Making a move, domestic or international, usually means one person in the partnership is changing jobs or relocating for new job possibilities. In a dual income family, this has special implications for the second wage earner, often times the wife. Pretty much gone are the days of the long-suffering wife who gives up her career to follow her husband to the far corners of the world. Nowadays a lot of research, home work and soul searching must be carried out by both sides in the partnership to determine if the international opportunity outweighs the downfalls of leaving.

The trailing spouse must decide for him/herself what having a job means to him/her. Perhaps the second income is a necessity for the family finances or perhaps it allows a certain amount of independence for the spouse, pocket money or savings for the future. It could be that it is a form of personal expression or creativity, allows the spouse to get out of the house and meet interesting people. Oftentimes having a job or career gives one a strong sense of self, identifies who we are and boosts our self-confidence.

Or perhaps an international move to a country where it is difficult for spouses to gain employment is just what you have been waiting for. This may very well be the perfect opportunity to take a break from your work and take up that hobby you've always wanted to pursue or go back for further education. Maybe you just want to stay at home and be with your children, do some volunteer work or start a whole new career.

It is essential for couples to sit down and discuss what such a move means for each of them. While it may be an upward move on the career ladder for the employee, it could mean the loss of position, status or possibility of career advancement for the spouse. Writing out the pro's and con's of both staying and leaving help couples to see, in black and white, where they each stand. Once a mutual decision has been made, there is no room for feelings of guilt or resentment by either side. They can begin to look at the move as an adventure to be anticipated with excitement, or at the very least, a challenge worth pursuing!

Trailing spouses need to have a strong sense of identity and self-confidence; therefore, it is extremely important to seek out support as soon as possible after arrival in the host country, if not beforehand.

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