Who is the "Accompanying Partner "AP"?

The past article looked at TCP’s and TCK’s.  Today, I would like to look at who is the Accompanying Partner“AP” during expatriation. 

The Cambridge English Dictionary defines "accompanying" as:

"appearing or going with someone or something else".

If one adds Partner to Accompanying, it gives a pretty good overview of how an “AP” and their role can be perceived by others. Despite the importance of an "AP's" role during expatriation, how many “AP’s, despite their value, have introduced themselves during social events as the “spouse/partner of X”.  

Several other terms exist to name the “AP”. The term “trailing spouse” was often appropriated in the past. The earliest citation of the term trailing spouse is attributed to Mary Bralove in the Wall Street Journal (July 15, 1981) in an article titled “Problems of Two-Career Families Start Forcing Businesses to Adapt”. Nowadays, however, spouses/partners who follow the Expat on an assignment abroad may find this term derogatory. Therefore, “trailing spouse” for those who live the situation is considered as unattractive and unrealistic of the realities and responsibilities of this role.

The “AP’s” demographic profile has been changing over the years in terms of factors such as sex, education, career history. When one thought of “AP’s” in the past, the image of a married female who stayed at home was often associated. Although, it is still largely the case, the number of males following females is increasing, as well as partners of the same sex.

Research has shown that the “AP” has often the same level of education as the expat and many have put their career on hold to follow their partner.  They often resign or take leave from their company.  
According to an International survey carried out by the Permits Foundation: 

“Almost 90% of spouses/partners were working prior to accompanying the expatriate on the assignment whereas this fell to only 35% in the host location”.1.

Therefore, if a large percentage of “AP’s” have put their career on hold to support their partner, or for different reasons they cannot find employment/or work in the host country, numerous are those who ask the question concerning their future career path. This is an issue that can preoccupy their mind during the stay abroad.

The worries associated to this can be calmed with prior reflection and anticipation for the return, to fully enjoy and benefit from the enriching experience of another country and culture. This is what I propose to develop on in further articles given my experience and exposure as a former “Spouse of X”.

Continue to value yourself and to recognise the lead role which you play in a successful expatriation. Your participation in the project makes all the difference!


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