Sometimes It Does work
Ok, after reading ‘The Hua Hin situation . . . Prejudice’ and Stickman's request for more success stories I decided to add my own two cents.
First off a bit about me, I’m 31, have a decent job, from Europe and have been married to a Thai lady for two years now.
I guess the reason we don’t see too many success stories is we (Thai / Farang couples) are too busy just getting on with our lives and working at making our marriages a success. Every marriage requires work, commitment, but I don’t seem to be working any harder at my marriage than my friends who are all married to farang ladies. I suppose it is not very interesting to read a submission about Johnny and Nok doing their weekly shopping, however it is much more interesting to read about Nok fleecing Johnny for all that he has and making off back to the village with all his cash to set up life with her Thai husband / boyfriend or whatever. No disrespect to all the guys out there who have been burned by Thai ladies, but there are nasty people in all walks of life and all nationalities, it’s not just confined to Thais and / or those in the nightlife industry.
I first met my wife when I was on holiday in Thailand, it was my second trip to Thailand so I had some idea of how things worked and it certainly wasn’t my first time dabbling in the nightlife industry. She was working in a beer bar in Pattaya and although I was only supposed to be stopping in Pattaya for 2 days (on my way to Koh Tao) I ended up spending the best part of 2 weeks with her. Don’t ask me why but something just clicked between us, yeah I know it’s clichéd but that’s the best way I can describe it. It wasn’t that I fell for the prettiest girl in the bar or the youngest, I guess part of it was she was so upfront with me initially that it was a refreshing change form all the “white lies” and half-truths you usually hear from the girls. Everything she told me about her life, about her son (2 years old at the time) about her schooling about her length of time in the bar, it all checked out even months later when I questioned her about it again, indirectly. While I certainly never intended to go on holiday looking for a wife (I had never even contemplated marriage at that point in my life to ANY woman) there was something about her that made me want to spend more time with her and see where it would lead.
At the time, my company was doing a lot of work in SEA and I was constantly being sent to Malaysia / Thailand on 2 / 3 week long assignments and so was able to get together with my girl fairly regularly. She would often come down to KL and spend a week or 10 days with me. This went on for about 5 months and then one day I got the offer of a 12 month contract in SEA. I would be based in Bangkok and be responsible for our sites in Thailand, Malaysia and Cambodia!! A dream come true if ever there was one! It was the real deal, full blown expat package, Farang salary (plus “Hardship” bonus), apartment paid for, utility bills paid for, laundry paid for, daily expenses, even if I took a taxi it was a claimable expense! I landed on the pigs back all right. But for me the best part was I could now be with my girl 24/7 for a full year.
I told her that I would be working in Thailand for a year and if she would like to move in with me (note I never mentioned anything about the benefits, as far as she was aware I was just on my standard salary). She was thrilled and agreed and without even me asking she promptly quit the bar and moved back to her village, this was September. I wasn’t due to start the contract until December, and for those last 3 months I was in Farangland she remained at home in her village with her family.
Finally I made the move to Bangkok and I got settled into my new apartment and the expat lifestyle, and I must admit I took to it like a duck to water. Sure it’s easy to have a good time in Bangkok when you have plenty of money and no bills to worry about. My work kept me fairly busy but my weekends were always free. I have to admit for the first 2 / 3 months I tried living the holiday lifestyle, basically going out every night to the a gogo bars but I had to knock that on the head soon enough as it was getting more and more difficult to haul my ass out of bed every morning and shock horror, yes the a gogo bars DO get boring after a while, especially if you are living there and know you can go see it whenever you want. So after an initial rocky start we both settled in to a comfortable routine, this surprised me as it was my first time sharing with a girlfriend (never did it back in Farangland) and I was expecting it to be fraught with all sorts of problems but we got on so well together that I took this to be a good sign.
As the months ticked by my girlfriend decided it would be time to meet her folks, I have to admit I wasn’t exactly looking forward to this but she said not to worry, as they would prefer to visit us in Bangkok anyway. She later said it would look bad for her and for her family if she was to bring a farang to her village and then it all went pear shaped between us at a later date. While it may have been rumoured around the village that she worked a bar, she still maintained respect for her family.
So about a week later mom, young brother, sis, sis’s two girls, and my g/f’s own son all came to visit the farang! It was a difficult time as none of her family spoke English, save her brother and all he had was what little English is taught in high school. So my g/f had to do all the translations between us, they stayed 2 days and 2 nights and it was mostly to check out what kind of guy I was and why was their daughter shacked up with me. (At this point I must say when my g/f moved in with me I wasn’t sending money to her folks, she was attending school, hair / beauty / makeup, and I was giving her some money every month but it was nowhere near what she was earning in the bar).
