Binational partnerships generally result in migration by one partner, either before the partners get to know one another or afterward. Migration is a big personal effort and challenge; integration requires openness and flexibility.
Migrants often experience orientation to a new country as stress, and this sometimes makes them more susceptible to psychological and physical disorders. Home, friends and family of origin have been left behind. This can lead to feeling uprooted, lonely, socially isolated and homesick.
Depending on the country, it may be necessary to learn a new language, and it is always necessary to learn new social and cultural rules for living together. The employment situation also presents challenges for the foreign partner. Frequently it is difficult to find work, professional qualifications are not recognized and the foreign partner has to take on menial jobs or is unemployed. Depending on the foreign partner’s origin, he or she may have to deal with prejudice or racism.
The effects of migration may have consequences for the partnership as well. Within the relationship there may also be an imbalance. The Swiss partner knows more about everyday life in the country, knows the language better and takes on, for example, more externally-oriented tasks. He or she interprets for his or her partner before the authorities. The Swiss partner may also have a larger circle of friends and have his or her family of origin nearby. However, a good balance within the partnership is crucial for its success. Areas like giving and receiving, autonomy and commitment, and self-assertion and conformity are particularly likely to cause difficulty and can lead to an imbalance of power and to relationship difficulties.
The better the foreign partner’s integration succeeds and the more independence he or she achieves in that way, the better the balance within the relationship as well.
Integration helps resolve the state of separation. Integration is a dynamic, prolonged and very nuanced process of fitting together and growing together. In this way, integration can be seen as a reciprocal process.
This means that the Swiss partner as well takes on a responsibility for integration, for example by being interested in the partner’s country of origin and getting to know his or her cultural heritage. You may even participate in celebrations or cultural events and learn your partner’s language.