Stickman Readers' Submissions October 16th, 2010

One In A Million

I previously wrote a post for Stickman called “Earn Your Own Way”. Thank you to the lovely men who wrote emails to me, and sorry I lost contact with most of you through being busy (having more kids and what not). I wish you all good luck! Now that I have a few spare hours, I wanted to write my story and perhaps brighten up someone’s day with a bit of a unique tale of love…

I am a Western woman married to a Thai man. We have known each other for almost ten years, and we have four kids. Of course we have our ups and downs, but we are still very much in love with each other. How does this work, you may ask? It certainly doesn’t happen in this combination very often. I’ll tell you the secret…it works because we’re both strange! We’re strange because neither of us fits the stereotype of ‘Western woman” or “Thai man”, and that suits us because we are comfortable with ourselves the way we are and get along well together. I’ll tell you how we met first, and then explain how we are both a bit strange…

He Clinic Bangkok

We met in a third country (neither my country nor Thailand). We were both working in the same town. I had studied Thai language at university (as well as the language of the country I was working in), and so a senior person in the town introduced me to him and his colleagues and suggested I may be able to show them around and take them shopping as they could not speak any language except Thai. My husband stood out to me because he was respectful (he didn’t use bad language in Thai even though some of his colleagues did); he was self-confident (he knew his own mind, but wasn’t arrogant); he was kind and romantic (he sometimes brought me little gifts); and he was always on time! He later said I caught his eye because I was pretty (in the eye of the beholder and all that!) and modest with my dress and ways.

MY HUSBAND: He looks like an average Thai man (height, weight, colouring etc.), but of course I think he is the most handsome and sexy! However, in contrast with most Thai men, he doesn’t drink a drop. He used to smoke before we got married, but when he asked me what I wanted for SIN SOD I asked him to give up smoking instead of a monetary gift. He agreed and he doesn’t smoke to this day. He works hard at his day job and his boss reckons he’s great. He’s had two raises since we’ve been living here. He likes cooking. He does the shopping by himself (because it’s difficult for me to do with all the kids). And he loves spending time with us. I have never been afraid of him having a MIA NOI because he comes home after knock-off time on the dot and sleeps in our bed all night / every night. He also calls me several times each day just to chat or to see how the kids are. Our kids are homeschooled, and he contributes to their education by sitting with them for an hour or two in the evenings and tutoring them in the subjects he knows better than me.

ME: I am quite slender for a Western woman and also of average looks (although my husband thinks I am the most beautiful and sexy, hahaha!). I do things a bit differently from most Western women I know, though. I look after my skin so that I don’t get freckles and wrinkles and start to look like I’m 50 when I’m 30. I grow my hair long and I don’t dye it. I don’t wear makeup either, except for a bit of eyeliner or lipstick when I am trying to get my husband to go to bed early! I wear my nicest clothes when he’s at home and wear different perfumes, lingerie, jewellery – all to impress my husband. I’d go on further about the things I like to do for him (Wat Pho massage, special meals etc.), but I don’t want to make anyone sick. I just want to say that if anyone thinks it is too much, it’s not too much for a man who works hard for his family and never plays around.

CBD bangkok

Trust is vital to our relationship. We have a joint bank account which we have put all of our money into since we got engaged. We never have money problems because we both see eye-to-eye on financial matters. We never borrow and never loan; we always consult each other on big purchases; I take care of the bills from our joint account and make sure they’re paid on time (because I’m at home and can pay them via internet while he’s at work); and we both love saving money. Neither of us support our extended families financially, but we give presents of things they need instead. We have no secret compartments in our lives…we both have each other’s passwords to everything.

Loyalty is also important (and builds trust). I never bad-mouth my husband to other people; and he extends the same courtesy to me. No-one’s perfect, and all of us have imperfections we would rather everyone didn’t know about.

I love that my husband and I share the same sense of humour and that he laughs at my puns and jokes. I love that he loves to listen to me chat. Sometimes I try to talk less because I think he must be tired or that I might bore him, but then he asks me to keep talking because he was enjoying listening! I admire my husband for the excellent person he is, and he has sometimes told me that he admires me, too. We inspire each other to try harder and become the best that we can.

I’m surprised that we came to the same conclusion about our kids (of course, we didn’t really think about it too much before we had them), and that he’s happy for them to be homeschooled. I am glad that although we lived in Thailand for a few years when we first got married, that he was willing to try out my country. I didn’t want my kids growing up with everyone telling them how beautiful they are (even though I agree!). I don’t want them to grow up arrogant and spoiled.

wonderland clinic

Anyway, the key to our relationship is not what nationality we are. The key is our similarities and our ability to compromise in the few areas we are not similar. We have similar upbringings; education; morals; work ethic; financial values; manners; family values; and expectations of our roles as husband/wife/father/mother. We don’t always get along with each other’s family members (what are the chances of getting along with a spouse of a different nationality, and then getting along with every single person in their family?!), but we compromise on that.

Mixed marriages take a lot of work and are not always easy, but they are possibly even more rewarding than good marriages between people of the same nationality. When you marry someone from another nationality, it’s like you can experience two lifestyles in one and it keeps the marriage interesting and full of surprises. Are we gonna be Thai today, or are we gonna be Western – nah, we’ll just be ourselves!

First postscript: to the men who say that all Western women are stuck-up, some of us are just shy and some of us like a man to chase us a bit. On being stuck-up: one of my best female friends told me that they thought I was ‘cold’ when she first met me, and she laughed when I told her how I was so shy and nervous I could hardly talk to her. On chasing: one of the few Western men to ever ask me out before I was married, wanted me to sleep over at his house after our first date (I didn’t know him very well and for all I know he could’ve been an axe-murderer). Too bad if he thought I was stuck-up for high-tailing it out of there! I think Thai and Western women share more similarities than most Western men would think. It’s funny when men give advice to other men on how to treat Thai women well. 99.9% of their lists would work well with Western women too!

Second postscript: to the guy who was disgusted at his brother-in-law for speaking in pidgin English to his Thai wife, ‘mirroring’ is a phenomenon by which a person will modify their speech or behaviour to bring it in line with someone else’s because they like or approve of that person. When we dislike people, we usually emphasise our differences in order to disassociate ourselves from them. I think you’re being overly sensitive and should appreciate his efforts (and your wife, also). With time, he’ll realise your wife’s full abilities and talk to her at her level (especially if he witnesses you doing so).

Stickman's thoughts:

Long may your home life be happy!

nana plaza