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What Is A Trailing Spouse And How Can Businesses Benefit?


Trailing spouses are a group that has been largely ignored by society, and Career Reinvent is here to change that! When one spouse relocates for work, the other spouse often finds it difficult to find work, leading them to "trail" behind the working spouse. These trailing spouses often have unique problems that must be addressed. For example, they may need help building their own social lives and finding ways to sustain themselves financially. Fortunately, new businesses are starting to address their needs - but there is still much more work left to be done!

The history and recent developments in the trailing spouse trend

The trailing spouse trend is not new. While the term is not really used and can sometimes be seen as a negative, this term was coined in the 1980s to describe a group of spouses who relocate with their spouse for work or academia. Over 80% of these spouses are women and many relocate internationally, although not all of them.

In addition, with increased visibility comes increased awareness about what this phenomenon means for business (and life). As companies begin to realize how important It is to support the spouse leaving their job behind to relocate, they'll need to create policies that better accommodate them if they want them on their team or as clients.

Understanding the term “trailing spouses”.

While the term is not really used and can sometimes be seen as a negative, this term was coined in the 1980s to describe a group of spouses who relocate with their spouse for work or academia. Over 80% of these spouses are women and many relocate internationally, although not all of them. Terms like relocating spouses and accompanying spouses are becoming more common.

What do you do if you are a trailing spouse?

  • Take advantage of the career opportunities in your host country or new state for domestic moves.

  • Find a job that is both fulfilling and pays well.

  • Make friends with other expats, local people and other trailing spouses.

  • Stay healthy by exercising regularly, eating a balanced diet and getting enough sleep.

  • Manage your finances in order to avoid debt or bankruptcy when you return home or find another source of income abroad in the future. This can be difficult for trailing spouses who have been out of work for years and have no savings left from their previous jobs at home; but it's possible if you're careful about using credit cards only when needed instead of relying on them as part of your spending plan every month (and paying off those purchases immediately after using them).

  • Stay connected with family members who remain behind by using Skype calls or video chat apps like Snapchat so there's still some connection between all members even though they aren't living together anymore; however, this method isn't enough on its own because sometimes face-to-face interactions are necessary too—either through traveling back home once per year during vacations instead.

Staying busy as a trailing spouse.

If you’re a trailing spouse, you can keep yourself busy with the following activities:

  • Volunteer: You may be able to find volunteer opportunities on an online site like VolunteerMatch or Idealist.

  • Take a class: Your local community college or university might offer classes in subjects that interest you. Ask your partner if he/she can help pay for the class if it isn’t part of your education plan.

  • Join a club: If there is something specific that interests you, such as art or music clubs, join one! Or start one if there isn’t one already. Another option is to find an activity based on religion or culture—it will provide socialization and help keep boredom at bay.

  • Work: There are many jobs that allow for telecommuting so that spouses can work from home while their partners are away on business trips or temporary relocations (i.e., diplomats). Some examples include customer service roles with companies like Amazon and Blue Apron; graphic design positions through Upwork; and technical writing roles through Indeed.

Trailing spouses have important needs, which many businesses are starting to address.

Trailing spouses are often a valuable resource for businesses. This is because they have unique needs that are often not addressed by businesses, and they also serve as a great way to attract expats.

According to a September 2017 study released by InterNations, an international community of expatriates, only 45% of the spouses who move with their partners to a new country end up finding work. More than 80% of the spouses are women.

Companies that invest in the well-being of their employees' families are more likely to retain their best people and attract the best talent. If a company is to retain its most valued employees, it must also take care of their partners and children. This is especially true if they live overseas as expats who travel often tend to be a little more sensitive about how they are treated than others who have less frequent change in location.

There are many ways for companies to go about doing this:

  • Hiring an international relocation expert who can help you prepare your employee's home before they arrive (and pack it up when they leave). The right professional will find hidden details that could save your business time, money, and stress (such as water heaters with broken seals). They will also make sure all appliances meet local standards, so you don't have any costly surprises later down the road!

  • Providing language training for both parents at once rather than just focusing on one parent or another; this way both partners feel like contributors instead of being left behind by their spouse's career growth opportunities abroad like other couples might experience from time-to-time back home."

  • Companies can offer educational, vocational and career services to spouses / partners. This can include a transition plan that help in identifying classes at a university or continuing education program, help finding volunteer activities or employment opportunities.


The trends in business we’ve just explored are some examples of how companies are making efforts to accommodate trailing spouses. We hope that this article has helped you reflect on your own situation as a trailing spouse, and that you’re able to use these insights to consider what your next steps may be.

Also, If you are a company looking to build a dynamic program that will help retain expat employees long-term and show potential prospects that you are also invested in their trailing spouses, do not hesitate to contact Career Reinvent today!


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