Farang meets Thai
For those who are enchanted by Thailand the people and the culture, there will surely come a time where you are convinced the Thai lady you have met is the only future you want. I have been there as many Farang has before me. If you choose to follow this course of action and marry one of these wonderful ladies you must understand her and her possible motives. You will need to be a special kind of Farang for her to entertain it and for you to make it work. Understanding what a Thai lady is looking for in a Farang husband is not as clear as you may think.
It is not all about you. Get that right from the start. Primarily for her even to consider you she is thinking what opportunity and benefit are there in your union for the greater benefit of her family than herself. If you appear to have the right mix of what she needs you may be off on a wonderful journey. It is not about how handsome you are or how athletic you are or how much fun you are (but this last one does help). With these criteria satisfied for her she will seriously think of your offer. Once married, don’t forget about these things in the mists of your overpowering love for her. That may be seen as your need taking over and being put ahead of her dream. Get it? Learn early and learn well about the common Thai saying you will hear more often than you sometimes may care too. “It’s up to you” Learn that this means she is saying “ this is your need, not mine. Do it if you think you need to but don’t ask me to help, have an opinion or any other form of involvement. It is what you chose to do. Don’t try to make it about me”. You will need to continue to be the person you sold her on at the start. You will need to demonstrate you are both on the same page and keep moving in the same direction towards her goals. If you do this she will remain fiercely supportive and loyal to you. And that will be the basis of the real love she will show you. That is why their love is different. It is not about blubbering emotional dependency. It is a mixture of reality, partnership, supportiveness and respect. Topped up with a big serving of happiness. And if that doesn’t get ya the SMILE always will. That’s why they call it the land of smiles. It is a wondrous thing to love and be loved in a way you can experience nowhere else on this planet. Thai ladies are respectful, gentle and supportive beyond the call of duty. Every day with them brings a smile to your face and usually moments of utter disbelief ending in extreme amusement. They are different, they think different and they see the world in a very different manner to you. Often they give the appearance of charming naivete. Be careful not to mistake this for ignorance or lack of education. When you strike these moments you must look from their eyes to see the different side of the story. It is too easy to fall into the trap of assuming with your western values that yours is the sensible conclusion. Thai people think of the person and their feelings first in all situations. They think of the life value of something or some action. They think of family always. Some things you have been conditioned to place in high importance they have no use for. It can be maddening and confusing but the longer you are with them the more your eyes will open. You will start to question values you have never questioned. You will have to change the way you think about some things. Many times you will feel the need to resist and argue your point. Think about the argument you are going to use. The values you are going to pin it on. Do they hold up? Can you justify them in a way that means something in Thai culture? If not then maybe you better let go of it, maybe they see its value clearer than you do.
Lesson number one. Never put yourself or your needs ahead of the family. You will lose every time. You may be the main source of money which you give freely to your wife and family. Don’t expect that makes you more special than everybody else. Don’t expect this puts you first. Don’t manipulate compensation emotionally because you perceive you have special status. This is a very quick and slippery path to unhappiness. Be content, be happy and be complete in yourself for your needs.
Lesson Number Two. Be patient. Don’t always expect an immediate answer to a hypothetical question. It may take 24 hours or more to get your answer. If you push too hard she will just tell you anything to stop you asking. Talking too much and too many questions are a number one turn off for a Thai person. Treat it like question time in Parliament. You may pose any question you like but the govt has 24 hours before they must reply. She may take longer and the answer could come at any time and totally out of context with the conversation at the time. It is up to you to pick it up and associate it back to your question of days ago. Hahaha. Still, want to go there? I would say yes every time. Your life could never be as rich and fulfilling anywhere else.
Offer a Thai lady a choice of two cars. Shall we say a black Honda Civic 4dr or a Red Lamborghini Diablo? You would take the Lamborghini, wouldn’t you? She would take the Honda because all Thai ladies think Honda is a good company that makes quality reliable cars and most of all they live BLACK. Black cloths, black cars, black shoes – you name it – Black is sexy. So how many Hondas could you get for one Lambo? That is the way you see it mayt. A different view from her side. Keep that in mind.
Thai people are polite and do not like confrontation. They do not like to say no or give refusal. All of these things are deemed impolite. This can lead to confusion for the unwitting Farang. He asks a question expecting a yes/no answer but comes away from the conversation with neither. Off he goes and carries out the task she did not say no too and then later finds himself in hot water because it was not what she wanted. She was too polite to verbalize a no. Ahh, you think maybe the clue is to only ask questions requiring a yes answer? Sorry wrong again. Thai people are also very polite in not imposing on other people. The local word is often “Greng-Jai”. You may find them happy to receive with a modicum of greng-jai and need to reciprocate but they are unlikely ever to give you the yes answer if you verbally offer before physically doing. Totally confused? How will I ever know what she wants? Just trust my lad and go with the flow. Relax and fit in. Give when you don’t need a payback, don’t manipulate. Accept when something is given but try not to ask or demand. Always show respect above all else, even for the smallest graciousness
You must also be aware that in Thai culture male children are prized above female offspring. The nature of the thing may be explained to you that male children will grow up to be the providers and strength of the family unit. Sounds real and may be similar many other places in history. Thai children male and female are valued and nurtured the same loving way at an early age. They are the most priceless thing in Thai family culture. But as the age of the male and female Thai children increases so does the difference in the attention given to their importance. While the female child is treated and loved unconditionally the male child is offered all the opportunities the family can afford. The offshoot of this and the reality of this is what you must understand but not verbalize. Thai men are predominantly tarred with the same brush. They can be lacking in commitment, maybe lazy and don’t take on the role of provider with the same verve as the female. The offshoot is that Thai women have learned to be self-contained, driven and focussed on filling the shortfall. Often they are the primary provider, carer, and jack of all trades that glues the family together selflessly. Their needs are often put last. Don’t get in the way of that.
