Infidelity and Philandering: The Story of P
I have never been shy to admit in my subs that I am married to a western woman and also have a Thai girlfriend. Recently, a number of readers have written to me asking about this. There have even been implicit criticisms for cheating my on my wife.
For example, one person wrote to me:
“When my Thai wife and I got together she said to me that she understands men have a need for sex and if I ever stray to not let her know and she doesn't want to know.
Even though we have this understanding I haven't strayed yet because I believe in trust and honesty”.
“Does your wife suspect? Do you still have sex with her? Is it unprotected?”
“How are your feelings for your wife compared to the feelings for your mia noi and then your casual acquaintance?”
“Do you feel guilt? Do you think this flagrant dishonesty carries over to other aspects of your life?”
Stick himself has asked me to write about this, saying:
“What would be interesting is an article about how you reconcile what you do with being married. I say this not as criticism but as something that I am genuinely interested in.”
So here we go.
I met my wife at university and we quickly became an item. After graduation and taking an MBA I married her at age 22. All told, we have now been with each other for over 40 years and married for over 35 years. My business career built nicely and in our late 20s we decided to move overseas for more opportunities. We have not lived in our home country now for 30 years.
During all the years of our marriage, my wife was my best friend. We did everything together, and shared virtually all common interests. If I had a sport I loved, and she didn’t, she went with me to games and watched with me on TV, and grew to love it as I did. And she introduced me to classical music and opera, which I still enjoy to this day.
During this time I never went out drinking with the boys, or bowling, or to a poker night; any free time I had I willingly spent with my wife.
My work took me all over the world, to Europe, South America, Africa and Asia. I became the head of operations in several countries, then regionally, and finally my dream job as CEO of Asia. My wife readily moved with me to every country we were sent to and over the past 30 years we have together visited over 90 countries. Our children were born overseas and have enjoyed a multi-cultural upbringing.
During that period, from when we were married and for the next 30 years, I never once cheated on my wife.
The Turning Points
When I was just past the age of 50, a number of things happened that caused things to change. Looking back, with the distance of time and knowledge, one can see these things in perspective. During the moment, however, it would be difficult to say that I was ever fully aware of a conscious decision to cheat.
When my wife hit menopause, she lost all interest in sex. After 30 years of sleeping with me, she had no desire to continue to do so and, under the pretext of needing a better night’s sleep, eventually moved into a spare bedroom.
About the same time, she came to me and said that she knew that I traveled a lot, was exposed to “temptation” and that if I wanted to partake she was fine with that, as long as I did not embarrass her or cause her to lose face.
Indeed, I was traveling a lot, being on the road virtually every week. However, being in a high position at a publicly listed American corporation, I was afraid of any scandal that might happen as a result of being caught with a lady not my wife, and also did not want to give anyone any ammunition they could possibly use to damage my career or my company.
However, we eventually executed a leveraged buy-out, in which we took our company private and then sold it to a 3rd party. I was able to cash out 20 years of stock options into a sum good enough for retirement and, deciding I would never work for the new owners, left to go on my own. I started a small company with a number of my former executives and we sold consulting services in our industry to both our previous company as well as to our competitors.
In my new position as founder / part owner of a small, privately held, Asia-based company, I began to meet with a number of suppliers and potential clients. These meetings would often end at a karaoke, and at the end of the night all of the execs in the room would find themselves being escorted back to their hotel rooms by a young lady, all expenses paid. While this may sound like the greatest cop-out of all time, it was simply not possible to refuse without seriously damaging the relationship.
One night, I remember, I went back to my hotel room, alone, after a night of drinking. Several minutes later there was a knock on my door and I opened it to find a junior exec from our dinner and a young lady. He presented her to me “with compliments” from our host of the evening.
This was my first “fall from grace” and happened mostly in North Asia: China, Taiwan, Japan and Korea. I chalked it up to “doing business in Asia” and rationalized it, thinking I never sought it out, but simply accepted it as gift when offered.
The Next Step
Our base of operations began to shift from North Asia to Southeast Asia and I started to find myself spending more time in Vietnam, Malaysia, the Philippines and Thailand. I had been going to Thailand since the mid '80s but had never even been to Cowboy or Nana. Heads of US corporations flew to Bangkok, visited the factory, went out to dinner, came back to the hotel room for late night emails, and flew out. No one I knew would ever dream of doing anything else.
Running a small private company was a bit different and, one night in Bangkok, a person who owned a company I was looking to acquire suggested a drink at a place called Soi Cowboy, which I will admit I had never heard of. One thing led to another and I found myself for the first time choosing a girl and paying for it myself.
A further step up (or down) the ladder occurred one night when I flew into Bangkok ready for some action, only to find all my drinking buddies were occupied. After some soul searching in my hotel, I went and found a lady by myself. I had officially become a monger, that is, I could no longer excuse it by saying it was a gift, or that everyone was doing it.
However, I could still justify it by saying it was a commercial transaction, and that I wasn’t “having an affair” in the sense that no emotion was involved.
The Final Plunge
There was one supplier in Bangkok that I had to visit on a regular basis. They had a receptionist who was young and attractive, and while her English was not the best, she had a good sense of humor and we often chatted while I was waiting. One night I finished my business as she was getting ready to leave, and as we were going down in the lift, I invited her for a coffee. She hesitated, and at first said no, but eventually agreed.
