Spain - The Homewrecker

Published on 28/10/2007 in Relocating to Spain

Divorce in SpainIt is quite tragic how so many couples’ dreams of life together in Spain are increasingly resulting in separation and divorce. Of all the cases that you hear many of them result in one partner returning to the UK (usually the woman), taking the children with her and leaving the husband behind settled in his work.

Divorce in itself can be tough on kids but to have to go through it having been through the initial trauma of uprooting, settling in a foreign country and then having to go back without dad is  so saddening. It seems like such a waste after all the effort couples put into making the move to Spain, establishing themselves and eventually achieving their joint goals. But it seems that for many people, once they ‘arrive’ after the struggle, it feels the right time to divorce.

Who knows, maybe if they had stayed back in the UK, they would have divorced earlier and the whole moving to Spain process is what actually kept them together for so long. I personally believe that if a relationship isn’t right than no amount of sea, sun and sangria is going to make it any better.

But many people are naïve to think that a move to Spain will make everything better, help them to overcome any past marital mistakes and serve as a fresh start. It’s almost like people who think that having a baby will mend an ailing relationship, as will buying a new house .When it’s all been accomplished, the underlying issues will always resurface.

The reasons that you hear of are endless. Here are just a few:


Some couples can’t cope with the freedom that life in Spain brings. Working for yourself or being retired means that you have no timetable. Not having a timetable or a purpose can make people depressed which can lead to break ups when the other partner feels ‘dragged down’ by their partner.

Alcohol Abuse

Some people turn to drink in Spain which can really destroy a relationship for obvious reasons.

Differing Opinions On Spain

One partner might love Spain and the other might hate it and want to return. This causes resentment in the partner who feels that they are making a big sacrifice to fulfil the other one’s desire to stay in Spain.

One Finds Work And The Other Doesn’t

The salaries in Spain are rarely enough to keep a couple going.  If one finds work and the other can’t, than either they both go back to the UK or they separate.

They Discover That They Are Not Right For Each Other

Many new relationships move to Spain. Spain is not the stress free paradise that one might imagine. Experiencing this as part of a new relationship can really shatter people’s illusions.


When it all gets wrong i.e. you lost a lot of money, you don’t get paid. In other words, when your experience in Spain turns out to be a nightmare, who better to blame than your nearest and dearest. Blame is a big factor in people splitting up in Spain.

Too Much Quality Time

All of sudden from only seeing each other in the evenings or during busy weekends shared with families and friends, you are together around the clock. This is particularly the case for retired couples who find themselves full time with someone who has been part time with them for the past twenty five years. Not knowing anyone else and being in each others pockets all the time can mean that couples soon become sick of the sight of each other.


You leave your job, your family, your friends, your shops, your hobbies, your evening class, your old life and get to Spain and find that you are bored. Once the novelty of the beach, the pool and everything is remotely associated with holidays has worn enough, you’ve seen enough and you are ready to go home. The problem is your partner isn’t bored and has found loads of new mates and new hobbies.


Expats have affairs in Spain for all kinds of reasons just as they do in the UK. However, all the issues tied in with living in a foreign country makes partners even more susceptible to go looking elsewhere. It’s the usual factors stress, loneliness, having lots in common with someone at work, miserable homesick wife and so on. The abundance of easy sex on the Costa del Sol means it is there for the taking and often paid for. Affairs of every sort are very common amongst expats in the Costa del Sol, especially bored ones with lots of time and money. People naturally do more socialising which gives you more access to members of the opposite sex, both friends and strangers. It must be the sun that drives them wild!

Feeling Powerless

This is particularly the case for women. They may be afraid to drive in Spain. They may all of a sudden need the support of their husband to do simple things like go to the doctors. The sudden shift from being totally in control and independent in the UK can make them think that the problem is with their relationship. The only way that they can reclaim their old self is to leave the relationship.

I am sure this list isn’t exhaustive but I bet there are lots of expat couples in Spain that can identify with the some of the points mentioned. Unfortunately, we build a picture up in our minds of romantic walks along the beach, candle lit dinners on the terrace but the truth is relationships have to be worked at in all climates and even more so in unfamiliar surroundings.

Written by: Susan Pedalino

About the author:

Women In Spain

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summer70 said:
30 October 2007 @ 12:42

As a female non-driver, living in rural Spain (as opposed to the Costas), I have found the real problem is a lack of the feeling of independence and confidence I had in the UK. With 2 buses a day (and at inconvenient times) I would not be able to get to work in neighbouring towns or our nearest city.
And here Language is also a problem. We live in a village where no one speaks English, and our Spanish is still of the 'improver' variety, so even minor everyday problems can seem insurmountable when we have difficulty getting them across to our neighbours. And as for finding work in the immediate area, as I do not speak fluent Spanish I have yet to find any opportunity open to me. Therefore (apart from a small business I have built up on the internet) I am completely reliant on my husband for money. This is not great for someone who has in the past prided herself on her self reliance.

But that does not mean I blame my husband for all this - we made a joint decision to move to Spain and he is struggling with living here just as much as I am.

Doesn't mean we are giving up though. It's just a matter of taking each day as it comes - and trying to learn more Spanish!

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