Marrying Thai Women
Preparing Yourself for Marriage with a Thai Lady
Marrying a Thai lady will involve a lot of cultural complications that most foreigners are not aware of nor ready. For a successful marriage in Thailand, westerners have to wipe clean of their own marriage preconceptions. Finding a Thai bride is easy. And no doubt there maybe some hardships along the way. So here are some tips on how you can have a successful marriage to a Thai lady.
Most men want to know where they can find a good Thai lady to marry. There are many avenues for finding a Thai bride. Some go through Thai online dating services. Just do your research and you can find many Thai dating websites. Be sure to check them thoroughly before you lay down cash because online dating websites do not offer services for free. There are quite a lot of Thai women searching for foreign men online. Some are professionals working in office environments with a university degree and can speak a good amount of English or other European languages.
Be cautious though because there are also unscrupulous Thai women who prey on foreign men looking for love online. So don't Western Union any cold hard cash blindly.
Some foreigners look for love in Thai hotels where female receptionists are efficient in English. Matter of fact any place where Thai ladies can speak English are excellent fishing grounds such as BTS and MRT stations. If that's your angle just be very respectful and realize that these ladies can see through your crafty foreigner ways. So behave.
The way most foreign men find Thai wives or long term girlfriends are in the bars of the red light districts in Bangkok and Pattaya. This can be good or bad because not all bar girls are heartless.
As a foreigner can you truly have a solid relationship with a girl working in the bar industry? For a bar girl, can she truly believe that a foreigner can quit a lifestyle of go go bar hopping? As sincere as the relationships are for both parties there will always be some doubt when one goes off to buy cigarettes and comes back just 1 minute too late. Again it's possible to have a happy relationship with a bar girl but usually not the first time around.
There are many reasons why men want to marry a Thai lady and enter a long term relationship. One reason is foreigners looking to open a business in Thailand and not only want a trusty business partner but a wife as well.
Another reason most westerners want to is because they've been divorced previously not only once but twice. And once they've become too old it's hard to enter into a relationship again. So they come to Thailand and not only fallen in love with the beautiful beaches and laid back lifestyle but also with young Thai women who don't care how old they are or even how fat, short or tall they are.
That's the reputation that Thai women have. They will marry men twice their age, love and care for them to the best of their abilities. That type of intimacy is something most western men desire but fell short of in their previous marriages.
It is true that a Thai women's devotion really does follow along the line of 'in sickness and death' as we hear in Christian marriage vows. But will marrying a Thai lady lead to unconditional love?
Looking For Love in All the Wrong Places
To be fair not all bar girls are evil heartless harpies. Some are searching for that proverbial knight in shining armor. That winning lottery ticket tucked inside a foreign passport. Someone who can take her out of the bar industry forever. And if you do marry a Thai bar girl you should really quit your old ways. I've known quite a few westerners who have been burned by emptying the bank account. One of them was literally burned.
A good friend of mine had his left leg doused with an ounce of kerosene and was lit on fire with a cigarette. I did not dare ask him what had happened since this is none of my business. The fact that he's quite a fan of the bar scenes in Bangkok and Pattaya was probably the deed that done him in. Suffice to say a divorce quickly ensued.
He is fine today and since then remarried to another bar girl. But this time he married a lady who hasn't been corrupted in the industry too long. His reasoning is that the hardened bar girls are psychotic and since they have been in the business too long they have learned quite a lot of tricks to maim a man. So far his marriage to his latest Thai bride is going very well and I guess the lesson he learned has taught him to never play with fire. Or to sleep with a compact fire extinguisher always in hands reach.
Marriage is a 2 Way Street
This sounds totally logical for westerners who believe that husband and wives are equal partners. This is the mistake westerners make when marrying into an Asian family with extremely limited means.
Many westerners do not realize that the burden is on the foreigner to bring home the bacon while the wife stays home and take care of the household. They will automatically assume foreigners will have a source of income especially older foreigners living in Thailand who have monthly pensions greater than their annual salaries.
If you are planning to marry a Thai lady and live in Thailand you have to accept the fact that the country is still laced in old traditions. And that most frictions occur when foreign husbands try to bend square rules into a round hole.
That said, it is absolutely possible to find a Thai wife who will share financial responsibilities. If this is an important foundation for marriage to you then make sure you're with someone who agrees.
