Couples who relocate for work often face the additional financial and emotional stress of moving separately. When one person must move quickly to accommodate a new job and the other is left behind with the kids to sell the house, it’s important to plan ahead and stay organized in order for both moves to go smoothly. Here are some tips for making that temporary separation and segmented move more harmonious.
Establish a task list
Once you realize that one person is going to move ahead of the other, it’s important to establish a task list so both partners are aware of and in agreement about who is going to be responsible for what.
Anything that can be completed prior to the separation should be, allowing the couple to work as a team on as much of the relocation as possible. Home repairs, interviewing/hiring a moving company and real estate agent, and choosing a home in the new location are all things that are best done as a team and can be addressed early in the process.
Once the big decisions are made, additional tasks can be divided and assigned fairly. For example, the person staying behind can handle the mail forwarding and obtaining school records, while the one moving ahead can make calls to utilities and schedule appointments with counselors at the new school.
One of the things many couples disagree about when it comes time to move is what moves with them and what gets pitched or donated. Even if you’re not ready to pack when the first partner heads to the new location, you can take inventory of your belongings and come to an agreement on all of your “stuff.”
This might also be a good time to pack and store the “off-season” clothing and some of the personal belongings of the partner moving first. For example, if the male partner is going ahead, his golf clubs, table saw, antique record collection and hunting gear won’t be needed for awhile and packing these items could help de-clutter the house before putting it on the market.
Agree to “purchase” some stress reduction
Do-it-yourselfers don't often ask for help, but during a separation you may want to consider contracting for some additional services while your “team” is divided.
Talk with your partner ahead of time and determine which “chores” are going to be contracted out. If babysitters aren’t normally in the budget because you tag-team on childcare, this is the time to set some money aside to pay the local teenager. And, if the partner staying behind is willing to learn to use the lawnmower but cannot imagine packing the entire house alone, then it’s time to get estimates on professional packing.
Send some “comforts of home”
While it may seem like the person who moves first has the “easy” job, it is hard to be isolated from family and the comforts of home. Recognize that loneliness can be as stressful as packing or single-parenting, and make sure to send a few framed pictures of loved ones with your partner. Also, it may not be fair that the coffee maker, favorite CDs and other shared items all stay put. Consider gathering up a few favorite items and sending them along as a going away “care package.”
Readjust when reunited
Don’t forget to make some plans for when you are reunited as a couple. After a separation, it’s often helpful to schedule some time to reconnect before jumping right back into your daily schedules.