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Job Transfers Can Bring Family Disruptions

Back in 1963, a 15-year-old named Little Peggy March became the youngest female American singer to record a No. 1 hit. It was called "I Will Follow Him," and the words reflected the times. To quote another song, it was a man's, man's, man's world, and his wife or girlfriend pretty much went where he and his job took him.

"I will follow him," Peggy March sang. "Where he goes, I'll follow ... follow him wherever he may go."

But not so much any more.

Over the years, family dynamics have changed. Very often - especially lately, during the economic downturn as thousands of Americans are struggling - the husband is not the only one who supports the family. Two-income families in which both the husband and wife work are almost the norm.

And since 1980, the number of working women being transferred by their companies to new locations, often thousands of kilometers away, has more than quadrupled. And more and more often, it's their husbands, their men, who must follow.

Women as well as men are getting promoted and relocated. Women are feeling the pride and excitement of professional challenges in new locations. But also, they are feeling guilt for asking Charlie or Joe or Jose to pack up and leave situations they, too, were enjoying.

This guilt can be deepened if the husband or boyfriend has a hard time finding comparable work in the new town. When the job market is tight, the man who comes to town without a new job may find he's a house-husband for awhile, caring for kids or, perhaps, trying to start a new, home-based business.

Peggy March is now 60, and she's still singing. But if anyone were to adapt her biggest hit to the times, it would fittingly be a man, singing . . .

"I will follow her."

Read more of Ted's personal reflections and stories from the road on his blog, Ted Landphair's America.