Hello: Following this previous thread: (Profs who have done a full year sabbatical overseas with a family: How did you make it work?), I am equally curious about whether any prof has done a full-year sabbatical overseas without their family (in this case spouse).

I am due for a sabbatical in about 2yrs, and exploring some very useful options abroad. Unfortunately, my spouse's job is not flexible enough for them to leave and take another job abroad. They have to remain in the US, unless they take a leave of absence, which they may or not qualify for.

Given my age, it may not be possible to postpone the sabbatical much later.

Has anyone found themselves in this situation, and taken a sabbatical leave abroad without their spouse?

How did it work - How did you manage the plans and communications around leaving the spouse behind? How often did you and spouse travel back and forth for visits?

  • Do you have children and, if so, who would they stay with during this time?
    – Dawn
    Apr 13, 2023 at 23:17
  • 3
    For my situation it is easy: I would not have my wife waiting for me when I got back. You know your spouse better than us…
    – Jon Custer
    Apr 13, 2023 at 23:34
  • 6
    This isn't about academia, this is about your personal life Apr 14, 2023 at 0:23
  • 2
    @story_without_a_title - no, just realistic - couples do what is good for the couple. I'm actually looking at a year or so abroad, but I'd take my wife. I have no desire to go without her and be away from her for a year. A week or a month, not a big deal. A year? Big deal.
    – Jon Custer
    Apr 14, 2023 at 1:49
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    @story_without_a_title - no, that is you projecting there. After 25+ years, raising kids, going through cancer, various other things that life throws at you - I know I could not be away from my wife for a year, and she feels the same way. Every day together is precious.
    – Jon Custer
    Apr 14, 2023 at 13:50

1 Answer 1


Speaking from the experience of not a sabbatical but possibly an even more "cannot say no" situation: during the first year of my postdoc, my husband had just started an assistant professor position in the US, on the West Coast. I was in the Netherlands. We don't have kids, so it wasn't as difficult to plan and to travel. He came back for the semester break and for spring break. I flew there twice for 3 weeks each because we get 5 weeks off (thanks, Europe!) + I added a part of the university summer break here when his semester at Stanford had started but our semester hadn't. Depending on the distance that can be expensive or hard to arrange.

It's tough with this much time difference. In our case, we definitely hated it. It was tough and the visits felt too brief. However, we knew after a few months of this that he would start a position in the UK, so that made it easier because it felt like there is an end to this. So that part you and your wife will also have. It's finite.

On the plus side in your case is the fact that, I assume, you won't do the whole year in one piece, so you might get several weeks in-between your stays elsewhere. So you might do 3 times 2 or 3 months and be home between those stays to work on your own stuff. And if you have several trips that also makes it less of a big deal because you'll be gone for 2 or 3 months at a time rather than a year, which sounds and is worse.

It also depends on whether you've done this sort of separation, even for shorter periods, before and on your wife's attitude.

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