Foreign, Or Trading Cards | The Spouse
The trading card game that features Foreign-Or types found all over the world! Check out the ninth card released from our Foreign, Or Basics pack:
see more on card anatomy here
PUBLIC SERVICE ANNOUNCEMENT
Are you loving your life traveling with your partner? Do you feel supported as a spouse and free as an individual? Then stop reading right now! Go enjoy your jet-set life, sex your significant other, and inspire all of our relationship goals. Like the #followmeto photographer/model couple we’ve featured on the card artwork your life is Instagram-perfect, and we hope to join you in nirvana one day!
Now, for the rest of us:
The Spouse is a ForeignOr who accompanies their life partner abroad on a family visa/residency, instead of attaining immigration status as an individual. Beyond this definition these folks cannot be generalized, but we’ll try to shed some light on common struggles they face.
In no uncertain terms The Spouse is a dependent. Legally speaking, they are considered an addition to their partner's resident/citizen status, and thus their rights and protections within the host country are tethered to their partner. Depending on the laws of the land they might not have the right to work, study, or travel freely.
As a tethered dependent, The Spouse's life could be upended if their partner divorces them, dies, or loses their job.
Not to mention that The Spouse is often financially dependent as well. When disallowed from local employment and perhaps unable to secure remote work, this ForeignOr's dependency grows the longer they support their partner as the primary income earner.
DEPENDENCY... WITH PERKS
For some this could be a dream come true! Living a life abroad with unlimited time to explore and experience. Dedicating all your energy to hobbies, volunteerism, and self study. Doing it all with your favorite ForeignOr on the planet!
It's true, there are definitely perks to this partnership. The Spouse does benefit from their partner's expat package, which often includes housing, insurance, stipends, and administrative/linguistic/legal support. With boots-on-the-ground access and no pressure to provide The Spouse is in a privileged position. This can offer pathways to study or work, and eventually allow them to shift to their own visa.
SO, WHAT DO YOU DO?
There is a stigma associated with this role. Called everything from 'trailing spouse' to 'living baggage' The Spouse can be viewed as an extension of their partner, auxiliary. In conversation they may be highly dismissive of themselves and prefer to cheerlead their partner: “have you met my husband? he is a bigwig at so-and-so,” or “my wife speaks the local language really well, her in-office tutor always praises her”. When asked about themselves they might freeze up:
Just as the “What are you?” question can irk a ForeignOr, the “So, what do you do?” question can vex The Spouse.
Given accessory status of the 'Missus' or 'Mister' this ForeignOr is highly susceptible to identity crises. Stuck in nasty cycle of depression and isolation The Spouse thinks, "I don't feel like I belong in my own life". The proactive, successful Spouses make the most out of what they can control while the rest stagnate, directionless.
Talking about dependency, let's not forget about the kids! As the other dependents on the family visa, The Spouse's children typically need a lot of support. Schooling, health care, and providing a strong, stable home may fall entirely on the shoulders of The Spouse.
The needs and wants of The Spouse usually come in second to the those of their children. And as the main support to their working partner, The Spouse’s needs might actually rank tertiary in the household, putting their well-being dead last in the family dynamic!
This is of course not the rule; every family is different and every family's dynamic is ever-shifting. For example, stay-at-home moms are treated differently than stay-at-home dads, treatment which can vary wildly from India to Sweden. And in cosmopolitan cities like Dubai there are strong support networks for expat parents—networks that are nonexistent in homogenous, small towns,
There are countless scenarios we haven't touched on: same-sex couples, reversing The Spouse role, immigrating to a partner’s home country and moving in with extended family (a whole other universe of social norms to follow and expectations to fulfill!). Our aim is to simply make this ForeignOr type more visible and to celebrate their contributions. Finally:
This is an excellent opportunity for The Spouse to strengthen their relationship with their partner— to make some memories, to share some inside jokes, and to deepen their understanding as a couple in this big blue world.
Are you a spouse with a story? Tell us everything!
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