Ten years together and eight years married today. Who would have thought that possible, ten to twelve years ago? Certainly not anyone who knew me. A good friend just escaped being the target of this latest entry, being superseded by this auspicious day. So I am not using him and how he is dealing with a difficult adjustment back to a single life and all those things one does to cope.

To be fair finding or developing a good relationship is difficult no matter where you are. In Thailand it becomes a minefield of potential disasters. Given the right temperament cross cultural relationships can add multiple layers of enriching complexity and variety. Given the wrong temperament this can lead to endless confrontations and misunderstandings. Add to this mix, the fact that most Farang males speak little or no Thai and their partners are equally impaired linguistically. 

Often one or both are nursing wounds from a failed relationship and have illusions about the grass being greener on the other side. I’m sure there are those who would love to read some nice juicy stories of sex, lies, betrayal and deception. That, however, only feeds into the baser element of human nature, titillating our imagination. It reenforces those with a negative bias and is ignored by those who say it will never happen to me. Therefore, I would rather not get sidetracked by such lurid tales.

I can’t speak to the specifics of why other relationships succeed or fail. Sometimes the problem with relationships is too little knowledge or experience with the opposite sex, to be able to make an educated choice. Leaving everything to instinct, hormones and luck. With me, the opposite, was the more likely source of difficulty. I had lived here for 20 years, spoke the language and had excessive experience and knowledge. 

Single life had been good to me and my freedom and independence were highly valued. I had managed to cross Thai social class lines and got firsthand exposer to all levels of Thai society ranging from the social elite, some with royal linage and old established family names, celebrities, models, business and political leaders, and on the other extreme the lowest underbelly of Thai society. Some of them were gamblers, hit-men, drug dealers, godfathers, and of course the infamous prostitution and nightlife population. Too much knowledge can lead one to become cynical about the world but that can be good thing. With fewer illusions one is less likely to be victimized by others or fooled by our own delusions.

Fortunately beneath my outward persona there was still just a hint of the romantic that was looking for and ready for a special kind of companionship. I’m not at all sure that my wife was able to pick up on that or not. I would like to think she saw something beneath the surface that no one else could. Truth be told she was probably attracted to the “bad boy” thing and we both just got lucky.

I could give you details of how we make it work but those are the things that work for us, given what we individually bring to the table. The trick is not to copy what someone else has done but to trust our own inner voice and not settle for something that will not make us happy long term. A little introspection and a good long look in the mirror is of course the very least that one needs to do.

We are both more city than country people and did well living the city life and traveling. Traveling reminded us of how much we loved nature and started us looking for a more rural lifestyle. So here we are building our dream-house in a Northern Thai Village and our relationship continues to grow and flourish. It is not really a surprise to me. After the months we spent renting cars and driving the back roads to national parks and staying in hotels, while living out of a suitcase, showed me that we had a remarkable ability to help and support each-other without the conflict that one often hears of.

I think our age difference is a big plus in this case. Being younger and female the wife can fall victim to her hormones from time to time but has gotten much better at distinguishing where her moods or feelings might come from on a given day. I on the other hand, have a unique ability to look below the surface and not respond to what may manifest briefly when one is under stress. My calm, sure footed, nature can be irritating when looking for an emotional response but in the long term rubs off and leads to a much calmer and rational environment for decision making.

My wife would be the first to acknowledge my contribution to her growth and development. I, in turn, am surprised at how little I have had to do to create this environment and how her innate kindness and goodness has softened my harder edges. I am definitely happier, more fulfilled and content with my lot in life. If we were different people we might be competing or trying to establish dominance in our relationship. As it stands we have a synergistic relationship where we are better together than apart.

If I were to offer any relationship advice at all it would be to only enter into a relationship that makes your life better and makes you want to be a better person. If you have feelings about what you are giving up or sacrificing for the other person, instead of how much better they make your life then I would run for the nearest exit. In other words forget the resume and checklists of what you want in the ideal person. Look for someone who makes you a better person and someone that you bring out the best in. If you can find that then you will be able to sort out the details together.