It’s been a week since Valentine’s Day and the airing of the BFM 89.9 interview with Meera Sivasothy on The Bigger Picture. The topic of our conversation: Expats Looking For Love Locally.
As a Chinese Malaysian man married to a Caucasian expat woman, I sometimes feel like I have a right to speak about the expat-local intimate relationship. However, when I consider the many different expat-local couple clients whom I have seen, I would have to maintain that not all expat-local couples are the same.
In my doctoral research, I used a methodology called Classic Grounded Theory.
Oops! I think I’ve just tripped off the geek-alert warning system. Proceed at your own risk! (Or scroll to the bottom to listen to the BFM 89.9 interview podcast.)
Putting my grounded theory lens on, I could begin by classifying us expat-local couples according to different categories and see if there are specific repeating patterns within each of these categories, and thereby begin to generate some hypotheses.
Here are some categories of expat-local couples that come to mind.
1) The gender categories: Male and female.
- Expat-male & Malaysian-female
- Expat-female & Malaysian-male
- Expat-male & Malaysian-male
- Expat-female & Malaysian-female
2) The national categories: Where the expat comes from.
- Australasia, Europe, Asia, North American, Africa, Middle East, others.
3) The “exposure-to-culture” categories: How exposed are the partners to each other’s cultures?
- Can they speak each other’s mother tongue? At what level of facility? And is the facility of languages one-way or both ways?
- Has the couple both lived in the home countries of each partner?
4) The religion categories: What types and levels of beliefs does each partner possess?
- Are they of the same faith background?
- Is there conversion to one partner’s religion?
- How devout is each partner to the religion?
- If the couple embraces different religions, how open are the religions of each partner to other faiths?
5) The family “openness-to-diversity” categories: How open are the partners’ family members to the other partner’s culture/religion/language?
- Has the family lived in the expat partner’s country (e.g. the sibling members of the Malaysian partner may have all studied in Australia where the partner comes from)
- Has the expat partner’s family visited or lived in Malaysia before?
- Are the families open to having an in-law who is an expat or a Malaysian (foreigner to them)?
6) Marital and parenthood status categories.
- Married couples without children, with children, and/or with children from previous marriages
- Seriously partnered couples without children, with children, and/or with children from previous marriages
7) Other demographic variables where similarity or difference between the couple may be a significant factor.
- Educational background
- Occupational experience
- Leisure interests
Well, that was interesting!
And now the sixty-four-thousand-dollar question: when will I have the time to actually do some serious grounded theory research on expat-local couples?
As we wait for that answer, have a listen to the interview with Meera on the BFM 89.9 podcast below.
(Click here if you cannot see the link above.)
And here is the article in The Economist that I had mentioned in the interview: link.
Are you in an international (expat-to-local) relationship or marriage? Which categories do you belong to and what has your experience been like?
© Johnben Loy, 2013. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Johnben Loy and www.johnbenloy.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.