Readers' Submissions

Our Mixed Culture Marriage


I received some positive feedback from my initial story about my non-bar girl Thai wife so I thought I would continue with our story. My thoughts about Thailand after my first visit to the LOS were mostly positive. The negatives had nothing to do with the people but the pollution, traffic, etc that occurs in every major city in the world. But what could the problems be with marring someone raised so differently? How important were the cultural differences?

While flying back to the USA I knew this wonderful woman was meant to be my wife. I didn’t really think about what my family or hers would think at that time, but both being twenty something these opinions where important especially for her. My mother was the only one in my family that seemed concerned. Being from different cultures, religions, economic backgrounds and different base languages are something that anyone has to think about. I had to think about each of these aspects in our relationship.

Culture is something that is always brought up that seems to be problematic in mixed race relationships. How the man treats the woman, how much money you currently have, even what kind of food you each like can create problems in not only getting married but also in the future. But an even stronger factor in a relationship than culture is the family. How we were each raised by our parents had more to do with who we are than what culture we grew up lived in. I was not a gun carrying hunk that sleeps with multiple women that has to eat meat and potatoes every night, or any other movie stereotype of Americans that is being shown in Thailand at that time. She was not someone that did only what her parents wanted, sexually subservient or needed to eat som tom and sticky rice every day (although I think she could). I realized that “culture” was just a stereotype and while generally true, does little to tell us about the individuals in that society.

Our similarities were that our parents placed a great importance on education, both of us are well educated, have hard working mothers that had there own businesses, fathers that weren't really there (death / divorce) and liked to gamble too much, we both enjoy adventure and meeting new people. These characteristics and many other family similarities brought us closer than what one would first expect. Although I focused initially before marriage on cultural aspects that might cause tensions I realize now there are many that can also be positive, but I won't get in to them now.

The difference of religions was not difficult at all for us. Although Buddhist, she was taught in Christian schools till college which gave her an understanding of how I was raised. Again this was because of the choices her parents made. Likewise economically, her Chinese Thai family has a successful business and seemed to save more than flaunt their wealth. The only negative that my mother-in-law seems to have is a bad judgement of whom to loan money and gets asked often. But, her loans/gifts never seem to be too much and it is her money. Maybe they are not rich by western terms but they were able to send my wife to the US.

The language occasionally gets in the way of a deep conversation, but the advantage is that we pay more attention to what is being said. We don’t pretend to read each other's minds, but the longer we are together the easier it is to pick up what the other needs. My wife is slowly teaching me Thai and we plan to focus on it more after I am finished with school. At this point I am starting to recognize the five tones. I am looking forward to learning more. As for my wife she speaks English very well. I love the softness of her speech and the occasional missed word that makes us both laugh.

After thinking about all the problems that could happen I realized that they were no more or less than if she would have been American or if I were Thai. My mother soon realized how gentile and kind she was and how easy she was to get along with. Other members of my family were just excited that there might be a trip to Thailand for our wedding. One person who rarely states her opinion bluntly said to my brother after meeting my wife, “He would be stupid if he didn’t marry her.”

So with that there was really only one thing that had to happen besides asking her to marry me, another trip back to Thailand. Damn, how unlucky could I be?

There is more to tell, my second trip and planning our wedding in the US, our wedding in Thailand and coming up in May my forth trip to the LOS with my family again (they are now addicted too), but that is all for now.

Stickman says:

Marriage with a Thai is difficult, irrespective of each persons' respective backgrounds. As you have touched on, there are so many fundamental differences that frankly it is amazing that some Thai / farang couples do have genuinely happy marriages.