I am sure you’ve heard it all before, but I think I am being ripped off. My girlfriend (Thai) has recently started to ask me for more money than she normally gets for housekeeping and the monthly wage I give her. It was just a few hundred baht here and there to start with, but now she needs thousands at a time. When I ask her why she needs the extra she gets sulky and when I really push her for an answer the best I get is “for family – you farang no understand.” Hillary, is there something here that I should understand, or what? I am getting very tired of the continual cash hand-outs.
Dear ATM Andy,
It sounds like there is lots you don’t understand. “Family” is important to a Thai and is one of the strongest bonds for the individual. Family keeps them together, family gets them over problems of all types, financial and otherwise. It is very similar to the Chinese borrowing system – but there is always pay-back time. Your girlfriend may be returning money borrowed from before – in that time in her life B.A. – before Andy. She may also be helping her brother/mother/father/cousin/buffalo (delete that which is not applicable) out of a jam. And on the other hand, she may be gambling with it, another very common Thai pastime. You really have to start communicating better with your girlfriend, Petal, if you want to know where the money goes. Do this in a non-threatening way, then you will find out where the money goes. If it ends up in sulkiness or accusations, then it is time to review the entire relationship and handle the housekeeping yourself. I also worry about relationships where the “girlfriend/wife” is paid a “wage” each month. For what, Andy? For staying with you, putting up with you, or what. We call that having a “mia chow” (rented wife), and a master and servant relationship will always fail, in my experience. Thai women may look meek and mild, but they’re not. They most certainly are not, and when pushed will bite back. That is something else you have to understand, Andy.