The Unpaid Job of the Trailing Spouse

It is not surprising that trailing spouses find generally difficult to advance or even continue their professional carrier when constantly moving from one place to another one. Obstacles faced by the accompanying spouses range from visa restrictions to language barriers, from lack of knowledge of the local job market to being busy with settling in tasks, among many others.


Taking a back seat is not easy for a trailing spouse that used to be employed or run his/her own business in their home country. It can really cause frustrations, frictions and diminished self-confidence and independence. Nevertheless, it should not be like this, because the “unpaid” and underrated job of the expat spouse is highly valuable.


Expat spouses’ contribution to the expat journey is immense but mostly overseen. Some expat spouses take into volunteering roles or donate their time to good causes. Others become great homemakers and administrators in an unknown destination where rules and codes are different. Many dedicate their time and energy to support and guide their children, while they also struggle with school changes and with their new environment. And most expat spouses take care of all of the above plus many other tasks that come with the move and with the settling in process.


Not being paid for doing the trailing spouse’s job does not mean it has not value. On the contrary, it is significant, and sometimes it is as or more stressful than any other paying job. It is non-stop and very challenging; so, it should not be minimized or taken for granted.

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