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.
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