I think I am being ripped off


Dear Hillary,

I think I am being ripped off.  My Thai wife 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 Marc,

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 individuals in that family.  Family keeps them together, family gets them over problems of all types, financial and otherwise.  Your girlfriend may be returning money borrowed from before, or may also be helping her brother/mother/father/cousin (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.  If she is the money manager for the household, sit down each week and discuss the family budget.  If you 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 note you are paying her a “wage”.  What is that for, Marc?  Is she a wife or a “mia chow” (rented wife)?  To me, your relationship seems to be based only on money, which is never a long-term basis.  Time to review everything, my Petal.