Cross Cultural Differences / Distances
By Not So Ugly American
In an earlier submission from The Director's Wife’s Disciple several points were made about the “closeness” involved in a typical Thai relationship. I felt this topic in and of itself worthy of a complete submission.
It is my intent to utilize some of the statements made in the Disciple's submission to aid in making my point (I think I have a point). The intent of this submission is not to dismiss or marginalize the statements made by the Disciples.
Let me preference this by saying that I have a Thai wife. I have traveled quite a bit internationally, encountered quite a few people from very different cultures, and I have lived outside the US (my home country) for several years; therefore
I have been immersed in a culture completely foreign to the culture I grew up in. This by no means makes me an expert on this or any other topic for that matter and there are exceptions to every rule. YADA, YADA, YADA. Let’s get to the
broad sweeping generalizations.
The Disciple says:
“….love being with each other. This is what love is, they are meant to be your best friend and lover, so you want to spend as much time with them as you can. With a loving Thai couple this is how they are.”
Many Isaan Thai grew up literally in one room homes. They had no option but be surrounded by people all of the time. Most Farang grow up in not only a multi-room home, but in a household where they have their own dedicated bedroom. Yes, you
read that correctly – one bedroom for each child in the house. So party BG has grown up surrounded by family – all of the time. Party F has grown up in much more isolated environment. Mix one part BG and one part F – now question
why F can not handle 100% immersion in BG (or is that F is 100% immersion in BG?).
I will agree with the Disciple in that yes this can be the way many THAI-THAI relationships are. As they both probably grew up in the same fully immersed environment. But this is not the way many Farang-Farang relationships are. Farangs need
space – we need time to be alone – particularly since this is the environment that we were raised in. It is no surprise to me that many Farang can not handle a Thai lady who wants to hang on them 24 / 7.
The Disciple says:
“Seems in the West we are brought up to believe if you see too much of each other it’s over crowding, or seeing to much or each other, but a loving Thai couple it’s about each other and your family
are your life. …. If you found the right woman and know it’s true love then how can you say we cannot love each other 24 hours a day?”
First see above – Thai = one room environment, no choice about being part of the group. Farang = only person in the room, no choice but to be an individual. Compromise is the key – Thais need more reassurance that they are loved
and part of the couple (group / family), Farangs need at least some time alone, away from the couple situation (time to be an individual).
Many Thai have no choice but to be part of the group or part of the family 24 / 7 so they grow up learning how to deal with life are part of the group. Most Farang spend much more time alone and our culture teaches us that it is important
to be an individual. That it is good and sometimes desirable to be an individual. We therefore need more time to be an individual – more time to be alone.
We Farang do not say we do not love our partner 24 hours a day – we simply ask for a bit of understanding and some time to be as we have always been – individuals. We need time away from the relationship – time away from our partner.
Not because we do not love her 24 / 7, but because we have never been in a situation that required our attention 24 / 7. Because we do not feel it necessary to be in the physical presence of our mate 24 / 7 does not mean that we do not love her
24 / 7.
When we find the right woman she will be able to understand this about our culture. In the same turn we must be able to understand her culture. Here again a compromise must be reached. Party BG can not expect 24 / 7 attention from party F – while
the party F has to understand the desire of party BG to be part of the group has she has always been.
The Disciple says:
“Yet with the right person how could you not be (together 24 hours per day). Got a love for cars then how can you not give it all your love and attention, your always polishing it cleaning it loving it, but when
it comes to a woman it seems over in the west we cannot give deeply to one another.”
I only use this piece to touch upon the car analogy – I think most of us would be in agreement that any bloke who spends 24 / 7 with his car needs some professional medical attention. The only scenario that may help to explain why
a man would prefer the presence of his car over his wife would be in a situation that the poor bloke's Sheila is such a b***h that he would prefer to spend every waking hour with the car as opposed to shaggin’ the Ms. So the time he
spends with his car is more an indication of much bigger problem(s) with the relationship and very little indication of any cultural issue(s).
The Disciple says:
“Seems we are taught if someone really loves you then run away your crowding me, smothering me etc, but in with Thai woman it’s I want to be with you always be in your life, be beside you’re my
life.” AND “If I love her so deeply how can I say she is crowding me, or smothering me. I want to shear her in my life and she becomes my life and the most important part of it. Seems in the west this is not the case, and we are
taught it it’s to much love then run away. Seems with good Thai woman they love this attention and love and pay it back to you many times over.”
I think that I have already made my position pretty clear in regard to the need to spend 24 / 7 with each other and that I think this is mainly a cultural issue that is not beyond a good compromise for an acceptable resolution.
Something that seems to be pretty clear to me upon reading these points over is that our devout disciple has not been involved in a long-term relationship with a Thai lady. As pretty much anyone who has can attest, Thai women tend to be crazy
jealous – I mean way over the top, cut you **** off and feed it to the duck, jealous (I heard another poor Thai guy has recently been inducted into this unfortunate club).
In addition I think that one of the reasons why Thai women tend to need / want the 24 / 7 attention is the little issue of the minor wife. You see it seems that Thais have such a long history of loving and meaningful relationships that it
has necessitated the development of a little thing in the Thai culture known as the minor wife.
For those of you that may not already be aware (or even envious) it is a fairly acceptable practice for Thai men to have at least one (some have several) ‘girl-friends’ that are lovingly referred to as minor wives. As long as
this loving Thai husband is not blatant about the relationship with his minor wife(s) and his real wife does not suffer the loss of face associated with an overly public display of the husbands relationship with the minor wife(s) then it is acceptable
to have such relationships <not really acceptable actually, but it does happen – Stick>. Now shall we ask ourselves – why does the Thai lady need / want your attention 24 / 7? Couldn’t possibly have
anything to do with making sure we have no free time to spend with a minor wife now could it?
Very good points indeed.