The Good Manner: Advice on Thailand from WoWasis’ Pa Farang
This week’s dilemma: How can I stop my Thai wife from gambling?
Dear Pa Farang,
I’ve been married to my 23 year old Thai wife for about a year now. I’m a farang guy that retired to Thailand, living comfortably. We bought some land near her village, left Pattaya to live upcountry, and I built a nice house.
Lately, I’ve been noticing that we’re bleeding money, last week it was 10,000 ($300 US) baht that was supposed to go for food for an entire month. My wife left the house one morning, went out to buy the week’s food, and came back with nothing. I asked her what happened to the money. “Sanuk with friends,” she told me. I asked her about this “sanuk,” and it turns out that she gambled it away in an afternoon of card playing. There are a couple of former bar girls living in the village, and they all get together for card games two or three times a week.
She and I had a chat. I told her money doesn’t grow on trees, I worked hard for it, and if it’s gambled away we’ll be broke in five years (here’s the math: $300 US a week equals $15,600 a year!). She started crying and accused me of disliking her friends, mentioning that life in the village is boring without gambling.
If her gambling habit was active in Pattaya, I sure didn’t know about it. I don’t want to burn through our money, but I don’t want to lose my wife, either. She’s a good cook, has a pleasant personality, we have a great time sex-wise, and I’m depending on her to take care of me in my declining years (I’m 61).
I’m looking at options. Moving back to Pattaya with her to get away from village boredom seems like a reasonable approach. Have you dealt with this kind of situation before? I’m not a gambler, and want to get her away from this before it accelerates. What’s your opinion?
- Gambler’s Husband
I know a very attractive 25 year old bar girl in Bangkok, and have known her since she was 23. Last month she pulled me aside when we passed each other on the street. She wanted to talk, so we grabbed a bite to eat. She told me that she was getting smarter with her money, and that she was going to stop gambling. I asked her what brought about this change in philosophy. She’d lost 860,000 baht in on hand of cards, she told me. That’s $27,000 USD.
Gambling is a national sport in Thailand, and young women in the adult entertainment industry are some of its biggest contributors. Many of these women make more money than they’d ever dreamed of, and, being young and beautiful, think the income will never stop, and in fact, will accelerate with time.
You didn’t say if your wife was formerly an entertainer while living in Pattaya, so forgive me if I’m making an incorrect assumption. For a 23 year old woman used to the entertainment options in Pattaya (discos, etc) life in the village can be bereft of excitement. Gambling with her friends may be the entertainment choice of hers, and it will be hard to stop. If you try, she may just go behind your back anyway.
What you may want to do is have a frank discussion about family finances, and give her a small allowance that she can use as she wishes. What she does with the money is her business, but once it runs out, she doesn’t get any more that week. Instead of giving her money for shopping, go with her, and pay the shopping bill out of your own pocket.
If she’s like most 23 year-olds with a steady income (yours), she’ll spend as much as she can, neither having the knowledge of how hard you worked for it nor understanding that you probably aren’t making the money you used to, and that it can’t be easily replaced. You could always move back to Pattaya, but that won’t stop her from gambling, and your disco bill may mount up as well.
If you want to hold onto your wife, I’d suggest you consider her gambling to be a “cost of doing business,” that you can limit, but not stop.
As always, show the Good Manner, and have a great time in Thailand,
- Pa Farang
Read Pa Farang’s other columns in WoWasis for more advice on relationships and cultural matters in Asia