Challenges you’ll face with your Thai in-laws and how to overcome them

Thai In-Laws problems

Dating anyone, be it Thai, Japanese, American, Italian or from any corner in the world, has its ups and downs. There are many things you need to consider, especially if you’re thinking about dating someone from another country. You need to remember that they were probably raised differently and that their beliefs may not be the same. I for one, have dated many Western guys and as a Thai girl, I can honestly say that the cultural differences definitely caught me off guard. One common problem that most couples from different countries face are their own families. The guy’s family may not be as positive as they first thought about their relationship and vice-versa. Fortunately though, I’ve learned a lot from my experiences and that is my target for today’s Thai Girls Talk. I’m hoping a lot of you Western guys listen up good because if you’re hoping to date a Thai girl then I’m sure this episode will help you a lot. Here are some of the things you should expect from their families:

1. Your good looks… can be deceiving?

There are many things that need to consider when dating a Thai girl. Growing up as a Thai girl in a Thai family, I have imbibed many Thai cultural beliefs and perceptions about life. That is one of the reasons why I get so surprised whenever I talk to a Western guy! It’s mostly because of how different they are from us. And it’s no denying that a Thai guy definitely looks very different from a Western guy. Many times, this can be very difficult for a Thai girl’s family. A Thai family usually expects their daughter to be married to a Thai guy, but when things go slightly off plan, you can probably expect that they will not respond too well. Western guys look completely different; their eyes look bigger and have a different color, they speak a different language (English of course), and they were raised differently. It will be difficult for Thai family to adjust to a Western person’s way of thinking.

2. She’s leaving on a jet-plane!

“You cannot take our daughter to live in another country.” is the common statement made by mothers and fathers of Thai girls when asking for their daughter’s hand when it comes to living in another country. Let’s face the facts: although Thailand is one of the most beautiful and historically rich countries in the world, it suffers from many internal issues. The politicians are unstable and unpredictable, the traffic is bad and the government just never seems to do their job the way they should. This has always lead to weak economical growth and living in Thailand might prove to be a bit difficult to someone who is used to living in a first-world country. You and your Thai girlfriend will probably live a better life in the west, but this is not something that her family will take so lightly. They’re probably going to hold on to her as if they were holding on to a piece of rope in a tug of war!

3. Adjustments, adjustments, adjustments!

Adjusting to life in a new country can be very frustrating. Imagine adjusting to life in a new country with a new family altogether! That would be very difficult wouldn’t it? The family of your Thai girlfriend would barely be able to understand you. They wouldn’t be able to hear or see your side of the story because there is a clear communication problem between you and her family. Something as simple as preparing a meal a bit spicier will be difficult for you because it’s probably not something you’re used to in the west. Their gestures and mannerisms which is second nature in Thai society is alien to you and vice-versa. Many of the things that they find difficult or enjoyable will appear strange to you and the things that are simple to them will be complicated for you.

4. It’s not all about the money.

Let’s be honest: one of the main reasons why many Thai families accept Western men into their social circle is because of money. Western men tend to be more financially prepared to handle career challenges and obstacles than Thai men. But not all Western guys who come to Thailand have all the bling-bling in the world. Some of them are just simple people who are looking to find the love of their lives. Once your Thai girlfriend’s family realizes that you’re not exactly as financially abundant as they thought, they’re probably not going to be very happy about it. They’re going to ask how you’re going to tackle family problems in the future and will be picky about what values you’re going to instill into your family. You will have to prove to them that you are a better candidate for their daughter than any Thai man not because of money, but because of how you can raise a family with dignity and respect. Raising a family isn’t easy as pie. Imagine raising a Thai family with the your wife’s family constantly watching you!

5. A closed mind and a closed heart.

I have dated different Western guys and all of them tell me the same thing: Western families are not traditional. Most Western families are liberal and are open minded when it comes to trying and embracing new things. They have learned through years of interacting with other people from different countries that it’s good to embrace different cultures and is wrong to judge someone because they come from another land. Unfortunately, Thailand families are the complete opposite. They are very traditional and always follow their rules and beliefs to the letter. Thailand families are used to the way of life in Thailand because its what they’ve always been exposed to since they were little children. Thailand families tend to think that they have the right to control who their daughter will date and when. They are also extremely conservative in their beliefs which is another thing that you will have to get used to when dealing with a Thai girl’s family.

