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Calling all farang husbands who've moved back home: What's your experience with cultural differences for your wife when you get there?

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Bit of a long post and slightly venting but I thought there must be others with similar experiences as me out there. How do you deal with cultural differences and the problem they cause at home?

 

We just made it back to the UK and we’ve had a baby now, she’s 5 months old. The most beautiful baby girl in the world. She was born 4th of July - independence baby. It felt a fitting date.

 

We’ve moved in with my Mum in London, as I pay off huge amounts debt accrued because of the visa application and expensive doctors in Thailand during the pregnancy.

 

There are a few major cultural differences that I never saw/noticed before we moved here between my wife and I:

 

  1. The parents to new babies don’t/can’t normally give up work as they provide for the elder generation. The elder generation typically care for the baby while the parent goes to work.
  2. The elder generation is respected and revered because they have provided and worked so hard all their children’s lives for them to be put through school, fed, clothed, housed (normal parent duties). After school, it is expected of kids to repay their parents and typically pay a monthly amount.
  3. “Saving Face” is a huge part of the values system. If a child doesn’t provide for the mother/father they will lose face with their (very large) family as the child is seen to be shirking their responsibilities to the family. It doesn’t “Look” good.
  4. Paying a dowry is a normal practice in Thailand. The man should fork out a large amount of money to “thank” the parents for providing for the women while she grew up. Not doing so again causes loss of face.

 

These values while seemingly quite irrelevant in western society, are in fact quite pervasive in the thinking of my wife and manifest themselves in many different ways through her actions, especially towards her parenting style.

 

This was how my wife was raised. Her parents are from a northern farming village and when they had her and her brother, they gave them to my wife’s grandmother and moved to Bangkok to look for work. They would be gone for months without seeing her. She went to school in the village and only moved in with her parents when she was 15 years old and could go to High school.

 

This has often left my wife feeling very ostracised from her mother and father, she doesn’t have a close bond with them but wants to be seen by them as a good daughter. To her own family it is important to present the picture of being a perfect daughter. And what being a perfect daughter seems to mean is keeping up with the monthly payments to her mum. Her mum ignores her calls and is totally disengaged and unpleasant to her whenever she fails to make a payment. Which obviously being pregnant for 9 months and having a 5 month old baby - she hasn’t done for a year.

 

It also seems to make her feel deep down that the grandparents should be the ones shouldering the responsibility of raising the baby. She seems to resent my mum for not helping more than she does. She seems to resent me because she cannot work and send payments back to her family every month and keep up appearances. As a result it seems she feels she is working too hard taking care of the baby. I try to tell her that a baby is hard work and because of this have struggled with my work/life balance.

 

I’m the sole earner in the house and I work online from home. As a result of which I am always around to help, something which i feel she takes advantage of way too often. My work has suffered because of it, I don’t get 8 hours a day in at this point and any work I do get in is sub-par because there are constant distractions. I recently had a performance review and i’m close to losing my job. My employer is based in Australia and has allowed me to move back to the UK as long as I maintain AU working hours. So my working pattern is very weird. I have a sleep at 10pm until 2am - work from 2 until 9am - sleep until 12pm or whenever she comes in with the baby to wake me up to help. Then sometimes I can get some work done in the afternoon but most of the time from the minute I wake up she hands the baby off to me.

 

I want to support her as best I can, but it feels i’m fighting a losing battle.

 

We argue about this all the time, I ask her to help take the baby more so I can get more work done in the daytime when i’m alert. She takes it to heart big time and thinks i’m calling her a bad mother and just generally saying she is a <deleted> person. I try to explain that i’m just asking her to DO more, her character and the way i feel about her is not in question. My mum has seen how much I do with work and taking care of the baby, she has seen that my wife is shirking the majority of baby-raising responsibilities on to me to the detriment of my work and my sleep.

 

Obviously sleep is something that is not easy to get with a newborn in the house. But our baby is good as gold - most nights she’ll sleep from 10pm until 10am with 2-3 wake ups in the middle of the night for a feed. Most times she’ll be back asleep within 30 minutes. My wife says that I never help in the night - because i’m working - and that she is extremely tired but she sleeps most of the day after I take my shift and all night, sure she has to get up every 3-4 hours to feed the baby but at least she doesn’t have to work having meetings with clients from 2am->9am in the morning.

