Getting Married While Living as an Expat in Thailand
Thailand has earned a few different reputations over time, some of them more pervasive than others. One of the most common is that Thailand is the place to go to find a wife. This perception is based on the fact that many people come to Thailand and end up getting married. But even though it might be easier to find a wife or husband, in Thailand, compared to western nations. That does not mean that it is something to be lightly considered. After the honeymoon is over, you will find yourself married to a culture that you may not understand or even enjoy. Don’t get me wrong, for many people, it is heaven, but it is best to know a little about the culture before you take the plunge. And especially if you plan on moving there.
- Expectations: One thing you will discover is that getting married comes along with some expectations. The first and perhaps the most shocking is the dowry or sin sod. It is a gift that usually the man gives to the parents before they agree to the marriage. Sin sod is not a legal requirement, but that won’t matter. It will be an unusual situation if you can escape this tradition. But, if you are diplomatic, it is often possible to present a large sum of money and or gold (often 15 to 100k USD) in public and then exchange with the parents a more affordable sum later, when no one is looking. It is all about appearances.
- Parents: Not every situation is the same, but generally, Thai families are close, and the parents will be around a lot, if not living with you. You will have to make an arrangement you can live with, but Thai children traditionally take care of their parents. The times are changing somewhat; some elderly parents are choosing facilities designed specifically for caring for elderly relatives. Similar to what is expected in the west.
- Visa: Amazingly, being married to a Thai citizen and even having children who are citizens is no guarantee the government will let you live there. Being married will help you get a one year at a time visa. But you will have to fulfill some financial requirements, and you will not be allowed to work unless you can get a work permit.
- Religion: About 95 Percent of Thai people are Buddhist. Thai Buddhism is its own unique version. If you are not interested in being involved, you will still be required to be respectful. There might be several occasions when you are expected to go to the temple for a ceremony or some blessing. Most people find it interesting, and it is not much of a burden unless you are theologically opposed
Many foreigners find it too challenging to be so immersed in such a foreign culture. There are issues with privacy, driving, trying to do things in a western style, and communication is a big issue. But for those who persevere, they will eventually find the parts of Thai life that are superior to the west, and those people tend to thrive.
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