The reasons for migration among highly skilled couples are economic as well as noneconomic. However, our understanding of the motivations of trailing wives remains somewhat limited, especially given their loss of personal, professional, and social resources during the relocation. This chapter explores the motivations of women to relocate for their husband’s work. It examines how gender ideologies weave with the decision to relocate, and how women’s considerations and preferences are taken into account during this process. This study included depth interviews with 12 trailing mothers in the Netherlands and in the United States during 2015–2016. Interviews were performed face-to-face or by video chat. The study used an interpretative phenomenological analysis (IPA). Narratives analyses revealed that most trailing wives exerted very limited agency during the decision process and felt that they do not have any realistic alternatives to relocation. This powerlessness was imposed by gender-role ideologies that portray women as the primary care provider and men as the primary breadwinner. Thus, women’s motivations to go overseas were primarily centered on family benefits, such as improving the family’s financial status or supporting their husband’s career. These findings suggest that societal factors, mainly gender, significantly diminish the actual choice options available to trailing wives.
Part of the book: People's Movements in the 21st Century