It Has Been Commonly Said That He Who Finds A Thai Wife Also Marries Her Family.
Although this is usually said in jest, it does have some truth in it, as family is incredibly important to your Thai wife, and it is seen as an adult child’s duty to look after their parents in a kind of role reversal situation. Getting in between your Thai wife and her close bond with her family is not a good idea and trying to make her choose between, would leave you left single and alone, as all but a very few would always choose their family over a lover. Although we Thais are very laid back and welcoming people, for a Farang (foreigner) to break through that barrier and to be accepted into the family is a great achievement.
What Is It About Your Thai Wife And Her Family?
Hi! I’m Nathamon, CEO of the Meet Me Now Bangkok dating agency have been asked many times by Western men if I think that they will ever be able to feel like a true part of their Thai wife’s families, and as a Thai wife myself, I just answer like anyone would from any country, ‘it depends on the individuals’. It is an enormous generalization to think that all Thai families are exclusive and completely overprotective of their daughters. For many parents, to see their daughter married (and especially remarried if she has been divorced) is their pleasure. I am from a middle class family in Bangkok and I know that if I were to bring a male friend home my parents would give him a real grilling. There are of course things that you can do to get on the good side of a Thai family, which you should definitely remember when trying to make the best impression.
What Should You Look Out For When Being With Your Thai Wife’s Family?
Rule #1 When Visiting Your Thai Wife’s Family:
Firstly be aware of the Thai customs and major social conventions. The feet are envisaged as the most dirty part of the body so be aware that pointing your feet at someone or lifting your feet to the level of another person’s head is seen as incredibly rude. Dare to put your feet up at your girlfriend’s families house and you will be received with scorn looks and possibly even insults. In contrast, the head is seen as the most sacred part of the body. It is an area that must not be touched (apart from in an intimate relationship), and family members will take real offense if you do so especially if they are older than you are.
Rule #2 When Visiting Your Thai Wife’s Family:
Bring a gift to the family. This would show a token of appreciation, as well as showing that you are a generous and giving person. Thais are very aware of generosity and hate greed. A nice and humble gesture may be to take your girlfriends mother to the market and buy food and drinks for the evening meal which she will be cooking. Thais also love tins of cookies or gift baskets of food which they can share amongst the family. Alternatively, for a possibly more affluent family, a Thai silk would be very impressive. Whatever gift you buy, keep in mind that if the present is gift-wrapped it is not usual for recipients to open it there and then in front of the giver, and to coax or insist that they do would cause great embarrassment for them (and you when you realize it isn’t the norm). It’s the Thai custom to open the gift later and in private so don’t take insult, I’m sure they will still be excited to open it.
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Rule #3 When Visiting Your Thai Wife’s Family:
The issue of a dowry or ‘sinsot’ in Thai has been a pretty touchy subject amongst Western men as they are cautious of being taken advantage of. It is customary in Thailand for families to receive money from their son in-laws on the marriage of their daughters. From all walks of life and all levels of society, the dowry is still in full practice and is something that is expected. The amount however that you should expect to pay is hard to calculate as many different factors are involved. If the daughter is from a wealthy family, then her parents will receive a large dowry. If she is a virgin, then this also adds to her ‘worth’. So basically if you plan to marry a beautiful, wealthy virgin then say goodbye to that Porsche you were saving for. At the wedding it is customary for the money to be on display as a sign of status (a strange concept I know for Westerners). In reality, many comfortable families nowadays even give back some or all of the dowry, as it is based more on tradition than even needing the money.
If you respect your Thai wife’s family and make an effort to be kind and generous then most are bound to like and care for you and make you feel welcome.