Another Wife Anyone?
Muslims are the only people in the world legally allowed to have up to four legal wives, as long as the man can support them. That being the case, it’s a wonder some of them have time for terrorist activities. Despite the veil, I have seen some
extremely attractive Arab and Iranian women. If I were a Muslim I’d probably go for four wives myself.
The Mormons suspended polygamy back in the 1880’s. However, it still goes on and the law and their church tend to turn a blind eye. Polygamy is illegal in the US, but obviously prosecuting church members who practice it is more trouble than it is worth.
Here in Thailand polygamy, is an old tradition most likely first encouraged by Chinese immigrants. Most Thai and Thai-Chinese first wives, or ‘mia luang’, know it goes on, but they turn a blind eye as long as the man is discrete. The ‘second wife’ is called a ‘mia noi’ if she regards herself as the man’s wife and doesn’t know that he has a first wife stashed away somewhere. She is supposed to stay faithful to the man. If the man goes with another woman just for sex without a relationship then she is called a ‘Gik’. In some cases, the Gik will enter into a relationship with a married man, knowing that he has a mia luang, but prepared to take what she can get. A Gik may play around with other men too if she wants to. Fair is fair.
Polygamy in Thailand is accepted. Bigamy is illegal, however, so if you are contemplating getting another wife into the family steer clear of the Amphur office.
There is one famous Thai-Chinese man in Nakhon Pathom who manufactures fish balls. Last I heard he had seven ‘wives’ working in the fish ball business. They all live under the same roof too. I reckon you have to have a lot of balls to go into a situation like that!
Soon after I arrived in Thailand I went to work for a Chinese businessman. He owned a hotel, a sports center, and a few other businesses. He lived in a large house with quite a few kids around. One day I remarked on the number of kids. “Oh, the younger ones are from my mia noi. Your secretary is one of my daughters from my mia luang. And my secretary is my mia luang.”
They were all living together. It was fascinating to watch them interact. As I only worked there a few months I didn’t really understand all the nuances in their relationships, but I did notice that there was considerable tension between the ‘mia luang’ and the ‘mia noi’. Because of the Thai reluctance to confront issues head on, the tension was not noticeable at first. It was only after I observed them for a while that I noticed. The mia luang would go out of her way to avoid being in the same room as the mia noi. Once she let slip to me while we were enjoying a coffee together that she didn’t like having the mia noi there. We became good friends, so she would confide things like that to me.
She couldn’t do anything about the situation, though, so she had to make the best of it. She certainly couldn’t leave. She wanted to be near her children, and she was too old and starting to lose her looks to be able to get a new husband easily. I had just got married for the first time, so I couldn’t imagine what it would be like to live in a situation like that. But as I’ve said before, Thailand always has a few surprises in store.
I never thought it would happen to me, but I guess if you live here long enough you end up becoming very Thai.
A few years after I worked for the Chinese businessman my marriage was not going well. I had started going out drinking with my mates after a tragedy in our family, and of course the bar girls were always right there.
My wife knew I was playing around, but as long as I played the good husband at home and didn’t stay out all night she never said anything. As we didn’t have kids, there were only the two of us to worry about. If she didn’t say anything, there was no trouble. A couple of years later my wife and I had drifted even further apart. She was out most of the day and night supposedly looking after her export business. I didn’t ask and she didn’t tell me. I was still going out to the bars and I met one girl who really excited me. We got on very well. Hell, that’s an understatement. We fell madly in love with each other. So one night I decided to stay overnight with her.
My wife didn’t say anything, so I stayed out again. After a couple of weeks of this my wife sat down at the breakfast table just after I arrived home and asked if I was having fun. I had to admit that I was. She then told me that she didn’t mind me playing around, but would I please come home at night? She explained that she didn’t like sleeping alone all night. I told her I would try, but I also said that I liked waking up with my new girlfriend in the morning.
My wife proposed a solution; bring the girl home to live with us.
I hadn’t expected that, but after I had her assurance that she wouldn’t mind I went back to my girlfriend and discussed it with her. She was reluctant at first, but eventually she agreed to give it a try. She wanted to get out of the bar anyway, so this was a good opportunity for her.
