In Puolison polku - Partner's Path, we have been working extensively with foreigners who have a Finnish spouse, but also with these Finnish spouses directly.
Having a spouse or partner often plays quite an important part in one’s emotional well-being. Finnish or not, your partner will give you support that some immigrants, who are alone, might lack. This is an important resource, as emotional and physical well-being is a crucial part of any integration process.
Your Finnish partner will bring you all kid of support, especially in terms of networks, language and culture sensitivity.
When you move here for a Finnish partner, or when you meet a Finnish partner here, as you become a couple, his or her family and friends become yours. You will have a direct access to Finnish society and people, that might be more difficult to get for other foreigners. This can cause a lot of guilt, dependence and isolation for you and your partner (see “couple relationship”). In the case of your job hunt, we encourage you to mention to everyone you meet through your partner’s networks that you are looking for a job. Ask questions about someone’s industry, go for coffees, expand your networks. Friends and family are an important circle of trust and we encourage you to make the best out of it!
A Finnish partner can be a great support in learning Finnish and more generally speaking in dealing with Finnish language. Many Finnish partners translate paperwork, help with writing a resume or a cover letter, help to read job offers. Even though your partner is offering this help, remember that he or she is not responsible for your learning. Practicing Finnish with your partner can be very tricky, especially if you have a common language.
Make your home a safe space where you can practice Finnish, without making your partner a language teacher, and without forcing yourself.
Having a Finnish partner gives you a direct access to Finnish culture and habits. We have encouraged our participants to enjoy this opportunity to learn “from inside” about the behaviors, the traditions, the cultural references. This will come as a very precious support for your own general well-being and to build up a feeling of belonging. However, many participants have also mentioned that they have felt like they were “disappearing”. Make sure to discuss openly with your Finnish partner about your own identity and culture. Reserve some time for your own food, music or movies, speak your own language with your friends and family.
You will slowly build up a third culture in your home, in which you will feel safe and confident. Two feelings that will be extremely important on your path to employment.