Truths About Sin Sot
A couple of truths about Sin Sot, each discussed below:
– Thais pay sin sot more often than not
– Farangs will almost universally hate sin sot (me included)
– If you marry a Thai woman you’ll most likely have to pay sin sot
Thais Pay Sin Sot
There are odd circumstances where it does not happen, but it is done much more often than not. I just asked one of my colleagues who comes from a wealthy Thai, not Thai-Chinese, family and he said “of course, a million baht or so, or maybe a chanote (land title document)”. The Thai press occasionally run articles about keys to a new Mercedes being given as sin sot for some high society wedding. It’s used as a bit of show off by those who are wealthy. Those who are not wealthy sometimes give face by extending themselves beyond their means with the size of the payment.
For example, my maid’s daughter got married last year and the new husband gave the same amount that I gave my wife’s family and I make about 20 times what he makes. I thought he was an idiot for doing that, but then found out that the money was used for the party, and it was a big party, again to show face. I don’t believe in showing that kind of face, but if he did so be it.
I’ve been to 10 or so weddings here, including those of my staff, my wife’s family, her friends, etc, and to the best of my knowledge all involved sin sot. Details remain sketchy, but it was done, with some of it simply returned to the bride. The exchange was done just for face. Except for my maid’s daughter’s wedding all the weddings I attended were among professional, university educated Thais. Only one was a farang/Thai wedding.
Farangs Will Almost Universally Hate Sin Sot (Me Included)
There is no explanation that is going to satisfy most farangs. It simply goes against our belief that you should not have to buy love. If you try to find an answer you will simply remain baffled and confused. Give up trying to understand, it is just a cultural difference. If you can not accept some cultural differences you should not marry a Thai woman.
The best answer I could ever come up with is simply that it gave face to my in-laws and to show that I respect them I did it. Period. Done. I could have stuck by my guns and refused, but is it worth it? They and the whole family really accept me (ok, there is the evil aunt that we all hate) and that’s worth a lot to me (my first wife’s parents didn’t really like me – try that for while, it sucks).
If You Marry A Thai Woman You’ll Most Likely Have To Pay Sin Sot
I wrote in Happily Married : “I did pay sin sod (dowry) but it was a lot less than I could afford (a third of the cost of her engagement ring). We politely told them in advance how much it was going to be with no negotiation. She hated that it was expected of me, but we did it to give face to her parents. If you can’t be a little flexible don’t marry outside your culture.”
I’ve read some of the horror stories here about families kidnapping the woman when the man refuses to pay a certain amount, or some farangs berating Thai woman who are bargirls as not being worth paying any sin sot. I would say get a life: if you’re marrying a bargirl you’re in for some rough times regardless, it’s rough enough just marrying outside your culture. If you add in an unequal relationship (one that starts with a bar fine will never be equal) you are 99% doomed to start. If the woman is a bargirl then that likely means that her family likely only looks at her as transfer point from the walking ATMs she finds so don’t be surprised if you are treated as an ATM (and she continues to be treated as the transfer point). Her life probably sucks already.
But don’t berate Thai women who are stuck in between the traditional and a more modern world (like my wife). It sucks for them in many ways. Do you think our kids will give us sin sot or support us when we’re old like we do to her parents (he’s a lawyer who had a stroke at 47 and could not work). No, nor would we ask. There is a whole generation of women who are in the middle of this and it is difficult for them, especially when they are trying to straddle two cultures and make a relationship with a farang work. Don’t make it harder for them.
So if you want to live in THAIland or marry a Thai woman, then understand that it is not called FARANGland for a reason. It is full of Thais, and funnily enough, Thai culture (some of which you’ll never understand). If you’re honest with yourself you’ll probably find that your Thai girlfriend/wife is very flexible when it comes to your culture. Try to be flexible regarding hers. And if there are too many things about Thai culture that you can not accept then admit that to yourself, live in FARANGland, marry a farang, and stop whining about why Thais are so, well, Thai.
Because Thai people do it, we should?! I guess we should all drive like idiots too….