Although most marriages between Thai women and Norwegian men are happy and successful, problems are explored in a disturbing new Norwegian TV programme.
In recent years Thai brides have become the most popular with Norwegian men. But now a Norwegian TV programme is
in vanguard of backlash against the trend claiming that a Thai bride in Norway has only three years to be a
successful wife, or she can be divorced and deported to Thailand.
Norwegian men marry
Thai women for a number of reasons, and the arrangement is generally mutually beneficial. Although some Norwegian-Thai marriages
do not work out, the vast majority do and there is growing Thai community in Norway as a result.
Rune a Norwegian man from Hamar is not enthusiastic about the programme says 'This is rubbish, social workers and
feminists don't like what is happening so we hear this, some are not successful but most are happy, what is wrong
Thai Brides in Norway
Norwegian TV has explored a growing trend for Norwegian men to bring Thai brides into
Norway. In fact, it is not only Thai brides, who admittedly are the Number 1 choice for Norwegian men, but also
Russian women who come second, and Philippine women who are third. There are various reasons for Norwegians choosing
foreign wives, and they do not always lie easy with the local population in general.
Some has even suggested that Norwegian women do not always regard a Norwegian man as being the best catch as a
husband and prefer Swedish men, and also those from the UK and Denmark. In response, it is claimed Norwegian men are
looking to those countries most popular for foreign brides, Thailand, Russia and the Philippines, locating and
marrying them, and then bringing them back as brides to Norway.
There are reports that suggest some foreign brides are resented and ignored by local populations, and frequently
find themselves isolated with no friends but their husbands. Feminists groups in Norway claim their Norwegian
husbands want only sex and a housekeeper. Some social services workers in Norway claim isolation is very hard on many
Thai women in Norway,
particularly those chosen by men living in rural areas where eligible Norwegian women are scarce at the best of
times, and it is difficult for foreigners to be accepted into isolated rural communities. Language difficulties are
also common, although Norwegian is now a language often encountered in Thailand.
However there is a growing number of Norwegian men opting to live in Thailand either for retirement, for regular
long term holidays or even establishing businesses in Thailand. Rune: 'I find it hard to explain all this stuff to my
Thai wife, Pim. There is no problem for Norwegian men living in Thailand but some people in Norway do not like to see
normal men find love. I am not interested in having my wife come to do house chores; I just want somebody in my life
Thai Brides in Norway have three years
According to Norwegian law, foreign brides, including Thai brides, have only
three years in which to make their marriage work, or they can be deported to their home country by the Norwegian
government. This is similar to laws in other foreign countries such as Australia and Canada which have seen large
numbers of Thai women marrying local men.
There is an estimated 6,500 Thai brides living in Norway, and the number is rising as more Norwegian men opt
for Thai wives or life
partners. 'It's not only older men on Norway or those who are the 'good catch', I think that many men in Norway do
not like this new society,' Rune says. 'Pim and I, we are happy, we have our own house, no money problems and I
respect her, this is the story with many Norwegian men with a Thai wife, my friends do not treat her badly, many ask
her and want to know how to find a Thai woman also.'
Thai and Philippine women marry foreign men because they believe it will improve their lifestyle, and enable them
to be more able to look after their Thai family financially: this is part of the Thai culture.
Many Norwegian men say they marry Thai women for their beauty and their reputed attentiveness to their men.
Feminists in Norway take issue exactly with this saying that this 'objectifies' the Thai women (being beautiful) and
the homemaker role of Thai women is reminiscent of a 'feudal' attitude towards marriage.
But it is becoming clear now that Thai women are highly intelligent and often well educated. This is also accepted
by feminists who say that Thai women arriving in Norway as housewives represents the 'deskilling' of capable women
from Thailand. The response of many governments worldwide has been to make it easier for Thai women to engage with
society and in particular, government agencies.
The growing reputation that Thai women have as very good business partners or household money managers is often
referred to by foreign men with Thai Wives.
However, the Norwegian law, allows for the foreign partner to be deported back to their country of origin if the
marriage fails within three years. Feminists groups suggest that Norwegian men will use this as weapon to force their
wives to become subservient - or they will be divorced and sent back to their homeland.
