Earlier this month I had an article published in the American Foreign Service Journal. It’s on a topic I sometimes address here, increasingly more now that my life is fully inundated into the Foreign Service lifestyle. I wrote about being a trailing spouse. It’s hard.
Check out the article, here.
I’ve been so happy that friends and strangers alike have reached out to me in response. It reminds me that I’m definitely not alone. I knew I wasn’t the only one in this situation, and that the women and men before me had it hard, too. But I’ve been reminded.
One email I received this weekend was from an ex-foreign service spouse, who told me about her own experiences, her own fond memories, and left me with a few bit of sage advice:
I just wanted to tell you that you will no doubt look back on these years with pride and a special joy in having lived an exceptional life, rich in experiences the average person can never attain. Be well, be safe. Be happy.
This note really hit me. Be happy! It’s a simple reminder to remember– even when I can’t find a job, even when I am going through pack out yet again, even when I am stressing about quality of medical care in third-world hospitals. And especially, when I complain about the quality of things like haircuts/manicures/internet speed.
Because I’m sure I’ll look back on these years with much pride, and great joy.
On Wednesday, the HuffPo published this article about trailing spouses.
“Unfortunately, most expat employers, HR people and those in the global mobility industry still see the expat spouse as a throw-back from the 50s; a helpless, pampered, Barbie doll, rather than the highly efficient, intelligent and competent woman of today. The trailing spouse of today needs to be given a voice, as well as an active role, in producing and delivering solutions to what everyone in the global mobility industry agree is their number one challenge; the adaptation and integration of the expat family.”
While this is a topic I am very passionate about (stay tuned for an upcoming article that i wrote!) and I do like to see it being featured on a public forum such as HuffPo, the tone of this article really bugs me. First of all, it assumes all trailing spouses are women, which in itself is the fundamental root of the problem. Next, the article skews to focus on the woman as keeper of the family.
Remember that trailing spouses do include men, and do include those who do not have children. The latter whom not only have to balance the stability of a marriage, but also seek advancement of a legitimate career (lest I continue to fail to remind you) in the shadows of another without the “purpose” of the family. Not to discount the work of those who do have families, of course.
It’s a tough subject.