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Thai wife with a stable marriage returns over education dispute

Wednesday 10th November 2021 3:19pm

A patient and hardworking Thai woman married to a German man has finally moved home to Thailand. The reason for her return was not homesickness but concern for the future of her children.

Mint, a 32-year-old Thai wife married to a German man, returned to Bangkok in October 2020 with her two children Helmut and George. She has been married for over fifteen years and has lived in Germany since 2006. Her husband is a regional administrator for a leading German conglomerate. Her marriage has been stable but late in 2019 she felt the urge to return to Thailand after tensions with her German husband reached a peak.

Then because of the pandemic and complications as she negotiated a separation with her husband, she had to wait until last month to make the move.

The issue was the education of her two sons and the culture in Germany. 'In Germany, all the children are graded from a young age and they wanted my children to receive training as manual workers,' says Mint.

The Thai wife found herself in open rebellion against the German educational system and her husband.

German Thai children enrolled in Bangkok school

In Bangkok, she has enrolled her children in an expensive Thai international school and insists that her husband pays for the fees. She has resolved not to return home until her husband finds a solution or until her children find their way to university.

Mint is a university graduate and insists that her children have the same education as he was afforded. Since she arrived in Bangkok over twelve days ago her relationship with her German husband of 15 years has become more estranged.

'He was dismissive of me and very angry when I told him that I would take my children to Thailand, I think he did not believe that I would go,' she says.

Over the last five months, her husband has cut off her financial support from Germany and access to her bank accounts which has soured the relationship even further. Mint has been forced to rely on her brother in Bangkok for support and look for work.

She is taking legal advice from a German-based lawyer and is considering the option of divorce. She is shocked herself at how the situation has developed.

She feels betrayed by her husband's acceptance of the education path chosen in Germany for their two children. She was also disappointed at his reaction to her departure.

But there is more to Mint's decision. She says that she missed her home country and finds living in Germany to be very stressful. Her husband Peter refuses to talk with her until she returns to Germany. He insists his Thai wife is mistaken and wants his sons to continue their education at home.

Many Thai women prefer the German education system

Carla Boonkong, a sociologist and researcher, has studied Thai wives in Germany and the Netherlands extensively. She says not all Thai women disapprove of the German educational system.

'For some Thai wives who bring children with them to Germany, this educational path has merit because it is practical and means young people find meaningful employment.'

In the past, many Thai women came to live in Germany as wives married farmers or people working in labour or industry with some exceptions. This has changed with the internet.

The vast majority of Thai wives in Germany are still married to German men who are skilled workers in the industry but with an increase in recent years of Thai women married to professionals and small business owners.

Also, the system of education in German differs from state to state.'

New breed of Thai women now arriving in Germany

There has been a significant change to the type of Thai woman arriving in Germany since 2010.

Many Thai wives who marry Germans today have lived in other European countries such as the Czech Republic, Sweden or even Poland. These countries are easier for Thai women to find work and settle often working as au pairs, in Thai restaurants or in the Thai massage industry. The biggest change is in the language capability of the new Thai wives and their work skills.

Thai wives now have better language and work skills

Most Thai wives today meet their future German husbands online and are often well trained in the German language before they arrive in Germany. There are now many language courses available to Thai women in Thailand who want to learn German to meet the visa requirements set by the German government which came into effect in 2010. One of these is offered by Rajabhat University in Udon Thani where the course and materials are designed for such purposes. Thai women who want to live, work or marry in Germany, enrol in these courses and even sit the required examination through the Goethe Institute in Germany. The Goethe Institute is a learning institution ideally suited to Thai women interested in making a new life in Germany.

It has developed over the years into this role, has an excellent reputation and provides online support to students.

Germany's visa requirements have protected and helped Thai women

The new visa requirements were necessary as there was evidence of Thai women struggling to adapt in Germany particularly those without language skills and who had partners who could not find work or earn enough money to support a family. Research conducted by various PhD students and studies into the plight of Thai women in Germany before 2010 indicated that some Thai women had been forced into the prostitution industry in Germany.

In fact, even with the new regulations that have been put in place, it is estimated that 65% of Thai women married to German men earn less than 2,000 euros a month in Germany and are decidedly less well off

Research on Thai women in Germany

Important research carried out by Thai PhD students in conjunction with Thailand's National Institute of Development Administration in 2009 shed a lot of light on Thai women living in Germany. This has been updated with extensive interviews with Thai women from all backgrounds living in Germany.

Many of the Thai women living in Germany today are girlfriends or life partners of German men but a significant majority are still married to German partners.

In addition to this, many Thai women have migrated to Nordic and Continental European countries in search of work in Thai restaurants or Thai massage parlours.

Thai wife returns from Germany with children
Many of the Thai women living in Germany today are girlfriends or life partners of German men but a significant majority are still married to German partners.

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