A post graduate student in the UK discovered that the 'Thai Bride' she was interviewing had a higher level of education. This is one of the conflicting reports about Thai women in the UK. But what is the truth?
A post graduate student in the north of England thinks she has at least part of the answer.
70% of Thai women in England are marriage partners or Thai brides to UK men. Alison Dewar is a postgraduate student in Newcastle. She was studying for a masters degree.
Alison began a research project on Thai brides and Thai women marrying Englishmen. Initially a thesis, it soon became an engrossing subject for Alison. 'I know a few English
men who are quite interested in finding a Thai woman or a relationship with one. Actually if you were to ask me about this before, I'd have put men like that down. But now I view it,
on balance, as more of a positive thing.'
The truth about Thai Bride relationships in England
'I started on this with the idea of exposing relationships like this. Then I was struck by the humanity that I found,' says Alison. She is currently working on a film documentary on
Thai brides inEngland. Alison embarked on a 'chain of introductions' and interviews with seventeen different Anglo Thai couples for her research project. 'All of these couples
where living in the midlands or north east region of the United Kingdom. The first thing that struck me was that the couples were not all stereotypes. Like, you know the sexy Thai
woman and older lecherous man. Of course, I saw that many Thai ladies were beautiful. But their husbands were actually quite normal and some quite handsome, so it appeared
to me. I realise that I did not use an accurate sample but my project was to get a picture. It struck me that the English men and their Thai wives or partner were all quite determined
to make their personal relationships successful. This particular attitude was one of my key finds.'
Thai Brides with university degrees
Alison discovered that over 30% of the Thai Brides had third level degrees from universities in Thailand. One had a masters degrees and a higher level of education than the
researcher! 'This quickly introduced me to the fact that there are many educated Thai women and families in Thailand. Even at poorest level, people are committed to educating
the younger generations. She found, in addition to this, that a smaller percentage of the English men (25%) had a third level education. 'Many of them were small business owners
or self employed tradesmen, one was a self employed medical professional. The key thing that emerged from my discussions with these English men is the difficulty they
encountered finding a reliable or stable life or marriage partner in England.'
Age difference in Thai Bride relationships
The survey of English men with Thai brides in the Midlands and North east also revealed another surprise. The median age difference was comparatively low at 11 years with
the largest example being twenty years. 'There were some relationships where the Thai Bride or marriage partner was slightly older but I was also struck that the majority of the
English men were younger middle aged.'
The average age of English men in Alison's survey was 43. The average age of each relationship was five years. All relationships had been established in the last 12 years. The
research showed that 40% of the Anglo Thai couples had visited or returned to Thailand in the last four years. This was a surprisingly low figure. 'I think it highlights that most of
these couples are hardworking and settled in the UK community,' says Alison. Finally half of the couples had children and lived as an established family. 'Again this shows us that
these relationships are long term and earnest.'
Why do English men opt for Thai Brides?
In her survey, Allison found that some of the Englishmen that married Thai Brides had developed a level of distrust of women in the UK owing to a past failed relationships or
negative dating experiences but this was not the major reason offered by the English men interviewed. 'I think most men tended to admit that they're prospects were limited when it
comes to dating English women, in fact, many of the men I found had incomes or livelihoods that were not secure.'
Allison's findings seem to confirm a similar trend in Germany which sociologists say began in the sixties. At that time German women opted for careers and certain German
men were unable to find marriage partners particularly those working in farms. 'I think many of the men seeking Thai Brides have a limited income or one that is not secure. Many
men talked about the cost of dating and romance in the United Kingdom and the perception was that UK women were less interested in marriage today at least the sort of marriage
these guys were looking for.'
Low divorce rate for Thai Bride marriages
Worldwide research in the United States, Sweden and Switzerland indicate that the average divorce rate for foreigners who marry Thai Brides is less than 20%. Information
from Bangkok in Thailand where registration offices record marriages between Thai Brides and foreigners show a divorce rate of 15%. 'This is well below the 50% rate we now
see in western countries,' says Alison. 'By and large the rule is that where these relationships are compatible, where both parties are sincere and of good or responsible character,
then they are quite successful. The night mare stories we hear of relate to relationships which are incompatible and doomed to failure in the first place.'
