By Shane (from Hua Hin)
I'm sure some men who have Thai wives might read this true story and either feel sorry for me or they'll believe I deserve the nightmare I'm having because I should have put my foot down right from the beginning. Nonetheless, the story below details my personal experience regarding my own extended Thai family...
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Thai wives can end up being under an immense amount of pressure which most foreigners don't really fully understand. Regardless of how much a Thai wife genuinely loves you, many will have families who view a foreign husband as a cash cow. As any honest expat in Thailand will tell you, we are tolerated but we are never seen as being equal. Your wife may feel otherwise, but her family most certainly won't. There's a very popular saying in Thailand: No Money No Honey.
I myself have been very lucky in that my Thai family have never really tried to milk me in the past. Shortly after my wife and I got married I bought a small townhouse in Samut Sakhon province which is the next province south of Bangkok. I bought the house for my wife's Mom and Dad but also so that my wife could live there and so that I could also live there whenever I was in Thailand. With the exchange rate being 70 Thai baht to the pound back then, the house only cost £10,000; a cheaper option than renting in my opinion. At the time, I was spending all my off time in Thailand so it was perfect for me.
My wife and I ended up spending a few months in South Africa and when we returned we seriously could not believe how the house had been neglected. Nonetheless, we got everything back into shape again before moving to Scotland for a couple of years. I think this was a big turning point in her life due to her being 100% immersed into Western culture – Thai wives can quickly assimilate some of the worst Western characteristics…
Upon our return to Thailand, after I gave up my offshore job to pursue an online endeavour, we moved into the house with my wife's parents. I honestly can't say it was a bad experience but it still proved to be really difficult for both my wife and I. We needed our space! After about three or four months we decided to move out into a small but nice condominium in Bangkok.
Bangkok was great at first but the chaos of city life soon started getting to us. We were selling clothes on eBay and we were making good money so after spending a few days in Hua Hin we decided to rent a place in an area called Khoa Takiap. Our home was barely 50 meters from the beach and life was awesome.
Most meals were had at a small makeshift restaurant on the very quiet
stretch of beach. In the evenings, we would sometimes go swimming
together with not a person in sight. It was here where we believe our
first child was conceived. Ha-ha, an army helicopter flew over directly
above us with a super bright search light. It was just a training flight
but to me it seemed almost surreal; something like you would expect to
see in a Pink Floyd show...
Our first daughter soon arrived and we were over the moon with excitement. We were earning good money online and we were soon able to buy a decent piece of land. Because of Thai law, ownership had to be in my wife’s name but I wasn't worried because my wife was nothing like many Thai wives, and besides, we both worked for it.
A few months later we were able to start building a modest two bedroom bungalow. Okay, our money ran out before it was finished but that never stopped us from moving in. Living without windows and doors was actually quite fun, especially during the monsoon seaso...
Since the birth of our first child, my wife's family had only visited once or twice. Soon we had our second daughter. It was not planned but we were both overjoyed. Again, her family was hardly seen. Unfortunately, it was soon after this that my wife suddenly changed. By the time our second kid was 6 months old I was fulfilling the role of a single parent. My wife had gone to Bangkok with friends and she returned a different person.
Given the close relationships Thai wives have with their parents, I'm sure my in-laws must have known about our circumstances but they never visited at all and neither did they make any attempt to contact their grandchildren.
I was left alone to look after the kids but I actually loved it; I really love kids I guess. When our second daughter was three my father-in-law arrived unexpectedly one day, and he just assumed it was his right to stay with us. My wife and I were both convinced that he had fallen foul of the law and that he was running away from something.
Still, my father-in-law is the sort of guy who generally minds his own business so his presence never really bothered me. It was around this time that my wife became pregnant again but she terminated it almost immediately, and I am 99% certain her Mom was behind her decision to do so.
(Editorial Note – abortion in Thailand is illegal except in rare circumstances, so this is a bit suspicious).
A few months later she got pregnant from a Thai man, but this time, she decided to go through with it. As I would later discover, this was the beginning of a future nightmare.
Approximately one week after my wife returned from the hospital, she told me that she had asked her Mom to give up her job and move in with us in order to help look after the children. It never seemed to dawn on her that I had managed to look after them perfectly well on my own, without anyone’s help. Also, when I pointed this out to her she said it was too late because her Mom had already resigned from her job.
A few weeks later she arrived along with a mountain of stuff which only a Thai person could possibly appreciate. I, of course, refused to have a lot of it inside our home so she was forced to get rid of some of it at least. Other stuff ended up in the garden where it subsequently got ruined by the weather and started falling to bits everywhere.
My wife’s Mom wasted no time in showing me that she was going to be interfering with anything and everything. In fact, we had our first minor argument on her very first day with us when she decided that it was up to her whether or not the baby can be taken outside in the pram. From day one, the relationship between us got steadily worse.
She knew that I was not the biological father of our third child, and I can only think that this made her feel as though I have no more rights than she does as far as the child is concerned. We have clashed more times than I care to remember but, for the most part, I have allowed her to live out her “I am her mother” fantasy.
However, I was not prepared to concede any ground as far as my other two daughters are concerned. She had shown little interest to them in the past, so as far as I am concerned there is no need for any change. Keeping her in her place as far as my oldest two daughters are concerned has been relatively easy, largely due to the fact that my daughters, and especially the oldest two, are absolutely Daddy mad.
