When we lived in Sheffield, pretty much everybody who needed to be nearby was nearby. We lived on the same street as my best friend and my brother. My parents were 40 minutes away and Matty’s were even closer. We had a relatively small, but very stable and secure network. I easily could, and did, hang out with people who weren’t Matty. More so, I know Matty really valued that time when he went out with his friends, not to mention us both just having time alone every so often.
We could balance it well, and that’s not including the 10 hours each weekday spent apart while we were both at work.
So, you can imagine how it was easy for me to assume that the transition to a completely new lifestyle might be testing for us as a couple. I wasn’t worried, I know we’re good, but I was expecting the change to be noticeable.
Obviously, when we arrived in Hanoi, we didn’t have a network of people around us anymore. We hadn’t built a group of friends and so we were completely reliant on each other to fulfill all of those roles which are normally reserved for a whole group of people. This was on top of starting a new job, finding an apartment and gradually making new friends.
I think the first month or so were the hardest for our relationship. I felt vulnerable in my new surroundings and Matty was finding ESL teaching more difficult than he anticipated. It definitely put pressure on us, but I know that when I instinctively want to clam up because I’m feeling stressed, the best thing to actually do is talk.
This helped us a lot, alleviating potential arguments by realising that we’re on the same page and most of the time were just both feeling a little overwhelmed by everything, which meant that we couldn’t necessarily fulfill all of those roles mentioned earlier.
After that initial settling in period, I think we’ve adapted to our new situation really well. We see much more of each other because we work together now, and also work fewer hours. However, the time we spend together is comfortable and having the freedom to choose when we’re together, rather that grasping every spare hour, is a real luxury that I know we would never have in England.
What I’ve realised more than anything is that, as people, we adapt quickly. A month of some uneasiness is nothing in the long run, and now we’re both happier than ever before. It’s amazing to have the opportunity to travel and enjoy being in a new place together and we would have never been able to reach this stage without that initial process of leaving everything behind and being alone in a new country for a little bit. Overall, it’s made our relationship stronger than ever.