Farang/Thai Couples...

Recently I have begun to feel constrained by the fact that I know too many people in the Rai.  This is my third attempt, in so many days, to pen this piece.  The first two attempts fell foul of the delete key.  Though pithy and topical, I felt that individuals we know might see themselves or others in my commentary and perhaps take offense.  Almost makes one long for the anonymity of the early days of this blog.  Let’s try again.

The other day we attended yet another gathering of Farang/Thai couples, in the guise of a friend’s birthday.  There have been an abundance of such gatherings over the last few months.  These events often end up being segregated affairs, with the men and women gathering in separate clusters, eating their separate foods and speaking their separate languages.

When things are going well, the men engage in witty banter, while on occasion pairing up to discuss topics of interest in a more serious and dedicated manner, all the while oblivious to what the women are getting up to.  The women, by contrast, often end up talking about us, as well as food and family.  I often join the women to say hello or introduce myself, lightheartedly stir the pot and perhaps catch a little juicy gossip.  What I am unable to ascertain for myself, will often be elaborated on by my wife, on the way home.  Sometimes, I think I should be spending my time with the women, as their conversations are often more entertaining than the testosterone laden banter of their menfolk.

The average farang male’s mythology is filled with tales of devious young wenches who scheme and pillage men’s hearts, souls and finances.  Of course many of those stories originate in the infamous nightlife of Thailand, and have some validity, but that is not the subject of this post.  It just strikes me that the casual observer will look at a western man with a bit of money, and surmise that the Thai wife or girlfriend has won the lottery and her only concern or need has been satisfied.

Often there is much more going on than what one sees at a glance.  Cross-cultural relationships take work.  They can be wonderfully complex and rewarding but they are not a walk in the park, for either party.  They are not for the naive or lazy.  Both parties are often fearful and suspicious of each other, and for good reason.  That reason being, their inability to read cross-culturally, their own shortcomings and the abundance of baggage they bring with them from their past lives and failures.  I am still an advocate of cross-cultural relationships but wish people would take more time to figure out what they are getting themselves into.

I know I have stated my belief in the past, that more often than not we get what we deserve in our relationships and that it is no one else's business.  Still, when people interact as couples in a relatively small community, one bad apple can upset the balance and harmony of the group.  Then is seems to become everyones business and conversation gets diverted in that direction more often than it should.  Understanding what they have to put up with, I find myself siding with the Thai women, more often than not.

I guess I’m suggesting that it is the woman who often puts much more into these cross-cultural relationships that the man does.  At least those living here in Thailand.  The woman is pressed between two conflicting cultural biases.  It is more prevalent that the man can’t eat the food, can’t speak the language, can’t understand what is going on around them and can’t help but make disparaging comments.  This is Thailand, after all.  Some even appear abusive in one form or another as they are demanding, impatient, intolerant, controlling, jealous and insecure, regardless of how much money they have.  No need to mention old, stubborn and unattractive.  What passes as communication in some of these relationships is absolutely frightening.  They would do better to hire a full time translator to arbitrate their feeble attempts at communication.

There are times when I am tempted to interject some insight or wisdom but then come to my senses, realizing that it would more likely make things worse for the party I would be attempting to help.  So we end up talking behind peoples backs, as we place bets on when and how their relationships will implode.  Besides there are very few couples who seem well matched, yet many of them survive the years despite the odds.  From the outside it can be hard to see what draws people together and even harder to see what sustains them over time.

And, my point is?  Don’t know that I have one, really.  I’m just a little frustrated with some recent goings-on and I’m using this space to vent those frustrations without hurting the innocent.  I feel better now, so time to spend some time with Cookie and my wife.  Thank you for your time and attention.