Thai Life


Expats - Trapped in The Golden Cage

Now some of you must be thinking 'What the heck is Johnny raving on about now?'
For a long time now us farang folk have been coming and going to Thailand, getting up to this and that and sowing wild oats. For some of us, the lure for an easy life with a Thai wife in some suburb or village can spell the end of the singleton.

For me and quite a few expats this is not the way forward; not everyone's cut out for married life. I know 72 year old sugar daddies in Pattaya still doing their thing as a singleton just as a 20 something dude who get's too lonely at night is getting married in the village ceremony to a shark smiling Thai chick who see's the big dollar signs. It's horses for courses, desires for delilah's and all that.

I hate to say it but I think a lot of these young guns getting hitched, whether it's to a ex-vice girl from the streets / bars or a straight chick from the university circuit is in for a shock once the wedding is over and the door slams shut.

Traditionally the woman, in the thai household, is in charge of the household, and in theory should look after the house and see it kept in good / clean condition. The cash / income is, contrary to what the thai apologists say, a grey area and the woman is in complete control on what get's paid in and what get's paid out. The man of the family is still seen as the breadwinner and to that end (is supposed to) allocate enough money to the wife for household bills, food, money for the kids etc. All this crap I keep hearing about how its Thai-style for all the money to go into the wife's bank account is total hogwash. Ask yourself if you'd do the same in your home country with a stranger you'd only known for x amount of weeks. I can almost guarantee that you wouldn't. So why do it here in Thailand?

Unfortunately there are more and more cases of farang coming into Thailand, marrying in haste and repenting at leisure, they could be cleaned out for everything they have .
The first type of marriage disaster is where the scheming wife attempts to get her hands on every asset that the farang husband has back home and get it transferred into her name. This is quite easy to do if the foreigner wants to buy land and build a house in Thailand. Thai law forbids foreigners from the outright owning of land.*

When the Vow Breaks...

Once the unsuspecting farang has transferred all his worldly goods / money etc and sunk it into the house and land the trap is either sprung immediately or closed slowly but surely.
In the former case it could be that the unsuspecting farang husband have returned from a days shopping or similar, come back to 'their' house to find all their belongings packed in trashbags in the street outside and being told by their smirking wife that they want a divorce! In some cases they might be prevented from going back into the house by the in-laws (who will always take a thai's side). The beleaguered farang can do little but contact an expensive thai lawyer to begin divorce proceedings. The lawyers in Thailand basically will explain that as they are husband and wife a divorce will in most cases mean that the thai wife will get half the value of the house (unless blood-related offspring are involved) and all the land value.
The trouble is that divorce proceedings are a very long-winded process and make lawyers a lot of money.

In the event of the thai wife leasing the house to a third party and disappearing into the night the consequences can be even more disastrous. Unless the luckless farang can somehow track-down his scheming wife then he cannot even begin divorce proceedings. This means that he will be unable to remarry until three years of no-contact have passed and the previous marriage dissolved!

I know one way that some consider to be the 'nuclear option' when all seems lost. Basically you make sure that the area is clear and nobody is in the house. Obtain the services of a bulldozer and demolish half the place so that all the greedy little creatures get is a pile of smoldering rubble! Have your one-way tickets booked and ready though as the backlash from her family may be nasty!

A Golden Cage Is Built...

Is it just me or has the single to married expat ratio increased in the married guys favour? I could be wrong but I'm sure there were more single dudes back then. Could it be that Thailand is losing the younger and single expats to the surrounding countries?

Back in the day, the fast-livin', expats on the move in Thailand were legion, these days it seems like they only live on the resort towns as tourists. Nowadays when I'm out with a typical expat buddy the phone rings and he's like a naughty school-boy caught playing truant! "Urrr, got to go guys, my wife wants me home."
Now maybe if this was 2 or 4 o'clock in the morning then ok, but time and time again as soon as the sun goes down I see many expats racing back to their sleepy villages and townhouses to be tucked up in bed by 8 o'clock in the evening! I figured that there was some amazing reason for this but the sad fact is these guys are often totally 'under the thumb' of their thai partners. Far from being 50/50 equal, it's like 90/10 in favour of the thai partner!

God bless us single expats in Thailand!

This leads me onto another type of marriage - The Golden Cage Marriage where the farangs house, far from being a place to spend in glorious retirement / twilight years becomes something completely different. Once aware that every satang he's earned is sunk into bricks and mortar that isn't even his, the Thai wife may begin to 'lay down the law' and ensure that his new life in Thailand is radically different to the one he once knew. No longer is he in charge of his own destiny or even in-control of his own money his dream home turns into a Golden Cage. A Thai wife often has complete control over him and only has to whisper the threat of throwing him out of the home to have him cowering in fear. It may sound like a horror story but it is more common than you think. I knew it from seeing the way some farang who tried to act like they ran their wife's business'. Well they may of financed the place but there was no guessing who made the decisions and ruled the roost.

