The Male Expat Spouse: A Growing Breed
Although traditionally expat spouses tend to be in their majority female, it is a fact that male expat spouses are increasing in number by the day. Male expat spouses have to face as many, if not more, challenges than female expat spouses, as they are breaking the mold and not complying with the typical male figure of provider of the family, but instead taking care of the house, the children and home making activities usually assigned to the woman figure. Admired by some, challenged by others, male expat spouses are a reality and international companies (and their expat support programs) as well as expat communities should take them into account.
In addition, most expat spouses’ associations and clubs are designed for women and activities are planned around female hobbies or children entertainment. Evidently, this is not attractive to men that would understandably favor organizations with a more suitable offer for them and where they could be meet men in their same situation. In some cases, they will be searching for a job and therefore will look for employment or networking groups that will help them go back to the labor market either during or after the expatriation journey. In other occasions, they will look to be surrounded by liked-minded individuals or people with similar interests.
As with any trailing spouse, men should also try to look for a clear purpose while abroad. In that sense, reinvention is key. If they intend to work but cannot do it in a foreign country, they should aim to remain “active” either by volunteering, acquiring a new skill or studying. If that is not the plan, they can always take time off, take care of the family and the house, or practice sports and hobbies. At the end of the day, as with female expat spouses, male expat spouses should try to find their identity while abroad and integrate as much as possible without feeling lonely, frustrated or lost because of the relocation experience. In that line, having a support system or a network of fellow male expat spouses to share experiences and also to connect with people dealing with the same issues is of paramount importance. And obviously, having the right attitude of openness and adaptability also helps.