Expat Love

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Love’s a funny thing. It can make you think and act crazy, but when it’s real and lasting, it’s the absolute best thing in the world. Even better than cupcakes. Yep. I said it.

I want to talk serious relationship stuff, because living together as expats can push a relationship to its limits. When we moved, we spent 24 hours a day together for over 2 months. If that doesn’t test your patience, you must be a saint!

With all the pressure to succeed and fit in, make friends, learn the culture, jump through hoops, deal with finances, and cut through red tape, it can get frustrating. Sadly, the one you love the most will probably feel all of that built up irritation.


Sean and Jess


We were recently given one of the highest relationship compliments I can possibly imagine. We were told by a friend that we are the best role models for a relationship and that we had “it”. The friend who said this sees us often mainly at group social events. We’re not so touchy-feely in public and we aren’t always together talking to the same people, and yet he saw how happy we are in our relationship. And I’m touched.

I truly wish everyone in the world could feel the way we do. Yes, I think we got lucky and found the right match early in life. But I want to share with you some of the best relationship advice I’ve read and some I’ve heard.

First, I will explain what I think is important. Keep in mind that I’m not a psychologist, just a person who really believes this.


Sean and Jess with Windmills

My Advice

Each person in the relationship should feel as though they are carrying the appropriate amount of responsibility in the relationship. Whether it’s about money, housework, raising kids, etc, it has to feel right to BOTH of you. If not, there can be resentment.

Be a little different from each other. Don’t agree on everything just to agree on everything. Have your own opinion. Be your own person.

BUT agree on the big stuff. This is huge. To fully appreciate what you have, you shouldn’t have issues hanging above you. These can be: wanting to move home, wanting children, not wanting to work, staying home all the time, staying out late, etc. These will hurt your relationship if you don’t agree or truly understand your partner.

Have fun. Be adults (and don’t miss bills and stuff) but HAVE FUN! If you don’t laugh together, if they don’t make you smile…why are you together?

Say “I love you” and kiss every day. Don’t let the craziness of life get in the way of the little moments that make you and your partner smile.

Communication! Be open about how you feel. If you hold it in, you’ll just fight all the time without talking about what’s really wrong. But also be kind.


Notre Dame

Advice from the Professionals

A few I couldn’t find the source for, but if you know, please leave a comment and I will add it. Thanks!

Say more nice things than mean things to your partner during the day. Should be easy, right?

Be interested when they want to show you or tell you something. It means enough to them to want to share it with you!

Find your love language–you’d be amazing at how much this helps! Seriously. This can change everything. From The Five Love Languages: How to Express Heartfelt Commitment to Your Mate by Gary D. Chapman.

Don’t give in to the Four Horsemen. Though, if you notice them, be aware of it and talk about it. From The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work: A Practical Guide from the Country’s Foremost Relationship Expert by Dr. John Gottman.

Cutrufellos at SAIL IN Amsterdam


Ok ok, I took a Romantic Communication class in college and I read these books. They stuck with me for good reason.

Honestly though, if you say more mean things than nice things or if you aren’t interested in what they want to tell you, are you compatible in the long run?

There is nothing wrong with a short relationship. Date all you want. I’m not here to judge you. I just want you to realize when you’ve got it good…and know that you can have it good. 

This lifestyle should be amazing and a great adventure. Be sure your relationship is amazing too!

The Expat’s Guide: How to Make Friends as an Expat
The Expat’s Guide: Apps for expats in the Netherlands
Moving to Europe: 10 lessons learned in 5 years
The Expat’s Guide: Saving money while living in Amsterdam
The Expat’s Guide: Surviving winter in Amsterdam
Moving abroad changed how I feel about myself


  1. I agree with your thoughts on great relationships. Really, it is so important to laugh. It’s also important to make time for each other. I think one of the reasons my husband and I have been happily married for more than 20 years is in part because we have no kids. It makes it easy to focus on each other and grow together instead of apart.

  2. Hi Jessica,
    I am fully agreed with you. The relation of husband and wife or the bonding of them is very important. In my practical life I am really feeling this. Thanks


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