The Not-So-Shiny Side of Being a Consultant’s Wife

Posted on 07. Oct, 2011 by in Europe Travel, Expat Life

Being a consultant wife - it has a nice ring to it, and it does sound very glamourous from the outside. International travel, fat paychecks, big-name corporations. In more than one way, it is very enjoyable. But sometimes, when I dare to look at the other side of the medal, I find myself longing for something else: stability.

photo by Vidiot

The hardest thing to deal with is the unknown. I never know when or where my husband is going to be sent to next, whether it’s 5000 km away or 2 days from now. That’s exactly what happened last February, when he learned he was moving to France 2 days later, not knowing when we’d see each other again (which ended up being 3 months later). That was a hard blow to digest, and while I hope it never happens again, it’s a possibility I have to live with every day. I don’t even know where I am going to be 6 months from now! While I am a traveler at heart, I am definitely not a nomad and I would much rather continue color-coding my Google calendar than live in the unknown.

Another issue with being a consultant wife is the travel/work schedules. Consultants are definitely not paid to sit on their ass and talk about their week-end. 60 hours week are average, and coming in on holidays and weekends is not uncommon. It ends up being quite tortuous to plan a weekend away to enjoy the sights of the country we’re temporarily living in… But isn’t traveling supposed to be the best part of this kind of lifestyle?

Photo by Family Business

Speaking of money, while it is true that consultant receive somewhat generous compensation for their daily expenses, moving abroad costs a lot of money. New television set, new sheets, new dishware, new pantry basics. Car fees, electricity fees, rent fees. You get my point. We have to start over every time we are sent to a new place, because to be honest, cutlery sets don’t travel too well.

One last thing I have a hard time getting used to is the unstable friendships. While we do get to meet a lot of people, we never know for how long it’s going to last. It’s not easy having to rebuild a social circle everywhere you go, while knowing your friendships back at home slowly degrade with time as well, no matter how much you don’t want them to… people move on with their lives at some point. Distance comes in naturally, and not just in kilometers. Facebook can only do so much to keep friendships alive!

A shot from our wedding

I know this sounds like a 700-word complain, but that’s not how I see it. I like my life right now, even though I know it’s only a brisk hiccup. But I simply wanted to warn those who think that being a consultant wife is all glamour, manucures and luxury hotels. It’s not. It is a great experience, all in all, but certainly has nothing to do with what’s pictured in the movies.

Have you experienced a similar situation? Has living abroad brought up issues? Do you know, or are you, a consultant wife?

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6 Responses to “The Not-So-Shiny Side of Being a Consultant’s Wife”

  1. Very interesting! For a lot of your blurbs, you can insert “military life”. It was interesting to me to read another life that can be just as vagabondish! Thanks for sharing!

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  2. Nathalie

    08. Oct, 2011

    I can really relate to what you’re writing Marie-Eve. I’m not a consultant wife but I’ve been there, done that :)
    All that really matters is that you have each other’s love in this adventure.
    Big hugs sent your way,XXX
    Nathalie

    Reply to this comment
  3. Marianne

    25. Oct, 2011

    Many people work many hours for many years and their families suffer. With the difference of the big pay and fancy lifestyle so don`t expect any sympathy.

    Reply to this comment
  4. Andrea

    07. Dec, 2011

    That sounds really tough - I’d struggle with following someone around the world, even if I loved him dearly. At least you have some nice perks to enjoy along the way…

    Reply to this comment
  5. Abby

    10. Dec, 2011

    I grew up with parents in a similar situation — I always wondered how my mom did it. I enjoyed reading this.

    Reply to this comment

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