Strict requirements for UK men seeking Thai wives
A problem for UK men right now is that the UK government has introduced strict criteria for UK men bringing Thai wives or brides into the country as part of a larger programme
to curb immigration. 'It is unfortunate for English men and Thai women. This makes a good headline for the government. The new immigration regime is pretty onerous. The real
goal is not to limit Thai women but the greater number of women from India and Pakistan. The PR spins on it works well for the government,' says Alison. Alison agrees that there is
a negative perception of Anglo Thai relationships in the English media. It has been shown that Thai women entering the United Kingdom only represent 4% of the total. However it
could be said that this is not the way that Press or media portrays it.
Sad stories of old English pensioners and Thai Brides
Lovesick pensioner is spared jail after sending money to Thai Bride: This was the headline in the tabloid 'Scottish Sun' news paper detailing the story of John Gardiner. Mr
Gardiner, from Aberdeen, was 67 but had claimed incapacity benefit for three years between 2004 and 2007. He was working as a contract cleaner for a local firm in Aberdeen.
Gardiner was convicted of making fraudulent claims totalling $25,000 in order to send money to his Thai Bride in Thailand. Solicitors in court admitted that he had married a Thai
Bride in Thailand but that she ultimately had 'no feelings' for him. In another story a Welsh local newspaper told a similar sad story.
Welsh men loses Thai wife, home and fortune
A 58 year old featured in the Welsh news report. The man was before the court pleading guilty to assaulting his 38 year old Thai Bride. Terence Walsh had sold his bungalow
to pay for a 4 acre plot of land in Thailand which he put in his wife's name according to Thai law. The Welsh men had also cashed in a pension to the value of $100,000. Before
they moved to live in Thailand, Mr Walsh assaulted his wife. He had thrown his dinner on the floor of the kitchen, demanding that she get her passport to return to Thailand. Then
he attempted to strangle her. Following the incident, his Thai wife left him. Mr. Walsh ended up living in a one bed roomed council flat in Ystrad, Wales. 'He has literally lost every
penny he had,' said his solicitor to the court in mitigation. 'He has gone from owning a bungalow to being homeless. He now exists on state benefit in a council flat. 'He lost his
temper on one occasion. He is very sorry for that. But now he has nothing. As soon as his wife got her visa to live in the UK permanently, the relationship broke down. He is a broken
Age difference: UK men and Thai brides
Alison reports that in her survey on English men with Thai Brides, she identified three failed relationships. Two out of the three were where the English men had a significant
age difference, the other being a case of a younger man who had lost his job and couldn't support his Thai wife.
In view of negative stories, any English men searching for a Thai Bride should ask:
- What sort of family or background does his Thai Bride or girlfriend come from?
- Does she have realistic expectations and indeed are his expectations realistic and reasonable?
- Does his Thai bride or girlfriend understand his background, ability to provide and lifestyle/culture in the United Kingdom?
- Does he understand Thai culture, society or how his Thai Bride or girlfriend fits into this?
'It is clear that there are some Thai women out there who are rip of merchants but in other instances the failure of the relationships can be caused by unrealistic aspirations on
both sides and eventually a crisis is triggered.' Alison says that the vast majority of relationships between Thai women and English men are successful. Even those with a
comparative high age differential.'
Why some foreigner - Thai Bride relationships fail
James Morris is a Bangkok based commentator. He comments on the two examples related to older English men and failed relationships. 'Firstly not all Thai women are
similar and that is a rather obvious but key point. The other thing is that most failed relationships between foreign men and Thai brides or girlfriends stem from the background of
the Thai woman. I'd say if she's a bar girl there's at least a 60% chance of failure but that still leaves a 40% chance of success. The third key thing is the state of mind and
knowledge of the foreign men. The English men in these two horror stories certainly had false expectations. I've said it before, something happens to Englishmen when they arrive
in the exotic shores of Thailand, I think a certain kind of madness takes over.'
Warnings for English men seeking Thai Brides
James Morris has the following key advice tip for English men seeking a Thai Bride or relationship in Thailand and who want to join the ranks of successful relationships.
These tips cover some of the key pitfalls that cause problems in relationships between foreigners and Thai brides.
