nana Plaza

Stickman Readers' Submissions September 4th, 2014

Hopefully There Is A Way

I write to you for advice or direction on where to gain advice about my particular situation. I have read many of your articles and feel with the many different situations you have come across may have an insight on possible direction to head.

I am an Australian of 52 years of age and have been coming to Thailand for some years now. My grandfather is buried in the war cemetery in Kanchanaburi having perished on the Thai – Burma Railway and Konyu 2 camp so I have some affinity with Thailand even before what I am about to write about.

He Clinic Bangkok

In 2010, while visiting my grandfather's grave and meeting up with the war cemetery people on a sort of pilgrimage I let my guard down and met up with a lovely Thai bargirl who helped me out in many ways. She came across as very shy and respectful and was out of place in the bar scene (yes, I bet you hear that a lot!). We struck up a friendship and she didn't seem to be asking for anything, so I kept in contact with her back in Australia. It grew from friendship to more and soon I found myself back in Thailand checking these feelings out. We had a great time, not just between the sheets but visiting off the tourist map stuff, going to movies, meeting friends, bowling, going to shopping malls, staying in her oh so small room etc. She paid for some things and I paid for others,. I even watched an AFL Grand Final with her friends.

So we got down to serious issues. The first: I was born in 1961. She in 1982. This was a problem for me initially and I struggled with it, but she convinced me it was ok. She didn't want children so all good there. My kids also gave me the thumbs up re: this age difference, but it has always stayed in the back of my mind. The next issue was she was working in a bar! She wanted out, so we arranged for her to quit her job at the bar and she got work as a cashier at 7-11 in Pattaya. Why Pattaya? Because that's where all her friends were, some working in bars, some not. But if she was to do this I would have to help her with monthly rent and some costs. No biggy, it was only 5,000 baht a month. She started her job as cashier, where she earned 30 baht an hour for a 10-hour day 7 days a week, with one day off every now and then.

So she had delivered on her promise not to work in the bar and gained work elsewhere. This all checked out ok and she said she relished not working in bar and I checked and trusted. She was not falling back on this work when I was not around.

The relationship grew and I was really taken by the way it developed and loved embracing the cultural differences. It was an adventure I was loving. So I invited her to stay in Australia for 3 months and meet my family and friends. She came over and everyone loved her and she loved it here. But even then, when I look back there was that age difference thing that reared its head in very subtle ways that I brushed away thinking it was nothing. She came stayed for 3 months, met everyone, loved the place and they her, but there where one or two comments I ignored at the time.

I asked her to come live with me in Australia and she accepted. Looking at all the various visas, the 301 perspective marriage visa seemed the one. Now this is where I took a deep gulp, marriage! Up until this point it was something I was not interested in again, having been divorced to Australian ladies twice before, but it seemed the only way so with reservation agreed and away we went. She came to Australia and within 2 months we married. My job was transferred to a small north-west town, Port Hedland, 2200 km from Perth, a very hot and remote town. She came up, got work in a local supermarket and away we went. We lived out of each other's pocket, ate together, slept together, shopped together, did every thing together. She was not making friends and was staying exclusive to me. Much to my insistence she needed to make new friends as she stayed with me everywhere. Those age difference matters again, not big, were there and chipped away at a few things. She cooked and she is a great cook, kept the house spotless, looks after me, is a great girl and I trust her 1000%.

So now, 3 years later, things have developed into something quite surreal. We are still together, but she has become very dependent on me for everything. I love her, don't get me wrong, and the reason I'm searching for advice is I want to look after her, protect her and live up to my promises. But here's the issue: I think the relationship is now more of a father / daughter relationship if you get my drift. She relies on me for everything and is very dependent, almost needy at times, and is very young at heart, having never been a mother. My daughter (17 years old) and her are now at loggerheads and it's becoming an issue as we all live in the same house. That's causing me some grief, but at 53 now and she 32, the age gap is now more evident to me as my views and physical stature change, hers are still that of a vibrant young lady. This was highlighted to me even more when I met with a lady of 41 years of age to discuss some possible business developments. She was referenced to me by a friend and I agreed to meet as when I spoke with her on the phone she came across as just the person I needed to meet to discuss a possible business venture. Anyway, she is 41, has 2 daughters of 18 and 20, and is a mature, well-grounded lady. We met to discuss business development and she knew what she was talking about, but then something strange occurred and we digressed and went off talking about other things and before we knew it the restaurant was kicking us out it was midnight. Whoa, what just happened? Ok, awkward we both felt and we parted… My mind was going nuts…what was going on?

