Readers' Submissions

Merging Two Cultures

  • Written by Bob4You
  • May 19th, 2004
  • 9 min read


My Thai GF and I are planning on a permanent merge of our 2 cultures and I am soliciting advice from all of you as to how I should blend the families and cultures. I live in Hawaii and have many Asian friends who have helped me get through some of the potholes in the road and understand my role in the new family I am creating. We intend on living in Thailand after we are married as I will be able to retire soon and have an adequately comfortably lifestyle. My family is multi cultured with myself, my brothers and sister married at various time to 1. Palauan, 2. Black African, 3. Polish lady, 4. Portuguese, 5. Japanese, 6. 3 Filipinos, and never a problem from other family members towards in-laws. Let me describe the family I will be adopting and the potential problems as my wife and I see them.

GF: 28, ¾ through getting her BA degree from Thai University. She left home when she was 14 to work and get a education, the only person in her family that has made it past 6th grade. She usually worked for a year at at least 2 jobs earning B4,000 to B8,000 per month, saved her money than took time off to go to school until money ran out then start the cycle all over again. Papa occasionally contributed at the most 4-5,000 Baht per year. The past 4 years she took money to him on average of B2,000 per month. When I took over her finances I could not see giving papa money as he was working and I was supporting his daughter. (culture shock) Now between University, AUA for English, motorbike, food, clothing electricity, rent (B6,000) I pay average of B20,000 per month for my second home and first wife in Udon Thani.

Papa: Younger than I, cannot read or write, speaks Lao, farms 13 Rai of tapioca. Lives in older typical Thai home in village of 150 people. Has old motorbike as means of transportation. Drinks Thai whisky, like water, gets abusive and nasty to my GF very often when in this condition. He, like many Thai and American men, gauge his spending by how much he has in his pocket. My wife says she has seen him with money falling out of pockets, buying whisky for all and spending rest on women until he is out of money.

Mama: Deceased when GF was 15. We visit grave and leave food when ever we are in the village.

Grandma: 86 years old lives in country in wooden shack on 3 rai of land that she has farmed for 30 years. Papa grows a crop of tapioca on most of the land. Grandma got sick 3 months ago went into a coma, was in ICU for weeks, woke up, stayed 3 more days, then she left the hospital. She came to live in our home for a week, then went back to her house to settle affairs, sell house and move in with us. It has been 5 weeks and I think as long as she is healthy she wants to stay in her home. She is welcome to come live with us any time she wants, we have lots of room.

Younger Sister #1 lives in Bangkok, is Mia Noi of Thai man in Udon whose wife has threatened him with bodily harm, so she moved to Bangkok and occasionally comes home and stays with us and sneaks out with him at night. She feels that she can come and go without any accountability and we should leave house unlocked all night regardless if she comes home or not. Never calls to let us know. She no longer is welcome to stay with us, but I know if she shows up my wife cannot turn her away and I will be the sounding board. That is OK, I have broad shoulders.

Other 2 sisters are not a concern, 1 is married to a rice farmer, other long term nurses aid in Bangkok.

Brother. I have reached out to him, took him fishing, out to dinner, let him come stay with us until he brought a friend with him. They stayed a week, no money, drinking Thai whiskey all night and when he left my wife discovered that he stole her gold jewelry valued at about B15,000 that I had given her. She was crushed but not positive it was him, or his friend or Papa who also was at house with us. Last time he came to visit he came alone and wanted my wife to give him B 2,000 and she told him she was on tight budget and didn’t have it to give, so he stole her digital camera instead and left her a letter of apology in its place. (A thief with a conscience) Again she was heartbroken that her brother would do that. We have not seen or heard from him since and probably will not.

My wife has Thai culture running through her veins and honest values that cause her major internal conflict. She wants to move away from the area once she graduates to keep the vultures from taking advantage of us but still finds it difficult to stand up to papa or confront relatives.

