A US man from Southern California is calling for the US government to make it easier for younger men to marry a Thai bride and claims it could be part of the solution to the ailing economy in America.
Richard Fuller and his Thai bride Ju have been married for over 41 years since he met her in the north of Thailand during the Vietnam War. 'I met Ju when I was in Thailand during the war. She was working in a house we were boarding in. 'I have been blessed with an amazing life
and a big part of that is my beautiful Thai wife. We have three sons, two are married now but one is looking for a relationship. I tell him to go to Thailand and find a Thai bride like his mom. If we had more Thai wives in America and if it was easier to bring them here, it would get a lot of guys
to settle down and work harder. A man needs a family to work for.'
Declining Marriage rates in the USA
This comes at a time when marriage rates are declining in the United States. In December 2011 a survey showed that 51% of all Americans were married compared to 72% in 1960.
And it is not simply the staggering increase in the divorce rates in America. 'Actually divorce rates have stopped rising since we went into recession but we are still talking about a 50% divorce rate,' says John Hoskins a researcher in Philadelphia.
Significantly, a Pew poll in 2011 showed that 28% of all adults had never been married in America and this is up significantly from 15% in 1960. 'Many younger people just don't want to get married, the evidence shows this is mainly among those who are less educated and who do not
have careers,' says Mr Hoskins. These figures have also coincided with a steep rise in births outside marriage in the United States and the number of single parent families.
In 2011, 35% of all children in America lived in single parent homes. Research has shown that children coming from such households are more likely to get into trouble with the law and drop out of school. Andrew Cherlin, a sociologist at John Hopkins University studies families and
public policy: 'You don't see the same pattern of long unmarried relationships you see in Scandinavia, France or Britain, in the United States marriage is how we do stable families.'
John Hoskins feels that the reduced rate of marriage in America is a key factor in weakening the America economy: 'This is not just a social problem but a serious economic problem. Children in single parent households are five times more likely to suffer poverty.'
Marriage: Thai bride and American man
In 2004 the US government enacted legislation that was designed to control and in effect limit American men marrying foreign brides. The legislation called for a criminal check on all men seeking brides in foreign countries. It was aimed at foreign marriage brokers. However the
explosive growth of the internet in recent years has caused a revolution in inter racial dating. Since 2002 there has been a dramatic rise in American men seeking marriage or love partners in Thailand and in actual marriage registrations and visas for Thai women entering the United
States. The evidence is that these relationships are increasingly successful and most are now generated through online dating and internet sites.
A once off report produced by the US Citizens and Immigration service indicated that 80% of marriages involving a Thai bride and American man were successful. This finding is supported by research in Bangkok from marriage registration offices in 2012. This showed that over a five
year period, the apparent divorce rate between foreigners and Thai brides was 15% approximately.
Europe: Thai bride marriages happy
There have been similar studies in Switzerland and Sweden all showing the same trend in marked contrast to local divorce rates. A study by the University of Stockholm in Sweden was commissioned in response to an outcry from women's groups over the rise in Thai women entering
There were claims made regarding the number of Thai women working in Sweden's sex trade and links to prostitution. The report revealed a picture far at odds with the claims made. The report however showed that most Thai brides lived in rural areas and that the marriages were
largely happy ones.
Will my Thai Bride stay faithful?
Partly as a result of the surge in marriage between Thai women and foreign men, there has been an increase in negative commentary directed at Thai women often in new media online. This commentary, the notoriety of the Thai sex industry and even a recent survey by a condom
company indicating that Thai women were unfaithful have caused some foreign men to question the prospect of a Thai bride.
Alan Caulder is an Australian who met his beautiful Thai bride online but very nearly closed his internet dating account after 72 hours. The reason was adverse coverage on the internet and peer pressure from friends. 'I had mixed signals. Some of my mates put me off it and when I
initially went online, I met the wrong sort of women,' he said. He went on to say that he 'shudders' to think what he would have lost if he had dropped his search as he is now happily married to his Thai bride Nida whom he met online in 2011.
'The problem is twofold,' says James Morris a reporter in Bangkok. 'There is a sex industry out there based in Thailand and foreign countries which exploits Thai women. Then there is online coverage often springing from men who have been lured into relationships with prostitutes or
online scammers. All of this has nothing to do with the Thai women online seeking genuine relationships. But they do overlap and that is a key point.'
Thai women most promiscuous - survey
This perception is not helped by a survey in August 2012 promoted by Durex, the condom maker. This found that Thai women were second only to women from Ghana as the most promiscuous in the world.
