More and more men are now following their wife or partner around the world and are finding a whole different lifestyle to adapt to, many of these are also bringing up children. Jay who writes the very forthright blog English Dad in Moscow has given us a few of his thoughts on being a Stay At Home Dad (SAHD). He’s been living in Moscow since 2009 after moving from Slovakia and will be there for a few more years whilst his wife puts the hours in.
If you are a male trailing spouse you will find it harder than a female trailing spouse to adapt. As with female trailing spouses, a lot will depend on your life situation before you decide to move abroad. Stereotypes die hard and it’s still expected even today in the 21st century that women will follow their husbands abroad rather than a man following his wife abroad. If you are in a modern relationship and in an equal relationship, moving abroad to live off your wife will be a lot easier. If you have nothing left to prove and are happy within yourself as man and as a person, then adjustment will be less painful.
If you give up a well paid job to follow your wife and even if you hate your well paid job, your pride may take a beating when you change your lifestyle to live abroad. Adjustment will be easier if you have a business or skill that you can take with you to your new country. Perhaps you have a qualification in medicine, engineering, IT or design? If so, you can simply take your qualification and experience with you are start anew. If you have a business that can be run or done on a laptop you will be able to work abroad wherever you go.
Social acceptance can be hard for a trailing male spouse. Even in these modern times the man is still expected to be the main earner and breadwinner. This is no different when moving abroad. If you move with your wife and will not work, adjustment will be hard to impossible, unless you are totally comfortable with your situation. If you have small kids at home you will be a SAHD (Stay At Home Dad). Your days will be busy with childcare and you will be on a steep learning curve to cope with your new role. Embrace it and enjoy it. Many men would love to look after their child or children as they hardly see them due to their busy and stressful working lives.
Like female trailing spouses, you will be able to join baby groups and women’s groups. Many Embassies offer free baby groups. They are open to all not just embassy employees and are run by embassy wives. You can join them and go along with your baby or toddler and meet others. The majority of people at these groups will be women but at least it will get you out of the flat or house and you will meet some new people and maybe make some new friends who will offer you useful tips and advice to living in your new country. Remember, leaving your job back home to live abroad will render your CV useless as employers do not normally like or understand male career breaks unless they are due to sickness or disability. Making the move jump can seem very daunting and you may feel you’re making a big mistake but time moves quickly and you’ll be amazed how you can adapt, you never know it might do you some good!