Where’s the love?
“Foreign husbands pay off for Thais” –The Nation
Perhaps in response to the negative press that foreign men have been getting in Thailand lately (everyone knows Karr is just one of many “undesireables” hiding out in the Kingdom), a recent study, as reported in The Nation, is praising cross-cultural marriages between Thai women and foreign men in Isaan, saying they pay off.
The study says most of the women intentionally seek out foreign husbands, and talks a lot about the financial and status advantages: money and a steady income (often the husband’s foreign pension), greater social status and respect from villagers, expensive homes and fancy weddings.
But there is almost no mention of love and no mention of the barriers faced (cultural, language, expectations). While this study praises the marriages, The Nation has also said that most marriages to foreigners break up in a few years.
But maybe I’m being too critical. I guess the study is trying to point out what everyone knows: that in many cases, each side gets what they want. The husbands were not interviewed, but I’m guessing if they were they’d say they benefited from the relationships as well: the old man gets a young woman and a young woman gets money and the status it can buy. I guess this is enough.
Foreign husbands pay off for Thais
BANGKOK: — Cross-cultural marriages between Thai women and foreign men are better received in Thai communities, a recent study has revealed, with northeastern villagers in particular praising their foreign sons-in-law for better supporting their new Thai family.
With many northeastern villages organising “Bai Sri Soo Kwan” blessing ceremonies for foreign husbands during the Thai New Year festival, Asst Professor Buaphan Promphak-ping of Khon Kaen University called this a meaningful honour resulting from a cultural change in Thai communities.
The National Culture Commis-sion Office sponsored a study on “cross-cultural marriages of Thai women in the northeastern region” to investigate cultural changes in Thai rural areas resulting from such marriages.
Twelve Thai women – from one community with Western-Thai marriages and three communities with Eastern-Thai marriages (husbands from Hong Kong and Japan) – took part in the study.
Most of the women married to Western men had been married before, to Thai men, and most had intentionally sought a new foreign husband, the study revealed.
The wives of Asian men were either divorcees or previously single and most had met their husbands through serendipity.
The women’s ages when they married ranged from 19 to 47 and none had used the Internet as a means to meet their husband due to a lack of computer literacy.
Following marriage, the women’s financial status had improved, with foreign husbands bringing steady income to the family, the study said. The marriages also brought the women more respect from neighbours, enabling them to move up the social ladder in their community.
The marriages were accepted within the communities and even encouraged by the women’s relatives, as they were seen as a way to gain income. Foreign sons-in-law were better able to financially support the family than Thai husbands, the study said.
Udon Thani villager Supira TraiPhu, 42, said she had been married to a German national, Peter Volk, for nearly 15 years and initially lived with him in Germany. Four years ago they moved back to Thailand as Supira was worried about her teenage son – fathered by her previous Thai husband – and because her German husband had retired from work.
The family built a Bt2-million house, the biggest in the village, and had gained the respect of the neighbours, she said.
“At first, the neighbours were critical of my bringing a foreign husband home, but then they realised we did not cause them any trouble and brought good things here, so everyone wanted to talk with my husband and invite him to join their merit-making activities and parties,” she said.
With her husband’s pension of about Bt20,000 a month to support the family, she said they lived happily and comfortably enough.
Describing her husband as a good and understanding man, Supira said all her relatives were happy and her Thai son loved and obeyed his stepfather as much as he did his mother.
“If I were to have another chance to choose a husband, I would choose Peter again because he is wonderful and treats me nicely,” Supira said.
Khamdee Phromlee, 70, a Roi Et villager who had recently gained a British son-in-law, said she did not mind her daughter marrying a foreigner if she loved him and he loved and treated her well.
Speaking no English at all, Khamdee said the downside of having a foreign son-in-law was the difficulty in communication, but her daughter’s family now lived and ran a restaurant in Prachuap Khiri Khan’s Hua Hin district and only visited her once in a while.
She recalled that her daughter’s marriage ceremony was a grand occasion admired by neighbours. Khamdee said she was not certain that if she had a Thai son-in-law, they would have had the chance to hold such a wedding ceremony in a five-star hotel.
Khamdee said her daughter had lived a difficult life following a break-up with her Thai husband, who left her with their nine-year-old child to raise alone.
“Supporting an ageing mother while raising her kid as a single mother was not easy,” she said, adding that since her daughter married her British husband, her life had been comfortable, running their restaurant with many employees.