On this page we list companies providing English speaking support and relationship counselling in Spain.
To start we have a really useful article below which is kindly written by Marléne Rose Shaw of Couples Counselling Costa del Sol on how to overcome relationship challenges in expat life.
7 Specific Relationship Issues That Expat Couples Face and How To Overcome Them
Starting a new life abroad is a wonderful adventure. It takes courage to step out of your comfort zone, but the rewards are well worth it. If this is you, then I know that you are an inspired person, who understands that life is about exploring new horizons and embracing all that it has to offer.
However, while moving to a new country can be an exciting adventure, it can also come with its fair share of challenges, particularly for couples.
In addition to the typical challenges of expat life, such as cultural disparities, language barriers, and dealing with bureaucracy, as an expat couple, you will likely face additional challenges that can test your relationship.
It’s important to remember that these challenges are very common for expat couples, and by overcoming them, your relationship will become even closer and stronger. Here are some common challenges that expat couples face, along with some guidance on how to navigate them.
Loss Of Support Network
One of the most common challenges for expat couples is the loss of their old support network. When you move to a new country, you no longer have your friends and family nearby. You can stay in touch with them online of course, but it’s not quite the same as being able to go off and spend time with someone, away from your partner, and be able to offload your niggles and worries.
In most cases, a new support network will definitely exist, but it takes time to build up those connections.
People tell me:
“We pictured ourselves socialising and having fun, but actually, everyone has their own busy lives. We feel isolated and we tend to get on each other’s nerves.”
Couples often experience a sense of isolation when they are together, like being on a desert island. Spending a lot of time in each other’s presence without other social outlets can amplify minor issues, leading to arguments and bickering.
If this is familiar, couples therapy with a qualified therapist who understands expat life will help you find ways to communicate in less sensitive ways, to rediscover each other in this new chapter of your life, and to find confidence to go out and explore new friendships too.
Bringing Your Problems With You
When dreaming of a new life abroad, it’s only natural to hope for a fresh start. We all want our lives to be free from the problems that have plagued us in the past. However, many couples come to realise that they’ve brought old issues along with them. Something I hear from couples is:
“We thought this new life was going to be so much easier. But it seems that we’ve just brought all our old problems with us. Those problems feel even worse than they used to.”
These problems could be old hurts and betrayals that never got dealt with. Or it could be an ongoing pattern of miscommunication; feeling rejected or unheard or struggling with intimacy. Sadly if not dealt with, those relationship problems don’t go away by themselves; they can go on for many years and eventually harm a relationship.
If you relate to this experience of bringing old issues with you, you’re certainly not alone. I’ve met many, many couples who have done the same – that’s just being human. But realising you’ve brought old problems with you is a fantastic chance to significantly improve your relationship now. Through couples therapy, you can delve into those issues within a safe and supportive environment. Guided by a qualified professional, you can address and resolve those challenges once and for all, so that you can go forward to really enjoy your new life together in peace and happiness.
Experiencing Expat Life from Different Perspectives
Another common issue that couples bring to therapy is when one partner finds it harder to adapt to expat life than the other. One partner may be feeling overwhelmed and homesick. They’re thinking:
“I know I should be grateful to be living here, but I feel overwhelmed and I just want to go home!”
The other partner is feeling confident and excited about the future. They’re thinking:
“I don’t understand what’s changed? This was our dream. We knew it might be a bit of an upheaval, but we were prepared for that!”
When each is struggling to understand the other’s perspective, it can be easy to feel unheard, frustrated, and even guilty. If this resonates for you, couples therapy can help you wade through all the confusion. You’ll be able to fully hear each other’s perspective, and speak from the heart so that you can understand and support each other to find a way forward together – rather than pushing each other away.
Changing Roles and Confidence
Another thing that couples struggle with when relocating is the difficulties caused by a shift in roles. This can very much affect each person’s sense of identity and confidence.
For example, in the past each of you may have settled into your roles; taking responsibility for certain tasks and using your own particular skills and talents. However, on relocating one of you may be more proficient in the local language and therefore start taking on responsibilities that the other would have previously undertaken. Now the dynamic has shifted, one person may feel put upon, the other disempowered.
If you’re struggling with the changing roles in your relationship, a couple therapist can help you untangle this and navigate new ways of being together in this different framework so that you can find harmony and balance and enjoy being a couple again.
Pressures of Expat Working Life On Your Relationship
Relocating will definitely have an impact on working life. For example, one partner may have to change their career and get used to a completely different role which is bound to cause some temporary anxiety.
Or it can be that one partner has to start spending a lot of time working away from home. This ‘coming and going’ has much more of an impact on a relationship than couples had realised. It can take some time to adjust to missing someone when they’re gone, then adapting again when they return.
This is also the case when there are children involved.
Clients tell me:
“One minute I’m dealing with home life and the kids by myself. The next minute, we’re back to being a family unit again. The kids are confused and we’ve lost track of the boundaries, so everyone is arguing.”
It takes a lot of understanding and clear communication to make this adjustment. In couples therapy, you can find ways to communicate that help you reassess and re-evaluate your new circumstances so that you can set goals and make plans for how you will manage work and your relationship together as a team.
Or relocating could mean working from home, rather than going out to work. This too can be a challenge for couples, as it requires both partners to make radical adjustments to their time management and to respect each other’s boundaries.