6. It’s all about the gray hat.

Similar to what we just talked about in the last item, many Thai families tend to think that whatever they think is best for their daughter is always the best. This means that they often force feed their own values and beliefs onto their daughter, whether she likes it or not. One of the main reasons why they do this is because they want their daughter to work hard for them someday. They want her to be the one that lifts them up from their financial problems. This is also one of the reasons why children are often forced to take up courses in school that some of them don’t like. They believe that only they know what is good for her and no one else, no matter who you are or where you come from. While not all Thai families act this way, many of them still do, and that is yet another challenge that you will need to overcome when you pick a Thai girl with a family that still has this old type of mindset.

7. Politics in a relationship?! Yes indeed!

It’s a well known fact that whenever you get into a relationship, people around you will definitely react. Whether they’re your friends or your enemies, they’ve all got something to say. This however, is ever so true in Thailand because chances are, your Thai girlfriend has close ties with her neighbors and friends. And boy, do they love to talk! They’re never gonna stop gossiping about your relationship, making baseless accusations and predictions about how your relationship with your Thai girlfriend will go. You will have to address that with your girlfriend when people start gossiping negatively about your relationship with her.

8. Past or present? Gimme the past!

Thai families are enamored with something that many people call their “first love”. If you don’t happen to be your Thai girlfriend’s first boyfriend, then odds are your Thai in-laws will be a lot more distant to you, not because you’re a bad boyfriend, but because of what was between their daughter and her first. The precious moment when their daughter brought home her first boyfriend is something that is embedded into their heads and is something that cannot be forgotten so easily. Many hopes were riding on your girlfriend’s first yet it was all for nothing and here you are standing straight in the middle of all this, trying to make your girlfriend’s family realize that you’re better than her ex. This scenario is not far from the truth and is something that you will likely have to face when meeting your Thai girlfriend’s family.

9. Trust is earned, not given.

Many foolhardy Western men believe that they can easily date any Thai girl they want with the premise that just because he is from a wealthy family from a wealthy country, the girl’s family will accept and trust him without even having to earn their trust. Newsflash: That’s not really how it goes. Thai families are not as trusting as Western families and they will be reluctant to accept you into their ranks. They will ask tons of information from you regarding your parents, your past career and even your criminal background! Even if you gave them hard proof about who you are and where you’re from, trust is something that is earned in the Thai society and can only be given by the family through time.

10. What about the future? What about the kids!

Guys and girls, lets be honest here. I know we all love kids and want to have them, but they’re not always as cute and as innocent as how they’re pictured by many parents and by the media. Many kids are often a pain in the butt and, when not raised properly, can cause problems with their peers. The grandchildren of your Thai in-laws (your kids!) will most likely have a difficult time coping and adjusting to the other kids in a Thai based school because of how different they look. Kids often bully other kids for the shallowest and stupidest reasons. Your children could be bullied because they act differently or look different from the rest of the class, and this kind of treatment plays negatively on a child’s head. Fortunately, you and your Thai girlfriend can choose to pick an international school where you can enroll your child so that he or she can be given a higher quality education early in their life and be instilled with a more liberal, western mindset. This however will definitely burn a hole in your pocket and you can expect your in-laws to meddle in the decision making when it comes to choosing a school for your kids!

Whoa, hold on a minute there! Don’t lose hope! I only showed you the other side of the story. Now I’m going to show you how you can tackle these issues easily with a few adjustments on your part (you can thank me later!):

1. Your good looks… can be deceiving? Solution: Who cares?! Keep going!

Okay, maybe that’s a little too much. Of course you’ll have to care even a little bit if your in-laws are not as comfortable with you because of how different you look. But remember this: almost everyone in the world experiences this. Even people from the same country sometimes experience this! It’s something that is completely normal and feeling sad about yourself will not solve anything. Don’t sit around and hope for their approval; look towards the future with your Thai girlfriend and prove to them that you truly love their daughter no matter how different you may be.

Try this! – Your skin and eye color may be different and you may speak differently but you can always show your Thai girlfriend’s family how much you love Thailand and the Thai culture. Go and ask around town what the popular dishes are in Thailand and bring some home for the family. Take your girlfriend and her family a drive to the temple to pay homage and to show them that no matter how different you are, you’re serious about your girlfriend and about accepting the Thai culture into your life.

Try asking your lovely Thai lady – for advice about what her family loves and hates. This will give you a good basis on what her family is all about and how you can make them accept you.

