#Personal Stories

Adjustments, Acceptance, Enriching Experiences: Saga Of Trailing Spouse

Trailing spouse
Moving from one place to another comes with a concoction of mixed emotions. At times it doth get exasperating to move around and never truly have a place where you have your roots and it is saddening. Meanwhile, you do get to travel a lot and add enriching experiences to your journal of life. In this trade, you lose some and win some. My experience as a trailing spouse is replete with these ambiguous sentiments that don’t fit the binaries of “positive” or “negative” we have ascribed them.

Being a trailing spouse all my married life, I definitely lost some and won some. I am married to police personnel who gets posted to every corner of the country every two-three years. I made the choice to be a trailing wife for my spouse and daughter despite having the choice to settle in one place. I believed my daughter needed both of us during her crucial growing years.

No friends to call BBFs

I am at that stage of my life where I can call no one BBF. Let me elaborate.

My father was also a Madhya Pradesh cadre police which meant I moved around every three-four years as a child. Although I had considerable experience in adjusting and adapting, I did not really have a person I could call my best friend. I did make friends easily but when you know you will move in a couple of years, I did not invest too much time in cementing childhood friendships. Also, I lost touch with my school friends, as it is if women are not located in the same city as their birth after marriage, and move to a new city, old friendships become hard to maintain. So, other than one or two friends, I do not have a big circle of friends from my childhood.

Same after marriage, I moved with my husband whenever, wherever he got posted.  He would get busy in his new office and colleagues; I would be left fending for myself. If the posting was in a remote or disturbed area then chances of my getting out to meet civilians and their families became even more difficult. There, of course, were wives of my partner’s colleagues but not everyone matches your wavelength.

With the spouses of my husband’s colleagues, I did everything that I would with a friend but that was temporary, once posted we lost touch and also knew in our hearts that we might never meet them in this lifetime again. So, for me not having childhood friends is the biggest drawback of me as a trailing spouse.

No career graph to talk about

I chose journalism as my career path once I completed my post-graduation course and joined a newspaper. Eventually, I became the Features Editor and things were good until I got married. After my wedding, I had to move to Assam. The culture, language, food habits etc. were a few barriers I had to break down.

I did make friends with local people and travelled extensively in the North-East region but I could not continue my career as there were no media houses there. It was the same issue whenever we were posted in Jammu & Kashmir, Kandla Port in Gujarat, Godavarikhani in Telangana etc.

Amidst the moving, my career took a backseat. I worked wherever I had an opportunity to join a newspaper or magazine or resorted to working freelance. Like in the friendship area, my career too suffered. Whenever I see my former colleagues and friends in top positions doing well for themselves I do feel envy and lots of sadness and dissatisfaction.

Although ours was an arranged marriage, I finally said yes to the alliance, so I have no one to blame for my career or rather ‘no career’. Now, I prefer online jobs as they give me the flexibility to work remotely. It’s not the kind of work I want to do but, at least I am doing something, earning my pocket money than not doing anything.

Discovering new places is a pro as a trailing spouse

Being a trailing wife has its pros as well. I get to visit remote and little known places, like a Thai village in Assam, where the villagers consider themselves as the direct descendants of Thai kings and so do not marry and mix with locals, and the Salt Desert of Kutch, where for miles and miles you see just a white salty expanse, Uri in J &K, where you see Pakistani trucks enter India and Indian trucks go to Pakistan with goods, to discover every nook and corner of Hyderabad and Bangalore. Over the years the spouse has been posted in capitals such as New Delhi, Bhopal and Ranchi as well. Wherever we are we try and visit the best known and least known places of the state.

Yes, I am enriched by experiences, I know people from all these places and more but I am most happy about my collection of sarees from all the states I have lived in.

The ex-pat experience

But I am most proud of my time in Pristina, the capital of Kosovo. My husband decided to give the entrance test for UN Mission in Kosovo. All uniformed personnel can apply for posts in the UN peacekeeping missions. Luckily he got through and he was posted in Pristina, and thus began my great discovery. While in Pristina I volunteered with an NGO and got to know and help with local causes while being an ambassador of our country. The friends I made locally would show me around Pristina and make me taste their local cuisine.

We did a Euro trip and visited almost all the countries of Europe by bus. We visited the most popular sights of France, Germany, Holland, Italy, Switzerland, and Belgium. We also visited Macedonia and Greece separately. So, yes, being a trailing spouse does pay off most of the time.

Finally, I would say, being a trailing spouse does mean adjustments, and accepting new ways of living, but it also means not getting too attached to people or places, as everything is temporary. Being a trailing wife also means you cannot have a career, if one is ambitious this position is not for you, you are lucky if you get friends who will last a lifetime. On the brighter side, you are enriched with experiences, places and cultures that will last a lifetime.

Views expressed are the author’s own

Suggested Reading: Being A Trailing Spouse: Challenges And Adjustments Shape This Journey