Category: Resources

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

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

Metaphors for Healing, Post-Infidelity

Over the years, I have worked with many couples presenting with infidelity or extramarital affairs. Although every couple’s experience is uniquely challenging, there are some similar patterns.

For couples where the affair with the third-party has ended, the marriage can begin to heal. But it is easier said than done. Often, the acted spouse (the one who committed the infidelity) believes that since he (often male, but not always) has ended the relationship with the third party, his wife ought to relax and have things go back to normal. But for the injured party, nothing feels normal anymore. Distrust, insecurity, sleeplessness, even flashbacks can take place despite her best intentions not to be bothered by them.

In helping couples to heal post-infidelity, I have heard similar metaphors being used again and again by my past clients. More recently, I started to offer these metaphors right at the beginning of therapy to my new clients. To my delight, I discovered that clients have appreciated having these pictures to hang on to—almost as if the metaphors help them to feel more normal more quickly, and enable them to be more understanding of each other’s experience going through the difficult process of recovery. It is my hope that by sharing these metaphors here, many couples can be helped in trying to salvage their marriage post-infidelity. Continue reading

Troubled? Try Journaling

Source: Google images.
Source: Google images.

There is nothing so precious to me as a retreat to a remote location on my own for a time of quiet reflection. With my journal in hand and nature all around me, I enter into my soul, look for my core self, and as if meeting an old friend, we get comfortable, sit down, and have long, deep conversations. Work stresses and family difficulties melt into the background.

I have been journaling since I was eleven. For years, I thought everyone journaled. So it still surprises me every now and then when I ask clients to spend some time journaling, and they look back strangely at me.

“Journaling? What do you mean?” some would ask.

Journaling is one of the best self-care activities you can do for yourself. When you are troubled and have no one to talk to, your journal can become your best friend and personal therapist. In this post, I would like to teach you a simple and effective way to engage in expressive journaling. The exercise itself will only take 10 minutes. Continue reading

An Apple A Day: Therapy and Change [with Podcast]

Source: Google images.

When clients come to see me for the first time, I explain to them what therapy is all about. I say something like this:

As I see it, therapy is about change. People come in to see me because they want to move from their current circumstance to a preferred situation. It could be a lack of life-clarity, or an inability to stop an addictive behaviour, or difficulties communicating well with a partner. They want to get better, but somehow find themselves stuck again and again.

Click icon to listen to podcast.
Click icon to listen to podcast.

I go on to explain how a professional can help them and emphasise that, for change to happen in a sustainable way, clients themselves have to be the ones to enact that change. I will give them an illustration. Something like this: Continue reading

Asperger Syndrome & Marriage – Support in Kuala Lumpur

Source: Click on image.

Update (21/5/2014): Listen to my radio show on the topic at BFM 89.9 with Dr. Alvin Ng and Sudha Kudva here – link.

Asperger syndrome (AS) is “one of a distinct group of complex neurodevelopment disorders characterized by social impairment, communication difficulties, and restrictive, repetitive, and stereotyped patterns of behavior” (1). It is one of several autism spectrum disorders (ASD), and considered to the mildest form, sometimes also referred to as high-functioning autism (HFA).

In January 2014, I started a new support group with my colleague Sudha Kudva for wives whose husbands struggle with AS or HFA. This may well be the first AS/HFA marriage support group in Malaysia.

Here is how it began. Continue reading

Johnben Loy is back online! Really!

Source: Google Images

I admit it. I have neglected my online presence for far too long. My last post was more than 3 months ago, and I had promised myself to make at least one post a month after I launched Rekindle Community.

Worse, I had even promised Meera that I would blog about our topics before we went on air so that we can delve more deeply into them when we go on air. Both January and February exposed me as a promise-reneger. Continue reading

Sex Addiction Support in Malaysia (for men)

Source: Google images

When I first started practicing as a therapist in Kuala Lumpur, I bemoaned the lack of community support available for my clients. Practicing in the U.S., it was easy to get additional resources for clients and help them reach their therapy goals more quickly and effectively.

One of my areas of speciality is to help men with sexual compulsivity, also known as sexual addiction or hypersexual disorder (click here to listen to my talk on BFM about it in 2011). Helping a client work through addictive behavior requires not only personal (and relationship) therapy, but also peer group support. I looked around for a men’s support group but there was none available.

I am glad to announce that after three years of practice in Malaysia, I am starting to see more recovery groups forming. Recently, one of my former clients who had struggled with sexual compulsivity contacted me and told me that a 12-step support group has started, here in Kuala Lumpur, and that he was a part of it. I was very excited and offered to learn more about the group. They were open to meet up with me, and so we did. Continue reading