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Thai-ing the Mortality Knot

David Maxon

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Bowling, Thai style
(Courtesy Paul Maxon)
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Finding a mate can be tough -- online dating sites have built a billion-dollar industry on that fact. And the older people get, the more difficult the search can become. For at least one 60-year-old single man, the challenge compelled him to try a pretty unorthodox approach.

This weekend, Paul Maxon is relaxing on a beach in Southern Thailand. His son, independent producer David Maxon, found himself trying to understand what his father was doing there:

A couple months ago, my dad sent the family an email with the following passage:

"Thailand travel note: On the 20th, I travel to a three to four-city, 10-day matrimonial tour. Older, monogamous men, so typical in the U.S., are popular with Asian women."

"Travel note" seemed like a bit of an understatement. This was unnerving, not least because I felt like my dad was looking past some ominous signs that the tour was not on the up-and-up.

Take the tour's Website, which, except for the subject matter, looked like a project from a late '90s high school computer class and featured grainy pictures of young Asian women against a gaudy pink background. I felt pretty confident that he would get his money taken or end up an unwitting participant in Thailand's notorious sex trade. Or worse.

I found the trip a little embarrassing, too. For example, I didn't know how to tell the Asian-American woman I'm dating about it. And when I did, she said she hoped that people didn't think we met this way.

I called my dad a few hours before he left for Thailand, to see what was compelling him to do what, in my mind, looked like a modern twist on the mail-order bride. Last fall, my father turned 60 just days after his own father died. I knew that was tough for him -- maybe it had something to do with this trip.

"Yes, absolutely. It was a tough birthday," says my dad over the phone.

Now my dad is no slouch -- he built a successful business from the ground up and was able to retire early. He stays in pretty good shape, doesn't drink or smoke, and generally has a lot going for him. But he'd be the first to tell you that stability in relationships has been elusive.

He's dated a lot, and has even been engaged a number of times since he and my mom split about 20 years ago. But since his father died last fall, he seems more determined than ever to find someone to grow old with.

I decided to check up on him while he was in Thailand, to make sure he wasn't getting into something sinister. He explained how the tour worked: It was organized by an American man and his Malaysian wife. Every day, they set up sort of blind dates for their clients, with women interested in marrying Western men. The first time I got him on the phone, he already had a prospect:

"One of them is a really nice down to earth girl," he says.

"What's her name?"

"Chtook... took... tah," my father says. "Yeah, I may have to change that -- I have to refer to my notes on that.

Not exactly your fairy-tale romance. When he wasn't meeting his blind dates, he says he was getting two massages per day. I guess I didn't see the harm in him getting a little attention -- and enjoying a few massages (which he assured me were the innocent variety).

But the next time we spoke he had a surprise: "I think I'm engaged," he says.

How exactly you can think you're engaged was not clear to me. And this wasn't even the same woman, the one whose name he had trouble with. I was happy to know the tour wasn't what I'd thought it might be -- a thinly veiled prostitution ring. But now I was faced with the threat that it was exactly what it claimed to be: an efficient but unromantic match-making machine. I wanted my father to slow down a little bit.

I'd heard about the role-reversal that takes place as parents age, when the child slowly comes to take care of his or her parents. But I never expected it to happen on a long-distance phone call, with me trying to convince my father not to marry a stranger he'd met on a matrimonial tour.

He seemed to be taking my advice. "I'll be careful and, you know, keep reminding me," he says when I warn him about moving too fast. "You're helping me."

I was glad to see him being more circumspect and I felt a little more comfortable leaving him alone for a while after that. And by the time we spoke again -- about a week later -- the engagement was off.

"Certain things happened," my father says after breaking it off. "We all went bowling and she didn't bowl. And I thought, you know, what the hell? You know? I asked her if she wanted to play pool, and it sounds like she just doesn't do anything. And she doesn't dance!"

Soon enough, my father had a crush on his masseuse, then a woman with three children, then a 23-year-old who agreed to let him have more than one wife if he wanted. The next time I talked to my father, I told him the whole thing just seemed so frantic.

"Finally it dawned on me," my father tells me over the phone. "Well, what in the hell is the alternative? An abysmal life leading to death? Or you just keep trying with... very mixed success sometimes."

When I first saw the gaudy pink Website for the Thai matrimonial tour, it never occurred to me that it was really selling an antidote for an abysmal life leading to death. But as my father and I talked, I realized his desire to go to Asia and find a wife was part of something bigger: a contemplation of his own mortality.

And that was what scared me the most -- not the fact that he was on some desperate transcontinental quest to find a wife, but the fact that he's starting to let the idea of death dictate his actions in life. It's like he's already starting to die, or at least preparing for it. And I want to stop him.

