For Love of Money
For the first time in our relationship I saw tears flow freely from my girlfriend’s eyes. It struck me immediately because she has always been somewhat stoic when it came to sadness, and after a year together this was the first time I had seen this side of her.
In a voice barely audible above a whisper she said, “My mother loves money more than me.” This was just the tip of the iceberg really, and to get the full scope you need her bio.
She is 26 years old and holds a BA in Fashion Design from one of the mid-range Bangkok Universities. Fashion Design is her life, and she has lived and breathed it since she was in her teens. She works for a top label in Asia and contrary to what many think makes peanuts (15,000/mo.). She lives with her family in a small shack in one of the many slum neighborhoods and shares a room with her mom and dad. She has to pay her parents 8,000 baht a month plus buy all the toiletries and groceries for the entire family not to mention any random demands for money made throughout the month. She also tries to save 4,000-5,000 each month in the bank, leaving her a whopping 2,000 baht each month for transportation, entertainment, and food.
As things have been getting more serious between us she has been spending more and more time over at my apartment and has on occasion spent the night. When she does this she is forced to lie to her parents about where she sleeps because they do not approve of sex before marriage (although like most people I would bet it all they were getting it on long before marriage).
Recently she has been going through turmoil over the fact that of all of her friends she is the only one who has to live at home, and has to give a substantial amount of her salary to her parents. Her downward spiral started the day she asked her mom if she could go away for a weekend to Koh Chang with some of her friends and I (it would really just be me and her). Her mom replied by saying it was not appropriate for her to travel with her boyfriend like that especially since she was hardly an adult yet. When my girl replied that she was in fact 26 and most certainly an adult her mother rebutted, “Adults don’t live with their parents.”
Now how is she supposed to move out and have a decent place when essentially she has 7,000 baht leftover after her parents get their cut? After rent is paid she will hardly have enough money to save for the future and for her that is the most important thing to do because she has told me on many occasions her dream for the future is to by her family a house outside of the slums. Her mother has vehemently said that she will never reduce the 8,000 baht a month fee which leaves her in a situation where she is trapped in the house and trapped in a world where she is treated as a child.
Every bomb needs a spark to set it off so while this situation was a bomb and most definitely a ticking one, the spark was still on the way. It came in the form of a series of mounting random requests by her mother for money. It was 500 baht here, 1000 baht there, and increasing in frequency. Finally it got to the point where my girlfriend was getting desperate for cash and asking me if she could have my spare change for the bus, and for food. I knew something was wrong but she was always tight lipped about it at the time. The last straw came when her mother delved into her meager savings of 60,000 baht, which she had acquired over the course of several years of excruciating saving. So she finally decided to stand her ground and respectfully refuse the request stating she did not have the money. Well mom was furious and refused to speak to her for several days while feigning her own personal hardship from not getting the latest request for money.
She relayed this story to me through a veil of tears. Then she looked up at me stone faced and said in an even tone, “I will wake up everyday, go to work, eat, come to see you, go home, and sleep. This is my life and I have decided to stop hoping it will ever get better. I don’t want to feel anything anymore.”
I was taken aback as she had never expressed this level of disconnect before so I asked, “Do you still love me?”
After a long pause and a deep breath she finally said, “Yes.”
After that we were quiet for a long time.
She loves her family and holds them in high regard. When I first met her and learned the % she was kicking back to her family I told her she was crazy. When I accompanied her to Tesco Lotus the first time to do the monthly shampoo restocking I told her she was being taken advantage of. Something in her brain is hard wired and just cannot go against her mother. Sensing this problem mounting I offered on several occasions to take her away from her parents, put her up in my apartment, and take care of her. She always refused because she didn’t want to hurt her family or cause them embarrassment. It makes me sick to see her mother just use her like that. That woman doesn’t deserve a daughter as willing to sacrifice in the name of family as this girl.
When the marriage word came up I showed her the movie “Father of the Bride” to give her an idea of an American wedding. She showed it to her parents so they could know too. Her father said, “I wish I had the money to pay for your wedding party because I would be so proud if I could. I do not want to make him pay sin sod because it is not his custom, but your mother would never accept it.” It is true her mother becomes like a hungry wolf every time the hint of her daughter hooking a farang comes up. She has already told my girlfriend she expects a large dowry, a house, a dramatically increased monthly stipend, and an annual vacation if we are to wed. This is the main thing holding us back and we have butt heads about it over and over.
I suppose the reason I put this out there is I see now that I really do have a good girl, possibly a perfect one for me, but she is being guided by a nefarious and greedy woman who doesn’t care about family or happiness beyond what she can gain monetarily from it. My only hope and prayer is that over time my girl will begin to wake up more and more to say no to mom and know that she will still be mom tomorrow.
This is a hellishly difficult situation. It sounds like the mother really is the problem. What you say about the father makes him seem like a reasonable sort of man.
It is hard to make much comment without knowing more about the size of the family and whether other members of the family are employed or not, but for sure, the mother's behaviour and attitude is having a massive negative effect on her daughter. I wonder if she pushed hard enough if she really could push the daughter away? That seems to almost never happen in Thailand…but there must come a point when too much really it too much.