It took me a couple of days but I worked it out. Mature conversation! This lady was articulate, clever, independent, has a large circle of friends and having had kids, she had a perspective of the world close to mine. A couple of weeks later we met again to discuss business again and the tension was there from the very start. We both put our cards on the table and admitted to being attracted and we had to be careful not to cross the line, which we did, but I know infidelity begins in the mind and the physical part is just the final act.

I went home to my house and unsuspecting wife and wondered just what the hell was going on, but within minutes as if on cue my wife unknowingly supplied me with an insight as to what was going on in my mind. She started to go off about my daughter and ranted and raved about a couple of things, then her conversation went over to her family hitting her up for money and could I pick that up. She wanted me to buy some hair colour as she said the grey were starting to show. Hmm, I have thought and thought and one night after she was telling me how she hates some people in Australia and how they do things in Thailand and makeup is different and water is different and wished she had more money in the bank and wanted a credit card, I realized I had made a mistake. It was not her fault. Not at all. It was my mistake. I looked in the mirror and thought at myself what have you done? This girl now relied on me for everything, and was strangling herself, and I was the recipient. I now realize 20 years difference is too much and in 2 – 3 years time these differences will be even more pronounced. I realize after speaking and being attracted to the lady who is 41 that attraction was a symptom of this position that I am not getting the mental stimulation I desire, and my wife is not getting it either. We have developed a relationship almost on father / daughter lines but with differing values. I love her dearly, want to protect her as she is really a good girl and she just followed what every girl in her position wanted – a way out of poverty and bars. She is honest, hard working, trustworthy, just a really good girl. But the romance, that spark, is disappearing and I want to do something about it before it gets to a stage where I don't care any more and leave her to her devices. I now realize I love her and care for her and want to protect her. I want to see her develop, evolve, learn…all the very same feelings I have for my daughter. I'm now more happy to read a book than watch a movie. Sex is now becoming less and less, romance less and less, and we have become like an old couple but she is 32. And at some point I am sure she will get tired of it too and do something silly, and I don't want to put her in that position.

So, to put simply, is there a way I can manage this from your perspective? What does Thai culture demand? Will she be ridiculed if we finish? How do I protect her? I just don't want to discard her because she doesn't suit my needs anymore and will deny my feelings and swallow them if need be, if the best thing is to stay as it is. But I don't think she is happy, just too scared to bring it up in case I take it and finish it from there. I could go on and on but that would make for a long read.

I am hoping you may have come across something like this before and can cast some light on what is becoming a gloomy situation. Hopefully there is a way.

Stickman's thoughts:

It's not often I am without suggestions on a troubled Thai / Farang relationship, but this time you've got me. I really don't know what to suggest.

It does seem now that that the initial excitement and the honeymoon period has passed that there just isn't enough in common to keep you each satisfied. Whether it is an age thing or a period of life thing or cultural differences or respective levels of worldliness – or all of the above, who knows. But one does get the feeling that there is no easy fix.

I really feel for you as it's clear that you really care for her and want to do right by her, but it's just as clear that you also want to be happy – and you're not confident that the two of you can be happy together.

Of course it's never easy for anyone when a relationship goes bad and a couple parts ways. Thai culture does not look favourably on divorce although the stigma associated with divorced women is nothing like it used to be. Absolutely no disrespect meant, but the fact that your wife once worked in a bar would be looked at in a much lesser light and, frankly, is a much greater issue in the eyes of Thais.

With your wife's comments that her family are money-hungry, if you and she were to part ways they probably couldn't care less – so long as she came out of it with some cash. That is the harsh reality of families whose daughters work in a bar and go on to marry a Westerner.

I do hope you're somehow able to turn things around although the picture you have painted makes that seem unlikely. If you do part ways, assisting her to make steps towards rebuilding would be nice, but then that is rather idealistic and when a marriage goes bang this is never easy.