2. She’s leaving on a jet-plane! Solution: Tell your in-laws about your plans in advance as soon as you can.

Your in-laws will probably not let you take their daughter to live with you in your homeland because they don’t want to let go and deal with having to live without their daughter. But the fact remains that their daughter has a mind of her own and she has to live her own life someday away from her family. Your girlfriend’s family will probably have a difficult time accepting this fact, but you can make it easier for them by explaining to them as soon as you can about how their daughter’s quality of life will get much better in another country. This will make them see that life in another country might just be the best thing for their daughter.

Try this! – Don’t force anything onto them. Make plans, plans, plans! If they see concrete and detailed plans on how you’re going to live your life in another country with their daughter, they will slowly begin to accept the idea of immigration. Show them what your careers will be like in the west and how easy it will be for their daughter to fly back to Thailand any time she wants to. Show them that you can easily pay for her tickets every time and you don’t even need to accompany her on her visits back home.

Try asking your lovely Thai lady – to show her family of pictures of your home in the west. Have her show her family photos of your parents as well. This will give them a good picture of what life will be like in another country for their daughter.

3. Adjustments, adjustments, adjustments! Solution: I’m adjusting, I’m adjusting!

Don’t act as if you’re with a family that you’re not too well acquainted with in another country! Act naturally and treat them as you would treat your own family; with love and respect. Thai culture is largely based around strong family ties and bonds, so keeping your distance with your Thai girlfriend’s family will give them the wrong impression that you’re not right for their daughter because of how different you are. Show them how passionate you are about being a part of their family and don’t be afraid to show them who you really are!

Try this! – Try talking to each individual family member and do your best to find out more about them. The more you reach out to them, the more they will learn to accept you as one of their own. Don’t be afraid to ask help from your Thai girlfriend.

Try asking your lovely Thai lady – to show her family who you are and what you’re all about. She is your best link to your in-laws as she is the one who can understand them perfectly and is the only person who can build strong ties between you and her family.

4. It’s not all about the money. Solution: You’re right, it isn’t!

Money isn’t the only thing that can impress a Thai girl’s family. Show them how talented you really are! Show them your knowledge of the world and all the different skills you have. Show them that you’re ready to tackle any problem that might come your way at a moment’s notice. Once you show them that you’re serious about having a relationship with your Thai girlfriend, they’ll forget you even had money in the first place!

Try this! – If your Thai girlfriend has a sister or brother, talk to them! Show them what your plans are about living in another country with their sister (but be careful though! Thai families are not too comfortable with the idea of a daughter’s boyfriend talking to their other daughter.) and do your best to bond with them. Try to talk to your Thai girlfriend’s father and ask him about his hobbies! Also do your best to be close with your Thai girlfriend’s mother because the mother of the family is usually the one that is very accepting towards new ideas.

Try asking your lovely Thai lady – to let you help out with the little things like the chores, making the meals or new family trips. Little things like this will help your in-laws see you for who you are, not for what you have.

5. A closed mind and a closed heart. Solution: Fake it ’til you make it!

Don’t get the wrong impression here! I’m not saying you should act all weird and fake when you’re with your Thai girl’s family. If you happen to be liberal and non-conservative, you have to learn to adjust with your in-laws even if your beliefs may not exactly be the same. You don’t need to see eye to eye with them to respect them for who they are. You also don’t need to be super conservative like them whenever you’re not with your Thai girlfriend’s family! You can be your liberal self again whenever you’re with your Thai girlfriend, but always remember to adjust to her family when you’re around them and to respect them even if their beliefs are opposite from yours.

Try this! – Learn the etiquette of all Thai people. One of the basic etiquette practices that Thai people take seriously is not interrupting someone else when they haven’t finished talking yet. Another good practice is to be well mannered at all times, even when your in-laws are complaining about something and knowing where to put your feet and when to put on your shoes.

Try asking your lovely Thai lady – to take you with her and her family when going to the temple. Don’t be afraid to ask advice from your Thai girlfriend about the different etiquette practices in Thailand as well.

6. It’s all about the gray hat. Solution: Wait it out until the storm dies down.

Families such as these are a tough nut to crack as they won’t let anyone get a hold of their daughter’s future because they have their own stake in it as well. If you notice that your Thai girlfriend’s family seems to be too manipulative and controlling towards her, don’t share your plans about your girlfriend with them just yet. This is usually something that can only be solved by your girlfriend; she has to know how much she loves you and how much she is willing to sacrifice for her relationship with you.

