BANGKOK – The cultural, race, religious, and age differences don’t carry the same stigma among Thais as they do with folks back in the West. You can find a white, 60 year old atheist man, happily married to a 23 year old Thai Buddhist woman. And if asked whether or not they are content, they’ll most likely say they’re as happy as pigs in muck – and mean it too!
However according to a recent article in The Guardian in the UK the people most against older men having younger Thai girlfriends, or wives, are usually ex-wives and their children, especially if the new woman in Dad’s life happens to be younger than his kids.
The daughter writes, my father, who is nearly 70, has in the last couple of years established a life for himself in Thailand and now spends more than half the year there, where he has a house and a girlfriend about 40 years his junior.
My mother died three years ago, and he left for Thailand immediately after the funeral, leaving my brother and me to deal with the aftermath. My father had had a long-term affair with a young Asian woman while on business trips before Mum’s death, which created a huge amount of turbulence in the family.
She forgave him, they worked it out, but she sadly died a few years later. A year after her death, my father was diagnosed with cancer while in England, which my brother and I nursed him through. He recovered and headed straight back to Thailand to continue his new life.
The lasting effect of all this is that my brother’s long-term partner cannot stand to be with my dad, as she feels his behaviour and attitude has been selfish and unacceptable, while my wife has witnessed the grief that my brother and I have suffered while he was away and has no love for him either, combined with a feeling that his reason for being in Thailand is rather seedy.
I do not begrudge him a new life, or have any major moral problem with his lifestyle (which he assures me is nothing like the stereotypes), but the thing that causes me such frustration is his lack of awareness that he may be upsetting people.
He has reluctantly apologised for his behaviour after Mum died, but does not seem to understand why some people may feel continued resentment towards him, or that there might be anything untoward about his new life and how it impacts on the family. So there is now a rift in the family which is not going away and, if anything, is deepening.
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