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*the person who trails the primary income earner to a new career destination

As a trailing spouse I regularly have the opportunity to reinvent myself. I can be Mandy or Amanda or Mrs Olsson or Dr Olsson. I can be Mum or Mom or Mother.

The challenge is to retain some sense of who I am, regardless of where I am. In Asia I am tall, in the UK I am small. In Australia I am thin, in Thailand I am large. I should colour the grey out of my hair in Korea and I should wear it proudly in France. When I worked in Australia I was a ministerial advisor, in Hong Kong I was in corporate communications and now that I am in the UK I am in public relations.

I guess these skills are what makes certain people more adaptable when they become a trailing spouse. I have met people who have endlessly lamented their misfortune at having to travel to different countries - they miss their families, friends, home, life. For those who do make the transition though, the adventure is worth the ride. As I type I am looking at a quotation I have pinned to the wall in front of me and I think it sums up the situation perfectly: " I travel a lot; I hate having my life disrupted by routine - Caskie Stinnett."

I don't know who Ms Stinnett is but I do admire her sentiment. I think it sums up the trailing spouse's lot quite well. We may forgo the community of friends and family that we have shared our lives with and we may forgo traditions that have built up over the years but we do forgo an ordinary life!

Reinventing ourselves. All part of the global challenge for the trailing spouse.

Amanda O has been an expatriate for most of her life and can't imagine living any other way!

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Posted 21Aug05