Try this! – Ask yourself the tough questions. How much are you willing to sacrifice for your Thai girlfriend? You have to give yourself a little bit more time to think about your life before you can give a sure answer about your relationship. While I mentioned earlier that openly sharing your plans and doing your best to be a part of your Thai girlfriend’s family is one of the best things you can do for yourself and for your girlfriend, Thai families like these are usually too controlling and end up destroying any relationship the girl has with any guy.

Try asking your lovely Thai lady – to show them a small part of your plan about living with your Thai girlfriend in the west. Tell her to ask her father on what he thinks about her studying abroad and living there someday too. Have your Thai girlfriend ask her mother about opening joint bank accounts that involve you and your girl. Parents that are manipulative and controlling will show signs early on that they’re not willing to share their daughter with you on anything no matter what happens. If your daughter is letting them control her for their own ends, you might need to think twice about your relationship as this is something that is out of your hands and only something that your Thai girlfriend can fix.

7. Politics in a relationship?! Yes indeed! Solution: Don’t sweat it!

People who tend to gossip negatively about other people’s relationships are just jealous. Since they don’t have much to do in their lives, they tend to try and bring some spice into their own by making senseless stories about other people to try and bring them down to their own level! You don’t need to worry about people like these because if you truly love your wonderful Thai girl and if she really loves you, then there’s no amount of gossip in the world that can ever hope to separate the two of you. You can show these people that you truly love and support your girlfriend and that you don’t need money to do it by just loving her for who she is!

Try this! – Ignore them! Let them gossip about your relationship. Love can easily make you blind to anything that a naysayer might tell you. Just love your girlfriend with all your heart and you’ll be okay!

Try asking your lovely Thai lady – to tell her neighbors about how charming and loving you are with her whenever they don’t see the two of you. Have her tell them about how serious you are in your relationship with her and about how much you care about her.

8. Past or present? Gimme the past! Solution: Try the present, it’s not that bad!

Don’t try to be your girlfriend’s ex. No one can be anyone in this life and everyone is their own unique individual. Just be who you are to your Thai girlfriend’s family and show them how sincere you are about your relationship with her. Tell them that although you might not be her ex, you can be just as good or even better because you’ll never leave her and will always love her to the very end.

Try this! – Know whatever it is that made your Thai girlfriend’s break up with her ex and don’t repeat the same mistake. Show her family that you won’t make the same mistakes he made in the past and that you’ll do your best to take care of their daughter.

Try asking your lovely Thai lady – to talk to her family and to show them that you’re going to be better than her ex. Have her promote your good side so they can see that you’re serious about being with their daughter. Have her show them the things that you can do and that her ex never could!

9. Trust is earned, not given. Solution: Then earn that trust!

Be warm with your Thai girlfriend’s family and show them that you’re not a bad person. Don’t act big and large and act as if you’re some sort of big shot! That’s a no-no. Act as humble as you can and show them that you’re capable of loving your girlfriend and that you’re incapable of hurting her as well. Trust is something that’s given overtime and if you keep at it, they’ll eventually learn to accept you for who you are.

Try this! – Show them old photos of you and your family! Give them old photos of your school days as well and make fun of your old photos and of the days when you were still living in the west! This will make them see you in a different light and will make earning their trust that much easier.

Try asking your lovely Thai lady – to talk about you with her family when you’re not around. Tell her to tell them many stories about you when you. Her family will be more accepting towards someone whom they know a lot about.

10. What about the future? What about the kids! Solution: What about other schools?

Half-blooded Thai kids are more likely to be bullied because of the differences in their looks. This can be easily remedied by choosing a good international school in Thailand! While this might be a little bit more expensive than the local schools, you can rest assured that your child is getting the best in terms of education and socializing with the other kids as well.

Try this! – Look for cheap yet high quality international schools in Thailand and talk to your Thai girlfriend’s mother about plans of having your children study abroad when they get to high school. Let your in-laws talk to the school teachers so they can understand what type of school and education their grandchildren will be receiving.

Try asking your lovely Thai lady – to talk to her mother about being a nanny to her kids. Thai mothers often jump at the opportunity of taking care of their grandchildren. Also have her discuss with her parents the options you have when picking an international school in Thailand as your Thai girlfriend’s parents probably know a lot of good places where their grandchildren can study.

As you can see, there are ways around the obstacles that you might face when dating a girl from Thailand. Don’t lose hope because there will always be a way if you look hard enough! That concludes our episode for today on Thai Girls Talk! Happy hunting boys!

