Relationships ...

Relationships are complicated and disparate, with the scope of dissimilarity assuring there is no one-size-fits-all formula for success or harmony. Cross cultural relationships add multiple layers of complexity. Whose cultural values and beliefs will dominate when choices are required? How much knowledge and experience do the parties possess about each other?

With limited understanding and invalid assumptions, the decision making process becomes flawed and perhaps, in some cases, doomed to failure. Unable to communicate properly, one is often left with guessing or what I fear happens most, projecting. One assumes the other is thinking or saying what you want them to. It is often felt, that not knowing is better and simplifies things. “Ignorance is bliss” is the correct reference, I believe.

One could argue that many a man, drawn to Thailand, is on the rebound from a breakup, going through that midlife thing, or lacks experience with the opposite sex. It makes sense to me that one exercise more caution under such circumstances. But then again, just because we have a brain, doesn’t mean we always use it. Testosterone drives men to compete for the female prize, and if he has it, shower gifts and money on anyone who may have influence over the outcome of the game.

Women are often driven to “test” a man and get what they can, before he looses interest or the game is over. If one looks at divorce statistics, it is clear many bad choices are being made. Thailand aficionados will have knowledge of the many horror stories which abound in the expat community. Some seem to deserve what they get, while others are perhaps, simply unlucky.

The time to get things right is in the beginning, however. If loneliness and desperation, lead one to leap into the abyss, then the choice has already been made and the consequence could be horrific. I sympathize with those who find themselves in difficult relationships. One must, however, take a fair share of the responsibility for being there to begin with.

Lets assume a modicum of mutual attraction and compatibility. Being able to speak each other’s language would be beneficial but is often not present. Some form of long term commitment (from both parties) would be nice, other than simply proclaiming everlasting love. Often it appears that the only thing people are clearly committed to is the eventual end of the relationship. The sad reality being that the majority of relationships, do indeed end.

I witness people espousing the virtues of time spent apart. Of open or long-distance relationships. Of blowing up and making up. Venting ones anger and storming off in an infantile rage. Counting on flowers, I’m sorry and make-up sex, to push the “reset” button. I am not, however, an advocate of “time outs” or “space” or fighting and making up.

Conflict and confrontation which leads to angry words or violence, is never productive in my opinion. It leaves scares on a relationship that may never completely heal. It is no excuse to say, “That’s just me” or “I can’t help it”. Our higher brain functions are there for a purpose, so why not use them. Choose your actions and words wisely. Nurture your partner, don’t put them down or demean them. This cannot be one-sided, either, at least not for any length of time. Inevitably, relationships are like Velcro, in that both sides are needed, in order for it to function properly.

I’m a firm believer that you treat your partner better than anyone else and expect the same in return. They are after all, or should be, the most important person in your life. If your partner is not your best friend and the person you go to for companionship or when life gets rough, then life is lacking much of the comfort, joy and pleasure it could have. I’m here as a witness, that it can indeed work, but there are many caveats.

Simply closing ones eyes does not mean problems disappear. On a daily basis, ones partner should be made to feel special, wanted, appreciated, understood, protected and sheltered. Never take for granted that they know how you feel or what you need. Don’t “test” or speak in code. Be clear about what you want to say and then say it with compassion and understanding. Saying nice things not only make others feel good but reinforces those feeling inside you, as well. Just as we are what we eat, we are also what we think. Thinking negatively about others does not make things better.

For those who have already begun the journey. Be it long-term relationship, marriage, or perhaps family, I wish you the best of luck. For those standing on the precipice, please take your time and think things through. Will “both” of your lives be enriched by moving forward? Are you focused on what you are leaving behind, or what you want in the future? What are you loosing or gaining? Is what you have, right here, right now, enough? Do you accept each other, for who you really are? Do you really know who you are as individuals? If not, how do you ever expect things to workout?