My story

Expat Wife or a “Trailing Spouse”

I am not sure which of the title between expat wife or trailing spouse is more offensive to me.  I think maybe it’s the second one because It sounds like we are a baggage and it takes out the “awesome” personality we are.  Well, maybe not the word itself but the stereotypes surrounding the title.

there, a man and the trailing spouse

Anyway, I am not going to complain about labels/title here.  I want to tell you the story how I became that girl with the label.

I just turned 30 years old.  Had a decent job and a career.  Was in a stable relationship (4 years) and just started feeling that I finally got a hold of my life.  Until one night, I had to make a decision that would risk it all.

My (by then) boyfriend and me, we were not really thinking about marriage by that time.  After the first 2 years of riding a relationship rollercoaster, we just want to enjoy the calm and mature relationship that we finally established.

However, one day he told me that 2016 would be his last year as an expat in Indonesia, and he will have to move to the next assignment country by the start of 2017.  I remember we were sitting in silence for a couple of minutes, each of us busy with our own mind pondering about zillion things that we have to decide and do.

After 4 years in the relationship, we both knew that this will happened sooner or later.  However, I still remember the dread I felt that night.  After some time, we knew that we need to decide about our relationship.  If we are going to continue it or if we want to decide to separate ways.

We both knew, there is no option for a long distance relationship (although in the end, it was inevitable).  And that if he ever wants me to live in another country with him, then we had to marry.  In my home country Indonesia, living together is forbidden for an unmarried couple.  We only had 2 choices then, to marry or to end the relationship.

Long story short, we decided to get married.  It was not the most romantic way to do it, but knowing how much he valued his freedom meant a lot to me.

That decision meant that I had to quit my job.  To let go of my financial independence, my financial freedom, and my whole career was a huge thing to sacrifice.  For someone like me, who has nothing else except for the pride that I am an independent woman, it was almost an impossible thing to do.

Thousands of times I asked myself whether it would be worth it.  After months of self-doubting and self-arguing the case, I decided to trust my then boyfriend.  That he will and have the ability to take care of both of us.  We discussed a lot about it, about the possibility of me being dependent entirely to him, about our financial situation.  After some more hesitation period, I finally take my first step which was to quit my job.

I think every employee for at least once in their lifetime had been dreaming of the day that they finally don’t have to wake up early in the morning and go to that forsaken place we called an office.  I had a 3 months notice period, I needed to plan my resignation carefully so that I can time my last day according to our moving date.

Never have I imagined that to submit the resignation letter would be the hardest thing I have ever done regarding this whole thing.  I completely put myself in other people’s hands in that moment.  It was SCARY but somehow, I knew it was a right decision.

I arrived in Singapore on March 2017 with a tourist visa since we were unable to marry before we moved out.  Only a legally married spouse or a Registered common living partner are given a Dependent Pass (visa for spouse).  Most of the first 2 months I was here was to find an apartment, to arrange our wedding, learning how to commute, and basically to adopt the new life.

We got married in June 2017 in Singapore, basically a bit over a year after that dreadful night. I got my Dependent Pass in July 2017.  I was very happy but that was also the day I officially demoted from “independent” to “dependent”.

It was the day I lose a right to open a personal bank account, to register a post-paid subscription under my own name.  There are many other things a dependent pass holder is not able to do.  Including, having to ask your husband to sign a cheque or a sponsorship letter for visa documents.  It is a belittling situation to be in no matter how great your partner is.

To be honest, it is hard not to have a self-validation.  I still have a hard time digesting and accepting that fact.  But by acknowledging my feelings, and trying to be positive about it.  I believe that there are other ways to be independent, I am hopeful.  I just need to work harder to find my way, even if I have to start everything from zero.

It’s an eye and mind opener experience.  I gain more respect for every woman who sacrifices their independence to support and follow their husband.  Even more to the one who managed to re-established their independence in the foreign country.  It is literally what a “Girl Power” means.

Check out these awesome bloggers + expat wives websites from all over the world.  They are sharing their experience living abroad with all the perks and difficulties they are facing :

  • Kirsty at kirstyriceonline.com (4 kids, 20 suitcases, and a beagle) she is funny, sassy, and a real definition of strong and independent mamma.  I love her writing style, awesome contents, sense of humor, and witty.  It’s like listening to an old friend.  Her personality is all over her blog, I give two thumbs up for her.
  • This post here (Independent Dependant: Finding yourself as an Expat Wife in Singapore) is perfectly describe how it is to be an expat wives, I am in every word.  I am so grateful that I found this article when I needed it most.  Sassymammasg.com blog itself is full of informative posts about kids, relationship, Singapore lifestyle, and much other fun and creative contents.

Do let me know your story about your first time being an expat wife.  About your thoughts and how you survived the changes in your life.

Thank you for reading my posts, God Bless us.