She moved in, and I mean moved in. When she arrived the three of us sat down to discuss the living arrangements. My wife and I slept downstairs in an air-conditioned room, so I asked my wife for sheets for the bed upstairs.
“No, she can sleep with us.” came the reply.
Well, things were getting interesting, and that night things got even more interesting. We shared that bed for about three months. However, one day my girlfriend said she was not comfortable making love with a woman as well, so she asked if she could move upstairs.
That was a bit of a surprise, because I thought we were all getting along well. And I knew my girlfriend wasn’t averse to having another female in the bed. We’d done that a couple of times before she moved in with us. So I asked her what the real problem was.
It turned out that my wife was becoming jealous. I guess it was obvious I preferred my girlfriend to her and this was causing problems. She had started giving my girlfriend a hard time while I was out of the house, nit-picking about the housework, her cooking, and so on.
So my girlfriend moved upstairs and from then on I was upstairs one night and downstairs the next. Things were getting a bit strenuous. I was doing my best to keep both women happy. It wasn’t an easy task.
Things came to a head less than two months later. Our lease on the house was expiring and the landlord wanted us out. We had to move. During a meeting to discuss our options it quickly became clear that we couldn’t carry on as we had been.
Because of the personal problems my wife and I had been through before the girlfriend arrived I had been considering leaving the marriage anyway. This seemed like a good time. Of course, I couldn’t offend my wife by saying that, so I told her that as I had just lost my job (true) and I couldn’t keep the both of them. I suggested that she should move back home until I got back on my feet. After some time, I told her, we could all move back in together again. Of course, that never happened.
A couple of years later the relationship with my girlfriend ended and I went on to meet my current wife. Surprisingly, my first wife has remained good friends with me. She even consented to a no-contest divorce so that I could get married again. My girlfriend has also remained friends, although we have never seen each other again. She lives up north. But we do talk on the phone now and again. I always call her on her birthday, and she loves that.
If you are considering taking a ‘second wife’ my advice is to give it a lot of thought first. The most important consideration is how you will finance it. If you think being married to one woman is expensive, wait until you have two of them! If they are living under the same roof with you, every time you buy something for one of them, you have to buy something for the other. If you show too much favoritism to one, the other will get jealous. Once you have kids as well, the costs really start rising.
Will you all sleep together, and will both of them enjoy each other as well as you? Will they enjoy each other more than you? You could be in for a big surprise when they ask you to move out so that they can stay together.
Polygamy sounds glamorous and exciting, but the reality is not always what you dream of. Nature, for some reason, often synchronizes the women’s cycles when they live in close proximity. If you think your current wife or girlfriend is hard to live with at that time of the month, wait until both of them get it at the same time!
Despite this, having two women in the house can be a lot of fun. Your sex life can be incredible as long as both of them get on well. Of course, you have to satisfy them both, but that may not be a big problem if they can also satisfy each other. Two women sharing the housework, shopping, and all the other chores in a relationship also eases the burden on them. And if one or both of them are working or in business, the financial rewards can be great too.
Frankly, I am puzzled why Western society frowns on polygamy, yet it is now endorsing gay marriages. Surely it is better to bring kids up in a loving heterosexual union? This is, after all, the traditional norm. Having two mums and a dad around only ensures that the kids have even more parents to love them. Gays adopting children, or being inseminated so that they can have kids, seems to me a bit self-defeating. And what about the role models the kids will see as they grow up? I am not against gay relationships, but I do worry about how kids raised by gays will turn out. At this stage it’s too early to tell, as none of the gay couples I know have actually raised kids.
One of the fascinating things about living in Thailand is the wide range of relationships available. I’ve come across almost every permutation. It seems to me that the younger generation of Thais, especially in Bangkok, are experimenting and pushing the envelope further than my generation ever did – and I was there for the sexual revolution back in the 1960’s and 70’s. I envy you younger people today. If I was your age and know what I do now, I would be out there giving you a real run for your money! But these days, I find a monogamous relationship is all I need, and my wife and kids are happy with that.
I can't help but think that more women means more headaches. I guess it all depends on one's particular situation in life, but the idea of effectively having two wives would be something I could not imagine. Not that I admire it, but I reckon a married guy who cannot keep it in his pants is better off down at the local knock shop than taking on a second wife.