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Given the fact that I had basically raised our kids by myself, I must admit that it was nice having someone around to do some of the chores and to prepare meals for the kids. At first, my Mom-in-law did all the meals for the kids and since I was happy to eat Thai food every day, I never had to cook for myself either.
Sadly, Thai people, in general, don’t have a clue when it comes to feeding kids. At every meal there will be a variety of dishes on the table, but they are all loaded with chilies so of course they are too spicy for children, and even for 90% of foreigners. Children tend to get meals that consist of a bowl of dry rice and a chicken drumstick or one or two tiny bits of pork or fish. Another favourite is egg and rice or fried rice. These are all meals which can be prepared in less than two minutes. As one friend of mine put it, “They don’t make the food with love”.
I soon started becoming concerned about the sort of diet our kids were living on, and on a number of occasions it resulted in yet more arguments. Typical of Thai wives, mine took her Mom’s side saying that the kids only want to eat egg and rice and fried rice. Pointing out to her that they were very happy to eat many different things in the past simply didn’t sink in.
It wasn’t long at all before I said that I had had enough and that I will once again be making meals for the kids. It has been almost five years now, and they still LOVE their Dad’s cooking, and they are convinced that I must surely be the world’s best stew maker!
Many Thai wives who are married to Thai men become victims of domestic violence. In Thailand, men are above women, and it is something which is, for the most part, accepted in Thai society. Thais also have very unpredictable tempers, and particularly those who come from the rural areas in the northeast. Most expats in Thailand will tell you that you NEVER EVER sit and drink with Thai men, and especially the group I’ve just mentioned.
My wife has in fact never forgiven her Dad because he used to beat up her Mom in the past. The first time he showed any sign of violence at our place was when my wife was pregnant. I had not even sensed any trouble, so when her Dad approached me and handed me a bit of money to go and have a beer, I took the money (why not?) and I was just about to leave when my wife pleaded with me not to go. She said her Dad was going to beat her up, and that he had said he’ll punch her in the stomach so that she loses the child. I was furious but I also had my doubts, so I simply suggested that she go with me.
By the time we returned he had thrown his few belonging out the window into the garden, and he informed us that he was leaving. Of course, being as drunk as he was by now, I doubt if he would have made it to the top of the road.
He has got blazing drunk countless times since then and on a few occasion he has become violent, but it has always involved other people or maybe even imaginary people, although I was told by a local shop keep one day that the police had been driving around looking for him. This happened after a drinking session which ended with him coming home to fetch his axe!
While many Thai wives are victims of domestic violence, not many of them have axe-wielding husbands. I cannot remember the exact date, but about seven or eight months ago my wife’s Dad started drinking a lot of cheap Thai whiskey almost daily. He had behaved himself for about a year but had recently started going off the rails again.
One Saturday morning I heard bottles getting smashed in the garden, well if you can call it a garden. It used to be a nice garden with a big lawn where the kids could run around but that all changed once our guests moved in. Today the place looks absolutely terrible. Anyway, I went to the window to see what was going on, and there was father-in-law smashing empty beer bottles and whiskey bottles in a fit of drunken rage.
After smashing several bottles he had a change of mind, and subsequently picked up a large piece of bamboo. I instantly made a decision to take him down if he started hitting the windows or etc. However, I soon realized that he was now looking for his wife who by this point had locked herself in her room.
I’m sure most LOVING Thai wives would not want their children to witness this sort of behaviour, and neither do I. It is definitely NOT the sort of environment good parents want their kids to grow up in.
I told the kids to come with me because I don’t want them to have to go through all this. Just as we were leaving, my father-in-law saw me and very calmly asked me if I had seen my mother-in-law. By the way, he had thrown away his bamboo stick, and now he had his axe instead. Anyway, I told him that I last saw her walking towards the nearby shop. This prompted him to get on his bicycle and to go and look for her. It also allowed me time to convince my mother-in-law to get out of the house as quickly as possible. It is the ONLY time I have ever seen my mother-in-law running as fast as she could down the road to one of her friends.
Of course, the next day everything was forgotten, and in fact, when I tried to bring it up she defended him by saying that he was only like that because he was drunk. The fact that she could have died was forgotten and I was still the number one bad boy in the house.
Soon after he was drunk again, but admittedly not as drunk as he so often gets. Our oldest daughter (9) and our youngest daughter (5) were having a bit of an argument. I was on the toilet when I heard him shouting at them, and then I heard a glass smash by our front door. He had thrown a glass at my oldest daughter but he missed and he started to run after her, threatening to punch her. Just at that moment he heard me coming out of the toilet and he was gone from sight.
My oldest daughter was in her Mom’s room shaking with fear, while our youngest daughter was hiding behind the door in my room, also whimpering and shaking with fear. I was afraid I would do something I would later regret, and I was in no condition to talk so I simply took the kids and we went to the beach together.
I honestly cannot understand or believe how my wife is willing to let our kids grow up in this type of environment. I mean, apart from what’s been discussed in this story, they also regularly see him getting sick in the garden after too much whiskey. They’ve even stood right next to him and actually watched him peeing in his pants. He was so drunk that he couldn’t get up, and he was completely unaware of us looking at him.
Oh well, I guess I’ll end off now, and hopefully if you have read this all the way through you will think twice before allowing your extended family to move in with you. Many Thai wives don’t want their families to move in, and my wife always felt the same way about it but now they have moved in, and as a result my kids and I are suffering.
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