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EUROMOVERS International

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Global Mobility and Expat Marriage

Jun 23, 2015
The first Forum for Expatriate Management of 2015 (organised by UniGroup Relocation Singapore) took on a very personal tone as Dr Yvonne McNulty from Expatresearch led a discussion on the effects of global mobility on expatriates and their families.

In particular it looked at the struggle of expatriate marriages during the international assignment and how these family challenges can cause a global assignment to fail.

Not only is expatriate marriage downfall devastating on a personal level for an international assignee, it also often causes huge costs for the company. Key reasons for marital stress were: insufficient time together; and uncertainty about their future after the assignment.  A study conducted by Mila Lazarova, Yvonne McNulty, and Monica Semeniuk with 656 respondents (mainly trailing spouses) concluded that a lack of trust in a marriage is a major factor in assignment failure.

The meeting discussed the causes of marriage downfall and concluded the cultural norms in the host country can sometimes be different from what the individuals are used to at home.  These can include heavy drinking, infidelity and sexual misconduct. The claimed consequences of a marital breakdown ranged from forced repatriation to bankruptcy, cancer and suicide.

Some ideas were given regarding what HR can do to help or alleviate these potential issues including: legal advice, counselling (EAP), mediation services and financial assistance. For more information regarding global mobility and its effects on expatriate families contact Dr Yvonne McNulty

Photo:  Yvonne McNulty

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