What's an EFM to do?
According to DiploPundit, the FLO says that the answer to that question is seldom "work" (that is, for pay). Of the 10,000 or so EFMs going to post, 75% want to work, and only about a third of them get to. And the jobs they get? Well, I am sure that there are folks out there dying to be the CLO, but I wasn't one of them.
Of course, the situation I was in would be different today. As a same-sex partner of a diplomat, I wasn't entitled to EVEN APPLY for the CLO job until after all the EFMs at post had decided they didn't want it. And then I would get no preference over random ex-pats no associated with the mission and would likely be paid at the same rate as an FSN, which is often far lower than an American is paid for the same job at that post. I also wasn't entitled to a diplomatic passport and protections. So I left archaeology (a career I loved) and joined the service to be with the person I loved.
Plenty of folks can't or don't want to make that choice. Luckily they don't have to as often now.
I can't speak to what other folks have done, so I would really like for people to weigh in. What did you or your spouse do at post? Ryan and Lori's Exciting Adventures wondered how many folks choose posts based on spousal employment and how many leave the service for a lack of it. I wonder too, and I bet Ryan and Lori are correct in that the numbers are high. We live in a world where it is more common than not that both partners work, and many therefore take the duel household income hit of a salary cut and a sudden lack of spousal salary in order to serve the country. I wonder how many dedicated public servants leave because the cost is ultimately too high.
I do suspect those numbers would be hard to come by, since the Department does not count in its tally of attrition people who leave the service but stay in the employ of the Federal Government. So those folks who transition to Civil Service in the Department or who go to another agency aren't counted.
So what has your experience been? Have you been able to work and at what kind of work. If not, how has the absense of your salary affected your family?