I never guessed how bad it was until I was invited around to a friend-of-a-friend's house and saw it first hand.
The house was beautiful and well kept. The garden was like something out of the Garden of Eden and had every facet of opulence available. Inside it was no different in splendor.
I could see that the place was too perfect, something was missing, it didn't have a homely atmosphere just a very sterile one. His wife's smile seemed a little fake and there were other little oddities. Being so subliminal I ignored or looked the other way at such things so bowled over with the grandeur of the place. She was attentive and seemed to live for cleaning the place and my first impression was that she was the ideal wife for a bloke who wished to settle down in Thailand. Over a few beers I congratulated the farang on his obvious success and the home he had. We had a whale of a time and as the Irish would say 'A good crack.'

The Hellion

The following day I returned to complete some business that we'd agreed upon the previous day. There was no sign of the 'model' thai wife from the previous day. Just as the business was concluded with a handshake... SMASH!
His wife started to smash up the place upstairs. I first of all tried to ignore it, but it becomes a bit difficult when glass starts to scatter and bounce off the teak stairs onto the living area floor. Honestly the place looked like something out of Die Hard. Once outside it seemed the crazed hellion of a woman wasn't finished but tried to hurl a glass onto my bike! She missed but glass went everywhere. Out came the beleaguered husband like a meek and humble servant brushing away the glass while feebly calling out words of appeasement. Apparently her rage that day was because of some tet-a-tat that she had with a rival thai woman who had visited the house previously.
As I rode away from the house I cast a glance back at it and mused how hell can exist in paradise...

The incident didn't stop there either. A fellow expat and I called around the following day (I foolishly decided that it was a one-off, flash-in-the-pan affair). As we arrived I was told (via my buddy expat mediating) that I was not welcome. When I asked why all she would say was 'I hate him! I don't know why!' while almost fighting the urge to rush outside and attack me. Her feeble and pathetic husband (maybe a battered husband?) would say nothing, would not intervene. He simply muttered (to me) "It's between you and her mate."and shrugged his shoulders.
I was pissed off and made it known that I was, not because I wasn't welcome and the insane thai woman, but because I could see that this man represented the farang who had built himself a golden cage and was stuck in it, under her control.

The other expats were sympathetic but were so used to her crazy outbursts and antics that they just took it as 'Typical Joy.' The mediator expat did say though that he'd only ever seen such behaviour in a mental asylum he used to work at and even said that she looked about ready to 'go ballistic'. In addition I learnt that not only does she have an iron grip on everything the guy does, she also beats the poor sap up on a whim!

This is more than likely an extreme case of 'The Golden Cage' but essentially would you prefer to have complete freedom and the life of a single guy or the risk of loosing a ton of money, your integrity and peace of mind for marrying a thai girl?

Heck! I've had relationships out here where it's been as good as a marriage, just rent a place, move your girlfriend in and explain in no uncertain terms that there is/are going to be no marriage/house purchases or business ventures. If they accept that without complaining or arguing you're in with a half-decent Thai girl. If they raise hell get a new girlfriend. Sounds harsh but if you don't act like you're in control they'll brow-beat and treat you like a dog. I've seen it too many times where the farang becomes a punching-bag to the dominating Thai wife. I know that this concept amazes Thai men when they see these big farang guys become such frightened rabbits. They ain' t alone because it still amazes me as well!

The Conclusion

Still, as long as there are no official warnings about the dangers of investing into thai property with a thai national there will always be farang who live in the golden cage. Now there are good thai/farang marriages that work and are very happy I'm sure. The only hitch is that these seem to be on a 1:10 ration with the ones that are not.

Again ask yourself this 'Would you do the same thing in your home country?' If the answer is 'no' then why heck are you doing it here then?

Let's have some reason and common sense out here. Cause right now there are some very shrewd and clever thai women who consider unsuspecting farang who have money to burn open season! By golly I think they may keep on getting them if people don't listen to their own reason and the advice of fellow expats.

Don't buy or invest in a house in Thailand!
Rent, rent and rent some more!

So think hard and don't let it be you that ends up stuck in 'The Golden Cage.' or flying back home on a one-way ticket...

* Some die-hards harp on about getting the land purchased via a registered thai company but this opens another can of worms that can be a ticking time-bomb if the company is not active.


Farang columnist Johnny BThis section is hosted by our resident columnist Johnny B. who has been living in Thailand for seven years now and currently is based out of Bangkok.

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Chang Mai Province Phitsanulok Bangkok Koh Tao Koh Pang Yan Koh Samui