Mother knows best?

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Dear Hillary,

Can you help me?  I have been dating a wonderful young Thai girl, a proper young “lady” not a bar girl, and we have become quite serious as to looking into the future.  Everything seemed to be going along very well, although we did have some hiccups in the early part, just caused through not fully understanding each other.  The other evening over a very nice dinner in our favorite restaurant, she dropped the bombshell.  “My mother tell me I must marry Thai man.”  Just like that!  I was too flabbergasted to follow that line further.  Hillary, is this a common thing in Thai families?  Does her mother have that much power that she can dictate what her daughter does, and even the choice of husband for her?  Surely in this 21st century Thai girls are not stuck with arranged marriages, and if they are, what can a farang do in this situation?

Devastated Dave

Dear DD,

Does her mother have that sort of authority?  In a traditional Thai family she certainly does.  It may be the 21st century for you, Don, but in Thailand it is the 26th century and despite the extra 500 years, the traditional ways are still very strong.  Thai people believe in the need for family members to look after each other and her mother is merely looking after her daughter in the traditional way.  You are from an alien culture, Don, and even if your young Thai lady is well versed in the ways of the modern international world, the traditional values will still be held in the family sphere.  Have you stopped to consider that the Thai man may have already paid a dowry to the family?  In the case of a well educated girl this could go as high as two million baht.  What can you do?  You can either keep in there and hope, or call it quits now before you get in too deep.  However, you should sit down with your girl and discuss it first.