- Do Thais still believe a Thai woman who married a foreigner is “Not happy or no good”?
- Is it more acceptable now for a Thai woman to marry a foreigner or is it being discouraged by Thai families?
- Is a foreigner marrying a Thai woman a good or bad match?
- What are some of the challenges or the hardest things a typical Thai wife, her family and the foreign man have to overcome?
- It is normal in Thai society for the husband to be paying for the wife’s parents, buying a home for her parents and pay for her siblings?
In this article, I’ll talk about all of the above bases on a BBC Thailand article aimed at the Thai audience. This will help you better understand the Thai point of view.
It’ll even show you some statistics and data on how many Thai women married foreigners.
Insights on the mind of a typical Isaan Thai lady and her family
Here is an article by BBC Thailand, it’s a few years old but I think it is still interesting and relevant today. I’m going to share you the story, and do my best translation as it is all in Thai, I can’t guarantee my translation will be 100% accurate.
The BBC article will give you some good insights on the mind of a typical Isaan Thai lady and her family who married a foreign man.
The article outlines some of the challenges the Thai wife, her family and the foreign man have to overcome. From understanding the differences of the culture and language.
Is it a dream come true for an Isaan woman marrying a foreign man?
The article says..
Many Isaan Thai families have said and now believed marrying a foreigner is a dream comes true.
They believe marriage to a foreigner for many Thais is a fairy-tale in Thai society.
Many Thais dream about marrying a foreigner to help them with their family.
As a Thai person myself living in Thai society, I don’t agree with that.
So this doesn’t apply to all Thais, but I understand if I was poor marrying a foreigner can be a dream.
On the other side, if you’re that foreigner, marring a poor Isaan girl may or may not be a dream come true for you.
The training course for Thai families
Khon Kean University with Thailand Ministry of Social Development created a family training program in North East Thailand also known as Isaan.
Dr. Dusadee works at Khon Kaen University and she does research in Migration, Visual Sociology, Urban/Rural Sociology, Social Stratification. To teach Thai families to understand what it’s like to be married to a foreigner.
The training course is divided into 5 topics:
- The risk
- Perception of benefits when married with a foreigner
- Know where the destination country is
- The economy, society
- How to live, understand the adaptation when living with foreigners when abroad
Part of the training course is to have the Thai parents understand the western values of a western man. Who wants to have a family, they should live and work together. Rather than the parents go shopping buying luxury items and let the daughter and her husband pay for everything. Which can lead to pressure for the daughter and her foreign husband, some might become stressed and have high depression.
Foreign son-in-law paid for a new house & send monthly salary
This house was built in Kohn Kaen Province in Thailand. Include air-con, hot water, washing machine, large flat screen tv, microwave, oven.
In this part of the region, many Thai families do not have those types of facilities. You will have to be well off to live like that.
More than half of the homes around this area were built by foreigners marrying a Thai lady. The 54-year-old Thai woman – the mother in law told BBC Thai news. Her son-in-law (foreigner), he said he wanted his wife’s parents to be happy and he paid to build a house for his mother-in-law.
The son-in-law also sends about 10,000 baht to 20,000 baht per month to his mother-in-law, that’s about US$300-US$600 per month. That money does not include the money he gives to his 36-year-old Thai wife.
Thai families want their daughter to marry a foreigner
In the past, this Thai wife was one of 100 or so Thais in this district who attended training courses for families who are married to a foreigner. Her career is the same, she is still a farmer and she also sells clothing.
However, after marrying a foreigner, her living conditions had changed for the good and her family is envy by other Thai families nearby. Who wants their daughter to marry a foreigner to better their living standard.
“[คนอื่น] เขามองว่ามีลูกเขยฝรั่งแล้วทำไมดีจังเลย ลูกเขยมาทำบ้านให้ด้วย น่าอิจฉา” สุเมตรกล่าว
source: BBC Thailand
Which translate to “Other people in the village see that they have a foreign son-in-law, he comes to build a house, they said they are jealous”
The training course was introduce by Dr. Dusadee, a director of the Center for Labor and International Migration and social science of Khon Kean university.
