Got The Girl, Now What?...

As you know I have lived in Thailand most of my life and found my wife after living here for a very long time.  That is not in the cards for most people, however.  Most find love during a brief visit or perhaps online, these days.  So once you have found your true love, for many there is little option but to take her home where you can provide for her.  For that matter, at some point most of us want to at least travel with our partners so we end up jumping through the ubiquitous bureaucratic hoops our governments set up for our enjoyment or perhaps their entertainment.

A couple of my readers are getting close to bringing their partners to visit or live in their home country.  Having overcome the mountain of obstacles placed in their way so far, now they will be burdened with task of everyday living.  As far as I am concerned there are no hard and fast rules as each individual and each couple face different challenges and have different resources to call upon.  In general there are two main camps on the subject of immigration, whether Thai or farang.  You either stick to your own kind or mingle with the locals.  Somewhere in the middle is probably best but you get my point.

I am in favor of multiple visits before making any longterm moves but I understand that may not be an option for many.  Jumping off the cliff into unplumbed waters will work for the lucky ones but others will end up battered and bruised, if not worse.  As usual there is anecdotal evidence to support optimism or pessimism.  It is your choice.

If your language skills are not great or you don’t have much free time, it might be tempting to find a bunch of Thais for your wife to hang with and lighten your load a bit.  You could get lucky and fall in with a good group but there are some real horror stories about Thais preying on the naïve newcomers in their midst.  I am of the camp that believes in adjusting to the local life first and then when you are more settled, perhaps looking for friends from the old country.

If you don’t make the effort in the beginning, in my opinion, it is easy to get complacent and stick to what you know.  You see it with farangs in Thailand and with Thai overseas.  My wife met Thai women, who while living overseas, seemed more Thai than she.  They were up on all the latest celebrity gossip, soap-operas, singers, ate little but Thai food and had few if any friends outside of the Thai community.  In spite of living overseas many don’t put any effort into improving their language skills either, much like many of the farangs in Thailand.

While most people think of the big things like visas, food, weather, loneliness and homesickness, some little things are forgotten or overlooked.  While the cold is hard on most Thais it is often the dry air that causes more problems.  Starting on the airplane the air is very dry, then the cold air is dry and the heated interiors of buildings are dry.  Those with more delicate skin will find their skin flaking and itchy while their lips chap and noses might bleed as the sinuses crack and dry out.  My wife goes through copious amounts of skin lotion in the hot climate of Thailand but nearly baths in the stuff when we travel.  Various medications and things like birth control, which are bought over the counter in Thailand, may require prescriptions in another country so one needs to think ahead.

Don’t get me wrong.  I am not saying that you shouldn’t go for it in life or in love.  I’m just saying, don’t expect it to be smooth sailing all the time.  No matter how much preparation time you have put in, things will come up that you didn’t consider or prepare for.  Cross-cultural relationships can be incredibly rich and full but they can also be very complex and difficult.  Patience and understanding are needed in abundance and while the payoff may not be immediate and things may fall apart eventually, don’t forget that life is always lived without guarantees.

For those of you anxiously awaiting the arrival of your true love, just sit back and let those emotions wash over you.  You may never have those feelings again so don’t let them pass unnoticed.  Don’t rush too quickly to make everything normal and common place.  Soon enough you will be wondering where all the excitement and anticipation disappeared to.  For now just enjoy the ride.