The Expat Wife: Dependant or dependent?

Moving out to the Middle East four years ago I feared the worst.  I went in with the mindset that if I hated it, and I was so sure that I would, then we would simply return home and pick up life where we left off.  Albeit in the suburbs rather than the city. I was so sure that being an expat wasn’t for me, that I didn’t fit in the mould of dependant expat wife, that we’d be back in six months.

Yet here we are four years later, second country in.  No thoughts of returning back to the homeland.  And I am, for all intents and purposes a dependant expat wife.

Where meeting new friends, new people, new mums results in small talk over coffee.  Where are you from?  How many kids?  What does your husband do?

What does your husband do.  Rarely a mention of what you do, or even what you did.  You are now simply a dependant expat wife.

definition of dependant: a person who relies on another, especially a family member, for financial support.

A dependant yet I don’t consider myself dependent.

Whilst I rely on my husband financially, and indeed for the ability to actually reside here in Doha, it isn’t the case of his money, his rules.  It can’t be, our marriage wouldn’t work like that.  I am not exactly what you’d call subservient.  I couldn’t imagine my husband having the gall to tell me to tow the line.

And yet I am a dependant expat wife.  With my dependant expat life.  A trailing spouse.

The life of a dependant expat wife…

Some may call me privileged, some may say that I am spoilt by the life I lead and it’s not for me to complain.

I do not deny my privilege.  My privilege in being here is the freedom that I have that allows me to choose the life I lead.  My right to complain is as valid as yours.  My irritations and annoyances make me human, no one ever said becoming an expat wife would change that.

Some may say that I am taking a step back against feminism, that by allowing my husband to be the one to earn all of our money, I am taking the role of a stereotypical 1950’s housewife.

I argue that the whole premise of feminism is the freedom to choose.  The choices that I make for myself are mine and mine alone to make.  So what if I choose not to return to the office job, just because you cannot see me working doesn’t mean that I don’t.  Just because I do not fit into a box that says “working mum” does not mean I am not.  But even were I not, does it matter?

Some may say that by becoming a dependant expat wife I am sending the wrong example to my children.

Though for the life of me I cannot see how a loving, stable marriage is sending my kids the wrong example.  I can’t imagine a world where it is the wrong thing to do to have open lines of communication, to be able to tackle the big and the small together.  And I certainly don’t see how it is a bad thing that my boys see the ways we support each other in everything we do.  Dependant or not.

Some may say “I don’t know how you do it” and “Oh I’d never do that”

My response?  You’re not me, you don’t have too.

Comparison, my friend, is the thief of joy.  My expat life, my entire expat wife status dependant or not, is working for us as a family right now.

Dependant not dependent

Being a dependant expat wife is something I have chosen to embrace, to throw myself in head first and to enjoy.

Being a dependant expat wife, meeting new people, finding new friends, even asking that question “what does your husband do”, that is what I do.  That is what I do now.  But it isn’t what I’ll do forever I’m sure.  Life has a way of panning out like that you see.

Being dependent?

On someone else for happiness, for a sense of self worth?  Not what my life is about.  That isn’t what being an expat wife is.

And if you don’t understand the difference, you don’t understand me.


What it really means to be an expat wife who is a dependant on her spouse.




  1. May 14, 2017 / 7:48 am

    A great post, it is of course up to you to choose how you live. And you also blog, so he’s not the only one working hard – blogging takes a lot of time and work!

  2. May 14, 2017 / 8:27 am

    You’ve written a great post. I do struggle sometimes with the ‘dependent’ issue. It is definitely a choice I have made, but self-doubt creeps in once in a while.

  3. Julia
    November 8, 2017 / 12:29 pm

    Very well written! I will move to another country soon to follow my boyfriend, and now i’m also getting ready for expat life. I had the same thoughts and questions about how to be an independent woman, while depending on my partner. So it was nice to read that I am not alone in this 🙂

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.