‘Help, my partner is homesick’. This is one of the most asked questions along with ‘How can I make my partner understand what I am going through?”
It is not an easy thing to explain how exactly does homesickness feel. It does not help that most people believe that it is only the people you are missing.
What your partner is feeling
They do not really understand that there is a lot more to it.
Yes, it is the people, but it also the feel of you home country, the smells, the sounds, the food, habits that are considered normal there, but are viewed as weird in your new country.
You also feel a deep loneliness, your off balance as to who you are. Your world feels upside down and as if you don’t have a place in it anymore.
It is a constant struggle to fit in.
The list goes on and on.
Help, my partner is homesick.
As with most situations, there are things that will be helpful and not so helpful.
Let’s start with the most common mistakes made by people who have never experienced homesickness.
Don’t trivialise it.
This is a common complaint. In an attempt to help your partner to feel better, you belittle the experience.
Not on purpose but usually with words such as, “it’s not that bad” or “you’ll get over it” .
Don’t forget that, to your partner the pain is deep and real, and they need understanding and time to grieve in their own way.
Don’t say it was their choice and therefore their own fault.
This is a particular painful to comment.
We know and understand that the reason we are experiencing homesickness is due to our choices, but it is never helpful, productive and in no way kind to remind them of this. It actually makes it a whole lot worse.
It usually has the opposite effect by making your partner start to believe they have made the wrong choices.
On top of that it will add to the feeling’s homesickness.
You may want to call home for them.
When your partner is in the throes of homesickness, the feelings can be intense.
Calling home sounds like a good idea, but I can assure you, when they are in such a vulnerable state it becomes a private thing.
To display this level of emotion is not fair to the family or friends you call, as it will only make them feel bad that they are unable to do anything from a distance.
Wait until your partner has calmed down and ask them if it is a good idea to call home. Give them the choice.
Don’t ignore it.
Because homesickness is not viewed as a serious emotion, it tends to be shrugged off and ignored.
This is also trivialising the experience.
Don’t forget that these are very deep emotions. They go down to the core of a person and therefore should never be ignored.
It is also not an illness. Something that will pass or just go away.
What will happen is your partner, over time, will learn to cope with homesickness, but be aware that it will never go away.
What can you do to support your partner?
In the above section I have shared with you what you should not do, so what is it that you can do to help your partner through homesickness?
Be patient, it will pass.
Homesickness comes and goes in waves, just like grief.
There will be times when they have good and bad days, or even months. Then life distracts them, and you will return to some sort of normality.
So, just be patient with them as it will pass.
Give them space to grieve.
On the really bad days, give them a chance to do whatever it is they need to do to grieve.
Even if it means giving them a day to hide under the covers, or to yell, whatever it is.
By giving them that space you will find that they will be grateful and are able to move forward quicker because they felt supported.
Let them talk it out.
Even when your partner is not showing signs of homesickness, it will always be there.
Have your partner talk about how they are adjusting to their new life. What are they struggling with?
Ask how you can help. Most of the time they won’t need your help, but just for you to listen.
Don’t ignore their process of immigrating, it is not an easy process and quite often a very lonely one.
Change the focus.
What you are focused on is where all your energy goes to.
If your partner if only focused on their homeland, then I can guarantee that they will become homesick.
Gently remind them about the good things they have here.
Go outside for a walk, go out to dinner, snuggle together on the lounge, and watch a movie.
There are endless ways to shift focus into a more positive direction.
Follow this link for more tips
Just hug them if you can
The most effective way to help your partner is to say nothing and to just hug them.
Show them some love and affection.
Actions speak volumes.
Be more attentive and do your best to understand what it is they are experiencing.
Your partner will feel supported, and the homesickness will be lessened.
Just a final warning:
Just because it looks like your partner is coping, doesn’t mean they are. Keep an eye out for them, especially around special dates like birthdays, holiday days, etc.
You can find me on LinkedIn