How to Marry Successfully
Let me start by saying that I don’t have a clue in the world about how to marry successfully. I just thought it would be an attention grabbing headline.
There are countless submissions on this site about failed Thai / Foreign relationships. I think we all know by now what NOT to do when marrying a Thai woman. I was curious to understand more about how to be successful in a Thai marriage, and so I interviewed a dozen of my friends. The only requirement was that they be in a legal relationship for at least 5 years, and that they personally considered the marriage “successful” (using whatever criteria they wanted).
This is totally unscientific and biased, as my circle of friends may not be representative of all foreigners living in Thailand. What follows are not in any way to be taken as advice, rules or guidance. These are simply my conclusions about commonalities. Results may vary.
Past performance is not indicative of future results.
What seemed to be the common characteristics of these self described happy marriages? Let’s start with the most controversial aspect.
TRUST. Everyone I spoke with said first and foremost they trusted their Thai wife. One friend told me “When I got married, I put the house, car and bank accounts in her name. I figured once she had everything, there would be no reason for her to leave me or want to do me harm”. They have been married for 20 years. Now, no-one is suggesting in any way that you give your ATM pin to the first girl you pick up in a bar. The consensus seems to be, however, that if you are in a long term relationship with someone, and this someone is someone you trust enough to want to legally marry and entrust with their raising of your children, then you should be ready to trust her also financially. Obviously this depends on the maturity of the woman involved, but the general feeling seems to be that if you cannot trust her, then you shouldn’t be marrying her in the first place.
NOT A BAR GIRL. All of my friends are quite happy with the bar scene, and have often indulged in those activities. However, none of them married a bar girl. They all married someone they met through office or professional activities or through the normal dating scene. I am sure one can quite happily stay married to a bargirl but reading the submissions on this site, the odds may be against it. My friends stay happily married to non-bargirls, and perhaps there is a reason for that.
LIVING IN THAILAND. All of my happily married friends live in Thailand with their wives. Now this may be self-selection (I don’t know many foreigners married to Thais living outside Thailand) but I think there is a reason that living in Thailand promotes successful marriages. I personally employed dozens of Asians in various professional positions over the years where they were required to relocate outside their home country I learned that, generalizing, certain nationalities travelled well and others did not. For example, Malaysians, Singaporeans and Philippinos did quite well outside their home country, while Japanese, Koreans and Thais did not. I think the same goes true for women / wives. Most Thai women I know are extremely close with their families, and quite enjoy their native food and TV shows, and are quite lost over the long term without them. Only one person I know has taken a Thai wife abroad for a lengthy period of time (3 years now in Europe) and the Thai wife is horribly unhappy.
EMPLOYMENT This cuts both ways. All of my friends are fully employed earning a decent living. I believe the husband being out and about during the day, gainfully occupied, is a boon to marriage, and creates respect from the Thai wife. Similarly, all of the Thai wives I know are also either employed or working full time raising a family. I believe an idle person in a marriage leads to dissatisfaction, boredom, and trouble. Please understand that these are not my Calvinist values coming through; I am trying to understand and interpret my friends' situation, and, noting that they and their wives are all working in some manner leads me to hypothesize why.
FINANCIAL SECURIUTY The above point naturally leads to this one. Many failed relationships seem to founder on the issue of money. My friends' successful relationships may be due, in part, to the fact that with both parties working, money does not seem to be an issue in their marriage. The wife is also an earner to some extent, and so is not solely dependent on her foreign husband's handouts.
COMMUNICATION All of my friends have Thai wives who they are able to communicate with. Hooking up with a girl who speaks no English (“we communicated through our gestures and our love was able to shine through”) may be fine for a night or a week at most, but is it possible to be sustained for years on end? I am not saying that my friends discuss weighty matters of politics or philosophy with their wives; merely saying that they are able at some level to talk about their relationship and the matters concerning it. I welcome any comments to this. I am sure there will be some disagreement and I hope you will be gentle with me with your replies. I also look forward to hearing about other successful marriages and what might be the reasons behind them.
Or we could simply follow the advice of J. Paul Getty who said “The formula for success is: rise early, work hard, strike oil.”
Seems like sensible enough advice.