Thai the Knot written by Patcharaporn “Pop” Soisangwan (ISBN 978-988-19002-6-5, Blacksmith Books, 2011) has the subtitle How to Untangle the Complexities of Cross-cultural Marriage, so is very pertinent for many westerners living in Pattaya. Cross-cultural marriage is the norm in Pattaya, and western wives are definitely in the minority.
In the introduction, author Pop says that “This book is for the helpless and hapless, a guide to help you navigate the shark-infested waters (read annoying habits that make you want to shove your foot up your spouse’s behind) of a committed relationship with a Thai.
Author Pop goes to enormous lengths to show that the norms for Thai women depend upon many factors, such as skin color, how rich are the parents, what level of society she comes from, whether the Thai woman has tertiary education and English language abilities, and even estimate her IQ level. It is proposed that prospective husbands should evaluate the woman and the woman’s parents before choosing. This clinical meat market approach I found disturbing. Being an old romantic I could not see the wriggle room in the Thai women’s culture for that old fashioned concept called “love”. It is often discussed in the western groups as to whether Thai women are actually capable of “love”, with many feeling that the only thing that a Thai woman loves is money. The reader is warned that “…if you marry a woman of lower status, you’ll be marrying her parents too and will have to pay to bring them up to your status.”
The stereotypical westerner from the Thai point of view is temperamental, paranoid, distant from his family and stingy. Of all those (presumed) attributes, being stingy is the most heinous. To overcome this label, the book suggests you should be generous with her family, fulfilling her cultural needs (obviously the financial ones) for self esteem.
What comes across with absolute clarity, is that the westerner will have to live with the particular foibles of the Thai. Do not expect the Thai to change, even when living overseas with the western husband. Old habits do not die hard – old habits are adhered to rigidly. If you are about to commit yourself to a relationship with a Thai, always remember that Thai cultural norms come first. Your western values come a very poor second. She admits that cross-cultural relationships do involve some extra level of struggle; however, she also believes that “women’s basic needs are universal”, but then spends most of the book showing where Thai women’s basic needs are much more culture specific.
Her final words are “Keep the right attitude and you’ll learn to live with a Thai woman and survive.” If this inexpensive book can assist you in that, it is worth the B. 330 price in Bookazine Big C Extra. And lots of luck from the reviewer too! Personally I found all the advice very one-sided, and those westerners I know married to Thai ladies do not seem to have the rigid guidelines applied as author Pop would have the reader believe. This book needed a foreword from her American husband!