My major controversy has to do with how to handle papa and my future relationship with him. He owes me B17,000 that he talked my wife into taking out of our joint account last July (rent and school money) because he needed it for the farm. He promised her it would be a loan and he would pay it back in November. Needless to say she didn’t ask me but took it out and gave it to him because “he is my papa and he didn’t have any money and needed it”. She believed him and I didn’t but gave him benefit of the doubt. Just prior to this we visited him at the village where he got drunk, took my wife aside and informed her that she had to get married to me now, or quit school and go back to work and send him money. Other children do not send him money on regular basis because they know how he squanders it.

When she came to me with tears in her eyes conveying the ultimatum to me I got up, said good bye to papa and swore I would never come back to his house. The next day he called her and apologized to her for his drunken actions. He was showing off in front of his friends but did not seem bothered that he lost face when I left. They thought they were going to have a wedding, instead the bar went dry. My landlord, an educated good Thai man and also my neighbor has told papa that he needs to pay back the debt. You don’t borrow money from Farang agreeing to pay it back and then not do it. Back in October I sent a message to papa via GF that when he paid back the B17,000 we would start contributing to his support to tune of B3,000 per month and raise that to B5,000 when I move there. After many promises of pay day being missed this last trip he promised to pay B10,000 but, at last minute due to personal expenses he didn’t have any money to give me. The fact that Thais live from day to day and don’t look or plan for the future is something I see all the time. As for my TGF she will give all the money she has to friends if they ask or need it. We finally ironed out some cultural differences and after a few times of stumbling and falling we worked out a system that seems to be working. She gets a weekly allowance of B1,500 for food, gasoline and personal. Prepares a weekly budget of upcoming expenses such as tuition, medical or trip to visit sister (B500) and I authorize her to take that out of ATM on Monday. No more withdrawals. We have a little money hidden in the house for emergencies but she is to ask me before she cashes that and I replace it. IE. Lox Info card.

I pay the rent quarterly when I am in town as B6,000 seems to be too much of a temptation to papa or friends. Her former roommate came over last month and needed money to pay for her new motorbike she bought her boyfriend. She works 7-11 he doesn’t but goes to school. I did not let her give her the money but allowed her to loan it to her. Right on time on pay day she came and paid it back. Her credit line went up to B2,000 any time she really needs it.

OK now my questions, what am I doing right and what am I doing wrong? I respect papa for raising a wonderful honest daughter although he taught her well last time we went out of town and grandma was at house papa paid a surprise visit, drank all my JW Black Label and searched the bedroom until he found my wallet hidden in dresser and helped himself to B4,000. (Do as I say, not as I do) I know some of the skeptics will tell me that my GF is the culprit but I am 100% sure she would not steal from me or lie to me. I would have caught her by now and never once have I had reason to think she did either. Papa let GF know that younger daughter's BF came to him and ask to marry young daughter and will pay B50,000 for the privilege. Papa was so excited, problem is BF is already married and will never marry mia noi. I know it just was a ruse to get papa to ok the tryst. I told my GF that when she becomes my wife I will not pay Sin Sot as papa will just drink and piss it away. Instead, we will upgrade his home with paint, more electrical, more fans, a refrigerator and western toilet and shower. She agrees this is a better solution.

Since I am much older than her I insist she must have her degree before we marry so when I am reincarnated she will be able to get a job and support herself. I also put B10,000 into an annuity for every month we are together that will be paid to her when I die at rate of B10,000 per month while she gets her life back together. When we marry, I don’t want her to work but I don’t want her to feel subservient and totally dependant so I have agreed to hire her at rate of B8,000 per month and I will pay all household and travel expenses and that will be hers to use for personal like car she is wanting, or to send money to papa.

Thanks for allowing me to write this long article and I await suggestions on what I am doing wrong and how to make a long term relationship work between a ATM and wonderful Thai lady. LOL

Stickman says:

Papa sounds like nothing but trouble. Borrowing money and not returning it is one thing, but actually stealing is another altogether. It'd be nice just to tell the old geezer to piss off but then a divide would be created between you and your GF and truth be old, if you try and make a Thai woman choose between you and her family, in most cases he family will come up trumps.

At the risk of sounding horribly negative, even if you provide Papa with 3,000 baht a month, I reckon he'll continue to be a nuisance. He has no concept of the result of his actions.

Good luck.