Marriage in Stormy Water

Discussion of Thai-Western relationships and the book, "Thailand Fever."
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Marriage in Stormy Water

Post by thaidude » Wed Nov 22, 2006 1:46 pm

Been married to a Thai woman for 4 years. Support her family financially, built an addition on their home, new car, send family to school, etc.

My wife and I were quite happy and she lives with me in the USA for almost 4 years now. Go to Thailand yearly to visit parents. Stayed in Thailand about 6 months with her family. Learned to speak Thai to communicate with her family. My family loves my wife very much.

My wife was in Thailand for 8 weeks this spring. She returned a bit on the cold side with her actions towards me. Then she went to another state to work with a friend for 6 weeks to make more money and send her parents. She never contributes to our relationship financially and sends all money home even though I already send money. I pay for everything. She has a new home, a car, vacations, etc.

Then I found out she met some guy while working in the other state. I was really hurt. She said it was nothing. She does not inform me why or if she is not happy. Just like the book mentions, she avoids conflict. I tried to reconcile and she said she needed to go back to the other state to work again. 6 more weeks. I tried to trust her but I was left crushed by her lack of telephone calls etc back to me. Little communication. Now she is home and I am suggesting we need to split because I am feeling like a human ATM and she is not showing any signs of love or interest in us. She claims I don't understand her or support her. I believe if I am not buying her things constantly that she is not happy. I feel like our relationship is all about money and she won't meet me half way on the cultural front. I need to know she is interested in me for who I am and not what I can provide. The other major issue is that she does not act like a partner but expects me to handle all affairs of the household. She shows no interest in sharing any of the work load with the exception of cooking.

We are on the brink of a split. If there is any advice you can give I'm all ears.


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Post by Geoff » Sun Dec 03, 2006 5:23 pm


I am sorry to hear about your troubles. Communication is, of course the key, but how do you get her to accept that as well. It is a tricky spot. Maybe take a step back and stop trying so hard.
I am involved in another forum that is small but growing that has other people also in Thai/Farang relationships participating. I am sure that in addition to any advice you get here, you can find also find support over there.
Although I am tempted to give the forum a plug here, I won't, so email me and I can tell you where to find us.


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Post by thaidude » Sun Jan 28, 2007 3:58 am


P Mail has been disabled on the board so please mail me the info at a gmail address with user name as shown.


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Post by ThaiLover » Fri Apr 13, 2007 8:19 am

this sounds similar to the story of a thai girl i met in class who complains her husband is always gone doing some kind of outdoor activity for extended periods, even taking vacations to to do so. i can't imagine having to sit in a van for hours waiting for my partner to finish something i don't enjoy - why even bring him/her? i think i do a wide range of activities, but not for

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Post by thaidude » Fri Apr 13, 2007 8:43 am

You fail miserably at your attempt to explicitly show similarities between your Thai girl's story and mine.

However implicitly, your post does reveal much about your degree of separation from the situation. If this 'girl' you met would have shared her dislikes of her husband's absence with her husband and would have spoken to him instead of someone else then perhaps she wouldn't be in the situation she is in. But that is not part of her cultural up bringing and hence a challenge in such cross cultural relationships. You go off like you know the whole story but rather than toss about your hero oriented single sided perspective why don't you try a obtaining a balanced understanding. Try reading the book.

I'm so impressed with those who bravely toss out their disapproval while hiding behind a thin guise on a forum. I'm equally impressed that you don't have what it takes to demean someone in person nor the ability to possess a non-partisan perspective.

Post on oh wise one...

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Post by jo » Sat Apr 14, 2007 7:16 am

Thaidude, my heart goes out to you and I hope things have settled somewhat since your first post.

If I could claim to have any measure of wisdom, I've observed that, although commonalities exist for most cross-cultural marriages, each couple's circumstances are unique; and so it's really a crap shoot insofar as what advice I could offer to anyone in your position.