The survey of 36,000 women in 36 countries was conducted by the condom manufacturer. 'I am not sure how this survey was conducted but the results of the survey are certainly at odds with divorce rates in Thailand which are currently below 30%. I think it may be the contradictory
culture in Thailand. Many women who opt to seek western men are certainly looking for a better life than they would have in Thailand. In Thailand, a woman who has already had a boyfriend or been divorced may have lesser matrimonial prospects. It is not too uncommon for men at all
levels of Thai society to have mistresses or minor wives but only if they can well afford it,' says James Morris.
Alan Caulder has a similar opinion: 'I think it's the sex business, I mean most of my mates in Australia have only ever met a Thai hooker, I mean even my own family were surprised when I introduced them to my wife, they couldn't believe that she had a government job in Thailand and
was an officer of the State.'
Thai bride with Grandmother's values
James Morris warns: 'It depends on where you met your Thai bride, if you met her in a bar in Thailand, there's a fifty fifty chance, in this man's opinion, it will end in tears but if you've met a Thai woman from a decent background or good family, she will have the same traditional values
as your grandmother. In the end of the day, just look at the divorce rate in western countries. That comes from the society that the west has embraced. It's why men come here looking for a Thai bride.'
Beautiful Thai bride - myth or reality
Jamie Durant is 27 and works as a graphic designer and typesetter. He lives in England and has been married to his Thai bride for the last three years. Chachita is a stunning beautiful Thai woman who is 29 years old. They were married after James visited Thailand in 2010. 'I
married my Thai bride after three weeks in Thailand and I think today I was inspired,' he says. As well as her good looks, Chachita has a university degree and now speaks English with a soft gentle accent. Her family in Thailand lives in Chiang Mai in a walled residential property.
Chachita has a university degree from Chulalongkorn University, one of Thailand's most prestigious institutions in Bangkok.
'Many Thai girls look to marry an English guy and James is so handsome, I mean look at him, you can see' she laughs. Chachita doesn't hide the fact that her life in the United Kingdom means she can now earn more money and have a lifestyle not possible in Thailand even though
she comes from a relatively affluent background at home.
'London and the countryside here are so beautiful and I never imagined I would have a life like this.' Chachita works in London and also helps Jamie in his business. She now earns nearly as much again as her husband.
The couple lives in a period house in a small village in Kent. Jamie is anxious to explain: 'I am not one of these desperate individuals that go out to Thailand trawling the sex scene, I have dated many beautiful girls in the UK but I simply never met one I felt so comfortable with or to
whom I felt I could commit. In Thailand, I was on guard at first when Chachita introduced me to her family. And then, of course, I thought this is a woman I could not find a home and I was just struck out of the blue. Of course, we had known each other online for three months but honestly
you don't really know someone at all until you meet them in person. I still cannot explain quite what I was thinking but we are both very happy after three years. Chachita is Buddhist and I am Christian. We are a bit spiritual and serious about religion but this is a plus not a problem for us.
Life together is good on every level. I like waking up every morning to see this beautiful lady.'
English most popular with Thai women
English men have been voted the most sought after foreign marriage partners in a poll by a national newspaper in Thailand's Isaan province in the North east of the country. Surveys on online dating sites like ThaiLoveLines have also shown English men moving to the top ahead of
American and Swiss men. 'I think Thai people like England, it's maybe the Queen or the Royal family but many Thai people would like to live in England or even London,' says Chachita.
American from Texas finds Thai Bride
Tom runs his own roofing contractor business in Austin Texas. He is one of many self employed Americans who make up 27% of Americans who search for a Thai Bride in Thailand each year. 'I dated girls at home had one five year relationship. I run my own roofing business and I
am usually a bit cautious. My parents have a very happy marriage and I could never be sure that I would find a woman just as faithful and caring as my mom,' he says.
This fits with research on declining rates of marriage which shows that although more younger Americans are staying single and there is a record low of adults living within marriage, over 90% of young people on graduation from High School in America say that they plan to get
married. 'I think this clearly shows that relationships expectations for those leaving school have are not been matched in today's world and I think this is really to do with the changing roles of men and women in society,' says John Hoskins, a researcher.
In 2007, Tom travelled to Bangkok to meet a Thai girl he had found through online dating. This came six months after his long term relationship with his American girlfriend had collapsed. 'I had just been thinking of settling down. I was even thinking of having my long term girlfriend join
me at work but our relationship broke down over eight to nine months during a crisis in my business.' Tom was devastated when this happened. 'I was so busy that I didn't even see what was going on or what was comin' but I could see it might have been my fault.' After Tom failed to woo
back his American girlfriend who moved to another state, he tried online dating.
