“7-Part Series: Can The Relationship Between You and Your Thai Love Really Work? Or Are You Just Fooling Yourself?”
"In this 7-part series Nathamon reveals the secrets of why some Western - Thai couples enjoy loving, life-affirming relationships - while others crash and burn in bitterness. Understanding these secrets will give you the keys to unlock true passion and intimacy – and rejuvenate your love life!”
Part #1… Individualism vs. Collectivism
Okay. Let’s assume you’ve found a beautiful, kind, gentle, and sexy Thai woman… you’re madly in love… you think she’s “the ONE.” She’s bright, she’s educated, she works hard, and she can even cook, clean, and entertain! And she treats you like a god…
Your lonely days… and nights… are over and you just KNOW you’re going to live happily ever after. Game over, right?
As a matter of fact, the game is just beginning.
And building a lifetime relationship of love, trust, and happiness is hard enough between men and women born into the same culture. Just look at the divorce rates in your home country if you think I’m kidding.
Any successful long-term relationship depends on trust, communication, mutual respect, and a willingness to let the other person be who they are.
But your relationship with your newfound Thai love is going to require a little bit more. Your success is also going to depend on curiosity, patience, humor and a generosity of spirit, as you discover the profound differences in your two cultures and how those differences show up in your everyday interactions with your Thai partner.
Culture: The Key to Understanding What Makes Your Thai Lady “Tick”
What do I mean by “culture?” Let me explain.
It’s not just the food, the art, the music, or the religion of a place that make up its culture – although those elements are certainly a part of it. “Culture” is what’s operating in the background, behind every thought, word and action in a society. It’s the collection of assumptions about the way life is - that are never questioned because “everybody knows” that’s “just the way things are.”
In other words, “culture” is all the ways of living built up by a group of people and passed down from one generation to another. Culture includes thoughts, beliefs, attitudes, manners, and behaviors that everybody in the society accepts as true and considers to be “common sense.”
In the next seven issues, I’m going to share with you seven of the most obvious cultural differences between Thailand and the West, and show you how those differences will directly impact your relationship with your Thai lady.
I’ll explain how exploring, talking about, and understanding those differences can help you create the kind of passionate and life-affirming relationship that defies the odds and stands the test of time. I’ll also reveal how being judgmental and unwilling to communicate, compromise, or understand those cultural differences will doom your relationship to bitterness and failure.
If you’re ready to understand, if you’re ready to open your mind and explore these key differences, if you’re ready to unlock the secrets of true passion and intimacy, read on!
First Key: Thai and Western Cultures Have a Very Different Understanding of What’s at the Heart of a Strong, Stable Society
You might read that and think, “So what? Why should that matter to me?” Let me show you a simple example of why ignoring this key difference can get you in trouble.
Eric and Kan married after a whirlwind courtship, and now they’re each having a case of “buyer’s remorse.” Eric complains about her frequent requests for money and gifts for her family and friends, and is resentful about how much time she spends with them.
For her part, Kan is upset at how distant, cold, and stingy Eric is becoming. She complains about how “hard” and heartless he is, and how insensitive about the time she spends with her family.
Each of them is frustrated, absolutely convinced that they are right, and the other person is wrong.
Is this relationship doomed to failure? Maybe.
But if they are willing to stop making each other wrong, and talk openly about how what’s “behind the curtain” of their apparent differences, they might just deepen their respect for one another. You see, it’s cultural – and it’s as simple as this:
The Western cultures believe that individual success is the basis for a strong, stable society – the Thai culture believes that family (or group) success is at the heart of a strong, stable society. Here’s what it looks like:
In Your World…
In Your world, your parents raised you to be independent and become “your own man.” They stressed individual achievement. They encouraged you to stand on your own two feet and take care of yourself.
If they were good parents, they loved you unconditionally, and gave you whatever resources they could to equip you to be successful on your own.
They celebrated when you struck out on your own, knowing they were successful. As an adult, nothing is as sacred to you as being true to yourself and taking care of your own. And in your world, any man who continues to live with his parents once he’s made it on his own is somehow flawed.
In your world, it’s so important to make it on your own that if YOU have kids, you pass that drive on to them, instilling in them how important it is to be an individual. If you as a parent become unable to take care of yourself, the last place you want to look for help is from your adult kids. You’d feel tremendous shame, maybe even humiliation, at the thought of asking your grown children for help.
In your world, that’s “just the way it is.” It’s “right.” It’s “true” that the individual is the most important element of a successful society. Nobody questions it. Everybody knows it.
In Her World…
In her world, her parents raised her to be a dutiful daughter, putting aside her own needs to support the needs of the family. They stressed family achievement. They encouraged her to be a kind, loving, and willing participant in building the family’s success.
If they were good parents, they trained her to love the family unconditionally, giving whatever resources she could to help the family succeed and thrive. They taught her there was no need to “make it on her own.”
They celebrated when she grew into a respectful, dutiful adult, knowing they were successful. As an adult, nothing is as sacred to her as being true to her family and helping however she can.
And in her world, any woman who demands to leave the nest and make it on her own is somehow flawed. Her parents are proud of her for continuing to live at home and helping them.
In her world, it’s so important to support the family that if SHE has kids, she’ll pass that drive on to them, instilling in them the importance of being subservient to the family. If she, as a parent, becomes unable to take care of herself, the first place she’ll want to look for help is from her adult kids. And as an adult child, she’ll feel uncomfortable, even humiliated, at the thought of asking for help from her parents.
In her world, that’s “just the way it is.” It’s “right.” It’s “true” that the family is the most important element of a successful society. Nobody questions it. Everybody knows it.
So Which “World” Is “Right?”
Any time people from different cultures interact, whether it’s in business or in love, differences in worldviews will show up. If you aren’t aware of the differences or don’t fully understand them, you’ll face many obstacles and challenges.
Chances are pretty good that everybody concerned will become frustrated, and the relationship damaged – often beyond repair.
In our example from earlier in this article, if Eric and Kan can step back and take a larger view of who they are and how they were raised, they can begin to explore their differences.
Instead of being a reason to argue, those cultural differences might become a reason to communicate. Instead of a source of frustration, hurt or anger, those differences might just become a source of curiosity, delight, and humor.
The first step is awareness. After that, it’s openness and willingness to communicate. And from open communication, understanding and respect will flow.
In other words, the “right” world is the world that you create together!
This brings us to the next issue…
In Part #2 of this series, I’ll reveal the Second Key – Understanding the “Power Dimension” in Thai-Western Relationships. I’ll share with you…
- Why it’s important to your Thai lady to display your status.
- Why being a “benevolent autocrat” might just be a good thing.
- How being “too equal” can torpedo a Thai-Western relationship.
- And much, much more…
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