A couple in their late 30s, both professionals, moved to Dubai after marrying in the UK. It was a second marriage for the husband and he had a child from his first marriage. They experienced the rose-coloured phase for several months. When this dazzle wore off, as it does after a maximum of two years, they began to argue more. The couple sought counselling five years into their marriage. Both complained about conflict which had resulted in the wife leaving and a three-month separation. They were constantly arguing about the time they spent together and the quality of their connection. The wife said she didn’t understand what happened to the man she married. Previously, he had wanted to spend all his time with her. The husband complained of being constantly nagged. He felt no matter what he did, it was never enough. He would certainly spend time with his wife but needed his alone time to manage the stress in his professional and family life.
By the time the couple opted for therapy, they felt too much damage had been done; they could not contemplate trusting each other.
They also felt that with a child in their life, it was unfair to jeopardise her happiness further.
What the psychologist says
“I believe that the Dubai lifestyle can contribute to couples remaining in the rose-coloured phase for too long and not facing reality. Couples can be pulled into a social whirlwind, enjoying easy and fun times and creating a fantasy about their relationship and life together.
“Real relationships have a great deal of tedium and compromise. Without this, [the spouses] really are only seeing a very superficial side of one another and are bound to be disappointed by how reality turns out.
“Being away from families, as most expats are, also means that you don’t get to test your partner’s muscle [for tough situations]. This can conceal and disguise important relationship information and functioning until it’s too late.”
From the case files of Dr Tara Wyne, clinical psychologist and clinical director of The Lighthouse: Centre for Wellbeing