You moved away to be closer together. But now you are further apart than ever.
Your partner's job opportunity in another country seemed like an exciting idea, but lengthy work assignments mean you're holding down the family fort - alone. If you're living an expat life and find yourself parenting solo due to a partner's frequent business travel, you'll be asking yourself:
How can we be a family when we're miles apart?
What is my role in this lifestyle?
Can I cope, alone, when troubles arise?
Life coach and multicultural solo-parent Rhoda Bangerter believes there are answers to all the above questions, and the answers start with you. In this context, it's more important than ever to invest in yourself, to care for yourself, to set your own goals and to watch yourself grow. Equally important is to nurture your relationship with your partner.
Rhoda's hard won wisdom will inspire you to navigate the choppy waters of holding the fort abroad.
Praise for the Book
I enjoyed your book. I could really relate. Sometimes you think you are the only one living something but then you find out there are others.
A Travelling Dad
Your book is helping me keep going.
A Holding the Fort Mum
I highly recommend you own this book and never lend it because you won't get it back! Better still buy one for you and one for your partner so you can compare notes.
Helen Ellis, author of Being a Distance Grandparent
I finally found closure.
A former Holding the Fort Mum
Not only a must-read book for every expat with a travelling partner, but it should also be a job description option on LinkedIn!
Mariam Ottimofiore, author of This Messy Mobile Life
I thought I was overthinking it until I read your book.
A Holding the Fort Mum
A powerful self-help guide needed in a space where solo-parenting is not openly talked about enough.
Navine Eldesouki, founder of Coffee with an Expat
From my experience of living overseas, away from my husband, this is the book I wished I’d had.
Naomi Hattaway, founder of I Am A Triangle
Make Holding the Fort Abroad your bible for solo-parenting abroad.
Emily Rogers, founder of Expat Parenting Abroad
HTFA is practical, down to earth and honest. It has lots of references to look up and testimonies that give a feeling that you are not alone, grounding it in real life. It is also great for those not in that situation but who want to understand and support those who are.
A Reader whose partner does not travel
Is ‘Holding the Fort Abroad’ only for couples living in long-distance relationships? Not at all!
It is written with the home-based expat parent in mind whether their partner is gone Monday to Friday, two weeks at a time, or irregular days and whether or not they work outside the home. Each frequency of travel has different pros and cons.
The travelling partner will gain insight on what goes on when they are away and pick up ideas on how to remain engaged with the family.
Some of the challenges will seem familiar for couples not living abroad yet who are also frequently apart.
The final chapter of this book is for families who have decided to live in split locations. Although my husband has travelled different amounts at various times, this is what we are living now.
I call it ‘The Marathon’ because separations are for six weeks or more, over an extended period of time.
Intercultural families will find information about hidden sources of tension and how that can play out over long-distance communication.
As having a partner away on a trip does not exempt anyone from extra-trying times like illness abroad, losing a loved one, taking care of ageing parents or dangerous locations, those situations are covered as well
If you know anyone with a travelling partner, this book may help you understand some of their reality. And if you don’t (yet) know anyone in that situation, you might just discover them as you talk to friends and family about this book!
The story behind the book
Early 2019, my husband came home one day and said that there was a job for him in Kabul, Afghanistan. The boys and I would stay where we were currently living (in Switzerland) and he would come back every 8 to 12 weeks.
We had always said we would never live apart but as we discussed this option, it aligned with where we were as a family. Our youngest was just settling after our move from New York, our oldest didn’t want to move again, our parents were getting older and we wanted at least one of us to stay closer.
Then a few things happened...
I realised that my husband had been travelling for our entire 15 years of marriage. Although he had never been gone longer than a few weeks, he had often been away. He had travelled Mondays to Fridays, a few weeks at a time, irregular travel (my least favourite kind of travel, by the way)
We discovered many families had lived in split locations. Even a mom I chit chatted with at church told me her husband commuted every 6 weeks between Switzerland and Croatia! These families started to give us similar advice and I thought to myself: ‘Other families need to hear this’
There was little research on families where one partner travels and the other holds the fort, and where one partner is constantly in and out due to work. Long hours at work and work travel are top stressors for accompanying spouses.
Whether your partner travels a lot for work or works and lives in another country, you are not alone. Many families live this life. I am providing resources to help you stop feeling like a single parent, start using the distance to your advantage in your relationship, and find time and space for your own projects in the midst of all the juggling.
I encourage you to start talking about this topic around you and I can guarantee that you will discover others whose partners are away for work more often than you think.
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