Mia chows again

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Dear Hillary,

I enjoy reading your column, but I don’t understand why you regularly chastise men for giving their Thai girlfriend/wife a monthly allowance.  You say this makes her “mia chow” (rented wife) and creates a master/servant relationship.

I come from Australia and it is traditional for the man to be the breadwinner and to provide for his wife and children.  This means that he pays the household expenses and gives money to his wife for food and the children’s needs.

The average Australian household does not have a maid.  The wife, even if she has a job as well, does the housework, the cooking and shopping, the laundry and takes care of the children.  If the wife does not work, it is expected by tradition that she takes care of those things.  This does not make her a “rented wife”.  She is doing her share in a marriage partnership.  This does not make him the “master” and her a “servant”.  If her husband expects her to quit her job he gives her money to pay for those things she would have been able to buy for herself.

In Thailand he will naturally want to provide for his live-in Thai wife/girlfriend.  As wages are so low in Thailand, he prefers to give her money to live on rather than have her work long hours for low pay.  If she works in a bar, he would rather she quit her job and he compensates her for lost earnings.  He understands that she has an obligation to provide for her parents as there is no social welfare here.  In return for providing for her and her family, it is natural that he expects her to contribute to the relationship by keeping the house clean, buying food and cooking.

You seem to advise foreign men not to give their Thai wife/girlfriend any money as it demeans her and the relationship.  You say he should hire a maid instead.  I don’t understand your philosophy.

Average Aussie Male

Dear Average Aussie Male,

You are missing the point my Petal, and I must say I feel sorry for all those hard working women in Australia.  No wonder you average Aussie males get the male chauvinist title (I left off “pig”, please note).  You say that it is expected that “The wife, even is she has a job as well, does the housework, the cooking and shopping, the laundry and takes care of the children.  If the wife does not work, it is expected by tradition that she takes care of those things.  This does not make her a “rented wife”.  She is doing her share in a marriage partnership.”  And what I ask is the average Aussie male doing in this idyllic marriage partnership?  I don’t read anything about sharing some domestic duties.  “Here’s a few bucks, love.  What’s for dinner?  Not ready?  You are a lazy cow.  I give you enough money to have hot cooked food on the table when I come home, so smarten your act up, Sheila.”

So in Australia, the man goes to work and gives his wife enough money to keep the household running (to his satisfaction).  No indication that this “partnership” allows both partners to dip into a joint “partnership” account.  No, she has no such rights, according to you.  I am glad I don’t live in Australia.

Now let’s deal with the Thai wife situation.  If he does not trust his wife to run a joint account with him, this is not a true partnership.  A “salary” that she can have each month makes her his “servant”, and not an equal partner in a marriage partnership.  He can withhold the monthly “salary” and she is powerless and financially dependent upon her Average Aussie Male (or US, or European, or UK, fill in any nationality you want).  Good marriages are based on trust.  If you don’t trust the woman to handle a joint account, then hire a maid who gets a salary to “do the housework, the cooking and shopping, the laundry and take care of the children.”  Understand now, Petal?