Last week Polly and I were visiting a Thai couple. During dinner a friend who was a lawyer dropped in. I had not met a Thai lawyer in his private time before, so after a few drinks I asked if it would be alright to ask a few questions about Thai law. One of my questions was what validity Thailand had to charge foreigners an increased entrance fee, particularily in case of state owned attractions, since it has undersigned an anti-discrimination resolution (ICERD) by the UN, yet Thailand does not recognize competence for a certain article, whereby individuals or groups can file a complaint.
After a debate between the lawyer and the couple, the couple took over the conversation and in a heated debate arguments of pros and cons were being thrown over the table. The woman argued that it was not fair to charge more to foreigners. She had experienced their reactions when she had taken foreign tourists and expats to various places. The man had the opinion that foreigners were rich enough compared to Thai and were able to visit the country and it’s attractions out of free will or not.
The debate between the two got so heated that it finally ended with some dishes being broken. I apologized and said it was not my intention to have them start a fight, but merely wanted to know the opinion of a professional about the Thai attitude towards national vs. international law, foreigners paying more was just an example.
Actually, this was the second time the couple had a fight while we visited. The last time we had quickly left. This time we stayed, but it took a while before the tension had vanished.The next day we happened to meet the couple again and while talking to the man, I apologised once again. He told me there was no problem, since so he said, they had very good sex.
While in Thailand it was not the first time I had heard a similar confession. The last time it was from a Thai/foreign couple who seemed at permanent war. Was it not for their child and business they likely would have spit long ago. Make up sex was a way of life.
Another Thai/foreign couple I met had according to the man an average of ten arguments where they got verbally abusive a day. This was after they just met. To me it sounded so rude when he said in public: “Hey fatso, sit down!” to his girlfriend or when she said; “Shut up your mouth!” or “Go sleep and die!”. Later I found out the woman was using meth and was quickly plundering the guy’s cash. Like anybody who knew them I would have bet at the odds of 99 to 1 that their relation was short lived.
Now after 2 years, she’s off drugs, they are married and.. they still fight. They probably have to start to worry about their relation if the fighting stops.
Actually I suspected for a long time that for many it seem to work this way, but I guess I didn’t really hear of or see that much couples having fights before. Or so to say in a snobbish way; ’in my culture’ people would hardly ever show.
I suspect many couples who have fights in various degrees reconcile on issues that they find unsolvable by having sex. To some extend it seems for some a fight is needed in order to have what they see as good sex.
Psychologists and sexologists do not agree whether frequent make up sex is healthy for a relation or not.
More in accordance with my own ideas, some argue that’s it’s better to try to solve a conflict first.
However, some claim when done in moderation couples who have arguments with make up sex have healthier relations than those who don’t. Sure I know, residual anger can add a little spice to a ‘rusty’ sex life, but in exclusive relations I hate conflicts which have repetitive patterns.
For me as a man a hormonal thing of a woman is something to live with, but many problems seem to remain unsolvable without parties changing habits.
I therefore have a number of basic rules of engagement to keep mutual respect as a steady base. A basic protocol of conduct is like a constitution for a relation.
Within the same culture, rules of conduct are often going more or less without saying. Conduct however is highly dependant on what is seen as morally and socially justifiable. Problem is that moral is not a constant and knows many loopholes. During and after an unsolved argument for example one is tempted to break the rules more easy. Make up sex is an alternative to staying angry or worse unfaithful.
A relation will change during the cause of life, after having children, due to change in financial means and so on. Transnational relations in particular will require more care to stick to certain rules, since often they often have different set of engagement rules to begin with.
From what I know and saw, I suspect transnational relations are more vulnerable to fights and frequent make-up sex.
Loss of mutual respect and care can quickly degrade.
Although most common sources of relational conflicts are caused by differences in personality, living with a foreign partner introduces an additional gap between language, religion, culture and social background, all which originated to create a common framework in the first place.
Many new couples have a completely different perception of goals to achieve including the desired social status. Money, age, education all play a role.
I have seen enough examples where having kids, landownership and business ownership by/with a partner is a reason to extend a relation which would otherwise surely be broken. A longer lasting mutually abusive relation with make up sex might be the result.
Use of alcohol (and other drugs) on either or both sides is another important cause of fights.
Many male expats are in their 50′s and older and have less potency than younger men, so in order to activate lust one could resort to having an argument first. This process might be started conciously or unconsiously by either or both partners.
Many expatriates become frustrated by their inability to fully become integrated since they feel that they are not in charge as much as they’d like to.
Development of so-called passive-agressive behaviour lies around the corner. Talking with fellow expats or professional or voluntary activities for the advanced help, but in a relationship hidden anger often shines through.
The ability to deal with this is a test over time.
Below is an example of the rules of engagement which I use.
My six basic rules of engagement:
Rule no.1: Stick to an agreed form of conduct in the exclusiveness of the relation. I have no moral objection to any form as long as it is clear and agreed upon, but surely monogamy makes things less complicated and allows for some spare time to do other things.
Rule no.2: No physical violence is tolerable from any party at any time. Any partner who would do so is not fit for a relation`in the first place.
Rule no. 3: Aggressiveness or verbal abuse is not allowed. Tell your partner there’s no expected benefit in continued talks. In the evening that means sleep over it (no make up sex), or in a worst case scenario walk away/sleep elsewhere (alone). This may sound controlled, cold and distant, but sofar I have found no better approach to stop agressiveness / verbal abuse and keeping mutual respect.
Time heals and it might give insight. After a period of ‘deadly’ silence, see who takes the initiative to restart talks.
Rule no. 4: When a discussion leads to no results, do something else together if you are willing to, or agree to do something individually. Pick the conversation up at a later point.
Rule no. 5: Never have a serious argument in public or in the company of others and yes this includes Facebook. People who live in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones.
Rule no.6: When alcohol is involved, stop any debate from heating up or else call it a night, of course one has to take in account real underlying problems, but I have yet to see minor conflicts which weren’t solved after sobering up.
Don’t let mistrust and disrespect sneek into your relationship. If the frequency of violations is increasing and going beyond what you find is acceptable, see if there’s any mutual respect left or willingness to go on, if not, discuss to split.
Rules of general objectives:
This is completely personal, but like with rules of conduct personal objectives of dos and donts have to be made clear from the start.
Rule no.1: No (more) kids.
Family planning is often giving a feeling of false safety. I would not allow a kid to grow up unhappy. Yes I grew up happy, and I helped to raise a (step) son and daughter. Probably if it doesn’t show, it doesn’t matter but I always had a hard time to clearly judge whether taking responsibility for a child is done out of selfishness or not. In the past I have preferred freedom and intellectual creativity over children, now I kind of pay the price [of not having own children or future grandchildren] , but that’s fine with me.
It was not what I was seeking for in the first place.
Rule no.2: No marriage.
Marriage registration should not be a state affair. Period.
Special arrangements can be put in a contract by a notary.
Rule no.3: Keep changing.
A relation, a home, a job, friends and neighbours can give a false feeling of safety. This is a kind of I-nomad rule, so if you don’t want to change your relation, don’t want or see ways to change your job, but you’re finished ideas to do creative things, change the house or change the place.
Real friends will remain friends.