No, I never liked the term trailing spouse, but I was damned glad to find there was a word for what I was stepping into. The Smart Expat has a post about a friend who referred to herself as "trailer trash", a cheeky reference to the limiting (and ill-fitting) trailing spouse. "Accompanying spouse" was suggested, but damn if that doesn't strangle the tongue. It's hard to find a word that properly respects but describes that position. Why is it so hard to make it sound important, necessary and incredibly complicated? Probably because all the things a TS does in the move is typically considered women's work. And even though this refers to the complicated business of setting up a new home base, it isn't respected as it should be. (Look at the salaries of child care workers and teachers, and tell me this world ain't a little screwed.) If crazy people hadn't coined it, I'd say "help meet" was a good term, but it gives me the shivers.
Trailing spouse seems like a grim self-fulfilling prophecy, wherein you start to drag behind and lose your identity because that's what you're calling yourself. Because your title doesn't imply independence or acknowledge what you do, only what you're following behind. This is why words are so important. Words can totally hurt people, or give them the idea that they aren't held to high expectations (I feel this every time someone says "girl" when they mean "woman").
We need something that implies a parallel partnership. I wish sidecar didn't sound so damn ridiculous, because I kind of love it.
|Les Vins Georges Duboeuf (This is not us)|