Navigating Expat Marriage and Spouse Support Abroad – Yvonne McNulty PhD

Global Enterprises Group this morning attended a talk by Yvonne McNulty PhD on ‘Navigating Expat Marriage and Spouse Support Abroad’. (Dr McNulty is from the Singapore Institute of Management – University Journal of Global Mobility). The seminar was a real success, organised by Aussie Orientation Services (you can find more information on what Aussie Orientation Services do here).

A point brought across in the talk is that a lot of time the spouse of an expat suffers in silence.

Most people in the market think the motivation for expats taking on expat assignments is for money, however according to Dr McNulty’s research, the main reason is:

After the conversation begins on a potential assignment, the main ‘pinch points’ tend to be

Reasons for expat assignment failure The #1 reason for assignment refusal was traditionally due to issues around the family. However, this has recently been replaced as the #1 reason by ‘leaving firm to a competitor’; further increasing the need to focus on the ROI ( corporate ROI + individual ROI = expat ROI). There are a number of reasons for family challenges in accepting an expat assignment, such as spousal resistance (47%), family adjustment (32%) and children’s education (29%). The research presented shows that the ‘dual career spouse’ is the biggest impediment in spousal rejection of the acceptance of assignments. Around 84% of accompanying spouses had a tertiary education, 79% had a career until they left their country and wind up being unemployed when they arrive in the destination country. Only 16% can work after they relocate. Some more stats:

According to the research, Africa, South America and North Asian expats are more likely to go through a divorce. The consistent themes are: – affairs , uncontrolled eating, shopping and drinking and suicidal attacks, depression & drug abuse. The key is that mobility / HR managers in MNC’s or large businesses are likely unable to get involved in a marriage situation, nor do they want to. However they are able to empower an expat marriage by supporting them, providing resources, talking to the spouses, connecting them to others in the community that may be able to help.

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