'It was online that I saw or read about women from Thailand. I never thought about that and I said no at first, not for me. That's for older guys or losers I guess but when I started dating again and doing bars, I got into a whirl that wasn't all that good. I could not find a good lady. I don't
know whether it was my old girl walking away but I could not find the right woman. I did the online dating for a month or two and then switched to Thai dating; it was just that the girls were more real even though they were on the other side of the world, incredible! Then I had some money in
the bank and I decided to take a holiday in Thailand for a month.'
American meets beautiful Thai Bride
'I met Kate (Katreeya) on my third day in Bangkok at my hotel. I just was, well, surprised. She looked so beautiful, so well dressed and put together. I was in short pants. It wasn't at all what I thought it would be. Sitting with her over a drink in the lobby of this hotel in this unreal place and
this woman looked like a million dollars and she was so serious and earnest. I knew then that this thing could work. It felt like I'd discovered a business secret, I hope that doesn't sound too bad,' he says.
Thai Bride too good to be true
Tom says that the days after his first meeting with his Thai Bride that he felt that it was 'too good to be true' but felt re-assured when he meet the family of his Thai Bride in Nong Khai in the North of Thailand. 'I was even more nervous when Kate wanted to me to meet her brother in
Samut Prakan. I guess I couldn't understand the fuss but Thai people are very respectful and when I accepted this it just felt right. I was even more reassured when we visited Nong Khai and meet Kate's mother and the rest of the family.'
Marriage registered in Bangkok
Tom married Kate at a Buddhist temple in Nong Khai and latter had time to get back to Bangkok to register the marriage at a Bangkok registry office. 'I was able to get the marriage registered in Bangkok before I went back to the States and find a lawyer to handle the visa. Looking back
now I flew home to Texas a happy man quite sure I had done the right thing. I didn't say anything to my family and friends until I got home,' he says.
Texan returns from Thailand married
Tom surprised his mom and dad on his return home by telling them that he had found a Thai bride and was already a married man. 'My mother and father were shocked I suppose but I guess happy when I told them back home. They knew I never wanted a big wedding or anything
like that. My mother has been great with Kate since she came to the states.' Tom says his mother's support for his Thai bride was critical when she first came to America. When he returned to Austin after meeting Kate, his main priority was getting her visa to let her live with him in America. 'I
managed later to get back for another trip but at this time I was like a guy with a mission.
American and Thai Bride now a family
Tom and Kate have been married now nearly six years and have a son. 'Kate has made my life meaningful since she came to live here and we now have son, we're a regular family. I am able to work harder and focus on my work and I never knew life could be so joyful.' Tom says
that he and his Thai bride go to church every week even though Kate is still a Buddhist. 'She is still a Buddhist and she has found a place to go near here and I respect her religion. I tell her everyday that God loves her and I guess I feel that, everything feels so right.'
Thai Bride successful in America
Kate has found work with an international company in Austin. 'She has been very successful at work here and works hard. My biggest concern is that she sometimes takes things so seriously. I have to get her to take it easy. We've been married five years and you could count on your
hand the number of times she's got upset or anything like that.' Tom says when this happens it is usually because his Thai bride feels she hasn't done enough for him and their boy.
Thai culture and Thai food
Tom admits that he's not a fan of Thai food. 'I am not a fan of Thai food and I now this disappoints Kate because she loves everything Thai. She makes some Thai dishes every week and we regularly go to Thai restaurants here in Austin.' His Thai Bride finds that her biggest problem in
America is how direct people are. 'Her biggest problem with America is that people here are a lot more aggressive than people in Thailand. Kate says 'hot heart' and I know Thai culture is about being more relaxed but in America you have to gave a hot heart sometimes to get things done.
This is the big culture difference. This and the weather in America which can also be kinda aggressive.'
Thai bride quietly determined
Tom says that he his amazed how quietly determined his Thai bride is in America to be successful and overcome all challenges. 'She makes it a point to smile and make new friends. That's why she's already an American citizen and watches news and TV to learn everything about
American current affair. Luckily we have the same politics,' he says. 'I'm so proud of my wife.'
Just as American as any woman
Tom says Kate has not experienced any problems with discrimination or racism in America. 'I think that there are already so many nationalities here that it's really not an issue. I sometimes see American women stare a bit at me and it touches my heart when my wife says that she's not
afraid of anyone and that she's an American woman just as much as any woman in America.'
Tom also says that for now they have no plans to return to live in Thailand as many older American Thai couples do. 'We've been back to Thailand twice now but we both feel our life and future is here for now.'