Sept. 17, 2014 SIGN IN | REGISTER
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Cathy Boozman Seeks to Unite GOP Spouses

Bill Clark/Roll Call

When they’re in Washington, D.C., she often drives her husband to work (the couple share a car), then goes about the usual litany of errands: laundry, groceries, housecleaning. Often, she drives back into the city to meet constituents at the White House and get them into tours. Evenings are more work: sometimes meeting with constituents, and almost always, receptions and dinners alongside her husband.

She’s not yet sure how the transition to being a Senate wife will work. Before, when the couple were in Arkansas, they spent all their time in the district, but now that Boozman holds a statewide office, they will likely have to venture far from home.

As Boozman talks from her perch behind her husband’s desk, the Senator saunters in. He is excited. He’s discovered that the cafeteria in the Dirksen Senate Office Building will fill any coffee mug for just 99 cents, and Boozman is holding a huge vessel of steaming joe like it’s a prize.

His wife watches with a smile.

Sen. Boozman counts himself lucky that his wife enjoys their peripatetic life. Many spouses, he says, particularly those from very rural areas, get discouraged when they first encounter the difficulties the Washington area presents — the byzantine roads, snarled traffic and the sprawl — and they simply give up.

“I’ve known wives who get so frustrated with all that they just never come back,” he says. “You have to fight through that initial period. It’s like learning to roller-skate — it’s hard, but once you know how to do it, you’re fine.”

Boozman recalls his own struggle to acclimate. Several times, he drove into the city for a morning meeting and became so frustratingly lost that he would finally park his car and take a cab.

“Then I’d worry that I’d have no idea where the car was, so I’d write it on my hand,” he remembers.

And that’s where the spouse organizations come in. Cathy Boozman says she tries to use her own expertise in the area to help new spouses overcome their initial fears and annoyances. A little guidance can make the transition much easier, she says.

“They get here, and they need to know ‘Where’s the Target? Where’s the Walmart?’ They need to know about dry cleaners and churches,” she says.

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