The Foreign Service Journal, May 2011

M A Y 2 0 1 1 / F O R E I G N S E R V I C E J O U R N A L 37 F OCUS ON F ORE IGN S ERV ICE W ORK -L I FE B ALANCE F OREVER T ANDEM n our forthcoming book, Forever Tandem , to be released this fall under the aegis of the Association for Diplomatic Studies and Training, my husband, David, and I talk about our lives as a two-career Foreign Service couple with three children. Admittedly, our experiences in the Service were atypical, starting with the fact that neither of us ever served in hard- ship posts. We thus don’t have vignettes from life in deep- est, darkest Nowhereland to add spice to our conversations. We never struggled through medical evacuations or faced the enemy-at-the-gates evacuations when Americans were hunted game rather than valued interlocutors. We took the king’s shilling, knew the “needs of the serv- ice” assignment rules, and would have gone where sent with no more than the normal demurrals. But our expert- ise in science, economics, intelligence, base negotiations, politico-military affairs and arms control issues, as well as specific family factors, lim- ited our choices. (At least we never had to jockey for ambassadorships in neigh- boring countries!) Every career has its own ups and downs, and there are distinct differ- ences between the post- 9/11 Foreign Service and that of the pre-2001 era. But David and I believe that the following observations about “work-life balance” are applicable not just to Foreign Serv- ice personnel but also to most U.S. professionals in the 21st century. Foreign Service Challenges Are Not Unique Our military colleagues face constant rotations and de- ployments, separating them from families — with the ad- ditional prospect of death and injury to add poignancy and tension to the separation. My husband and I were separated for 14 of the first 15 months of our marriage while he served in the Army in Korea and I continued graduate studies in 1964-1965. The technology was so primitive that we only heard each other’s voices on tape cassettes during our separation. A CHIEVING WORK - LIFE BALANCE IS LIKE PERSONAL ENGINEERING , AND COMES WITH THE SAME TRADE - OFFS THAT ALL ENGINEERS FACE IN GETTING THINGS DONE . B Y T ERESA C HIN J ONES I Teresa Chin Jones, a Foreign Service science officer from 1974 to 1998, is an environmental, science and technology writer and analyst who lives in Virginia with her retired Senior Foreign Service husband, David. The author of Tales of the Monkey King (Pacific View Press, 2008) and the forthcoming Forever Tandem , she is working on proj- ects based on the Chinese epic Three Kingdoms (San Guo).