picture, which is what made me think of it). My husband and I have tossed around the idea time-to-time of picking up and trying a new place, but the thought of leaving my furbabies devastates me. I didn’t see a post anywhere – but I’d love to hear about those experiences!

  • themovetoamerica

    This was really good to read as I contemplate my move to the U.S to start my married life properly (even though I have been married 4 years). It has helped to read there will be ups and downs, but to be each others best friends (which we already are – but to work at it).

    Molly xo

  • Anna @ Eat, See, Do

    What a lovely and honest post. I always find it really interesting reading about others who have move abroad with partners and the struggles (and of course how they faced them!) I think travelling and displacing yourself has to be one of the biggest tests on a relationship and it’s really great to hear how you managed it x

  • Blogger Ash

    Great story! Thanks for being so honest. It’s all about working through it!!

    ~Ashley @ A Cute Angle

  • Tricia

    Love your story! My hubby and I have been married for 15 years now after getting married when we were practically babies. We moved out of state from both of our families for his job and have never lived within 1000 miles of family. While this has been hard sometimes, it is often a blessing cause just like you said, it forces us to be each other’s support which has DEFINITELY brought us closer in the long run.
    Tricia @

  • Amber

    Love your story! What exactly is an expat? Sorry if that’s a stupid question, but I just always wondered! :) It seems like a fun life, but I can definitely see how it would take a toll on relationships. Especially that of a newlywed!

  • Catherine Fishback

    Love this… I always think about the potential positive benefits of moving abroad with my hubby, but interesting to consider the potential negative benefits too. Love your story though. Hopefully we can get abroad soon.

    Great blog!

    Catherine (your newest follower via GFC)

  • Sarah Shumate

    Goodness, girl. The first few years of marriage are the hardest anyway, but I can’t imagine trying to juggle all that newness with the newness of moving abroad, too. You guys are like marriage rockstars! ;o) You are probably right that choosing that sort of lifestyle early on in your marriage made you grow closer faster. When your spouse is your only “person”, you have no choice but to make them the one you talk to when you need a sympathetic ear or you need to vent, something you’d probably use your girlfriends for back home.

  • Whitney Biber

    Thank you for sharing this story – I love your honesty!

  • Jenn @ WLB

    What an honest post! I’m not sure how I would adjust. I really love love love the idea of trying something new and exploring every day and I’m typically a lone adventurer… but as a newly wed heading to a new country? I feel like I would have expected to do it with my partner. I probably would have had a similar reaction. I’m glad you both seemed to learn such a valuable lesson so quickly!

  • Caroline

    Thank you for sharing your experience! Honestly, reading so many excellent expat blogs has gotten this fantasy inside my head that eventually, when I find “The One” and get married, it’d be a dream to live in Europe/abroad with him for a couple of years. I think of adventure and novelty and exploration, and of course I forget about how much pressure and loneliness and tension must come with the territory as well. But I’m so happy for you that it ended up being worth it – my dream lives on, ha! :)

  • Happyeverafter Bride

    I completely relate in a way. Barely a year after our marriage, my hubby left for England and for all the reasons you stated about missing home initially, I was not keen on joining him. I think it did impact our new marriage too, but I am glad to report back that I am in a different head space now and am back to being his cheerleader. I also think he will be mine too when I am there. I join him in February next year, 1.5 years after he left, but we’re excited about the new chapter together and this definitely has been an experience that’s fostered what we really mean to each other as a couple. :) Thanks for sharing your experience though, It’s given me solidarity.

  • Sara Louise

    Oh I can relate to this post so much! When you embark on an adventure like this with your husband, you don’t realize how the stress can impact your marriage, but it definitely can. I’ve gone through this as well and luckily my husband and I made it out the other side but it wasn’t easy. We just have to be conscience to take a step back from what’s stressing us out, breath and remember that we’re a team.
    Another brilliant post Rachel! :)

  • Amy @ The Tide That Left

    It’s no wonder it was difficult right at the beginning but it’s so lovely that you were able to team up and find a way to get over the things that were troubling you. When I moved to Libya, the job I was promised never materialised, so I was stuck at home with nowhere to go, no friends and nothing much to occupy me. It was a huge test for me personally and for our fledgling romance. I’m so glad we had the patience and the strength to get through it. Thank you for sharing your experiences.

  • Jessa @ Life of A Sports Wife

    I can completely relate. Gary and I have a similar story except ours in within the US and not around the world. We have so much in common. It has it’s ups and down.

  • Stephanie F

    I appreciate your honesty. It’s nice to hear other couple,s experiences as newlywed. It makes me feel more normal!

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