I am moving to a new place to take a new academic position. Now that we have committed to it, what can I do to help my spouse adjust to or enjoy the new location? We are both academics.

Edit: Several considerations were made in wording the question. 1. Questions that are specific to a particular situation are discouraged here. 2. I am past the negotiation stage so I do not want negotiation advice. (Yes, my spouse had many chances to change our plans.) 3. Presumably this situation will occur to dual-career couples at most career stages. Therefore I am thinking beyond my current situation in anticipation of the next one. Answers from people who have been in this situation are appreciated.

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    You write the question as if you made the decision without consulting with your spouse. That's really an unacceptable way to start this process... Oct 6 '14 at 4:00
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    A priori there's a symmetry between you and your spouse. Presumably the backstory to the question is that this symmetry has been broken in a way more favorable to your career or preferences. What isn't clear is what sort of answers you are looking for. Talking about helping your spouse adjust to or enjoy the new location sounds condescending (although I imagine you didn't mean it that way), like your spouse is a petulant child who has to be coaxed or guided into accepting what you know is best. More details about what you are looking for could make this more productive. Oct 6 '14 at 4:39
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    I am trying hard to answer this question, but all I can come up with is "As a rule, one does not "commit" to a new position and then think about what the spouse is supposed to do at the new place.", so I'll leave it at that.
    – xLeitix
    Oct 6 '14 at 10:39
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    I think there's no need to be judgmental, especially since we know almost nothing about OP's situation. The way relationships work is a matter of 'culture' and opinion.
    – Cape Code
    Oct 6 '14 at 11:32
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    I apologize for causing offense, but I still don't understand what you're looking for. The usual advice about moving applies (make friends, try activities, explore the area, invite friends/family to visit, focus on the benefits of the new place rather than what you miss), but there's nothing specific to academia about that. There's a lot to be said about supporting a trailing spouse who is trying to maintain an academic career, but it's not clear that this is what you're talking about (since your spouse didn't apply for any jobs). So I don't know what sort of answer you would find helpful. Oct 6 '14 at 21:04

The answer depends on the academic ambition of your spouse. If she/he has none, your question is borderline off-topic on this site. In this case, you can look into things similar to the Harvard Spouse & Partners Association, which I personally would only join with a gun to my head, but might be something your spouse is into.

The rest of my answer assume she/he wishes to stay in the academic loop.

From what I saw in several universities in Europe and the US, several universities try to take into account dual career ambitions. Especially if your spouse is a woman, chances are the institution that hired you will consider creating some sort of academic position for her. Look for things like 'gender-equality office' to have more information on the topic.

If there is no such thing, I know that some people attend classes and seminars in the local universities (this is true in universities unlike Harvard, were guest attendance is allowed and free). Some volunteer as lab assistants. Some join local chapters of scientific societies (a good way to meet potential employers or hear about academic opportunities).


I was told the other week that the new undergraduates' top priority for freshers' week is 'find a friend'. I think that's very important for anyone moving to a new city. Ignoring the academic aspect, I would encourage you to think about what social life both of you will have outside work, other than your time with each other. What things do you each enjoy doing? Are there ways you can make contacts before you arrive? Will your choice of living arrangements affect what opportunities are open to you? Do you need to make sure you each have suitable transport? How will you stay in contact with friends and family elsewhere? Can you find a replacement for your favourite restaurant/park/...?


(answering self) In retrospect, getting my spouse a good gym membership was very helpful.

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