As trailing spouses, most of us have experienced periods of sadness, frustration, and even anger while coming to terms with life in our new countries. Danish expat, Louise Fly Caione shared many of these challenges when she arrived in Belgium but now she’s helping other expat wives overcome them.
Louise says she struggled with all of the typical expat emotions when she first arrived in Waterloo. She was sad, lonely, angry self-pitying and even jealous. “I was jealous of my husband who had a job and a social environment that I didn’t,” she says.
“I found I was jealous of my fellow Danes because in my eyes, they had a great and fun expat life,” says Louise. However, she didn’t want to network with other Danes at first, because she felt it would be the “easy” solution. “In the beginning, I was an idealist. I didn’t want to go into the expat ‘ghettos’. I didn’t want to be a part of the Danish society; that wasn’t why I had come to Belgium. I thought I wouldn’t integrate if I did that, but the fact was I wasn’t integrating anyway.”
Louise found herself feeling ashamed of “not being happy with this so-called privileged life,” she says. “I didn’t know what to do or who to turn to. At a certain point, I was so tired of listening to my own long stories about not being happy that I looked for help in Denmark.” Louise heard about a coach and decided to seek help. She was so inspired by the result that she decided to become a coach for other trailing spouses.
Through coaching, Louise learned methods and tools that she could use to cope with her new expat life. “I got my smile back,” she says. “I became aware of all my self-destructive convictions and habits and realised that I had a choice. So I took responsibility for my own life and my own happiness. I started networking with other expats, and felt so relieved that I had energy and courage to connect with the locals as well.”
Now firmly established in her expat life in Belgium, Louise offers help to other expat wives. Through personal one-on-one and group coaching sessions, Louise teaches others the coping mechanisms that she has learned over the years. “I thought that if I can help other expat wives not run into the same hurdles I did, that really makes sense to me,” she says. “Expat life can be such a gift – it only took me a while to realise it.”
You can visit Louise’s website and sign up for her free newsletter full of tips and resources for expats in Belgium.
Looking for more resources for trailing spouses? Check out our Expat Resources page.