Unemployment and integration can cause a lot of stress to your couple. In most of the couples that we have been working with, some feeling such as guilt, anxiety, stress and frustration often emerge on the path to integration. Guilt is felt on both sides of the relationship. The Finnish partner often feels guilty and responsible for the foreign partner’s difficulties in Finland. For the foreign partner, not being able to contribute financially, being dependent on their Finnish partner for all kind of support, not having friends or networks outside of their relationship, all this can build up guilt. Guilt and the feeling of being responsible for another person are both very common feelings, that we try, at Familia to discuss with the couples who come to meet us. What were your expectations when moving here? What were your partner’s? What is your perceived and actual responsibility in the way your integration process is developing?
In your couple relationship, during your integration process, you will both also feel anxiety and stress. You or your partner will both feel helpless at times. Most of the stress and anxiety that you may feel personally, might be increased by miscommunication within the couple. For a Finnish partner, many things might seem obvious or might never have occurred to him/her, when for you they are creating major worries. For your Finnish partner, some of your behaviors, or difficulties might be difficult to understand or empathize with.
We strongly advise you to be open and discuss about these misunderstandings. Being able to step in the other person shoes is one of the most powerful way to reduce stress and anxiety as a couple.
In intercultural couples, “culture” itself is not necessarily seen as an issue or seen at all. Culture may manifest on very unexpected occasions or in very specific topics. Among our clients, the questions of gender roles, finances, relationship with the families were among the most common sources of difficulties in the couples. If communication and open discussion re crucial for your couple, we have also seen that being aprt of peer support groups might be of tremendous help. Meet people who share a common experience, listen to their stories and advice, have a safe space to vent. This has proven very efficient to improve the general well-being of couples, and to help participants in feeling better and therefore more ready for their job hunt.
Having a partner is a very precious resource when looking for a job and integrating in Finland. Having a space where you are loved, where you can feel safe and supported is extremely important for your general well-being. Set aside some time for your relationship and your partner, and don’t forget to also communicate openly about the positive feelings that emerge from an integration process: pride, ambition, hope and joy.