Stickman Readers' Submissions August 5th, 2004

Negotiating With The Family Part 3

1) General comments (Parents/Money/Dowry)

2) Negotiating with the family

3) How to turn the situation in your favor


This scenario is based on your stated wish to protect the younger sister, and to prevent the parents from abusing all of the daughters financially. It is highly unlikely that this would all fit your situation, but it might give you an idea or two, to get started.

1) Set up a completely separate bank account to be used for one purpose only. This account belongs to the entire family, and is for emergency use. Keep the account in your name to prevent abuse, but make it clear that it belongs to everybody. Money from this account can only be removed after a unanimous decision by all the family members. This achieves several things. First it removes you as the family benefactor since this account belongs to everybody. Second it is a great teaching tool. The family will quickly realize that when you take money out the account does not replenish itself automatically [Like those magical farang accounts do 🙂 ]. Do not fall for the temptation of refilling the account whenever it gets low, this defeats the whole purpose. In case of a serious emergency you could possibly loan a small amount of money to the emergency account, but insist you get paid back later. Family members who have the ability should pay back all, or at least some of the money they take out of the emergency account. Desperately needing a nicer pickup truck than the neighbors does not constitute an emergency.

2) Invite the younger sister to live with the wife and you, provided she looks for a legitimate job. This will get her away from the parents influence, and reduce her chances of being sent of to a bar. I’m not sure if your living situation allows for this but it’s a thought anyway. You could possibly help her find a cheap place close to yours. If your wife could somehow be instrumental in saving her sister this would probably help her deal with her own issues as well. Finally it would prove to your wife that you are really concerned about her entire family’s welfare. This, along with the emergency fund, would essentially set you up as an alternative head of the family. If it ever came to a showdown between you, and the parents, your position would be much stronger than before.

3) Take Stickman’s advice and encourage your wife to get a job.

4) If your wife and her sister are working, suggest that they both take 10% of the top of their check every payday, and deposit it into the family emergency account. Invite the older sister to participate if she wants to. Make some sort of matching payment yourself.

5) Suggest that your wife and her sister may both take half their paycheck and send it to the parents, if they want to (45% really, since 10% has already come of the top). The percentage could be smaller if all three sisters were involved. Most people need less money when they retire. First of all they do not have any children to feed and educate anymore. Chances are they do not have the expense of looking after their own parents. In the case of your parents in-law they have a nice new house all paid for. Two half salaries would of course be the equivalent of one full salary. In their situation this should be more than enough money to live well in rural Isaan. There should be absolutely no need for additional support. It might not provide them with all the luxury they feel entitled to, but they would be better off than most of their neighbors. One big stumbling block in this scenario; Your in-laws might just be sly enough to go out borrowing money against the house, expecting that the daughters would bail them out, rather than se them loose the property.

6) I agree with Stickman that you don’t have to pay a bride price, but here is a creative alternative: Since you are going to have an Isaan formal wedding anyway, offer 40,000 baht (or whatever you are comfortable with). Insist that in accordance with Thai tradition this money is not a gift to the parents. As a sign of goodwill though you will take the full amount and put it into the family emergency account. You know they are going to ask you for money sooner or later, so why not use this opportunity to create a buffer. If it’s not to expensive you could hire a local attorney to handle the details, and hopefully avoid any confusion.

One caution: You can not really have one rich and one poor partner in a marriage. You might have some money put away to secure your future, but you do not want to blow through it in the next 12 months. It’s not enough that you can afford to be wasteful, but at the same time you really don’t have to think twice about spending a few thousand baht. This balance can be hard to understand for someone with no investment experience. Imagine that your wife and her sister both got jobs. They spend a week of hard work suffering under an unreasonable boss. On the way home they walk right past all the little stores with all the little luxuries they would love to buy. After sending some money to the parents they each have a couple of hundred baht left at the end of the week. They are justifiably proud of their achievement. On the weekend you decide to celebrate. You take them out to a nice restaurant, dinner and drinks; the bill is several thousand baht. They thank you profusely and you feel great about being so generous. The next week you can not figure out why they are both in such a bad mood. I could go on but I think you can take it from here……

I hope this all gives you a few ideas on how to handle your situation. Write in later and let us all know how it is working out. Best wishes for you, and your wife.

Re: Email: It is not always possible to answer my email in a timely manner, although I do try. There are still places on this planet that does not get internet service. Sometimes I receive email that is completely blank, no content, just a header. These mails go unanswered because they most likely represent some form of scam, looking for information, or just a live address. It could however be a legitimate email with the contents removed, by an overly aggressive filtering system, at the ISP. If I did not answer your mail I apologize. Please try re sending it, if possible, from another email account. The alphabetical spelling of my email address (BOX9S at MSN dot COM) helps make it harder to harvest by spammers. I am sure you can all figure out how to turn it into a normal email address.

Stickman’s thoughts:

He Clinic Bangkok

The idea of the emergency fund account is a creative solution to an age old problem.

nana plaza