Coffee moved on to drinks and then to dinner.
From then on, whenever I would be in Bangkok we would go out for one night, while other nights were reserved for drinking with suppliers and clients. One night I might go out with the receptionist, and the next night go short time with a girl from Nana. But the more I went out with the receptionist, the fonder I became of her. Although she was only 20, the same as my oldest child, and virtually uneducated, she could captivate me for hours and I always looked forward to our dinners together.
One night she confessed the desire to go to university and get a degree. We discussed how this would be a long term commitment. To do this, she would have to quit her job and devote herself to studying, but she needed money to live, pay her school fees, and support her family. We finally agreed that I would give her a monthly allowance, that she would not see anyone else, and I privately made a vow to stop taking girls short time from Cowboy and Nana.
In a few months it will be 7 years since we met. In that time, she graduated from University, worked at a multinational, started a business, got accepted at an MBA program, and got sick and nearly died. We contributed 50/50 to buying her a car and we are now finishing a house in her village. (90/10 by me).
The Involved Parties
There are four parties involved here: my wife, my GF, my children, and myself.
Many of my friends ask me “Does my wife suspect?” I honestly don’t know, but I think not. To her, I have not changed. I am still the boring man she always knew, content to come home after work, eat dinner, and read a book. I still don’t go out drinking with mates while I am at home, and my wife and I still go to the movies and go out with friends together. Due to my continued extensive traveling, my wife has found her own interests since the children left home, and now I often find myself at home alone while my wife is out pursuing her own thing.
The follow up question is invariably “What would she do if she found out?” Again, I don’t know, but I think she would do nothing. She already has complete access to all our money (well, the money she knows about, which is most of it). She has her own life, her own money and while it would hurt her, I can’t see her leaving me or asking for a divorce. But since a good businessman prepares for all eventualities, I am also prepared for a worse case scenario. If she were to leave me, I still have my own business, my own money, my children, and my GF.
I told my GF from Day 1 that I was married, and that I would not leave my wife. Also, that if my GF caused any problem between my wife and myself, that I would drop my GF in a second. She has accepted this, and in seven years has rarely brought my wife’s name. (In fact, she has never asked my wife’s name).
I can imagine a young girl from the village dreaming of marrying a handsome man, and eventually settling for reality. Reality hits us all no matter what our background. I can’t imagine that a man 30 years her senior who can’t speak her language was her dream mate as a child. But she has given up that dream for a possibly better reality, which includes an education for herself, a roof over her head and a secure future for her family.
Would she like to get married? I would think that she would. But that reality is in an alternate universe for now and so the next serious discussion we will have will be on whether to have a child ourselves.
My children will be the most devastated if this was to come out and I can imagine relationships being very strained for a while. However, there is a strong bond of love and mutual respect between myself and my kids, and eventually they would come to accept me with my faults.
Which leaves us with the last party involved, myself. Do I feel guilt? No. I love my wife, although the love is not as strong as it once was, and I will always take care of her. I love my GF also, perhaps in a different way, as an equal, but also like a daughter and as someone to be mentored. I will always take care of my GF.
I love them both, as a father loves all his children and as a child loves both his parents. Maybe I love them in different ways, for feelings must be different for someone one has spent a lifetime with vs. someone one has known for a comparatively shorter time.
When I travel outside of Bangkok, I still might have the occasional “good time”. I have mentioned in a previous sub another casual acquaintance I have had for a few years. Just like when I met my GF I told her I was married, when I meet other girls I tell them I am married AND have a GF. I am determined not to have another serious relationship and have succeeded in this.
Do I feel that I am a bad man? No. I feel joy that my wife and children have had happy lives in which their husband/father was always around to be with them, and I feel joy that I am helping to raise a family in the village and keep them from a life of poverty, and my GF from a possible life in the sex trade. When her nieces and nephews come of age I will pay for them to go to university if they like, or help set them up in a business.
Lastly, the harsh question that was asked of me “Do you think this flagrant dishonesty carries over to other aspects of your life?”A most resounding No. If you ask any of my mates, or anyone I have done business with over the last 40 years, I think they would all say that, whatever my faults, I am always honest in my relationships, and have never done anything to cheat or take advantage of someone on my side. (I am no Mother Theresa, and all is fair in business so I will admit to cutting a corner here and there when it comes to someone on the other side of the table. But never a mate). In fact, I believe if I had been less honest I could have become more successful.
One could debate the “flagrant dishonestly” phrase. It is fairly common, and has been for centuries, in both Asian as well as European societies, for successful older men to take a younger mistress, often with the man’s wife’s knowledge and sometimes approval. I sincerely do not believe that after 30 years of monogamy it is “flagrantly dishonest” to have an affair. I think I would feel differently about someone who had been married for much less time, or someone who deserted his long standing wife for a younger woman.
There you have it. Bottom line (and in business it is always about the bottom line), I sleep well every night and have no problem looking at myself in the mirror. More importantly, I would not do anything differently. I cherish the years I have spent with my wife, the good and the bad, and also the relatively short time I have had so far with my GF. My wife comes from the upper class, far above my initial place, while my GF comes from a dirt poor village. They have both taught me about life and I am a better person for having known both of them.
Very interesting, and a topic I personally find fascinating. I'd love to read submissions from others who have kept a woman long-term on the side in Thailand.