Spousework: Partners Supporting Academic Leaders

Available in paperback and as an e-book. Published July 2007

"It's a privileged life with great potential, but if you don't keep the upper hand it feels like you've taken a wild animal into your home," says Teresa Oden, whose husband has been leading academic institutions for eighteen years.

Although the spouses are a disparate bunch, Oden maintains that they share a desire to support their leader-partners. It's no simple task. "The institution is so closely entwined with the leader's life that it practically becomes a third partner in the marriage. The spouse must learn to negotiate with that fact."

Oden discusses the ways in which supporting a leader-partner differs from traditional helpmate roles. She examines the reasons for lingering expectations--why female spouses in particular are still expected to volunteer their time to the leaders' careers--as well as the special concerns of male spouses.

A self-described introvert who needs a lot of privacy, Oden admits that her adjustment to life as the leader's spouse was difficult. "Today I can honestly say that there are parts of my role that I treasure. I found my way, but I felt the lack of a book that spoke to my experience."

Photo of Teresa Oden on OCS assignment in Egypt Photo of a woman and man in conversation Photo of someone representing the institution at a reception Photo of the setup for a dinner party