In Thailand, women want a man who can take care of them and their family. This is a critical factor in most Southeast Asian societies. This is also even more important for families with a poor background.
In the west this can be something of a nuisance and is often the cause why most Western-Thai marriages often go awry. Just look at the amount of movies made in Hollywood about horrible in-laws.
In Thailand, the northeastern province of Isaan is where a majority of the country's poor resides. Where a majority of the population are poor farmers and manual laborers. A lot of the bar girls working in Thailand's sex industry come from Isaan where they can make more money in a month than a rice farmer toiling in the sun and heat in a year and much longer hours.
When western men marry Isaan women there is a good chance that they will have to pay a dowry or 'sin sot' in Thai. This price ranges from 100,000 Baht - 1,000,000 Baht and maybe even more. Can the dowry be less? Sure it can. Can you negotiate? Yes to that too. It really all depends on the family you are marrying into.
But consider that a part of the dowry goes towards to paying for the wedding. Your Thai in-laws pay for the hiring of monks for the ceremony and payment for all the roast pigs, snacks, a band playing live music, drinks and liquor (yes there will be carts of beer and whiskey), the invites etc. So depending on the size of the party the cost of a wedding in Thailand really adds up.
Whatever is left of the sin sot stays with the family and theoretically is a payment for losing a daughter who is a source of income who works to send money home. But that's always not the case especially when money is addictive and perceived to be easily acquired from a foreign son in-law.
You should also consider the value of 'face' in Asian culture. For example let's say that the future mother in law wants to one up the dowry of a rival family who's daughter's dowry cost 300,000 Baht. To gain face and a bit more notoriety in the town or village, your future mother in-law can request a 500,000 Baht dowry so that part of the payment can go towards a larger wedding party complete with the fireworks.
Marrying a Thai lady might require you to give gold to the lady's family on top of the sin sot. This is especially true if you are marrying into a Thai-Chinese family. Like the sin sot the amount of gold can be negotiated.
Thai Gold is measured in a unit called the Baht which sounds the same as the Thai currency. When referring to gold 1 Baht equals 1/2 ounce with 96.5% gold purity by weight. As of writing the current price of gold is at 27,000 Baht per 1 Baht of gold.
Personally I have heard of orchid farmers who own their own land paying 5 Baht worth of gold on top of the sin sot. I can imagine that a foreigner would have to pay even more.
There is a possibility though that part of the gold will be passed back on to the bride as a gift from the Thai in-laws.
Can I Elope?
Secret marriages are not uncommon between a foreigner and a Thai. Long term relationships without marriage is also possible. It all comes down to communication and how close you are together and trust each other.
The Reality Check
If you marry a Thai lady from a poor background who has close ties with family you really have to know what you are getting in to. Taking care of your wife's family in most cases is not only her priority but yours too once the knot is tied. Also consider that the size of her family may consist of an entire village.
So you have to ask yourself this question, "Can you afford to marry?" Before you make plans on getting married to a Thai woman with a poor background do this:
- Know the relationship between daughter and family
- Find out how large the family is and take a look at where and how they live
- Set a limit on financial support
Limited monetary support is better than no support at all and your Thai bride should understand that.
If your Thai fiancé has cut off all ties with her family which does often happen with working girls in the bar industry then you might be free of all obligations. You should also make sure that what she is saying is true so that one day you will not be surprised when she makes a demand for money her mother needs for a life or death surgery. Do your due diligence.
Learning to speak Thai will go a long way so you can pick up on conversations especially on the phone. Yes I know it's called eavesdropping and it's not polite. Can you tell me what married couple in the world wouldn't do the same? There are plenty of books on learning to speak Thai which is important if you want to live in Thailand. Because communication is a very important factor in all relationships no matter where.
If you've met your future wife in a bar then you also have to accept the fact that you have to surrender your old ways too. Again to be fair to Thai bar girls who have the intentions of becoming a good wife there are far too many foreigners who think that their women chasing days can continue after the honeymoon is over. If that's your plan just consider that bar girls old ways are just as easy to revert back to turning tricks if she discovers you are unfaithful.
In Thailand there are many foreigners who have married Thai women and are extremely happy even when they have to take care of their wives family. As long as you are prepared and understand what is expected of you then you too can be a happily married man in Thailand.
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