9 thoughts on “Challenges you’ll face with your Thai in-laws and how to overcome them”

  1. So, my girlfriend and I have been in a relationship for four years and we reached a point where we decided to take it a step further and create a family. At the start, I must admit that I thought the hardest part of a relationship was getting along with my girl without having silly fight about trivial matters because of cultural difference. Although it was annoying at sometimes, I learned to adapt to it and it eventually and slowly became a part of me.
    I admit it, at first, it took me a while to get used to her behavior because of the huge difference in culture. Oftentimes, we would get into a fight which, when we both realize what the root cause is, we’d laugh it off. Anyways, everything went from rough to smooth as time passes by. As we learned more about each other, our relationship strengthened up to the point where we decided to take this one step further.
    And so, we decided to let us meet each other’s parents. It’s an easy part for my girlfriend to meet my parents because I was very lucky to have an open-minded family. It’s an easy ride for me and my girlfriend because of that.
    The hard part came when the time comes for me to meet her family. I was very nervous and I almost cannot sleep thinking about how should I act when meeting her family for the first time. I tried researching the net and this particular article came up. I’m very glad I found it. Although they’re technically still not my in-laws at the time, this helped me understand and somehow predict how they will act the first time they see me.
    Fast forward to the present day, we are now married and the part now comes when I sometimes have to deal with my in-laws. It’s not really that hard once I showed them that I’m really serious about the relationship and building my family. Earning their trust surely helped a bunch. I also intensified that by trying to learn more about their culture, eating more of their native dish and trying to learn the language. It showed them that I really love my wife and that I’m putting an effort to close the cultural and language barrier gap that we have.
    And since we had our first kid, I started to save up for my daughter’s school. Whenever I got home from work, I always try to play with her and teach her a few things and of course, teach her both Thai and English language. Right now, I can speak conversational Thai with ease and I think being able to completely understand what my Thai in-laws says certainly helped me earn their heart.

  2. Believe me, it’s very hard at the start, but once you get along well with them, I can assure you that you will feel like they are your second family. For me, I think it took almost a year and a half before I get my Thai wife’s family’s “approval”. I had to work hard and to show them how much I love their daughter and their country and culture. Well, if you really love your girl, no obstacle is too hard!

  3. I certainly agree that it’s not always about money with Thai in-laws. I can personally attest to this. My in-laws have never asked for money from me. They have gone out of their way to assist us live a comfortable life. While this might not be the norm I think most Thai parents are more interested in the happiness and safety of their daughters. This does not mean there are no Thai in-laws who will hound their sons in laws for money.

  4. While most foreign men married to Thai women that I have met have given me an earful about their in-laws nothing came close to their complaints about being forced to fit in. I usually get a good laugh out of this. I think the moment you decide to marry into another culture, you must be prepared for some form of integration into that culture. The fact of the matter is that if you don’t fit in, the relationship is guaranteed some rocky times.

  5. I took my Thai wife to my home country for a couple of years. I still remember the apprehension my in-laws had when we made the decision. They were apprehensive but not against the idea. They were concerned for their daughter. I would be. Every parent would be. I would have been more concerned if they did show a shred of worry. I think it’s normal for Thai parents to be concerned when their daughters leave for foreign lands.

  6. Nothing makes Thai in-laws happier than their grandkids coming to visit. Lets be honest, it takes the limelight from you and you get to relax more. My in-laws want their grandkids to stay with them all the time. I’m not saying all Thai in-laws are like this but I’m sure most Thai parents behave this way. This is because Thai people have a very high sense of family.

  7. I’m here to bust a myth that Thai in-laws are after your money. Lets be honest with ourselves. Most of us who end up in Thailand aren’t as well off as Bill Gates or Zuckerburg. Let’s put the notion of rich western men coming to sweep up Thai damsels where it belongs, in the non existing bag. Back to reality, your in-laws might ask for a hand here or there but that’s nothing out of the ordinary. You might be asked to do the same in any country.

  8. I think it is understandable that Thai in-laws expect their sons in law to adjust to life in Thailand. This is to be expected. I would expect my son in law to get on with the program as soon the wedding is done. The problem is that foreign husbands in Thailand expect some kind of special treatment. This is never going to happen. If you marry a Thai woman, you should be part of her family and culture.

  9. The issue of money and Thai in-laws has been discussed so much it appears there is nothing to talk about anymore. It’s a contentious issue. Thai in-laws have been stereotyped into being money hungry mercenaries who don’t care for the happiness of their daughters. I don’t think this is true and smacks of too much generalization. There many happily married couples whose in-laws are not like that.

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