September 13, 2010

The Trailing Spouse

It was one week after arriving in Singapore that I heard this phrase used for the first time.

Trailing Spouse

It sounds like a woman that would follow around after her husband with hands folded, head bowed, and shuffling feet waiting to be summoned. I found it amusing and repulsive all at the same time and wondered if I was alone in my irritation of being labeled something so unimaginative.

I resent the implication that I've had no part in the decision making process and work involved in moving. I don't know if it was an attempt to run as far from this label as possible or to keep myself from an impulsive moment of throwing up my hands and moving back to Houston, but I hit the ground running in Singapore.

We found a church, I joined a Bible study, had the pastor and his wife over for dinner and started to put down roots. I signed up for tours, made lunch dates, went to PTA meetings, and started working out again. I've been keeping up with the boys and their busy schedules and doing lots of laundry. Have I mentioned how much laundry there is when you have a teeny tiny washing machine? Loads and loads of laundry.

I have worked at investing in my new friends and maintaining the relationships I have from home.

I was NOT going to be a trailing spouse. I was determined to find my God given purpose in Singapore and nothing was going to stop me. I have contemplated the idea of heading off to other countries to work in orphanages or to help in poverty stricken areas. I have 2 different Bible studies going and one book, Radical, that is rocking my world. I have wondered if my secret dream of writing a book was something I should explore more in depth. I wonder if maybe God does want there to be a C3 Singapore and just how long I wait until jumping into that.

Then there's tennis. A sport that has elluded me all these years except for a brief stint of lessons a couple years ago that left me frustrated at my poor eye/hand coordination. I have been told my "wing span" is going to waste by not embracing the sport and maybe I should take up lessons again. Oh! And some kind of martial arts or yoga.....even pilates!

Given the amount of time the kids have off from school and the 2-3 years most ex-pats have in their contract, becoming a travel agent is required for any traveling on the list to be done. So many places to see and so little time that it's not unusual for a group of women to spend loads of time comparing notes on places, hotels, itineraries, and activities in order to check off the list of must see places. I am almost frantic over the fact that we don't have our Thanksgiving plans nailed down or our trip over Chinese New Year in February or even Spring Break in March. I need to get busy!!!

No time at all to be a Trailing Spouse.

In the meantime, Scot and I have been struggling. Plain and simple, this move has taken a toll on our relationship. I went from having a husband that worked outside the home and traveled internationally to having a husband that works from our apartment. I'm not used to him being around so it is just easier for me to leave. Fill my time outside our home. To be irritated that he's encroaching on MY space. I was aloof and snappy and generally unpleasant for him to be around.

We were sitting in the airport on our way to Australia for a brief work convention. We were being polite to each other and that was about it. He told me that he missed me. That he thought our move across the world and my removal from all that distracted me back home, would bring us closer together. That our relationship would be more intimate on all levels. That he would be all I needed. That he would fill the void of everything left behind.

I very stubbornly and somewhat arrogantly told him that I have been amazing in my attitude over the move and for that he should be grateful. That I have made a new life for myself and he ought to be thrilled. That I have not wasted one day away in the fetal position in tears for what we left behind and I should get an award.

"You're right. But I just thought it was going to be more of you and me."

That's all he said. I realized that it wasn't me at all that was the Trailing Spouse.

It was him.

That he was trailing after a wife who was completely missing the greatest gift of all in our move. The opportunity to strengthen and deepen a very important relationship. The opportunity for us to be a team. The opportunity for us to spend the kind of time together that I have yearned for in the past. The opportunity to be each other's best friend.

So, for you Scot, because I know you will eventually read this.

I am sorry.

I am sorry for not being more careful with our relationship. It is the most precious earthly relationship I have and it deserves to be treated with the utmost care and I have failed us in that.

Neither one of us needs to be trailing behind the other. We need to be walking next to each other, holding hands, laughing at private jokes, and being each other's biggest cheerleader.

Maybe we can take up tennis together? Well, except for that part where I get very competitive with you and say inappropriate things when I think you're purposefully losing to me. Yep, on second thought, we'll stay away from tennis.

Because I could totally beat you!!

I love you Scot Jenkins. You are my greatest gift in life.


  1. The I appreciate it. Love you for it. Praying for you both right now. Suddenly my heart aches to give you a big ole hug and say go get your man! Or wait on him....interceeding for you dear friend... interceeding.

  2. I have never doubted for a minute that you (and Scot) would find your way in Singapore and through the rest of your life. Though I don't know you as well as many others, I see you as a precious couple, a team. Just remember who is driving this train...and it's not either one of you - It is the One you love and serve and He is walking right beside you. May God continue to guide and direct your life as you have allowed Him to do so in the past. Blessings to each of you.

  3. Lest any of us feel that we are alone. And to think...You saved me the trouble of living half-way around the world to see that I continually forget to walk hand in hand with my husband. In our house it seems that we like to run circles around each other. Nauseating. For real. Oh, and the whole tennis idea? You are wise to avoid it. B and I have the same problem with competitive sports. UG-UH-LY. But that may be all the more reason to play. I love you.

  4. Have I told you how much I love your honesty? That you invite us right into your world and let us "live" right along side you? Thank you for reminding us to not be a "trailing spouse" no matter where we live.


  5. I hope Scot has read this by now, because it shows your heart so beautifully. I'm Believing God for the adventures He has planned for you two as you stand side-by-side! Love from Missouri <3

  6. Um, this is completely beautiful. I love it so, so much. Thank you. Seriously.



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