Category: Marriage & Family

Kuala Lumpur Guy Tais — Trailing Expat Husbands

Source: Google Images

At Rekindle, we’ve been running expat support group meetings for a good part of 2016. It’s the only expat support group of its kind that I know exists in Malaysia. What’s interesting is that it has mostly been attended by trailing expat wives, and typically those who have younger children.

Recently, I have had several clients who are Malaysian versions of “Guy Tais” — trailing expat house husbands whose wives are high level executives. The term Guy Tai was invented by Devin Silloway in Shanghai (video link), a clever play on the term “Tai Tai” which means “wife” in Mandarin.

During a session with one of my Kuala Lumpur Guy Tai clients this week, I got to thinking that maybe some of these men would like to have similar men to hang out with: stay-home men who have a bit more time on their hands than the busy executive, men who spend their time mostly in their roles as husbands and fathers, men who may sometimes struggle with how to present themselves in typical social groups where the majority of couples have husbands as the expat executive.

As a working husband and father, I can only imagine how challenging it must be for some of these men who sometimes may have left good jobs to support their wives’ career moves. And the male ego! It’s not easy for someone like me not to have a career with which to identify myself. So I respect these Guy Tais for their willingness to put their wives’ interests first.

As I discussed more with my client, I realised that there is an opportunity for yet another kind of expat support group: Trailing-Expat Husbands.

I thought of what that might look like. I could not imagine that husbands would appreciate the open-hearted coffee morning discussions once every two weeks that we have been running at Rekindle.

I imagined the gatherings to look more like socials that also have physical activities. I could see fathers coming to spend 2 hours with their kids building a small table. Or a small group of men going on a learning recce to find a safe adventure location for the family to spend in the coming weekend. I could see the men getting to know each other over several gatherings and slowly developing comfort with each other to speak more openly and honestly with each other about some of their challenges being the trailing expat husband.

Unlike the wives groups, I imagine the husbands groups would be a cross-over between something interesting, something physical, and something deeper (real men conversations) at the same time. That right mix to create the opportunity for social support that is really positive and encouraging.

I would like to put this out on the internet and social media to see if there is any interest to start up a Kuala Lumpur Guy Tai support group. If you can relate to this post (even if you may be a local Malaysia who is a house husband), please come to my Facebook Page, and drop me a comment, or message me.

© Johnben Loy, 2016. 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 with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Expat Support Group in Malaysia (Kuala Lumpur)

[UPDATE: Rekindle’s Expat Support Group’s first meeting was a success, and from participant feedback, we will be running meetings twice a month. Click here for the latest brochure information.]

Most people think of the expat life as easy and filled with perks and benefits. What is not seen are the INVISIBLE STRESSORS of expat living:

- Difficulty adjusting to cultures and languages
- Inability to get the right foods for your family’s diet
- Concerns about physical safety
- Changes in lifestyle (e.g. “my husband is hardly ever home now”)
- Grief and loss of relationships with family and friends

…and the list goes on.

Continue reading

Rethinking Work-Life Balance: 3 Helpful Reframes

As I was leaving for work, my son came running to hug me. I had stayed out late working the last few days and did not see much of him. His eyes misted over while we hugged and a pang of guilt hit me. “I really suck at this work-life balance thing,” I thought myself. For the rest of the day, I mulled over why achieving balance can be so difficult.

Source: Google images

When we think of the word “balance,” the picture that comes to mind most often is that of a weighing scale. A weighing scale implies fairness — a static fairness. When one side dips down, it is necessarily unfair to the other side. Balance is a static state that is only achieved when both sides are equal.

With a scale in mind, I find that I need to have balance at all times — just the right amount work and just the right amount of family (or personal) time. When I have an extended time of one or the other (e.g. more than a week away at work, or away on vacation), both can feel “wrong” to me. And so I began to reason that perhaps the problem is not so much with achieving balance but perceiving it.

What if we used a different metaphor? What if, instead of using a scale to think about work-life balance, we thought of it as a wave? After all, real life is not static. We live in continual ebbs and flows, ups and downs, having less and having more. Thinking of work-life balance as a wave opens us to more positive and adaptive reframesdifferent ways of seeing something.

Here are three work-life balance reframes that have been helpful to me. Continue reading

Date Your Spouse Online!

Source: Google images.

Want to give your marital blahs a little lift? Try this online dating profile activity for married couples.

My wife and I have been married for more than 15 years. In fact, next month will mark our 16th anniversary together. We have gone through our fair share of ups and downs, and like many couples, after a while of doing regular life, things can get dull.

Lately, I have been helping some clients of mine to find new love on dating websites. With a little bit of advice from my novice copywriting skills, some of my clients have gone from no responses to more responses than they can handle! But that is not the main point of this post.

The main point is that I decided to try online dating profiling as an activity for my wife and I. It was fun and even rekindled a spark of romance between us! But a little caveat: If your relationship is not in a good place, this exercise may backfire, requiring you to seek professional help (which in my biased opinion, is not a bad thing to do).

So, how does this activity work? Continue reading