Monday's Food for Thought

Monday’s Food for Thought: Trailing Spouse Syndrome

new food for thought

Recently, a good friend of mine forwarded me an article about something called “Trailing Spouse Syndrome.” Upon reading the article, I googled it and was surprised at the amount of articles and blog essays on this phenomenon. I’ve been following my husband around for the last 9 years (both in the USA and the UK), and I can honestly say I’ve seen this, even though, at the time, I didn’t know it had a name or was a syndrome!

Indeed, most of us have moved to support our grads in school; and a lot of time that has most definitely raised issues on identity, marriage, relationships, dreams etc. for those of us in the supporting role. As interesting as it is, I have to say I really dislike the term ‘trailing spouse’. Most of the articles I’ve read are a bit negative, so when I stumbled across this article, I loved the author’s concept of using the time to sort of reinvent yourself, whether you move because of your husband’s job or place in school; or if you move to different state or country!

What do you think? Would you consider yourself a trailing spouse? Do you like or dislike that term? How do you deal with it?

Happy Monday,


Monday's Food for Thought

Monday’s Food for Thought: Trials and tribulations of a trailing spouse

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!

Happy Monday!