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our big news

Now that we have settled into DC, the time has come to let the cat out of the bag. Our big news – which has been several years in the making – is that S also joined the State Department. She started training several weeks ago and will get sworn in along with the newest crop of America’s diplomats next month.

In bureaucratic speak, this means that we have become a tandem: a couple in which both members are employed by one of the U.S. Government’s five Foreign Services (Departments of State, Agriculture, and Commerce; the U.S. Agency for International Development; and the Broadcast Board of Governors). In doing so, we have traded in one set of work challenges for another.

By one measure, we actually have had it relatively good these past seven years: S was able to find meaningful work in her field of expertise at two of the three embassies where D has been assigned. On the other hand, she also spent large periods of time unemployed, underemployed, or even unemployable. That her work history qualifies as good for a so-called “eligible family member” underscores one of the many difficulties of being a trailing spouse.

With both of us now in career-track positions – and with the same agency of the U.S. Government – that chapter is now behind us. Becoming a tandem, however, brings challenges of its own. The Department’s policy is to take tandemhood into consideration during the assignment process without making any guarantees that the two members of a tandem couple will, in fact, be assigned to serve together.

S will receive her first posting in a couple of weeks, and we will then test the murky waters of tandem assignments for the first time. Wish us luck!

Photo credit DOS.

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