Recently we asked for readers’ thoughts on “trailing spouse.” We’ve received some interesting feedback and are sharing one of the longer responses below. A roundup of others will be posted next week. It’s not too late to contribute! Comment here or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
This spouse said:
It had never occurred to me to be offended by it.
I only use it professionally, to explain why I’m at someone’s door in a hardship post looking for a job (instead of applying online), or why I can only commit to two years even though I’ll be making more money than my husband does.
My husband likes to jokingly introduce himself as the trailing spouse, since the reason he’s FS is so that I could pursue my international career but we could still benefit from the comfort and security offered by DOS (housing, pouch, GSO, MED, generous R&R and home leave, knowing where you’re moving a whole year in advance, etc. etc.). Yes, that’s right. To everyone who complains about DOS, you have no idea what it’s like to live in a foreign country without USG support.
Because I also have an international career and he just happens to be the lead spouse, I’m very secure in this being an “our” decision rather than a “him” decision. I am as on-board as a non-FS spouse could be: I work on the local economy and have local colleagues and friends; I speak more languages than my husband does and I make an effort to learn the local languages where we go; and I have explored more of the countries we’ve lived in.
Perhaps I would feel differently if I were truly being dragged around the globe against my will, but I think trailing spouse is an apt term to describe my professional situation. With that said, if it has a negative connotation to others, I’m happy to replace it with something different … open to suggestions!