A researcher from the University of Tromso, Ann Therese Lotherington, says: "The Norwegian regulations produce
dominating men and subordinate women. Even if the parties don't want it that way." She goes on to state that
although most of the 6,500 marriages between Norwegians and Thai women are happy ones, the Norwegian regulations
permit Norwegian men to exploit 'imported' brides if they choose to do so.
One Thai woman, speaking on TV anonymously stated: ". . . . Many Norwegian men just want sex and then to dump
them and seek a fresh one. It's better not to get them at all or bring them to Norway. It is best to leave them in
Those opposing the current wave of Thai brides into Norway are claiming that many Thai women will tolerate four
years of 'virtual slavery' before divorcing their husbands, so they can remain in Norway and avoid returning to their
own country in shame. They argue that Thai women find it very difficult to live in isolation in rural Norway, ignored
by the sparse population and unable to speak their language.
However Rune says that is not representative of what is happening in Norway: 'I know some friends who have found
Thai wives and they are all happy, more happy than any marriages here in Norway. I know this. What I see here is
people making a TV programme with an agenda. Pim says: 'I am Thai woman, not a child. I am happy to live in Norway
with my husband.'
In recent years feminists groups on Norway, Sweden and Finland have been calling for government action to control
the number of men from these countries seeking Thai women as marriage partners.
In Finland a government investigation was ordered and while it finds evidence of the abuse and isolation of a small minority of Thai women, it concluded that over 90% of these marriages were very happy ones. This is in line with research from the United States showing a far lower divorce rate for marriages involving American men and Thai
However now feminists claim that the 'traditional' marriages that Thai women seek is, in itself, an indirect form
of abuse. A Norwegian feminist group refers to it as a 'feudal' definition of marriage while women's groups in
Finland cited the high numbers of Thai women who choose to be housewives at home as reasons for the government
Why Norwegian men and Thai women marry
Norwegian men marry
Thai girls because of their famed beauty, although that is not the primary reason for them seeking foreign
brides. They also seek out Russian and Philippine women. One reason is that many men live in more rural areas in
Norway where the choice of available women is very small, and rather than trawl the cities seeking out eligible
partners, they prefer to look abroad to the more popular sources of foreign brides who are more 'traditional'.
Norway has become one of the most progressive societies in the world with an emphasis on equality. Many Norwegian men
openly admit that their choice in seeking a Thai wife is a vote against this trend.
In what could be termed as a battle of the sexes in Norway, some commentators suggest that many Norwegian women
prefer to marry Swedish, Danish and British men, and regard Norwegians as a very poor fourth choice husband.
However, to Russian women, Norwegians are more domesticated than Russian men, and hence make better 'catches' as
Many Norwegians now seek Thai brides online, using dating sites like ThaiLoveLines, and later visit the country
looking for a potential wife. Some Norwegian men combine their search for love in Thailand with a holiday in the sun, an attractive proposition for many Norwegians
with Norway's cold and dark winters. But there are also many men in Norway, who use the internet to chat with Thai women in Thailand, but have no definite plans to visit the country or seek a Thai wife. Rune: 'Some of my friends just like to chat with a sweet Thai lady, they are really lonely.'
In Thailand, it is the responsibility of the younger members of an extended family to care for the older members,
and many Thai women look to Western men as potentially wealthy husbands - relative to the lack of financial wealth in
most Thai families. Many young Thai women are therefore actively seeking foreign husbands, and Norwegian men do not
find it difficult to come across them.
According to Rune, from ThaiLoveLines: 'I seek a Thai partner because they are so beautiful and I do not like
the new way (of women) in Norway. I want to find a more old-fashioned woman...now some people say I am wrong for this,
I don't think so. '
Although many marriages between Norwegians and Thais are not based upon love to begin with, the way that Thai
women care for and support their husbands is frequently the basis for a stable relationship from which love often
That is one of the likely reasons for so many marriages enduring in spite of differences in culture and language,
and while there are many horror stories, it cannot be denied that the vast majority of Norwegian men that marry Thai women find the
relationship very much to their liking.