So my dad's mortality is driving both of us, in a way.

"So, how much longer do you have over there?" I ask him.

"'till I go home, if ever," he says. "I might just pay somebody to pack me up and sell my stuff."

However long he stays in Thailand, I'll keep checking up on him. The phone calls have become a way for us to talk about this thing that scares us both -- this thing we'll both have to face someday.

--------------------------------------------------

Music credits:

First Song
Artist: David Maxon (w/ Tom Behrendt)
Track: Chester Metzger
Album: Birth
Label: Liquid World Records

Second Song
Artist: David and Matthew Lee Maxon
Track: Me and Matt March
Album: N/A
Label: Liquid World Records

Third Song
Artist: David Maxon
Track: Instro
Album: [The Airplane Album]
Label: Liquid World Records

Comments

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  • By Kelly Grumowski

    From Providence, RI, 07/26/2009

    Lots of deceit and weird power stuff just glossed over or taken for granted as "the way it is." Sounds like father and son both have some serious mommy issues. Sounds like son wanted to simultaneously humiliate and make excuses for Pop by doing this story. Both have a hard time empathizing with the woman. Perhaps they could both read "Children of the Self-Involved."

    By Emil Dansker

    From cincinnati, OH, 08/16/2008

    Having trashed Maxon re the island piece I thought I ought to add that his pieces on Green Valley and Thailand were very good. Maybe he just had space to fill to meet a deadline, as I sometimes did when I was writing two columns a week on different subjects for a major daily.

    By John Pierce

    08/06/2008

    I found a wonderful Thai woman online, visited her seversl times, and fell in love with her and her country. Now I live io Chiang Mai and we have been married 2 years. She is the best thing that ever happened to me and I feel fortunate. The bitterness and skepticism on this page is pretty revolting in my opinion, but I understand I am probably an exception to the rule.

    By Chris Thomas

    From Springfield, MO, 06/30/2008

    The feminist and insensitive female comments on this page are a living testimony to the problem with American women. One said the men I meet act like they want someone to take care of them. "Duh!" I'm involved with an Asian woman now and I'm here to tell you NO AMERICAN WOMAN I've met or dated (and I've dated at least seventy in my 43 years) has even come close to her sweetness, caring and tenderness. Sorry to react like a kid but the simple fact is AMERICAN WOMEN SUCK!!!!!!!

    By Stan Mosley

    From OH, 04/29/2008

    Your worries about your are understandable, but I believe they're unfounded. People often have an idealistic picture of their parents, and subconsciously desire to keep them in an idealized, well defined box. I still find an idea that my parents ever had sex (with each other, no less!) positively revolting.

    Your father has emotional and physical needs -- he's fulfilling them in a way that hurts nobody, and may even bring joy into life of a decent Thai woman and her family. Although it may look weird and make you uncomfortable -- your father is probably happier than ever, but does need your support to put things into perspective and avoid marrying a wrong person. By placing him in a box you would alienate him and not help at all.

    By A. Meyer

    From santa cruz, CA, 04/25/2008

    To the gent who said women are a depreciating asset: women feel the same way about men! This is why we are doomed to marry and divorce, marry and divorce, again and again. No gender has a monopoly in the self-centered, selfish, greed, sexism industry. I agree "Western" women could soften their image, and men could be a little less demanding. Can't we meet each other halfway?

    By A Rainey

    04/23/2008

    In response to those who commented in praise of "Asian" women for their more-ready acceptance of "gender roles," I would like to say that the only thing more despicable than the overt sexism founding those sentiments is the scarcely better-veiled racism. You may think you're not being racists by praising these women for what you assume is their willing acceptance of submission, but that's only because you've so fully embraced the credos of sexism that you're blinded to all other ideological atrocities you're committing. Please be a little more responsible with your opinions before you pollute comment boards like this one with your arrogant ignorance.

    By brandon a

    04/23/2008

    Most of the comments on this page are clearly misogynistic and colonialist. And, it's no coincidence that these are the basic motives and power structures that allow people such as the author's father to exploit poor women around the world. Rarely have I heard such a spewing torrent of backlash against feminism and equal rights. The answer to strong women is to take pride in them and support them (as they have no doubt supported and taken pride in you). The answer to global disparities in wealth, power, and education is not to exploit them so as to have a house servant who must have sex with you. Most of you should be ashamed of yourselves, I know I'm ashamed of you.

    By Amir A

    From Salyersville, KY, 04/23/2008

    It seems to me that this man was looking for a slave more than a partner. If he really wanted a relationship he could at least make an effort to learn her real name. As they say "Marriage is a two way street." I don't see how someone could find meaningful love in a relationship that is based on desperation. This trip comes off to me as nothing more than Sex Tourism. His choice of Thailand as a destination seems to have nothing to do with his interest in the culture and everything to do with exploiting the economic desperation of women who lack opportunity and financial security. I would not be proud of my Father if he did this to say the least.