- Property and land: Do not buy property in Thailand as a rule. No foreigner can have title to land in Thailand and the laws have been strengthened in recent years to make it
even more difficult. In essence if you buy land in Thailand, it must be in the name of your Thai Bride or girlfriend. 'Even where you're Thai Bride is from a good background and
good family, it can be a dangerous thing as the property itself can provide temptation and if it is a close nit family, it can be someone within the Thai family who causes a conflict.
The only situation where I would advice an English man of any foreigner to buy land in Thailand is where he is doing it as a gift to his Thai wife or girlfriend out of love and affection.
In such instances, the man must accept that if the relationship were ever to break down, he is willing to walk away from it. If you want to live in a nice house in Thailand with your
Thai Bride or Thai Girlfriend, take out a long term lease at a reasonable rate and enjoy life. You can also purchase a condominium in your own name but you should have the
transaction conducted through a reputable lawyer.
- Cash and Money: Most successful relationships between foreigners and Thai brides have one key quality. 'All of them are situations where the foreigner has been quite clear
and frank about financial limits. Thai woman are renowned for the money managing skills. A recent survey rates them No. 1 in the world. This is due to the culture and history of
Thailand. Thai women always handled financial transactions, household budgets and comprised the vast majority of small business people. Most English men with successful
relationships in England and Thailand have specifically discussed finances with their girlfriend or marriage partner at the outset of the relationship. If you are in a relationship with a
Thai woman and there is this financial pressure and unrealistic expectations, there is a problem, no mistake about it.'
- Sex and Long Distance relationships: While sex is an important element in all relationships, it is not healthy for it to be the driver of the relationship. There is also a certain type
of relationship between Thai women and foreign men that has emerged in the age of the internet and cheap air fares. 'Long Distance relationships are not healthy for obvious
reasons. Again it depends on the backgrounds of the people in the relationship. But where the Thai woman has a background as a Thai bar girl, the odds of the lady having other
relationships at the same time go up. Thai women, by and large, are warm hearted and come from culture which does not correspond to the negative picture painted by many
foreigners who have had failed relationships or the tabloids in England playing to stereotypes. But foreigners should also realise that Thailand is a country with no social welfare as
in England and it is natural for any woman who doesn't see her boyfriend or relationship partner for long periods of time to be less secure.'
Morris advice to any English man planning a relationship with a Thai woman is to avoid this situation and points out that most success stories of relationships between Thai
brides and foreign husbands stem from a shared sense of security as both parties to the relationship fend off stereotypes and misunderstandings caused by clash of cultures. 'The
greatest joy of my relationship after all these years is the difference in cultures, I think it's that way for both of us,' says Jerome Cotton a record producer who lives with his Thai wife
in England and Thailand.
- Family and support: You will often hear that a Thai bride or marriage partner stays committed to her family. To some extent, this is true but this should not be looked at
negatively. Just as often, a good Thai wife will develop the same loyalty to her foreign husband. 'I read on the internet and particularly among English men, often the kind that are
regular visitors to Pattaya about the demands for the Thai woman's or girlfriend's family but this works both ways. A sincere Thai woman with good morals is brought up to feel a
sense of duty and care for her family, not so long ago in our society in England, let's say before the social welfare state, these values were common and indeed still exist. But all
decent Thai women will also feel a sense of duty to a husband; it's not all a one way street.'
- James illustrates this be giving the example of a Thai woman who runs a small business in Thailand with her husband. 'Mook and her husband Paul run a small restaurant
and bar Phuket. After two years she has sold a house she owned to invest in the business and if one of her family needs a loan, she will only agree on terms and will often say No.
Her husband would be inclined to be more generous but Mook is actually the leader of her extended family. This is because she is the best at managing money.' The key advice to
any foreigner marrying a Thai woman or entering into a relationship is to have a frank discussion about money at the outset. It also helps to look out for a Thai Bride who is skilled
at managing money.
Thai wife relationships made in heaven - Englishman
Jerome Cotton (64) is an English man with a Thai wife. Jerome's background is in the media and entertainment industry and he has lived in the United Kingdom and the
United States. His Thai wife Nitta is twenty years younger at 46 but this not a remarkable difference for older English men who have younger Thai wives. 'I am not a man of limited
means; I have a reasonably high level of income thankfully earned in my younger years. I am married to my Thai wife now for twelve years and we have a house in Pathum Thani in
Thailand and another near Cheltenham in the UK. Our life is good and I married this Thai woman because I love her and her Thai culture and tradition. I could have had a
relationship or even married any number of women in the UK but I wanted to find a lasting relationship for my autumn years and that's why I chose Thailand.'
