Being part of a humanitarian power couple: Lessons from the inside


This post is written by @josh_chaffin. The author did NOT choose the title of this post OR the photo, but indulged our aid worker sense of humor. 

One partner gets the job in a new country, the other stays flexible, comes along for the ride and makes it work. Repeat as necessary.

Be willing to have your partner disappear for a week or three weeks, a month or three months, all the time. Especially if one of you is consulting, which will usually be the case.  One year, before we had a kid, we were apart like 30% of the year.

But when you have a kid, suddenly the hardship posts and tons of travel for consulting are no longer possible. So you scramble to find two HQ or family duty posts and hold onto them for dear life. It’s not a family-friendly industry, or even a relationship-friendly industry. It’s littered with failed relationships and single people. You need to find a partner that knows what he/she’s getting into, preferably in the same industry. But that’seasier said than done. In our case I kind of switched industries into the humanitarian field, partly to make the relationship work. Because of my spouse I had this built-in set of contacts in that field, our social group, so it made things easier if I just worked in the same field as her.

That part does get a little old, though. I wouldn’t mind if one of us were an artist or a dog-walker, just so we’d have something to talk about outside of gender and protection and what UN agency is pissing us off today.

Do you have relationship-survival lessons to share?  Or war stories of the heart?  Comment below or click on the “Contact” page to  get in touch about writing a post.




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