Readers' Submissions

Normal Couples Exist

  • Written by D
  • February 23rd, 2004
  • 7 min read


I would like to post a response to the article Thai vs. Western Women and Bargirls vs. Non-Prostitutes (by Siam Sam) and other articles dealing with Western/Thai relationships. I think the points the authors make regarding Thai/western relationships cover some cases and help to further the debate however I feel that the debate still remains oversimplified and a long way from closed.

It is my belief that, when considering people, generalisations are always fraught with peril. In the case of relationships it can often be difficult to locate the norm at all and when it is found there are usually a good percentage of cases that will fall outside. Whilst the article by Siam Sam does a good job of classifying some general cases of Thai prostitute / western sex tourist relationships I think it falls short of coming up with a grand unifying theory for all Thai – western relationships.

From my own part I have married a Thai woman who is a NON-prostitute / call girl or whatever. She is a student who worked part-time on promotional jobs (dog food, cars) for cash before we married. We met at a private party hosted by a friend at his condo, she came along as a friend of a friend curious to meet westerners. I am as confident as anyone can be that she has never accepted money for sex and in fact had a far more conservative life than I did before we married having had only two sexual partners (even applying the square rule it doesn't amount to much). She is beautiful, bright, intelligent, honest and there are many cultural aspects to her thainess that I love. There are also things that grate but I think that goes for anyone. She has managed to blend into Australia and Nigerian culture (where I am currently posted) which would be a good effort for anyone. She has a broad range of friends of different backgrounds and nationalities. On top of all that we have a fair age discrepancy of 15 years. When I am 70 and she is 55 no doubt it will not seem very insignificant but at 36 I do often notice the challenges. The age discrepancy is not large for my family however Thais often look younger than their age which can sometimes create situations for us, particularly in Nigeria. She is involved in many local activities and is continuing her studies in Humanities remotely.

I use our example to demonstrate that there are normal couples that are Asian / western around – in fact there are many normal mixed couples. Over the long term physical and cultural differences are forgotten. The familiarity each partner has for the other seems to eliminate most perceptions of difference such as race, culture or age. There are still things about my wife that seem very Thai and will never be western but the point is that they become such a part of our regular life that I cease to see them as unusual. We look at other Thai / western couples to see how they are living and try to gauge their origins. We often find it difficult to draw parallels to our own lives because we see ourselves as unique, as no doubt most couples do.

I think there are many advantages and disadvantages to marrying into a different culture but at the end of the day its much of a muchness and they tend to cancel each other and equate to a typical relationship. I guess the comparison is similar to that of marrying a career partner as opposed to a house bound partner, there are advantages and disadvantages to each and its up to the individual to determine which is more suitable. For example, my wife has a spicy dose of hot headedness which seems to compliment her passion in life and in love. Hence the trade-off, it seems difficult to have one without the other. Likewise her cooking. My wife is not the best Italian chef but her Thai food is unequalled. I am the opposite and can cook a great pasta. Dump me in a Thai kitchen and I can't tell my nam prik from my papaya.

I believe the success of a relationship relies largely on communication, acceptance and each person's capacity to fulfil their personal needs through shared coexistence. To ensure success, both parties have to make sacrifices. If two people are in love then they accept each other's faults and flaws and love each other for the aspects they admire and cherish. I think this goes for any two people coexisting, including Thai prostitutes / western whoremongers. Obviously the greater the difference between couples, the more divergent the goals and lifestyles of each partner and the greater the barriers to communication however similar backgrounds are not a solution to finding a successful partner. It may not even be a major determinant. There are many other factors that determine the success of a relationship such as individual temperaments, hormone levels, food preferences, lifestyle preferences and a million other complex factors.

My dad likes fixing cars but he doesn't share it with his friends and he doesn't involve my step mother. Its something he just likes to do alone and it gives him personal satisfaction. He doesn't have a desperate need to find car compatibility with his wife. So it is that I don't think its necessary for two people to have similar education levels or backgrounds to have a successful relationship. In some circumstances these may actually work against the success of a couple as in the case where both couples have hectic careers and rarely see each other.

Bangkok is an international hub. Many Thais have exposure to other cultures and belief systems. Foreigners spending unhealthy amounts of time in Asia adopts many Asian attitudes. I know that after spending such a long time in Asia I have a fear of touching someone's head, respect the institution of the family and would be prepared to give more to my family and friends than when I first arrived. I'm also more relaxed time wise and thereby less likely to arrive somewhere on time. I often speak in Thai idioms and enjoy Thai food and culture. Asia has rubbed off on me. This makes it difficult to adopt fully to western culture again because I have become infused with some of the culture and essence of Asia. My best chance of finding a compatible partner was probably to find an internationally aware Asian woman or a western woman well travelled in Asia. It turned out to be the former – the Thai cooking probably tipped the balance.

Likewise I think that its more than likely anyone spending significant amounts of time in the company of the ladies in Sukhumvit, patpong and pattaya is likely to eventually have more in common with these girls than women of other backgrounds. The fact that a person may also do accounting by day doesn't mean they have to find a professionally employed partner to find happiness. If someone is happy to marry a prostitute, well so be it. Im not sure what the global success rate is between ex-sex workers and clients but I do know that the successful couples don't feel a need to promote their origins on the internet. They just get on with their lives. I do accept that there are likely to be long term issues to overcome owing to issues relating to the former employment but nothing that cant be overcome if people see enough other advantages to the relationship.

I think the western / Thai debate often misses the fact that cultures are gradually merging and that the world is rapidly becoming homogenous. People are people everywhere and have similar and also very individual desires and needs. People often change and evolve with events, particularly as they mature and the hormones change. For example, having children seems to dramatically alter peoples perceptions of how they want to live and what's important in their life – ask any couple with children. Couples don't necessarily have to confirm to the white picket fence, white couple, 2 child vision of the 1950s to be successful in a modern global environment. People of diverse backgrounds can find enough commonality to enjoy a successful relationship. Differences can sometimes not matter and often compliment.

In summary I believe the current debate is over simplified when considering the complex aspects of human nature and of globalisation. The "Norm" of western / Asian relationships is changing faster than the closing times of bars in Bangkok. Einstein spent his whole life looking for a grand unifying theory to explain all forces in the universe….He didn't find it and neither can anyone else….I believe we are a long way from a grand unifying theory of the western – Thai couple.

Stickman says:

Yep, it is hard to argue with this.