By the prolific writer, Mr Anonymous
It has happened before, and will continue happening – there will always be parents who want their daughters to 'bring home the bacon'. It boils down to two things – materialism and face.
On the one hand, face is lost in the community when the daughters are known to work in that industry. If, however, the daughter sends back a lot of money, many parents will build as large a house as possible to 'regain' face instead of using the money to invest in a small business or something.
Once they have a big house, they have regained face. But they also want more money to improve their 'higher' status. So you come to the materialism bit where they have to prove to their neighbours that not only do they now have a larger place to stay in, they can afford a better lifestyle without lifting a finger.
This tends to push the source of it all into the background, and others, looking at the 'success' story, also want to 'improve' their lifestyle. So it perpetuates itself.
This is a typical attitude, you will never change it, and it has nothing at all to do with whether you are a farang or not. Forget about 'loss of funds'. It is the attitude of the parents, and their love of money and material things makes them turn a blind eye to any professed morals.
You are just another more accessible source to them.
Note: It was quite common for one or two of the female children to be given the 'responsibility' of helping the rest. In a farming family, she does not do much farm work, but does the cooking for all, keeps an eye on everyone else's kids, cleans the house, etc. In more recent times, she does basically the same thing while everyone else goes to school, and so misses out on an education. 'Helping' the rest by lying on your back is stretching the concept a bit too far.
She's your wife, you've agreed on terms with her, stick to them. If she wants to contribute to someone else's well-being, it comes out of her allowance. If you're still feeling guilty about it, go back up and re-read 'ATTITUDE'.
In a way, your friend with the Thai wife is correct in saying that you worry too much about being 'accepted'. From the situation you've painted, acceptance seems to be tied in with cash flow. True acceptance is not related to that.
Something else that struck me as not being pointed out in Stickman's pages (sorry ,stick; I haven't read the lot so I could be wrong) is that many farangs go back to their wife's villages and actually help them build nice houses in the middle of nowhere, and then proceed to make their own lives miserable by trying to live with that community and gain 'acceptance'. You are just perpetuating the ATTITUDE. It makes more sense to go build your life somewhere else in the kingdom where you, the farang, are comfortable and can actually make a living from. If you and your wife love each other, both of you will try to make it work, and you'll probably gain genuine acceptance from the community you've decided to set up home in. They won't have a fixed ATTITUDE.
Dowry is just that; a tradition. Yes, it is actually in the law books (I'll have to dig out my official English translation) and the different variations of it.
The typical dowry is normally agreed on before the engagement and / or marriage ceremony. I've sat in on one or two myself. Many of the family members of both families sit down together, and one representative from each will negotiate. The representative is not necessarily a member of the family, just a good negotiator. Another thing I will point out – while the dowry may go to the bride's family, the bride's family may also be expected to pay for the wedding ceremony – typically the whole village! Thus the negotiations and mutual agreement.
Don't kid yourself that the parents know the 'worth' of their daughter. They know. In your situation, they just want to see how much they can milk out of you. By contributing a sum such as you have for a funeral, there should be no reason why you should fork out for anything else.
Note that I'm only pointing out one facet of a situation. Many people do have happy marriages, with the parents and family accepting them without conditions, as family members.
Many (myself included) do pay a dowry. Whether it comes back or not is beside the point. It normally ends up paying for the festivities.
Consider her acceptance by your side of the family as well.
Decide where both of you are going to reside, in the kingdom or outside. Either way, there are going to be a lot of concessions made.
FOOD FOR THOUGHT
If you are going to have kids, which side of the family would you let them visit or stay with when they get older?
This good advice was a response by a reader to the fellow whose submission titled "Advice Please" was published a few days ago. The writer offered it as a submission. Lots of good points.