Trailing Spouse

This last week of work at Jewish Family & Career Services, I kept my dance card full — as many clients as I could see each day.

My supervisor took it to mean that I was hardworking.

What it really means is that I love to do therapy, and the idea of having worked so hard for the privilege — and then giving it up, possibly for a good while — is hard to accept.

True, as the “trailing spouse” of a foreign service officer, I fantasize at times about becoming a person of leisure in an exotic locale, spending my days sipping cool drinks, reading, visiting a beach, dining out in the evenings. I’d have a good excuse: It’s not easy for diplomat spouses to find work in foreign lands. And in any case, they have to change jobs every two years when their partners are reassigned to another country.

I know myself well enough, however, to know that if I don’t find a way to express myself through a job or avocation, my non-trailing spouse will have a basket case on his hands. I love doing therapy and have been told that it’s likely I’ll be able to find work serving the expat community in many countries — Americans overseas who are looking for an English-speaking counselor.

Still, who knows if I can pull it off? Another option would be to work for the embassy or consulate where Mark is assigned. Some jobs are set aside for family members, but they’re  most frequently lower-paying clerical work. Not a bad way to learn about “the life,” but again, not all that appealing after working so long for that master’s degree and professional licenses.

The State Department folks very helpfully warned us about this in a training recently. Trailing spouses, more than the diplomats themselves or their children, may struggle with their sense of identity in an unfamiliar culture in an unfamiliar role.

So maybe I’ll have to get creative. My most recent fantasy was that perhaps I can start writing a mystery series about the spouse of a Foreign Service Officer who stumbles into crimes and helps solve them: Each time we move, new book in the series! The diplomat spouse is always on the verge of getting in trouble because of his wife’s meddling, but hey, if she saves the ambassador from assassination, who can complain?

(Don’t worry, dear. Just keeping my options open, if only in fantasy.)

Sigh. I sure do miss my clients.






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