If you are married and have kids, should you bring them to the United States with you? Are you willing to be separated from them across time and space so you could save more money?
These are not easy questions. And if you decide to bring them with you to the US or leave them behind in the Philippines, you would still need to convince your spouse either way.
So how did I convince my wife to move halfway across the world with me?
The short answer is I did not. Let me explain.
Even before we got married, my wife and I talked about the possibility of either of us going abroad. You see, for young people in the Philippines, going abroad to work is not a remote possibility. In fact, it is a very real possibility for us, although I did not really consider working abroad up until 2015.
So before getting married, Cha and I agreed that if one of us wanted to work abroad, it would be better for us to stay together in our destination country. It wasn’t a lengthy talk. We didn’t even argue about it.
When we had that talk, she was working with a large TV network in the Philippines and I was employed by a church organization.
We also agreed that as long as we’re doing okay financially in the Philippines, we were not going to work abroad. Cha enjoys a close relationships with her family and while I’m pretty close to my family, I am used to being away from them for long periods.
There were times that Cha asked me some “what if” questions: “what if you got presented with an opportunity to work in the US?”
I used to brush off her question and reply with a shrug: “that probably won’t happen…” Until one day it did.
And when it did, Cha and I talked once again about our plans. We remembered our agreement to stay together wherever we go for work.
I don’t know your situation. Here are some tips and suggestions on how to convince your significant other to move to the USA.
1. Long-Distance Relationship is tough on you and on those you leave behind.
There are countless stories of marriages that feel apart because of the Overseas Filipino Worker (OFW) phenomenon. You know that you love your spouse, and your spouse loves you, too. But being away for a long time will place strain on your relationship. In a sense, you’re putting this important relationship at risk if you decide to leave your family behind in the Philippines.
And if you have young kids, you will miss a lot of their development milestones; and you may become more of an occasional Skype presence and Santa Clause instead of a loving, present parent.
But if this is a risk that you and your family is willing to take, you will need to find ways to preserve your relationship and be creative in addressing each other’s emotional needs.
2. Plan together for the long-term.
I hope that when you applied for the job opening in the USA, you consulted your significant other. If you did, that would make the convincing way easier. If you did not, then you’ll need to work harder at convincing your spouse. Plan together: it helps to look at the next 5-10 years. Those plans may not all come to fruition, but at least there is a blueprint that both of you are going to follow.
Some immediate questions you need to address are:
- How long will work and live in the USA?
- When will you go back to the Philippines
- Do you intend to become citizens in the long run?
- What are your financial goals?
- How about your kids? If you don’t have kids yet, will you have one or two when you are in the USA?
- What will daily life look like for you and your family?
Research online about the kind of life that you and your family will face once you get to the USA. Most of the time, spouses of work visa holders are considered dependents and are not allowed to work. If your spouse is used to having a regular job in the Philippines, there will be some struggle. Be realistic and set expectations. But before long you will be able to apply for Permanent Residency. After that, your spouse will be able to work.
3. Seek the counsel of people you both trust and respect.
This is actually one of the responsibilities of your Ninongs and Ninangs. They promised to help you as a couple by standing as your second parents. Seek their counsel. Ask for their thoughts and what options they can give you.
Ask the experiences of couples you know who have stayed together in a foreign country and those who have decided to be separated from each other because of working abroad. Ask them for practical tips how they made it work and ask them to name the challenges they faced. This will help you understand the difficulties that either option entails.
When we started planning for our move, it was always for the three of us. By the time I’m writing this post, it had been a year since we moved together to Nashville. It is more expensive since there are three of us. But it’s been worth it.