Last night I got a call from my friend in Thailand that started with “Do you want to hear the good news first or the bad news?” As I had suspected, the bad news was that she was getting a divorce from her husband of nearly 10 years. It was not such a surprise, in fact (and I probably shouldn’t say this….) she should have left him long ago. However right after they got married, she became a mother and the family moved back to Thailand.
As the details came pouring out and I found out a third person was involved…again, I was not that surprised. Upon further reflection, she told me that everything had changed when they moved back. And its almost like she had to get to know him all over again.
When I had just gone through my own divorce, for a brief moment I had considered packing my bags and just starting over in Thailand rather than face the questions and looks of sympathy. Then as common sense took over, I realized that I did not yet want to resign myself to spinsterhood. An over educated mid-thirty divorcee in Thailand is not quite a ‘hot commodity’ or any kind of commodity at all.
My friend is an extremely strong woman . She spent nearly 2 years (after she found out about the other woman) trying to come to terms. her words were “I am not my mom” No, none of us are our moms. In a culture where its expected that successful men have mistresses (mia noi) and multiple concurrent families, the woman is supposed to keep quiet and bear with it. As long as he can provide for everyone, what is the big deal? All I told her was, “Yes you are not your mom, but if your mom had the choices you have today, she would leave him too.”
Divorces are on the rise in Thailand. In most cases both parties are breadwinners and the woman is no longer as dependent on a man. Divorces are becoming as commonplace as here in the US. I am still questioning whether that is a good thing? Legally there is no alimony, palimony or set rules about child custody. Its pretty much up to the two or three) parties to sort out.
Its definitely not easy being an independent woman in Thailand. I made a joke about finding a new guy. My friend said in a flat voice…”I have a child. I am nearly forty…that’s not an option for me.” In my head I thought to myself, yep, I made the right decision to stay. Life is not over after a failed marriage (though it might feel like it). Its never too late to find love…