The Gratitude of a Trailing Spouse

On the occasion of last week’s Thanksgiving holiday and the upcoming Holiday Season, I cannot help but giving this week’s blog post a more personal note. I always tremendously enjoyed the time around the Thanksgiving holiday during our almost 5 years in the US. All those families around us getting together for a festive celebration of this wonderful tradition and showing their gratitude and love. The busy life was standing still, bustling DC was usually swept and you could see the candles burning in those few remaining family homes. Several times we had the honor of being part of such celebrations, which is still a dear memory of mine from our USA times. Thanksgiving also inaugurated the Christmas season and my beloved Christmas spirit was always successfully sparked. Up to the day, I cannot help but inaugurating my own Christmas spirit already in November. Luckily my children are happy to play along to overrule my Swiss husband on the date for taking out the decoration from the basement and decorating the house and Christmas tree (in early November ;). At the same time, this season always has a special spirit of recapping the past year going hand in hand with those things we might be grateful for.

Trailing life of a spouse – positive or negative?

Ever so often, the focus of the life of a trailing partner or spouse is on the negative aspects of it – on all those things we give up while moving along with our transferable spouses and partners, all those things we miss, and all those things we have to live without. I must admit that I rarely have moments of regret. Of course, as every mother I do worry about our children and the way they grow up internationally. Living in a developing country, I have my concerns regarding the medical care, the problem and effects of the pollution on my kids and our health, and the sheer danger of the local traffic. More often though, I am deeply grateful for the life that my spouse and I have decided to live.

A naturally restless soul

I think this gratitude is connected to my early natural restlessness. I was born and raised in a very rural area in Germany. Not many people would ever even consider leaving. Nevertheless, I always felt this urge to go away, to see and experience more of this wonderful planet. I felt (and still feel) like a tourist on Earth, wanting to experiencing all the treasures there are. This wish started as a young girl in High School. My collection of exchange year brochures and biographies of those lucky ones having already done it grew and grew in my room. Without being able to explain it, I had always felt misplaced in this stable and traditional context and I welcomed any change, as small as it might had been, with great excitement. In my life now, as much as I love traveling and exploring the World, I love to return – once in a while for a while. I dearly love my family and friends I still have in my born-home, who always make the time and welcome me for a quick pit-stop visit. However I also like to move on after having spent a while there. The restlessness usually has me back after a few weeks. And with the safe expectation of a departure on my mind, I am able to enjoy the moments on the spot much more and better.

Gratitude for a mobile lifestyle

As a spouse on the move, I feel a deep gratitude for the life I decided to live. I feel grateful:

for being able to dive into and experience different countries and cultures first-hand;

for (trying to) learning a new language or at least bits of it in every new home (I admit that with Russian it was more of a trying ;);

for decluttering my home every four years in preparation of the next move;

for redesigning and refurbishing a new home in every new location we settle;

for having the chance of reinventing and reorienting myself personally, but also professionally every few years;

for being able to share what we have and support local families by creating job opportunities and sharing our food, clothes, toys and kitchen supplies;

for those moments when we find something familiar or new in the local supermarket shelf (and we buy all of it since you never know how long it lasts);

for all the openness and willingness to welcome us in a new location and a new community;

for living through situations and events that make me and us as a family grow;

for being able to support my children’s school by sharing time and knowledge;

first and foremost, I am profoundly grateful for all the friendships, for all the wonderful people and souls I have so far met along the way, for all the valuable discussions and conversations, for all those moments we have laughed together;

for having friends in so many places that almost everywhere we travel, a friend is just a phone call away (and an invitation for a barbecue on a traditional Hutong rooftop makes a Beijing trip even more special);

for all those humans, no matter where the originate from and where they will go to next, with whom we share a small or bigger part of our life, I am unspeakably grateful. (I very much relate to music for many of my life situations, so click on the link to listen to one of my favorite “friendship songs”)

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