We had friends over for dinner last night and in the midst of discussing a mutal friend's (American) problems with a cheating spouse (Swedish) and the impending divorce, etc., Emily turned to her husband and said emphatically, "You see?! This is why I'm afraid of having children!" Whereupon we all cracked up, but it lead to a serious and interesting talk about the unique problems faced by inter-cultural marriages when they break up and children are involved. I personally know of more than a dozen people (both men and women) who came to Sweden for love, married, had children and then ended up stuck in Sweden when the marriage fell apart because the Swedish spouse refused to let them take the children back to the States.
One person I know of on Amerikanska has been faced with the situation of his American wife going back to the States with their 2-year-old daughter, ostensibly for vacation, and then filing for divorce while there and refusing to come back. :( An ugly situation to face, no matter which side of the pond you call home.
It's not that inter-cultural marriages have more problems than others (although they may have an added stress factor) or that one person gives up "everything" to move to the other person's country. It's that when you have children in a foreign country, the laws of that country apply if that's where you and the children reside and you cannot remove your children without your spouse's consent without being in danger of being charged with international kidnapping.
I've thought about it myself, when Anders and I have had rough patches: what I would do if faced with a similar situation. I think that the person who has moved a foreign country for love, and had children there, really needs to think it through and be ready to face a worst-case scenario and be comfortable with their decision about what to do in such a case. For some, it may mean never being able to go home unless they want to leave their children behind. If your children are young, as mine are, that may not be an option.
I do know some people (Americans) who have had their first marriage with a Swede fall apart, with and without children, and have managed to stay in Sweden and continue with their lives, and in at least one case, marry again to a different Swede, with a happy result.
What would you do if faced with this situation? I think I'd end up staying here. But I have the luxury of a good job, a good support system and the knowledge that my husband would be reasonable on many levels. Not that I'm worried about this ever happening, since Anders and I are committed to each other through good and bad and determined to make our marriage, our family, and our lives together. But, still.
And now, off to work on my collage book! :)