By Alexandra Paucescu.
When it comes to trailing diplomatic spouses, as we are most often called, it seems there are quite a lot of clichés, inspired of course also by decades of Hollywood glamour.
Most movies still picture us, the life partners of Foreign Office servants, as ever smiling, glamourous women, an epitome of elegance and grace, perfect housewives, polite hosts, raising perfect children, drinking cocktails at sophisticated parties every night… ‘la dolce vita’!
Indeed, looking from outside it is definitely a privileged life. You get to see the world, meet lots of interesting and powerful people, and have lifetime experiences. You live in a protected world, that gives you immunity, only diplomatic though… not for your feelings and soul!
There is certainly more to it than just tax-free, nice housing, less parking tickets and a special status, and it is not always that idyllic, as people often think. ‘Worry free’ life, they say…
I also remember someone asked me once, half joking but half serious: ‘Oh, you have diplomatic immunity, so you basically could kill me and get away with it?’… Another example of the totally wrong ideas people might have about us.
Besides the obvious advantages (though most of them clearly exaggerated by people outside this circle) there is a whole roller coaster of emotions and mixed feelings. The fact that you move every couple of years to a completely new country puts you under an enormous amount of stress. After all, moving is rated as the third most stressful situation in life, after death of someone close and divorce.
Everything you knew and was familiar to you is suddenly gone: new house, new rules, new language, new neighbours…You’ve got to be strong to adapt, to get to know the insides of this kind of life and be able to make the best out of it. When you move you leave not only your family and friends behind, but also, most often, your job and career. Let’s be honest, regardless of the high academic level and training, that most of diplomatic wives have, many of us are still regarded as ‘housewives’, which try to reinvent themselves and try to stay professionally relevant.
Some of us do freelance, consulting work, some became recognized bloggers and influencers or do volunteer work, myself included. But don’t be fooled by appearances… most of the time this professional reconversion may be quite difficult, tedious and not all that successful.
I recently put down on paper my thoughts and adventures, as a diplomatic spouse over the last more than ten years. My book, ‘Just a diplomatic spouse’ (available on Amazon), is a collection of events, rules of diplomatic protocol and ranking, advices to other women at the beginning of a similar journey, funny stories and deep emotions.
Most of our life as diplomatic wives, we are completely associated with our husbands, the ‘plus one’ on the invitations, highly regarded or not, many times only depending on our husbands’ diplomatic rank. Few people bother to see behind the titles…
But we are not just diplomatic spouses, we are educated women from all over the world, we dedicate our time and efforts to best represent our countries, setting sometimes our own dreams and aspirations aside, giving up a certain level of esteem and recognition that society most often shows when you are a professionally accomplished person. We may not have any officially acknowledged titles but we always have the best intentions at heart and the desire to honour our origins and homeland.
One should never underestimate the diplomatic power of spouses!
About the author:
Alexandra Paucescu- Romanian, Management graduate with a Master in Business, studied Cultural Diplomacy and International Relations.
She speaks Romanian, English, French, German and Italian. Turned diplomatic spouse by the age of 30, she published a book about diplomatic life, writes articles and also gives lectures on intercultural communication.