Issues to be aware of as a trailing spouse


trailing spouse

Important issues you must be aware of as a trailing spouse

Although I am not an accredited authority on this subject I do however have some experience, which I am sure my wife will agree with in the comments section at the bottom of this article should she find it, it would probably make for some interesting reading so from my perspective let’s hope not. Millions of people around the world have moved home for work related reasons.  A large percentage of these are married but what then happens to their other halves? Well they become ‘trailing spouses’ as the term is widely known. A trailing spouse is person who follows their partner to a new region/city/country due to a change in work circumstances.

The phenomena of trailing spouses is usually experienced in the diplomatic, military and other government related assignments, as well the corporate sector where the employer frequently reassigns their staff to new locations, a good example being the oil industry. The decision to move dictates that you will leave your friends, family and possibly even a career behind. However, most spouses are ready to take the leap of faith for happiness, or a career opportunity for their other half that will inevitably benefit the family unit. Some companies understand this and will handsomely compensate for the inconvenience caused. Compensation varies company to company but could include arranging job interviews for the trailing spouse, bonuses, or flying the whole family when they need to visit their relatives who they left behind. But we should not forget that while the transferee is deeply involved with his / her new job the trailing spouse is left with a myriad of issues to handle such as, possibly learning a new language, familiarising themselves with new laws, children’s education, making new friends and adjusting to a completely new lifestyle.


To be clearer some of the issues spouses face in their personal and working lives include;

Barriers to mobility – the unwillingness by some of the spouse’s immediate family members to accept the move may complicate or possibly delay the process. Also a lack of support by the employer to cater for the sensitive needs of the trailing spouse is an issue.

Family issues – Stress caused by financial, social, and cultural strains as a result of the reassignment, sometimes can affect family relationships.

Professional sacrifice – It is not unusual for a trailing spouse to let go of their career and professional goals during this period. Loss of identity – There are many difficulties related to loss of identity during the ensuing period of remodelling in the new environment.

Work/life challenges – There are also various intricacies that a trailing spouse may face when looking for a meaningful job in the new environment.

Gender – Experiences facing male trailing spouses may differ from those faced by females. On the other hand, there are factors a trailing spouse may want to consider in favour of the move; Long-term career goals – The spouse may be in need of changing his or her occupation and the region you are moving to may be an ideal place to start.

Personal needs for fulfilment – They say ‘a change is as good as a rest’. By moving to a new location the spouse can be in a better position to fulfil some of his or her personal ambitions. This might be a good opportunity to meet new people, advance your education or involve yourself in the local community stretching as afar as voluntary work. Is it good for your relationship? – There comes a time when partners need a change of environment to better their relationship. Does the reassignment give the spouses an opportunity to make this a reality?

Each case has there own opinion on this but no one can deny that this actually seems to have a positive effect. In some cases the ‘trailing spouse’ does become the ‘prevailing spouse’. All in all, moving is known to be one of life’s most stressful events, so if you are moving let us at provide you with a man and van to take some of the worry away. Use the contact details on the right side of this article and we would be more than happy to help.

Article written by Simon Gare

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