“I have many foreign male friends who have Thai girlfriends, and I’d say around 70 per cent of them have problems,” says Saksri ‘Mouse’ Kerdphol, general manager of Phuket Auto Express, who is hoping to offer some much needed help and advice to couples in need.
Saksri’s ‘Emotional Rescue’ relationship advice service sprung from having to frequently help her friends. “I’d be getting calls in the middle of the night from them asking for advice, and it was their idea that I do this really – to open up a counselling service,” she says.
It is always the same problems, Saksri says: issues concerning Thai women cheating with Thai men or being accused of only wanting money from their foreign partner.
“The foreign men complain that after they get married, [the Thai woman] changes, and that after they split, the Thai woman gets the house, the car and even the yacht.
“Many of these women in these relationships are from Isaan, where if you manage to find a rich husband you are the talk of the town and envy of your neighbours.”
However, Saksri disagrees that it is this societal expectation that fosters Thai women’s view of money as paramount in a relationship.
For her the fact that many poorer girls from Isaan are choosing money over love – an action that is often sanctioned by their parents – is not an excuse, but merely an explanation.
“I was raised to be honest,” she said, “If I wanted to follow money, it was never through this way.”
It is thus one of Saksri’s aims to enable both the foreign man and the Thai woman to be at peace, in a monetary sense, with such an arrangement.
“Many foreigners are shocked when their girlfriend starts regularly asking how much money they are going to receive so they can send it to their parents.”
This is one of the biggest cultural differences, Saksri says, so tact is needed to appease each side.
“The man can perhaps give her a monthly allowance and let her be responsible for how and what she spends it on,” she recommends.
As well as for sending money home, this allowance, suggests Saksri, could also be used for when the young Thai woman goes out with her friends – something she suggests to couples.
“When a young woman feels like she has to stay at home with an old man all the time it becomes boring and quite sad.
“If the man is very old, I will explain to them both the importance that she has her own space and goes out with her own friends. They can both do that separately – it’s good for them.”
Although it sounds rather obvious, Saksri also suggests that it is good if both of them have a shared interest, for example in golf or tennis.
Problems arise when a couple have nothing in common. In the past, she says, the Thai-foreign relationship used to have fewer differences.
“When I was young I would see the odd Thai-foreign couple, but these were almost always Thai women from a good background, educated, perhaps having studied or worked abroad, which was probably how they met in the first place.”
Saksri believes it’s no longer like that, with many Thai women – predominantly from Isaan – coming to the island to seek out a wealthy, foreign partner.
“I used to own a massage shop and every one of my four girls who worked there, who were all from Isaan, had made the trip to Phuket to marry a rich foreigner.”
Saksri adds that there are still relationships between upper class Thai women and foreigners, but that the numbers of these couples had been eclipsed by the ‘other’ type of relationship.
On a brighter note, Saksri, a romantic at heart, still believes that love can conquer all, and that as long as both parties do love one another, then there is a good chance they can make it work.
For more information, email Saksri at: email@example.com.