Here on the island of Phuket in Thailand there are many mixed Thai-western marriages. We hear many stories about the strange and unreasonable behaviour of Thai wives. What about the other side of the coin? Are western husbands always a fountain of reason and fairness to their Thai wives?

There is one thing I often notice from western husbands that I always think is unfair and will cause relationship problems. It is the belief that their Thai wife should be grateful.

It is far from all the western husbands that are guilty of this attitude. However, it is common enough that it is worth discussing. These men believe their wives should be grateful for the improved lifestyle they have given her. They believe this means they call the shots and if the wife doesn’t like it, she is being ungrateful.

Is this really a healthy basis for a relationship?

When these men are discussing their latest spat with their wife, you will often hear similar comments. “She forgets where she came from. When I found her she was living in a shack and sleeping on the floor.” Does this means she must be meek and subservient? Cannot have any control in the relationship? If you do not respect your wife’s opinions, how can you expect her to be happy just because she has a nicer bed?

Of course, gratitude is a factor in relationships. Many of the western husbands in Thailand have made great sacrifices for the benefit of their Thai wives. Their wives should be grateful for these sacrifices but not to the extent that it diminishes their role in the relationship. The Thai wife also contributes much to the relationship for which the husband should be grateful. In a healthy relationship, gratitude is a two-way thing.

Many men come to Thailand with the intention of finding a wife. I think a lot of them arrive with little knowledge of the local culture and naive ideas about what they will find. They think they are going to ‘save’ a Thai girl from her life of poverty and give her a better life. In return, the girl will be eternally grateful and will be a doting and attentive wife.

Well the bad news is most Thai women do not feel like they need ‘saving’. They love their country and their family. They usually have plenty of friends. They like their lives in Thailand. Yes, a lot of Thai women are poor but that does not mean they are unhappy. They don’t want to change their lives. They just want more money so they can make their current life better.

Many Thai women are amenable to approaches from Western men. Thailand has one of the most open and tolerant societies in Asia and they do not fear mixed-race relationships. One of the things Thai women like about western men is that they can provide greater financial security than most Thai men can. However, they are still looking for the other things women expect from a good relationship such as love and respect.

They don’t want a one-sided relationship where their husband constantly expects them to be grateful. Who would like such a relationship? To be endlessly treated as a second-class partner with no say in the decision making process because they do not provide the money. To be constantly reminded where they come from.

Marriage is about give and take. Both sides need to be able to compromise and respond to their partners needs. It is true that some Thai women are not the best at controlling the purse strings and if the western man is providing the money then it may be best for him to control the money. That does not mean the Thai wife should have no input on where the money goes. It does not mean she has to be subservient to her husband on all issues. Thailand elite programs