Trials of a Trailing Spouse

The term trailing spouse is used to describe a person who follows his or her life partner to another city because of a work assignment. The term is often associated with people involved in an expatriate assignment

There are two reason the blog has been quiet for a while.  Firstly I was going through a hard time, and then secondly, I realised it was really hard to write about going through a hard time, but this site was all about the experience of being an expat. The good and the bad.

It was a good thing that one of us wasn’t working the first few weeks we were here. Making a new home in a brand new city is so much harder than it looks, and had we both been at work all day, I’m not sure how much we would have got done.  But once we were in, furniture had been delivered and built, the shipping arrived – there were less jobs to fill my day.

The decision for me to leave my job was a calculated one.  It was the right thing for us as a family, and we put plans in place that meant it wasn’t the end of the world that I wasn’t working.  And it might sound stupid but it was a shock to me just how much esteem and self worth I had derived from work.  I’ve had a job since I was 16, and I’ve always worked hard (except for that last hour on a Friday) and I’ve pretty happy with what I’ve managed to achieved in my career.  I didn’t realise what a job actually gives to you until I didn’t have it anymore, aside from a pay check at the end of the month.  Jobs (or good ones at least) provide a place that gives you a purpose, a ready made social life, routine and a chance to achieve and make a difference.

I quickly fell into a pattern, good days involved getting up at 6, making my husband and I breakfast, going to our job, remaining motivated whilst applying for tens of jobs, and still being a nice human being in time for him to come from work and make dinner.

The bad days? Get up, go back to bed, not make it to the gym,  open hundreds of rejection notifications emails (the only thing worse than rejection emails are notifications, where your application hasn’t even been looked at, trying to apply for new jobs but feeling like the least qualified person in the world, trying to put on a happy face when my husband came home, which usually lasted about five minutes, feel levels of anxiety grow.

On top of that was the loneliness. Up 3 hours earlier than everyone else, and it the boiling hot months that means everything either leaves the city of stays inside, friend were hard to find.  I’d avoid messaging people because there was little I had to say.  For the first time in my life, I struggled to find an answer to the question “What have you been up to today?” I didn’t even feel like I could take advantage of our beautiful surroundings because I felt guilty having fun or relaxing whilst he was at work.

Then, one day, there was an email that wasn’t a rejection, then an interview and then a job offer.  Working again came in tandem with winters arrival.  When the city became 20 degrees cooler, it was much easier to make friends when people were actually leaving the safety of their air conditioned apartments.  Quite quickly I became a lot less lonely, the great thing about Dubai is that almost every is in the same boat and everyone tries that little bit harder to make new friends.

Life feels that little bit more settled, and now, I usually have a lot to say when asked how my day is.


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