2.04.2008

Trailing Spouse?

Seasoned expats and bloggers, V-grrl and Danie, turned me on to a phrase I had never heard of before, but one that, apparently, describes my new lot in life.

The trailing spouse.

To be honest, I’m not sure if I like the way this sounds any better than ‘hausfrau,’ my other new designation. Seeing the words in print for the first time caused my mind to conjured up all sorts of images—specifically, Tarzan dragging Jane by her hair or a woman who is required to walk exactly 10 paces behind her mate, daring not to lift her eyes to meet his gaze.

Of course, men can also be considered trailing spouses, but, regardless, this wasn’t exactly where I pictured myself. So to try and dispel any crazy notions and to shed light on the term, I decided to consult my modern-day oracle, Google, for a definition I could wrap the old brain around. After turning up search results that included things like “trailing spouse syndrome” and support groups, I came across an explanation I could accept.

Trailing spouse (TRAY.ling spows) n. In a relationship, the person who gives up their job in order to follow the other person to a new location where that person has found employment.

I forfeited my career and followed Max to Germany, so technically I qualify. And after much consideration, I decided there were worse things in life to be called such as a wailing, flailing, or failing spouse. I am determined not to become any of these. If this is my life's course, than I am going to be the best and brightest trailing spouse, one that conjures up a mental image more like this.





And, lest you misunderstand, I'm not hinting of a crash and burn.

12 comments:

kenju said...

No, No.....you're a speedy, brilliant comet in the sky of life!

Cowgirl Warrior said...

I think you're a sparkling star that will never burn out.
In my opinion, it was a brave thing you did with packing everything up and moving to Germany.
I also wanted to thank you so much for your comments on my blog. You make my day.

LZ Blogger said...

Diane ~ Trailing spouse? Even if you qualify for the definition... I don't really see you as a follower, unless you are talking about the bright GLOW that follows behind you? ~ jb///

G in Berlin said...

It's funny- I put hausfrau on my blog and I guess that I am still amused by the term. After all, I was a worker for about 24 years. I still say what I used to do, but I am really enjoying being the "trailing spouse" now- and I don't expect to go back into the same field when I go back to work, and that's if I do. It always makes me laugh when folks suggest that I get a job here- in a country (even with a work permit, which I have) where I don't speak the language, my job is to learn the language. And when I do, I'll still have plenty left to keep me busy! Which reminds me- better get back to bed so I can get my homework done before class, after I get the kids to school!
BTW, only the Americans I know are so stressed about the term hausfrau, the Germans are quite fine with being housewives or even stay at home dads (like my brother in law).

V-Grrrl said...

Yes, I first heard the term from an employment counselor and attorney here who told me no, I couldn't sell articles to magazines in America or elsewhere because I was a Trailing Spouse and couldn't legally work for any company, even an American company outside of Europe.

You know I loved that.

To add insult to injury, my husband is high energy and has incredible stamia. I was diagnosed with a heart condition right before we moved here. I'm moving slower than I used to and now feel like a trailing spouse in every sense of the word.

That's not good.

Caffienated Cowgirl said...

Ah yes...I know the feeling. There are a lot of us out there...you're in good company :)

AmyD said...

You are a genius! I love the image you chose, and never for a second say it as a "crash and burn." Ha!

. said...

Personally, I would call it an extended sabbatical...

karey m. said...

i know exactly what you mean!

it's all about the loss of control, right?

but, then...if we were back in the states, working and going to target every day (heaven), we'd dream of trailing again!

Cheryl said...

that's right...in everything you do, do it well :)

ms chica said...

I like the phrase much better than the term hausfrau...of course I've taken to telling my friends and family that I am either retired or a slacker.

I suspect Max already recognizes you are so much more than a trailing spouse. In time you will recognize it too making the transition easier. I recognize it. You are a student of language, an adventurer, and a world traveler.

utenzi said...

Forfeit is a rather strong word, Diane. Perhaps it's better to think of it in the "career on hold" manner instead of forfeited. You can go back to your career later on.