Being an Expat, married, and alone


Since I’ve made Genova my permanent residence of choice I have frequently been asked why in the world I would want to live here? This question has provoked much interest considering the fact that my Italian husband doesn’t even live here as he is always away at sea.

My first response is one of indignation. Like an unwelcomed cousin that has unknowingly stayed past the respectful visiting hours, I suddenly feel like I am not welcomed here and don’t understand why. Once past my stupid insecurities, I spew out the obvious things like Italy is beautiful and that I can embrace my husband’s culture to feel closer to him, blah, blah, blah.

Then of course the next obvious question is why do I choose to live with my crazy Italian mother in law? Let me explain the pros and cons here so that perhaps I can be a bit more understood. First of all there is the economical fact that living with his mother has provided me with the freedom of only working part-time and therefore with no financial obligations to pay rent. This freedom has allowed me to take short breaks in the year to go sail with my husband without the burden of bills to pay etc. In my eyes, putting up with his mother’s craziness is a small price to pay in order to see my husband on a semi-regular basis. If I lived in Canada I would no doubt find a job with only 2 weeks vacation per year!

This brings me to my next point. Married and alone. There are two ends to every rainbow. On one end perhaps a pot of gold and on the other perhaps a bit of rain. My life can consist of sailing the Caribbean like royalty and not having to worry about making my bed or cooking a meal. At the opposite end of this spectrum are a lot of lonely nights watching the rain fall outside my bedroom window while cuddling my cat.

My life is a balancing act just like anyone else’s. I take the good with the bad and try and make it all mean something in the big picture of my life. I like to consider myself as a strong woman able to manage on my own if need be. But it is also a comfort to know that I am not always alone in the world. It is by nature our desire to be loved and cared about by others. I have FaceBook, Hotmail and MSN chat and in the wee hours of the night it’s nice to be able to log on and reach out to those I feel near and dear to me on those sleepless nights.

I often wonder how people, before the age of computers and the Internet, managed to get through their loneliest moments? Is it that we have created a culture so dependent on these communication devices that we are now afraid of our own thoughts? It seems that everywhere I go these days, including the gas and train stations, there are small TV screens blaring useless messages in order to fill in the gaps in our brains.

On the contrary, I actually like to be alone sometimes. In fact, I cherish the quiet and won’t even turn on the radio because the outside churchbells mixed with the day’s traffic are soothing to my ears. I want to hear the sounds of nature to fully feel alive. But, the scales will always tip on me and I will feel small in the world and insignificant too.

My marriage is not a traditional one in the eyes of most people. But, I have experienced a traditional marriage and can honestly say that although I liked being married then too, it could get a bit dull. This is by no means a slight against my first husband, as he was always wonderful, it’s just a plain truth about married life.

So, I am hoping that this time I got the right balance on the scales and that when we do see each other we can appreciate what we have and still be strong and happy in our independent lives apart. In my eyes, marriage is what we, as a couple, create for ourselves. Not what other people think it should or shouldn’t be.

I welcome anyone’s feedback on this point of view supportive or not…

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About lmarmstrong66

I'm a blogger, painter, writer, singer. For the love of all things in nature and creativity.
This entry was posted in Italian Culture, Mama and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Being an Expat, married, and alone

  1. Jessica says:

    I can totally relate to pretty much everything in your post. My husband is Italian (I’m American) and he’s in the Italian air force. Which basically means he is gone a lot, often for months at a time. People always ask us “how we do it” and “how do we make it work”. It’s pretty easy, we both enjoy the time apart as much as the time we have together. I like missing him and knowing that we have the times to have separate lives. Honestly, it makes marriage more interesting. Anyway, I am glad I found your blog! I am reading through from the beginning 🙂

  2. Barbara says:

    Aaaw. Thanks for this post. I discovered it just now — two days before my husband leaves for a seven month deployment. He’s with the American Navy and we are stationed here in Naples. I’ve got three small children and we’ll be here while he is gone. But we are keeping positive — very much for all the wonderful reasons you mentioned here and more…

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