The definition of the trailing spouse is a partner who moves home to accommodate the work requirement of their spouse. In my case, I am a willing and active trailing spouse.
How I became a trailing spouse
After our marriage, in 2011 here in Cyprus, we actively decided that we would move here to provide a better quality of life for our future family together. Given our respective careers (I was lowly admin whereas J is an IT pro) we determined that he would have a much better chance of employment, without having to learn the language first.
Greek is not an easy language to learn, and I am virtually unemployable without a certain degree of fluency.
In the first three months of our life here, we lived in a different city with my J’s parents, and my special someone worked a 24-hour shift pattern. This did not make it easy for me to even look for work, never mind actually hold a position. It was at this point I decided to make my own employment.
Looking for work was not an essential requirement, as cost of living here is significantly lower than the UK, and I was in the enviable position of being able to pursue a course I had been dying to follow since I was a child/teenager.
Reaching for the Dream
Unfortunately, I was starting from scratch, with no substantial experience, just a lot of enthusiasm and penchant for the written word. I had to search for work and found a few online freelance websites. It is not well-paid work. I was working for people in places such as India, the Philippines and other countries where the pay is diabolical.
In addition to the poorly paid work online I started looking for local organisations for which I could volunteer my services. I needed to create a substantial amount of ‘work’ experience to add to my résumé, to make myself more employable in my chosen field. It’s working, but there is a separate issue.
Starting from the bottom
The other issue is this; I’m not making much money. I’m fast gaining experience, and skills and I have a nicely expanded résumé, but I’m still earning peanuts. I am still very much dependent on J for my upkeep, and I have discovered that I liked the feeling of independence that working and making a reasonable salary gave me. It is an aspect of being a trailing spouse that I never considered. Whereas once I was able to pay the rent, do the shopping, and buy household goods and my own clothes, now I can’t do any of those things
I don’t like feeling dependent. I love my husband, and he NEVER makes me feel like a burden; he has actively supported my efforts. Besides, he has actively discouraged me from looking for work, he and I both know that I will hate. However, my current inability to contribute to the family finances is beginning to skew my feelings of self-worth.
I don’t lack focus, I just keep writing, for others and myself, but the lack of purpose is driving me to insanity. What purpose is there, to work purely to cover your costs?
What prompted this initial foray into self-deprecating musing? How do you ask your spouse for cash to buy them birthday present?
Where do I go from here?
There is a ray of light at the end of my self-imposed learning tunnel, and no, it’s not an oncoming train. I am a native English speaker, and I live in a city with a large international corporate population. I may not have an English degree, but I do now have the experience to apply for the content writing positions I see regularly posted on the job sites. The Lingua Franca of the business world is still English (no matter how arrogant that sounds).
I will admit, I like the benefits of working from home, I don’t have to worry about the weather, owning a ‘business’ wardrobe or whether I can get a decent cup of tea
I found great solace in being a member of Internations that connects people from all around the world in whichever foreign place they find themselves, and they have some fabulous reading on the trailing spouse phenomenon (from both male and female perspectives)