We skirted around the idea of marriage with me saying I could not make any definite plans until my contract was finished in Thailand, I did reassure them however that if we were to get married and return to Farangland, then my wife’s son would come with us and I would adopt him as my own back home. They seemed to be ok with that and I was given an invite up to the village whenever I could arrange some time off work. I later found out that my mother-in-law’s primary concern was not how much money she could get out of the farang in a sin sot (she actually refused to accept a sin sot when we did get married) but would I care for her grandson and look after him as my own. We did make several trips to the village after that and I met papa and her older brother and pretty much everyone else in the village as they all called round to see the farang!
Well all good things must come to an end and so my assignment ended and it was time to go back to Farangland. I hated the thought of going back, especially in winter, but there was one last test for my g/f. If we were to get married she had to be sure she could handle living in my country. It’s no laughing matter, Thai’s are notorious home birds, they love their country, weather, food and culture, and to ask them to give it all up, along with her friends and family and more to dull, grey Farangland requires a serious commitment form both parties involved.
I went home first to make the necessary arrangements and about 6 weeks later my g/f followed. My g/f spent what are probably the coldest 3 months in my country and this in part was deliberate as I figured if she could handle this then the weather won’t be such an issue. My home town has a relatively small Asian community, mostly from Philippines and China, but we do have a very good Asian market and once my wife discovered that it stocks a lot of the Thai products she was used to back home, and she was able to get the ingredients to make her beloved som tam she started to feel more at ease. Those 3 months were a real eye opener for her, for starters the prices amazed her, all of a sudden my (in her eyes) high salary made sense, you need “big money to buy things here”. She was flabbergasted at the cost of a weekly grocery bill or a 20-minute cab ride! All of this was regaled back to the family on her return with gasps of disbelief and eyes wide open! Papaya at 450 baht / kg, a pack of Mama noodles at 50 baht, a bottle of Nam Pla at 120 baht! I honestly believe this had no small part to play in the fact that I had no sin sot to pay as her mother figured we would need all the cash we can get our hands on to start a life together in Farangland!
And so it was on her return trip to Thailand (I accompanied her) that we announced to the family our intention to get married later that year, in Thailand and after that preparations were to be made to arrange a spouse visa and join parent visa for her son, so they could accompany me back home.
To cut to the chase we got married 6 months later, in a civil ceremony at the Amphur followed by a Buddhist ceremony in my g/f’s village. The visa applications were a piece of cake, no hiccups what so ever, I heard so many horror stories of interviews etc from (mostly American) other Farangs that I was expecting the worst, I couldn’t believe my luck when I got word that both visas were granted!
That was nearly 2 years ago now, we are both settled in my home, my wife has a job waitressing, her son is attending school and going extremely well and we are expecting our first child together! All in all it’s a good life.
I realise that not all (ex) bargirls are the same, some will scam and cheat every farang they come in contact with, but there are a few diamonds in the rough out there and to be honest if the girl shows genuine commitment to making a relationship work (i.e. giving up her job, cutting ties with her bar friends) then I believe that that relationship has as much chance as working as a relationship with a “good” girl.
I realise I was luckier than most, I got to spend a full year with my wife, I was in contact with her family, she also got to spend time in my country and get to know my family and friends. All of that helped but it didn’t change her or who she was, it probably made the decision of whether or not to marry me easier.
So, Stick, sometimes marriage to bargirls does work, and I think successful marriages are more common than we realise, we just tend to hear about the failures more as they make for more “entertaining” reading. Three of my wife’s friends from the bar married in the past 2 years, one is living in Holland, one in England and one in Sweden! To be fair in all of these marriages the couples are close in age, there is only 2 years between my wife, and myself and I do believe it plays an important part in making the relationship work and in obtaining visas. A 20 year age gap may not matter to your wife and may even be tolerated / accepted by Thai society but when you go to your country’s embassy you are not dealing with Thai society, you’re dealing with your fellow countrymen and such an age gap will almost certainly raise a few eyebrows.
I think for anyone contemplating marriage to a bargirl they should follow these few simple guidelines . . .
1. Get her out of the bar.
2. Get her to cut ties with her bar friends.
3. Try and spend time with her in Thailand 3 to 6 months minimum, you need to develop a relationship with her outside of the bar environment.
4. Do take her to your home country even if it is only for a month or two, let her know what to expect.
5. Visit with her family, spend time with them, see how she acts when around her family.
6. Read the following two sites, they contain a wealth of information on obtaining visas, living with Thai girls (yes it is different from living with a farang from what I can see), marriage etc. http://www.thailand-uk.com/ and http://forums.delphiforums.com/ThaiFalang/start
The above will certainly by no means guarantee a successful marriage but it may help in allaying any fears they may have, or it may scare them off completely! Either way I feel both parties will benefit from them. Points 3,4 and 5 are the important ones I feel as they show your girl that you are serious about the relationship and are willing to make it work. These girls have probably heard “I love you” and “I want to take care of you” a million times over but unless you are actually prepared to DO something about it, to SHOW them you mean it it’s very hard to expect them to believe you and in the end trust you. And that’s what you have to do you have to win her trust, it’s not easy, but it’s worth it in the end. Trust me!
Great to hear a positive story and yeah, your 6 pieces of advice are excellent.