If there is a common pattern shared by many Thai-Western relationships, it’s jealousy. I don’t have statistical material on hand to prove this, but would guess that degrading scenes or outright aggressive behavior caused by jealousy of either the woman or the man are very frequent compared to other forms of relationships. But why is this so and what can be done about it?
Focusing on two of the most important factors in this very short article, let’s look at the aspects of culture and environment. In Thailand, infidelity has a long tradition and one difference to Western countries is that in Thailand, men are usually not very discreet about it. Men of influence and wealth were even granted ‘secondary wives’ until not too long ago (rumors say that it still happens).
For a woman, there are only so many years to find a good partner and maybe a father for children, so naturally, she has vital interest to find someone she can rely upon – or to ‘control’ her current partner. In Thailand, however, this is a difficult task as many ‘farangs’ enjoy the pleasure of being sought after, even if it is just for money at times.
Many girlfriends and wives of Western men living in Thailand feel threatened by the many opportunities surrounding their partners. But actually it also happens the other way round: Westerners whose partner formerly worked in the red light business often can’t forget about their past and worry that his or her determination to say ‘no’ to upcoming opportunities might not be as big as they would hope for: ‘opportunity makes the thief’… or not?
Whatever the reason – once jealousy enters a relationship, things start to change. An atmosphere of suspicion might develop, where one partner accuses the other one of looking for other women or men on a daily basis. Some try to impose control on their partner by checking their mobile phones or computers for signs confirming their worst worries.
Needless to say that such a climate will gradually erode their feelings of love and joy with each other with one partner sick of worries and the other one increasingly getting tired of being controlled that tightly. Thus, often, relationships with chronic problems related to jealousy either break up because one partner can’t stand the burden anymore, or they turn into relationships where aggression and sometimes even violence is a regular guest.
Often, building up trust again and discussing the feelings both partners experience at home is not enough: it will need a ‘neutral’ atmosphere and moderation for both sides to get heard. From my experience, I can not recommend to give in to a partner’s desire for more control – if there is jealousy, it might never be enough to calm her or his worries. Rather, the couple has to regain a rational approach in which trust and pragmatism can grow again.
Live the happy life you planned! Richard L. Fellner is head of the Pattaya Counseling Center in Soi Khopai and offers consultations in English and German languages (after making appointments at 0854 370 470).