Ask a Male Trailing Spouse: How did that happen?
I’ve been called many things in my time, but one of the strangest has to be the label I’m currently tagged with: “male trailing spouse”.
It’s that word trailing that really grates; it makes me sound like some hapless guy who’s been dragged halfway across the world against his will by his wife. (“I’ve got a job in Qatar; we leave on Wednesday.” “Wait, where..?”)
If you want something you can take on a journey without having to tell it where you’re going, what you’ll be doing when you get there, or how long you’re going to be there, get a dog.
But for those of us without tails, the conversations about leaving it all behind were hopefully a little more two-way.
For my wife and I, the irony is that, at the time she was headhunted for the job that’s brought us here, I was the one actively looking for a permanent role in Doha.
We’d wanted to move here since I was invited to Doha for an interview in early 2010. And although that job ultimately fell through, we liked what we saw enough to carry on looking in the Middle East.
The conversations about whether it was the right thing for us as a family, what it would mean for the kids’ education and so on, had all been played out – but on the assumption that it would be me with the 7-3 job.
But now here I am, part of that small but growing group of men who have packed in whatever it was we were doing to follow our partners. To trail.
I can’t imagine many men would actively pick such a patriarchal society to trail in, particularly if it’s their first taste of living abroad, as it is for me.
When we told friends we were moving here, I was asked by allegedly intelligent people, from under eyebrows so arched they made Sydney Harbour Bridge look like a desert road, if I minded ‘being supported’ by my wife.
The fact that I’m playing a role more traditionally filled by female expats seems to leave some people slack jawed with amazement. Watch me compound their confusion by knowing what my son scored on his last spelling test, or what my daughter’s friends are called.
Not sure why I bother, though. I mean, my wife ran her own business for nearly a decade, she’s got a fantastic job here in Doha and is an amazing cook. Now that we’ve had children, pretty much the only things I’m still good for are opening jars and mowing the lawn, yes?
And we don’t even have a lawn anymore…