Pressures of Expat Businesses On Your Relationship
Many expats move abroad and start their own business. It makes good sense as finding a job in a different country can be challenging, and especially if there’s a language barrier.
However, running a business can be a lot more demanding than couples had previously realised – with long hours and a lot of stress. This can leave little time for couples to enjoy their new life together.
Couples tell me:
“We were so excited about starting our business, but now all we seem to do is bicker because we’re so tired and stressed all the time’.
Added to this, it’s not uncommon for each person to have their own ideas about how to manage the day to day problems in the business, which leads to inevitable conflicts and fall outs.
If you relate to these pressures of running a business as an expat couple, please be assured that you’re not alone. Many expat couples have gone through similar experiences of stress and miscommunication. Having some couples sessions will help you overcome this so that you can create a thriving business and still enjoy a great relationship in your new life abroad.
Pressures of Expat Retirement On Your Relationship
It may be that you have decided to relocate and retire.This can be a time of great freedom and excitement, as couples finally have the time to pursue their dreams together. However, it’s important to be aware that this can also be a time of adjustment, as you’ll suddenly be spending a lot more time together. It can be challenging to find the balance between enjoying each other’s company and feeling you’ve lost your independence and alone time.
Retirement can bring up a lot of thoughts and feelings, such as looking back on the past, reflecting on the future, and dealing with regrets and loss. This can put a strain on relationships, especially if couples are not used to dealing with these emotions together.
Couples therapy can help you explore these feelings together in a safe and supportive environment. A therapist can help you understand and communicate your new needs to each other, so that you can have more intimacy and still retain your independence.
New Horizons For Your Relationship!
Every relationship has challenges from time to time. It’s just part of life, and it’s helpful to remember that it’s actually within our relationships that we have the opportunity to learn and evolve into wiser beings.
This is especially true for couples. The challenges of expat life for couples are all part of the wonderful adventure of relocating – an opportunity for you to see the niggles and concerns in your relationship and overcome them so that you can elevate your relationship to a wonderful new level.
So don’t be held back. You’ve made the decision to seek new horizons in your life, couples therapy will help you find new horizons in your relationship!
Visit this page to find out more about how I can help, and to arrange your free no obligation 30-minute consultation.
Marléne Rose Shaw – Couples Counselling Costa del Sol
Calle Jose Rivero, Miraflores,
Mijas, Malaga, 29649
Telephone: 0044 7429 440968
Type of Business: Couples Therapist
Towns or Areas Covered: Marbella, La Cala, Fuengirola, Riviera del Sol, Torre Nueva
Specialising in relationships
If you’re facing relationship problems, you’re not alone. Many relationships experience difficulties from time to time. Yet if left unresolved, these problems can continue on, causing a lot of unnecessary stress and unhappiness.
The good news is that you don’t have to settle for a life of discontent. Many couples seek help and quite quickly resolve their issues. They go on to have a relationship that is better than it has ever been.
Suzy Quix – Re-encounter Consult
Type of Business:
Towns or Areas Covered: Malaga, Costa del Sol
Provides treatment for individuals and couples with relationship challenges.
Offers Emotionally Focused Therapy (EFT) which helps couples get their conflicts under control and deepen their love & connection.
Speaking English and Dutch.
Re-encounter Consult is focused on counseling/psychotherapy of individuals and couples with relationship challenges. One of the treatments offered is Emotionally Focused Therapy (EFT, www.ICEEFT.com). EFT has been extensively researched and shown to give good results, especially when treating couples. The EFT therapist guides couples into recognizing their negative dynamics which leads to less conflict and more safety. Partners start being more open towards each other and the therapist facilitates them into strengthening their emotional bond. It is a structured, process-oriented approach.
EFT helps couples to get their disputes under control and communicate more clearly with each other so that:
they start to see each other from a different perspective, it enables them to be more attuned to each other which deepens their love and connection.
First (phone) consultation is free of charge.
Speaking English and Dutch.
The practice is located close to the centre of Marbella and easily accessible from nearby villages in the Costa del Sol. The location is also visible on Google maps.
Please visit our website for more information.
Susana Mitchell – Susana for Counselling
Granada Province 18657
Telephone: 958 953 012
Type of Business: Counselling
Towns or Areas Covered: The Lecrin Valley and surrounding areas
Specialist in helping clients find their own solutions to problems Empathetic listening and support
Everyone at some time in their lives need help Sometimes you need to speak to someone who can facilitate recovery and help you move forward Familar in all times of counselling including bereavement
T. D. Lacey – Consultant Anxiety Therapist
16 Calle Mussola
Type of Business: Consultant Therapist
Towns or Areas Covered: Dénia
Treatment for Anxiety, Depression, Anger Management and Marriage guidance counselling.
Caring, sympathetic and confidential help for the treatment of your anxiety, depression, anger management and couples counselling.
Initial assessment, goals and treatment plan provided after your first appointment.
Appointments can be over the phone, whatsapp, email or in person.
Together we can help you to feel better soon.
Call Tanya now to book your appointment.
About the Author
Main author and owner of SpainMadeSimple.com which was started in 2004 when I first moved to Spain.
Spain Made Simple features expert advice on all aspects of moving to and living in Spain as well as useful tourist information and travel tips.
As well as my own articles we have many contributions from professionally qualified experts in varied occupations in Spain.
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