The Emerging Trend of the Male Trailing Spouse
What if an accompanying partner is a man?
In the past, it was most common for a husband to move abroad for his career, and his wife and children would accompany him. Today, the situation has largely not changed, however more and more females are moving overseas for work and the number of trailing husbands has slightly increased.
According to a survey by Brookfield Global Relocation Services from 2009, 20% of expat managers were woman. Whether you consider this a small percent or not, it definitely indicates progress and the simple fact that there is a significant number of accompanying male partners out there.
Apart from the usual challenges any trailing spouse has to deal with, such as culture shock, language barriers, isolation and loneliness, trailing husbands seem to be facing another one: gender stereotypes. The feeling of loosing his own identity may get worse for a husband who gave up his own career for his wife’s assignment abroad. Having to run a household, take care of the children and support his wife’s career, while struggling with a new environment, language and culture, may be even more difficult for a man who used to be the breadwinner. This situation may become more complicated if the new society is somewhat traditional with regards to gender roles.
In order to adjust easily after the move, a man has to be absolutely comfortable with his situation and role of accompanying partner. If there are small children in the family, a man has to be prepared to become a stay-at-home-dad. Although, many fathers would be happy to be at home and take care of their children, it may become difficult to integrate into parents groups (mostly mothers) and accept it as a life style, not as something which is temporary (well, at least for some time). On the other side, if children are of school age, it may be somewhat easier, as fathers would have more time, meaning they can search for a job, volunteer or learn the language.
Aside from ego issues, stereotypes or a difficult adjustment period, being a male trailing spouse can actually be a rewarding experience. Being with children and participating actively in their lives can be so beneficial to fathers, and the entire family. Running a household for a couple of years is a tremendous experience for any man; it actually widens their horizons, even to a greater extent than any job. Any trailing male spouse should actually take advantage of such an opportunity, and simply enjoy the role of a lifetime.
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