Next lesson. Learn Thai. Yes, you heard me. Many farangs out there will tell you they get by. Hey, they will tell you they can communicate plenty to get what they need. Remember the previous paragraphs about Gren-jai etc? How will you pick up on the things they need but can’t ask for? You can only understand Thai people and Thai culture by understanding the language. The way Thais’ speak is the window into how they think. Early on in learning some rudimentary Thai you will immediately notice they leave out all the unnecessary components we use in English. They generally can say what we say with many fewer words. True there are some things that take dramatically more Thai words than to say the same thing in English. Why? Because it may be a western concept they are trying to explain. Maybe a concept that has no reality or value in Thai culture. Thai people will be impressed you show the respect to learn. You may have spent some time in the Bar scene in various Thai ports like Phuket, Pattaya etc. You may be aware of the Bar Girls 10 Commandments. You may have read them and may believe them or just believe they are a fabrication by a well-meaning ex-pat. If you have read them you will remember one deals with never teaching your man to speak Thai. Believe it or not, believe it – if she doesn't want you to know what she is saying she will add dialect you could not follow even if you were fluent at the end of your studies. She will be impressed you are learning but don’t expect doting help. It is not that she does not care, it is more than you need to be as self-contained in your enterprises as she is sometimes. She will see it as something you chose to do. She did not ask you to. So get on with it. What did you want? To learn Thai? Or just another pat on the back? They can be seemingly cold in some areas. Main rule with things like this? If you are just hunting for praise don’t get miffed when none comes your way. If you are genuinely doing it for other reasons just do it. It will be noticed and respected quietly.
THINGS TO REMEMBER
Loyalty is to family first
You will always be second but time will help to make you more and more part of first priority.
You will always be judged on what you are doing now, not what you did in the past, good or bad.
Thais live for today, not the past.
Thais live for the greater good of family, not the individual
Keep it happy, Thais don’t like sad long faces.
If you are worried about something, don’t spread it around
What happens in the family (and your relationship) stays in the family. Don’t involve others.
Smile, smile smile, and be happy. Don’t pretend, really be happy.
Learn not to say no. Replace it with how shall we do this? And not sarcastically, do it genuinely.
Don’t forget to do the things you say you are going to do. Even if she did not indicate she was for or against it. Be reliable and believable. This makes you trustworthy in her eyes.
Don’t let the small things go by. She may say something that is on her mind, she will do it without being pushy or forceful and you may not pick the change of topic. She won’t repeat herself and she won’t be comfortable answering endless questions on the matter. Be sensitive to this cultural quirk,it is easy to miss. Pick up on these moments, write them down if you need to but don’t miss them and don’t make the mistake of giving them lesser importance because of how they were delivered. This is as close as a Thai gets to asking for something they really need without broaching the area of Greng-jai.
I missed too many of these with my lady. I started to have an inkling about this scenario a while before it became a serious issue. I had spent a lot of time in a noisy environment in my younger years. I had raced Rally cars with no soundproofing, used endless power tools without adequate hearing protection etc. My hearing was losing the soft consonant frequency common in the female voice. I spent a lot of money on expensive state of the art hearing aids to help me at work but primarily to be sure I caught every word my lady had to say to me. The result was that for some things she had said I was too late. The other thing was she began to talk softer because she was more sensitive to her own feeling of imposition. It is almost self-deprecating the way it worked. She felt she had made the request and satisfied her need to say something but at the same time, she felt that because she had spoken so softly so as I might not have truly her, she felt relief from Gren-jai because I probably didn’t understand she was asking for something. Figure that one out. It took me a while but that is the nature of Thai psychology.
That is why you need to learn Thai. The culture is in the language. The way of thinking is in the language.The Thai psychology is in the language. True understanding is in the language. Start with the Thai Alphabet, it will take a while but the rest of the learning curve becomes so much easier. But once learned to be very careful where and when you use it. If you appear too fluent - you can create other issues.
Understand that if you have done everything else right and your Thai lady loves and respects you don't show off. Thais will find you to be a curiosity and ask her questions about you in fun. They will do it in Thai. Don't join in the conversation, act dumb walk away with a smile and give your lady some privacy. She will say all the right things and keep everybody happy without your help. And you will save them some embarrassment that they deal poorly with.