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Open Access
Article
Publication date: 2 March 2023

Judit Végh, Andrea Dúll and Lan Anh Nguyen Luu

This qualitative study explores how trailing spouses form their relationships before and after a crisis such as the COVID-19 pandemic and what patterns can be observed. It…

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Abstract

Purpose

This qualitative study explores how trailing spouses form their relationships before and after a crisis such as the COVID-19 pandemic and what patterns can be observed. It explores their significant relationships with friends and extended family, focusing on dynamics and change.

Design/methodology/approach

The authors conducted semi-structured interviews with seven trailing spouses in Malaysia: before the pandemic, in the beginning and at the end of the first year of the pandemic. The authors used longitudinal interpretative phenomenological analysis (LIPA).

Findings

Being aware of the limits of resources emerged as a key factor in how trailing spouses develop and maintain relationships with friends and extended family. The fact that the pandemic changed the dynamics of their social networks illuminates how crucial these relationships or their absence are in their adjustment and readjustment process. Children play a significant role in these relationships.

Research limitations/implications

Comparative research into the friendships and relationships of different groups of trailing spouses in various locations could capture more specificity of the relationship dynamics.

Practical implications

The explored patterns can promote a better understanding of the relationship dynamics of trailing spouses' networks, which can, in turn, support and facilitate both adjustment and repatriation processes. They can help explain how and what kind of social networks best support trailing spouse transition during a time of crisis or adjustment. These findings could be incorporated into intercultural training programs.

Originality/value

No current study that the authors know of has explored trailing spouses' relationship dynamics in a longitudinal study before and during a crisis.

Details

Journal of Global Mobility: The Home of Expatriate Management Research, vol. 11 no. 1
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 2049-8799

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