This article was published in The Guardian last week, and totally struck a nerve with me. As a ‘trailing spouse’ that’s spent the better part of almost a decade in a role of support for my husband’s Masters and PhD, I could empathize with the article’s author. The academy is often an unkind place for couples simply because it can take years for the academic to secure a permanent position. That means life things for the trailing spouse like advancing your own career, planting roots in a city, having children or buying a house often go on-hold when your other half may end up with only a one-year lectureship at a University, or a postdoc in another country. It’s hard to plan when you don’t have any idea of where you’re going to be in a year!
A fair amount of my graduate wife friends have given up their careers to follow their husbands around the world. Some of the luckier ones have versatile jobs that have allowed them to continue advancing their own careers while their husbands continued their educational pursuits.
My question(s) for graduate wives is (especially after reading this article) – Do you and your partner/spouse have a plan if working in the academy doesn’t work out? Is it something that you communicate about regularly? If you’ve had to give up your career, do you resent it, or recognize this may only be for a short season? When do you, as a couple, draw the line and say, enough is enough?
I know that I have fairly strong ideals about this (shared dreams, seasons of life, etc), but I’d LOVE to hear your thoughts. Please comment below!