Marriage ...

My head is spinning with all that is going on at the house these days, and I don’t do half of what my wife does. They have gotten a second wind as they approach the finishing line and everything is going on at the same time, in a whirlwind of activity. That pretty much means all day, everyday on site to keep track of it all. I should be writing something interesting about the work but it is all a bit much and I need the distraction of writing about something else.

I will say, however, that I am most impressed with our electrician. The Energizer Bunny incarnate. His “can-do” attitude and relentless work pace is a wonder to watch. Like many of the guys he is young and a little scary looking at first glance. He is very interesting though and completely unfazed by any request. He installs down lights six meters up on a flimsy bamboo scaffold. He shimmies up power poles and installs street lights, like there is nothing to it. What can I say, except I am in awe? Enough already lets move on.

Marriage looks promising as a subject to ponder and distract me from my house building overload. Marriage seems like a simple enough word. An easily understood concept until you look at it closer. In the news different factions fight over the definition and meaning. Statistics say most marriages fail or end in divorce. That is all within the boundaries of a single country. Now throw into the mix different countries, cultures, customs, beliefs and religions, and things begin to get more interesting. At this point you are no doubt beginning to expect a rant supporting one view or a detailed discussion of the merits and faults of the differing options. Sorry, I think I’ll just tell you our story instead.

I was a successful bachelor of 43 and fully expecting to continue on that path in perpetuity. I have always preferred the company of women to that of men and never used deceit or subterfuge in my dealings with the fairer sex. So when we met I was not inclined to give false hope. Pretty early on I made it clear that I liked my single life and marriage and children were not in my plan. To my surprise she said she was fine with that. I guess we both had low expectations of long term relationships.

That physical and chemical state that clouds the early stages of a relationship and bathes one in euphoria began to clear with time. What became clearer as the fog lifted was that we had grown very close. There was trust, commitment, loyalty, compatibility, companionship and an easy way of navigating the little things that often trip people up in close proximity. Equally important I was allowed to be me and not constantly prodded and primped to become someone else.

I had always been somewhat guarded and prepared for the worst in relationships but found myself opening up to the possibility of something long term. There were no grand gestures or Hollywood moments, down on one knee with a full orchestra playing. We simply began discussing the pros and cons of the various options.

She had shared so much of her life and roots with me and I for the first time was considering sharing more of my life and roots with her. That meant traveling abroad so she could meet my people and see where I came from, something I had never before considered with a Thai girl. In our situation marriage was pretty much the only option available to allow the lifestyle we envisioned.

We discussed the merits of a Bangkok wedding over a Village wedding and what each would entail in great detail. In the end we decided on neither. On my birthday we went down to the local registrar, but found to our dismay, that we didn’t have our paperwork in order and were told to come back another day. It took us a while to sort things out but ten days later we were back and signed on the dotted line. Due to peculiarities in Thai law, many upper class Thais, will go for the big wedding but never register their marriage as it would make doing business more difficult for the wife. In our case the wedding was seen as unnecessary and wasteful while registration provided greater benefits for both.

For the longest time afterward people either didn’t know we were married or simply refused to believe it. After all we had not followed the appropriate and socially approved procedure. We hadn’t even consulted our families. I mean it was the two of us getting married and it really didn’t concern anyone else. We made a concerted effort not to change our lifestyle in the slightest and that may have contributed to people’s confusion. My wife revels in telling people that she had to wait six years before I bought her a wedding ring. I don’t know another woman that would admit such a thing let alone talk about it openly.

We did travel however and spent around half our time in my country. That was after the year it took us to get the visa thing all sorted out for her. Now I had expected a change in attitude toward my wife but not toward me. I found that I had undergone and instant image makeover without being aware of it. Single guys get a bad rap in Thailand, though mostly deserved I must admit. I found many benefits to being married and became a softer gentler version of me. She tapped into a part of me that had been carefully safeguarded, allowing me to open up and embrace a more emotional and caring existence.

We still don’t have children and won’t. That continues to be something that other people have difficulty with. It bothers them that someone can understand and have control over their biological and genetically imprinted urges. I never fluctuate on this issue but the wife does from time to time. Not in any serious way but she does tease that the hormones play with her mind on occasion. Add to that nearly every friend she has, is either pregnant or has had a kid in the last two years.

I understand there needs to be an outlet for all this, so have supported her taking on the role of mother figure for her niece. Since the niece lives with grandmother and her mother comes home when she can there is no shortage of mothers and the work load is not a great burden. So my wife gets what she needs, the niece benefits and I get off easy. Ain’t life wonderful when you know how to play the game. Ten years on, we are dancing to a melody that only we can hear and enjoying every step and note.