Last March, my husband found out that he had won a prestigious fellowship, which would allow us to spend a year in Germany. The fellowship included private German lessons for him and a guaranteed job placement in his field. It also included a place on the contract to add my name: ______________(the trailing spouse) and a small stipend to take care of my trailing self. Ouch.
So, what is a trailing spouse?
Different organizations use different terms to label us kind and generous people who are willing to give up our jobs, leave our friends, and stall our careers in order to support our significant other. I’ve heard “trailing spouse” or “accompanying spouse” most often. These organizations also provide different levels of support for all the financial, social, and cultural changes we may encounter. This blog is a place where you can read about one trailing spouse’s experience, as well as connect with other trailing spouses and learn tips and tricks for blazing your own trail after you relocate.
Why does it matter?
Trailing, or accompanying, a significant other has become a national trend. Jobs are more transient, and opportunities in various fields can shift rapidly. In many families, both adults work, which increases the chances that a family may have to relocate for one person’s job. In many places, the community and resources for trailing spouses don’t exist.
I know I’m not alone in my trailing spouse status. But moving to a new place, where the only person I know is my husband, certainly makes me feel alone.
Ironically, we didn’t move to Germany. We moved to Georgia. The state, not the country. My husband got another job offer, and we decided it would be a better long-term option. So we packed ourselves up and drove the 1,042 miles to Atlanta. While “trailing spouse” traditionally refers to a person who is moving to a new country, I would argue that moving anywhere new for a spouse’s job qualifies.
Whether you accompany your spouse across a state line, across the country, or across the ocean, it can be a long freakin’ trip. Join me for the ride.