 

What do other dads do when you’re working but your wife isn’t? Are you still up in the night to help despite early starts and commutes into the city?

 

I’ve been looking for new jobs, not because i hate my job but because I think it will be better for us to have clear boundaries. I go to work, she takes care of the baby. Then when I come back we swap. I think the blurring of the lines is contributing to the problem. I know she has it easy compared to most Mums whose partners are not around in the day to help. I really would rather be making it easier for her and I want to be around the baby while she grows - I don’t want to be driven from the house but I can’t work in this environment.

 

Every time we argue on this topic her default reaction is to cut and run. She says she’ll move back to Thailand and take the baby. I say that isn’t an option, we need to make it work here. We tried so hard getting here and she really wanted to move here - she hasn’t even made a go of building a life here yet. Doesn’t go to baby clubs, doesn’t have friends apart from those she met through me, doesn’t want to get a part time job yet. The only life she leads is a home life. She has chosen this route and and i’m here to support her but she can’t up and leave breaking apart the whole family because its the easier option.

 

It seems she thinks when I push her to take more of the baby work that she would rather break us up, take the baby back to Thailand where at least she can hand the baby off to her mum. I feel so bad because when I say she can’t do that it’s like i’m trapping her, but I know that if I let her do that she won’t ever come back. I’ll be a single dad who has to travel to Thailand 3 times a year just to see his daughter for a few days. My daughter will be raised by my wife’s mum, taken up to the village, my wife will lose her bond with her.

 

She’ll barely see her own daughter and the cycle of children craving a parental bond, growing up wanting to impress their parents who only love them conditionally when they send them money every month continues. I can’t let this happen to my daughter!

 

I’m trying to work out whether this is all stemming from the cultural differences or whether this is just normal workings out of the family routine? Is there any other western dads married to asians who can speak to this? 

 

If it is a cultural thing that i’m not going to get around how can I be more sensitive to it? Maybe we should both just move back to Thailand now?

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29 minutes ago, JAFO said:

I personally think you are fighting 3 normal issues. New Family, Moving one partner to a different country and the endless cultural challenges. 

 

I can speak to the latter 2

 

My wife was very reserved at first when we moved to my home country. It took about 6 months for her to settle in. Regardless the 5 years we lived in the states we always had random cultural differences. I will say we have had far less cultural differences with us living in Thailand. It just seems to be easier. 

 

I wouldn't over analyze it. Just go with the flow and remember that having a new born is always a challenge for everybody.

 

Good Luck and be patient.

 

 

This is great advice! Thanks a lot!

 

I am prone to over thinking - helps to hear that its normal issues. I guess she just blows it out of proportion so much I start to think maybe it is serious but definitely prefer to look at it as normal couple issues. 

 

Care to share any of the cultural differences you experienced?

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4 hours ago, bwpage3 said:

These women get married to better their lives.

Ya know bwpage3, you continue with your diatribe on this site about Thai women and people like you have it all figured out. You married a Thai and moved back to the US..No?  So your wife is one of "These women" you reference? Just asking for clarification.  

 

 @poker365Typically all people look to their new partner to improve ones life in some way. Could be Personal security, Family potential, financial security, companionship, Fun, travel, or all of them. etc. Relationships are always a work in progress. Do not over think it, give it some time to settle in. Keep an open line of communication going about what she is feeling or concerned about. My wife and I used to have a "Date" night where we went out and sat at dinner and just talked about what is going OK and what is not. Initially my wife did not work as we waited for her to get a green card but once she did she find work almost immediately and that improved everything as she felt like she was contributing.  

 

 

 

 

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To the OP, did your wife visit the UK for any length of time previously?

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11 hours ago, poker365 said:

I have a sleep at 10pm until 2am - work from 2 until 9am - sleep until 12pm or whenever she comes in with the baby to wake me

IMHO, your sleep pattern is having a negative influence on your job and relationship. You need a solid 8 hours before or after work. You are working when you should be in your deepest sleep. Maybe your partner has a touch of post natal blues and a gloomy U.K. winter doesnt help. I note that you have debts but could you squeeze a few quid out of the budget for her to send back from time to time? Good luck anyway.

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