Being strong (Trailing Spouse Stories)

Since we are celebrating women’s month this March, us, trailing spouses will share our take on what it means to be a woman given our unique experiences. Has being a trailing spouse raised questions about womanhood? Has it made us better, stronger women? How has it shaped our perspectives about being a woman, citizen of the world? Or, for the boys, how has their trailing journey affected their women partners?

The prompt for this month’s Trailing Spouse Stories was to discuss, whether a trailing spouse experience makes you a stronger woman. Well, I think, an expat experience makes you a stronger human being overall, man or woman alike.

Going abroad, you are forced to build your life anew every time. Setting up a home, getting used to a new city, new country, new language, new people. It requires a lot of perseverance to carry on even when the going gets tough, especially when it gets tough. You wouldn’t quit after a month, would you? So brace yourself and try to sort out all those issues arising as you try to settle in, it will get easier eventually.

We suddenly realise that we need to independently deal with things, which we could get help with at home, like bringing up children and relying on our mothers, knowing that our friends can help us out should we need it. Even knowing how things work and what is expected of us on a daily basis – all of this is gone, deal with it. What about paper work? A nightmare in any country, but you have to deal with a new, unique, nightmare every time.

Us, expat ladies, trailing spouses, call it whichever you like, have to deal with lots of issues at home, but our husbands, joining companies with different cultural and national backgrounds, also have their share of adjusting to do. Ever tried switching from a German business style to Chinese and then to Russian? Lots of fun.

I admire expat ladies, who bravely dive into this life changing experience, managing their family lives and making sure everybody feels at home, when they’re far away from it. I’ve actually written a post for She-logy series, telling a story about expat women I met along the way. But I’d also like to show appreciation to our husbands, career men or trailing spouses taking care of our children, for sharing this journey with us. I’d like to thank my husband for making it possible for me to be a woman, who, at times, wants to take a break from being strong.

Read and explore other stories of fellow trailing spouses in the links below:

Didi of D for Delicious shares how the trailing spouse journey has unearthed a lot of questions of what it is to be a modern Filipino woman
Elizabeth’s story on how she came to terms on what it means to be a woman as a trailing spouse on The Secrets of a Trailing Spouse
Clara, in the spirit of equality this women’s month, also honors all trailing male expat partners on Expat Partner Survival
On her blog, Tala Ocampo shares how she became a woman in her 1st leg as a trailing spouse in Sri Lanka
Yuliya of Tiny Expats on how being strong was easier by having someone else to be strong with


  1. It’s just a big change, a change we have to embrace and to the best with. It is also fun… and exciting. And we should not forget that… So many new friendships, new experiences. Things that make us grow and make us stronger.

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  2. Yes, we also need to take a break from being strong! Haha! This Trailing Spouse life is tough but something that has shaped me for the better and I have my husband to thank for that :-) And when the going get tough, we have each other and that’s what matters.

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  3. Our Expat story took us to West Germany in the 70’s. We spent five years in Frankfurt. I believe our experience would have been better had we lived in the local community instead of US military housing. We did get the opportunity to enjoy the culture but still lived in whet we called ‘Little America”. Our kids where very young but remember much of their experience.

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    • I wonder what it was like.. My great aunt and uncle lived in East Germany in the 70s, he was sent there as a specialist in train manufacturing. They also lived in a Russian speaking community and their daughter went to a Russian school. My grandma and my mom visited them there, my mom still has fond memories of Dresden and Leipzig.

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