Many relationships between older UK men and Thai women successful
Jerome says he knows of many relationships between older English men and even younger Thai woman that are very successful. 'The only relationship I ever saw that didn't
work out was with a woman from the wrong background who met an English man whose fell head over heels for all the wrong reasons and lost the run of himself, most marriages
between older English men and Thai women even younger ones are like matches made in heaven.
Jerome gives an example of an elderly English man who has built a house in Thailand after selling his house in England before the recession. The older English man has suffered
a health crisis but his younger Thai wife (28) has sold the house in Thailand at a profit to bring home to England where her husband now lives because he is in failing health.
'This Thai woman now works two jobs and provides for herself and her husband while her own mother in Thailand is also in similar heath problems,' he says. He cites other
happier examples of English men with younger Thai Brides who are happy couples. 'The key thing in all cases as in all relationships is the character of the people involved in the
relationship and their expectations. Let's be truthful now, a 68 year old with a 23 year old knows full well the lady is not with him for his looks but such relationships can be
successful if both parties are honest and sincere. Some are and some are not successful.'
Jerome admits that in UK society and culture such a relationship is not understood or accepted by some sections of the population. 'This is the real challenge but I feel that this
will change as these relationships prove themselves over time. It is probably why many are kept low key and off the radar. That's not my style, but maybe it's the business I'm in.'
Failed Thai Bride relationships in study
Alison Dewar's studies highlights three key reasons for failure of relationships between Thai women and English men in her mini study:
- Excessive age difference.
- Excessive demands for money.
- Lack of mobility or communication.
'I would underline that I believe the failure rate of all relationships between Thai women and English men to be in the order of 20%. From external sources such as a reported
rise in the divorce rate among couples in northern Thailand involving elderly partners, I would suggest that the divorce rate among older men and younger Thai woman may be as
high as 37% which is still well below the UK average rate of 50%.'
Keys for UK men with Thai Brides or Marriage partners
Alison believes that the key to success for relationships between Thai women and UK husbands is the same as for all relationships and that is honesty. 'It is more important in
these relationships where both parties are coming from different cultures and backgrounds. I'd say to English guys that the most important thing is to sit down with the beautiful
Thai woman or whatever and talk frankly about everything including money and even morals, Thais have a very rich culture.'
English men with independent means
Interestingly, Alison's survey unearthed the intriguing fact that over 53% of the men involved owned a property outright without debt. 'I think many of the English men seeking
Thai brides are quite independent minded, very few rented a house for instance.' She thinks the key requirement for a Thai woman coming to the UK is the ability to communicate.
'Of course it helps if the lady is sincere but next is the ability to listen and communicate. One fact that most people overlook is that Thai woman may be quite shocked by the
difference in culture at this end.'
Critical advice for English men seeking love in Thailand
It is of course common sense to say that the sum of the parts that both the Thai woman and English man bring to the relationship will determine its ultimate success. Failure of
such relationships, where it does occur can cause financial loss, legal difficulties and mental injury.
Find the right Thai wife or Life partner
Seeking a Thai bride or marriage partner should not be undertaken lightly. The fact that it is possible to find accomplished and beautiful Thai women in Thailand does not
automatically means it is the best option for very English men. Our advice is as follows:
- Consider carefully and be responsible. Have you got the resources? Romance and Love must be put to the side ironically so that the relationship can work.
- Find a Thai woman that is compatible and with the skill set necessary for life in the United Kingdom in the 21st century. Remember that there are different kinds of Thai women
with different backgrounds.
Old man, younger Thai woman stereotype
The stereotype of the Older English man and younger Thai woman does exist both in Thailand and the United Kingdom. It is increasingly taking a back seat to the growing
numbers of younger and middle aged men from the United Kingdom and younger and also now middle aged Thai women seeking Anglo Thai relationships. 'I think this is certainly
about English men trying to find a marriage solution in an increasingly difficult environment for some sections of the male population,' says Alison Dewar. 'It may well be that in
future the concern here may switch from the Thai brides and their marriage partners in the United Kingdom to the UK women who are being displaced as a result.'