Wheat People, Rice People
Remember those quizzes they gave you when you were young? There were pictures of an apple, an orange, and a rocket ship and the question was “Which two things go together?”
Imagine a train, a bus, and train tracks. Which two things go together?
I’ll get to the answer later.
If one reads all the submissions on this website, one comes to the inescapable conclusion that many Foreigner / Thai relationships fail. (I won’t say most relationships fail because the happy ones are usually not written about.)
But why do they fail? And how could any of us improve the odds of success?
I don’t buy for one minute that they fail because the girl is a thieving lying whore. The subs are all written by the foreign man, who may not be giving us the full picture. We never get to hear from the girl herself. I’ve always found that a failed relationship has responsibility from both sides.
But how often have you read the following:
1- I refuse to pay sin sot.
2- I won’t finance her kids from a Thai man.
3- I won’t give money to her parents.
4- She has to love me and me alone.
5- The most important thing is that she tell the truth at all times.
I put it to you that the major reason Foreign / Thai relationships fail is that the man fails to understand and accept the culture of his partner.
Now one can also make the case that failure comes from the Thai in the relationship failing to understand western culture. I don’t deny this. But if the couple lives in Thailand, and if the man is more educated, older, and more “worldly”, I submit that it is his responsibility to make the major adaptation.
Since he usually does not, there you have it, boom! Failed relationships.
I am not an agronomist, but I am told that wheat is a relatively simple crop to grow. You plant it, water it, and now have the time to write a symphony, climb a mountain, or foment a revolution. Western culture encourages, breeds and applauds individualism.
Rice, on the other hand, is a more difficult crop. It needs to be constantly attended to, and one person alone is not sufficient. The individual will fail. The entire village is necessary to bring the crop in. Rice farming leaves little time for leisure. Eastern culture encourages, breeds and applauds the group effort.
You are walking down the street and an interviewer asks you to fill out a questionnaire, and offers you a choice of four orange pencils and one green one to write with. Which do you pick?
This study has been repeated many times. In the west, more often than not, the green pencil is picked. Westerners want to be individuals, and so pick the pencil that stands out.
You already know that when the study is done in Asia, one of the orange pencils is picked. The Asia wants to be part of the group.
The Japanese say “the nail that sticks up must be hammered down”.
Wheat people, rice people.
The Thai girl you want to have a relationship with owes her entire existence to her family: her parents, her siblings, and her children who will be expected to take care of her as she grows old. Loving you, the foreigner, is not high on her list of priorities.
You can accept this, or not. Feel free to reject it. But don’t then complain that your relationship doesn’t work.
If you wish to have a relationship with a person from another culture, it is your responsibility to understand that culture, and to some extent, adapt to it.
Feel free to call me out, and say I am speaking nonsense, and that no one should have to compromise their principals. But then explain to me why so many foreign/Thai relationships fail.
Before we get to some suggestions about how to make mixed culture relationships work, the success of any relationship must start with high quality raw material. That is, you must pick the woman wisely.
So often I read in these subs how a man fell in love with a girl’s smile, breasts, walk, some physical characteristic, hopped into bed, and then couldn’t understand why they weren’t compatible.
Physical attractiveness is not the best dimension on which to build a relationship.
I suggest that if you are thinking of having a serious relationship with a woman, you take the 2-week test.
Week 1: Move in with her. Get a furnished flat, or serviced apartment, and ask her to shop, cook and clean. Eat in every night. Have one TV and see if either of you can stand what the other watches. Go with her to the supermarket and see how she chooses what to buy, and whether she looks for bargains. See if you like her cooking. If she is working in a bar, insist that she stop. No man should be in a relationship with a woman who comes home every night with another man’s sperm in her mouth. <That sentence should be quote of the year! – Stick>
Week 2: Now it gets tough. Stop having sex. See if you can survive a week with her without sex. Go and visit her family and sleep in her village for at least four days. See how she interacts with her family. Go with her to a local temple and see if she is respectful to the monks. You may not believe in religion but it should have been an important part of her upbringing.
If you are still speaking with her at the end of this period, congratulations! You have a good chance of making it work.
Now what do you do over the next 1 to xx years?
Understand that she is a rice person, and that her family is the most important thing to her. Don’t fight this or insist that she choose you over them. Accept it. Tell her you love her family (and her children if she has any) more than anything else. Prove it by helping out to buy school supplies or make small improvements around the house. Don’t be taken for a sucker, and don’t agree to every demand. Feel free to ask the family to chip in. I often offer to pay half of the cost of an improvement if the family pays the other half. Or I buy the raw materials and they supply the labor.
Set clear boundaries and responsibilities. In a rice culture everyone chips in, and everyone expects people to do their part. You may be asked to work and supply cash, but the others need to do their bit. Your other half should run the household (that is if she doesn’t have her own job), do the marketing, cooking, cleaning etc. Raise the kids. Her parents and siblings should also chip in, and insist they get nothing unless they help.
Work out a budget with your girl and then give her a set payment every month. Make it clear there are no extras, and that the family is not to ask you for money. Your girl should be responsible for giving her family money from her budget. She can say NO much better than you can.
If you have chosen correctly, and treat her and family well, she will love you and the relationship should work. Her love may be different from our expectations of western love, as it will be based to a large extent on gratitude for the help you are providing, but there is nothing wrong with that.
My apologies if this sub comes off as “preachy”. We all know the famous quote about doing the same thing over and over but expecting different results. My heart breaks when I read about so many men and the difficulties they have with Thai women. I sincerely hope that at least one person reads this and is able to use something written here to make his relationship work.
The answer to the question in the beginning of the sub. Westerners say the train and the bus go together. Asians say the train and the train tracks go together. Think about it.
All fair points indeed, and it really enforces what I have long been saying and recently wrote about how I feel the differences in Thai and Western relationships are so great that success can be hard.