Myself, I'm currently in a long-distance relationship with a woman from Thailand, a new experience for me and nothing near a wedding. But several years ago I was married to a Chinese national. One of the attributes I admired about my ex-wife was her strength of resolve to reach her goals. Oversimplifying, this same trait saw her overcome immigration problems by marrying me - and then splitting soon after she finished her studies a year later to start a business back in her homeland.

Of course even back then I felt that merely wanting to help someone is a weak foundation for marriage at best. But the fear of losing her smothered that gut instinct long enough for me to create a Hell on Earth. :p

Anyway, despite the two years of hardship and turmoil, I'm thankful I came away with an altered viewpoint. Rather than asking myself "what can I get from this person," I now find it helpful to focus more on what I can offer to the other party. Conversely, I firmly believe that no matter what transpires, each person is providing me with opportunities to express my true essence. Sometimes I may not like her actions, but how I respond is always my choice; and as humanly as possible, I'll choose love over hatred (fear) anytime.

Be well,

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Post by thaidude » Sat Apr 14, 2007 8:51 am


thanks for your note and I appreciate your support. Things have settled with the relationship and although we have decided to divorce we are still good friends and our actions indicate that we care about each other.

I totally agree that there are commonalities and uniqunesses in each situation but I also believe that sharing can help bring insight into our relationships.

I assume you have a copy of ThailandFever and hope you are sharing it with your new Thai girlfriend. I really believe it would have helped my marriage had I read it years earlier and was able to make considerations for the cultural nuances that led to many misunderstandings.

I am a strong advocate of making consideration for others as much as I do for myself and your comment about "what I can offer the other party" is a strong and worthy insight and I respect you for recognizing it. I also appreciate your ideals of taking ownership and responsibility for your own actions and I to am a proponent of love over fear.

I'd be curious to hear your cultural insights from your Chinese relationship. Did you find any similar books on Chinese culture that were helpful?

Best of luck with the new relationship.

Peace bro...

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Post by jo » Sat Apr 14, 2007 1:03 pm

Thaidude, glad to hear you and your wife are still communicating.

I've read Thailand Fever and gave the book to my girlfriend. We haven't discussed its contents in any great depth, partly because of the language barrier and also because I've largely adopted Thai practices in regards to financial support. She seems to be satisfied with the current arrangement. But occasionally I WILL clearly decline a request which I feel is unreasonable. My girlfriend gets upset for a few days and then eventually accepts my decision. Initially she had a hard time asking for things and I found it equally difficult not to doubt her feelings for me when she did. Still, I've always encouraged her to tell me her perceived needs whenever possible. Even if I refused, at least that led to an exchange of time for experience. And slowly but surely we're coming to an understanding. This isn't the most efficient route but it's what we have at the moment.

About my marriage: I lived my first 7 years in India and Japan. My parents are Japanese but I spent my formative years in Western Canada. I've had long term relationships in Japan and Korea so marrying a Chinese woman didn't present any major surprises culturally. I didn't read any books on foreign/local relationships. Essentially I felt OK winging it.

But the gaps between Southeast and Northeast Asian cultures are another story. Reading Thailand Fever was an eye-opener. Even with my affinity for Buddhist societies, I've found that I don't subscribe to some Thai values regarding money. The book nails it for me in this area. I definitely feel uncomfortable when friendship is influenced by money. My values are different (but not better). In that light, my girlfriend, consciously or not, has become my private tutor. :)

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Post by jef.martin » Sun Jan 09, 2011 8:59 pm

I would like to say something ,She wouldn’t have gone near thai I've read Thailand Fever , interesting enough.

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Post by eLewis » Sun May 22, 2011 2:34 pm

Thai fever is an interesting book to read. I advice my friends to read if they want to know more about Thai. For two persons from different cultures in one relationship, I think strong effort must be there from the both parties. Communication is one of the most important things that a relationship should have. Though me and my husband have cultural differences and sometimes busy in some things, we still have time to have lunch together or watch movies. We always try to talk even in a little time.
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