Disagreement on the use of “trailing spouse”



Is “trailing spouse” a pejorative or offensive term?

Another blogger, whose husband has a job that relocates them periodically, has taken a strong position on the term “trailing spouse.” You can read her blog post here.

She doesn’t appreciate or identify with the “trailing spouse” description since she’s doesn’t feel like it is accurate:  She and her husband choose to continue to be nomadic.  She doesn’t feel like she’s trailing behind anyone.

It seems to me that she takes offense at the term since its not feminist.  However her particulars are the same as many expats or trailing spouses; yet she has been able to retain her career while others have not.  She doesn’t feel disempowered like many of us do; her career options do not seem to have dissolved due to regional differences in economics, market specializations, or politics. Therein lies the difference, I think.

Trailing spouse isn’t a great term and its use has been challenged by users on the web. What other terms would you use to describe the situation of a person who must [reluctantly] leave behind their career so that their spouse can pursue their own career?

Let me know in the comments below!

Image courtesy of imagerymajestic/ FreeDigitalPhotos.net

2 thoughts on “Disagreement on the use of “trailing spouse”

  1. As you know from reading my blog http://www.chroniclesofatrailingspouse.com , I refer to myself as Trailing Spouse too, although it is somewhat of a misnomer. Yes DH is the one who is skilled enough to be offered jobs abroad, along with relocation costs and all that jazz (I couldn’t get someone to pay my bus fair down the road), BUT I am very much the one who wants to travel, he just goes along with my mad cap plans! I think it’s a cute phrase and really only refers to the fact that it is his job which is relocating us. For a good laugh, read ‘Diplomatic Baggage; the adventures of a trailing spouse’, it’s a hoot!

    • Hi Claire,
      I’m with you. At first I was completely offended when someone said I was a trailing spouse but my offense now has softened to affection. It would be nice to find meaningful employment and restart my career, but I’m also having such a great time staying busy doing other things I really, really enjoy (like this blog!). Thanks for stopping by; I hope to see you here on the trail again soon. -Kris

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