So, I am an EFM — I used to be a dependent spouse, but for whatever reason, that lingo was disposed of a while back and now everyone in the family who is not the foreign service officer is an EFM. They say it means “Eligible Family Member.” Eligible for what? ha. you guessed it. I say there are lots of other more appropriate (notice I did not say polite or erudite) words that could easily fit that acronym.
So what could be so bad, huh?
Well, there’s a bunch of stuff that everyone, including the foreign service officer, experiences. These things are not nearly as so EFMish (love that new word). They can include: you don’t get your mail for 2-3 weeks. Your kids don’t adapt well to the post. The post could be violent. The post could be boring. There could be lots of pollution. Your kids are bullied at school. All of that stuff is regular-post stuff. Everyone experiences that, including the Foreign Service Officer.
Having an EFM experience means that you, and only you (the spouse) experience it. Here is my current EFM experience list — (if you’re an EFM, let me know if you can add to the list):
1. All spouses know that your foreign service officer may be posted to a high risk post such as Iraq, Afghanistan, Sudan, etc. But your foreign service officer also may be yanked at anytime and posted someplace else just because. You’d think that this hardship would only happen once in a person’s career. Not once. Not twice. Yup, I’m on my 3rd time by myself — this time I’m by myself in the foreign country we were initially posted at and he’s now in another one. Go figure.
2. You will get the-house-that-sucks. It will be too small. It will have cockroaches that cannot be nuclear-bombed back to the stone age. It will have iguanas that come out of the toilet (seriously!) It will have water issues. It will have mold. It will have termites that swarm all over the house. The landlord will want to kick you out. And the beauty of all of this is that you will not get the-house-that-sucks until you have been living at your hotel at your new post for at least 5 months. That’s the deal. The-house-that-sucks goes hand in hand with living in a hotel for at least 5 or more months. (You know you will be getting the-house-that-sucks when “they” tell you that they are looking for your perfect home.)
3. There will be no jobs for spouses other than being someone’s administrative assistant in the embassy. You will be highly qualified, highly educated — you will be a: teacher, nurse, engineer, doctor, lawyer . . . well, you get the idea. But you will be an administrative assistant. And you will BEG for your job.
I have been at a post where one or more of those things has happened to me — currently number one is going on . . . but being an EFM is definitely being eligible for . . well . . you name it.