The purpose is to teach Thais about having a foreigner as a partner, particular Thai in rural Isaan to have a better understanding of marriage with a foreigner.
“เราพยายามชี้ให้เห็นว่ามันมีความลักลั่นทางวัฒนธรรม และอยากชี้ให้เห็นว่าที่ว่าการแต่งงานแบบนี้จะหลุดพ้นความจน แต่ไม่ได้เป็นแบบนั้น” รศ.ดร.ดุษฎี กล่าว
source: BBC Thailand
Dr. Dusadee said, “We try to point out the cultural differences and point out marrying a foreigner will get you out of poverty but that is not always the case”.
Thai women married to foreigners data and statistics
Over 30 years ago, a Thai woman who married a foreigner are label as “Not being happy or no good”.
Many Thais used to believe that Thai girls who married foreigners were simply no good. However, things had change, today Thai women married to a foreigner is more acceptable. Today, even rural people in Thailand are accepting the situation and some are actively encouraging it, says the article.
There are no statistics or data on how many Thai women married foreigners. How much it increased or decreased but according to research by Dr. Dusadee.
In 2011, after interviewing Thai women married or intended to marrying a foreigner. Dr. Dusadee found 320 couples, one-third of those are Thai women choose to marry a foreigner are Thai women who already married a Thai man before, most of those women have at least a child.
Dr. Dusadee said, some the Thai parents only expect their daughter to marry a foreigner with good jobs. Sometimes the parents will pressure their daughter to divorce her Thai husband and pressure her to find a foreign husband to take care of them.
Dr. Dusadee continues, the purpose of the training is to tell these Thai parents to know that they are putting too much pressure and responsibilities to their daughter to support the family and this is not sustainable.
Why Thai parents let their daughter support the family?
The Asian culture, even the Isaan or Thai culture is very similar. The children may stay to take care of their parents, that’s why you hardly see any senior or adult day care buildings around Thailand. They have it but hard to find.
If the Thai parents give too much pressure (if the parents want too much financial support), the daughter and her foreign husband relationship could become unstable. As the foreign husband comes from a different culture, they would not understand why they have to pay for everything and think this is normal.
Sometimes the Thai parents may not care because they are greedy as they have this foreigner son-in-law they can now live comfortably.
Statistic of life after marriage for Isaan women and foreign men
322 Isaan Thai women survey
50% are stable
70% of the women have been subjected to violence
Source: Research on “The Stability of Rural Women in Isan with Westerners in Thailand” (2560)
Thais do not understand Not all foreigners are rich
Most of what you see in Thailand when you see a foreign man married to a typical Isaan woman. Many of these men are over 50 years old, many are in retirement age, many of these foreign men are living off their pensions.
These pensions are about $1,000 USD per month, which is around 20,000 to 30,000 baht. That kind of money when living in the North-Eastern part of Thailand is considered by the locals as living like a king. As most locals do not spend or earn that much per month. However, if you are in central Bangkok, I don’t think that money will be enough – outside the city, it is a lot of money.
So the locals outside big cities will see that marrying a foreigner will give them the same comfortable and happy life. But the fact is, Thais do not realize $1,000 USD per month is not enough to live in most western country.
Also most westerners come for holiday in Thailand, they saved up the entire year or more to come spend money for 1-2 weeks. Some people call them 2 weeks millionaire, when they come and spend but when they return home. They are poor, they only come to spend once per year.
However most locals do not understand that, they do not understand all foreigners are not rich.
The process of the training is to prevent marriage that may lead to human traffic. The article said, there were people who sent their children from the village to work in a restaurant in Soi Cowboy in Bangkok. 10 of them married to foreigners and everyone is doing ok. However, there are many that been misled to travel to Malaysia and tricked into selling their body.