    By Kathryn H

    04/23/2008

    The topic of this article is not "romantic". It displays without shame a cruel desire to manipulate the culture and economic circumstances of the women in question, and a childish fear of equality between women in men in western cultures.
    It is delusional to pretend that this is any different from other kinds of sex tourism just because matrimony is involved; these women are being treated as nothing more than commodities (evidenced by the fact that a difficult-to-pronounce name is easier changed by this groom than practiced and learned).
    The problem here isn't with women, it is with some men's fear of them and desire to dominate and be served by them.

    By Carl J

    04/20/2008

    While there is some truth that economic realities play a part in these romances and marriages, a greater force is the makeup of Western men. On the average, we treat women very well compared to the way Asian men treat them. And some Asian women are just attracted to Western men. I see lots of younger Western men here in Thailand with Thai wives and girlfriends. These men are hardly rich - they make ends meet by teaching English.

    The same sort of thing goes on in Japan where the women have plenty of money. There you will see older (and younger) Western men with young Japanese wives and girlfriends. The men are certainly not wealthy.

    I suppose there is always a reason that women are attracted to certain types of men. I think the reason many women are attracted to Brad Pitt is because he is a handsome, young movie star. There was a similar dynamic with the former US president Bill Clinton. In Asia, women are attracted to the standard issue Western man. He treats them well and they treat him well. It is a "win-win"

    It all comes down to accepting people for what they are. Live and let live is the motto I follow here.

    By Mark Richardson

    From Dallas, TX, 04/19/2008

    Im 38. Women my age just seem to look so much older than me. As far as power dynamics are concerned, I feel more dynamic and feel more powerful when the woman Im with is about 15-20 years younger in age. Race is not important to me, but a happy youthful attitude is so much more interesting than 'worldy conversationalist'. Todays society is about success and image,,and an older woman just doesnt project that. Women as a whole are a depreciating asset, if you have an economics background you will understand my point.

    By Mandy G

    From Phnom Penh, KY, 04/16/2008

    I live in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, and was emailed this story by a friend. Treating this piece as if it is benign matchmaking denies the entire history of colonialism in SE Asia and the prevalence of sex and human trafficking that is ruining women's lives today. Cambodia has recently stopped issuing licenses for Cambodian women who want to marry Western men.

    Fact is, no matter what kind of mortality crisis a Western man is going through, entering into the unequal power dynamics of gender relations between foreigners and SE Asian women (who are typically poor and have few opportunities) is sexist and small-minded. Essentially, the practice equates to buying a woman for caretaking purposes, which is morally reprehensible. I see it happening in Phnom Penh every day, and the fact that Cambodia is so poor that Khmer women have to resort to selling themselves, permanently and through marriage, to foreign strangers makes my stomach turn. Yet nowhere in this article did the economic desperation that makes rich Western men so popular to Asian women get addressed.

    You want someone to take care of you while you grow old? How about hiring a nurse?

    By David Roberts

    From Las Cruces, NM, 04/15/2008

    I have lived in Thailand for the past 5 years. I didn't go there with the idea of finding a bride, but if I did want to get married again I would marry an Asian woman. Western women, in my opinion, have lost their femininity. I will admit that I am very traditional when it come to relationships. I want a woman to spoil me, and I can't find it in America. In Thailand there are many women in their 20's 30's and 40's and even older that have never been married and are still virgins. I have heard time and time again that Thai men are are irresponsible, drink too much and cheat on their wives. Asian women have an idea that Western men are more reliable, an idea that is not always deserved.
    In any case I completely understand where Dave's father is going, my only advice is to avoid the brokers (and the bargirls), spend some time in the country, learn the language and the customs, and meet regular Thai people so he can learn the score.

    By Carol Smolinski

    From Kenosha, WI, 04/14/2008

    After listening to this story, I decided to wait a couple of days before responding.
    With all due respect to Mr. Maxon, to travel the world in search of someone with which to share a long-term relationship is, ...well, just a romantic notion, a well-meaning, empty romantic notion...and I mean that in the gentlest of terms.

    While listening to his son, and especially AFTER listening to Paul...this is my conclusion: He seems quite frightened with aging, and seems to believe (I listened between the lines) he will be alone unless he takes drastic measures to insure he will be "happy". I sincerely believe he is going about this mission incorrectly and setting himself up for a long string of frustrations and heartache.
    Some folks insist the grass WILL be greener on the other side when all they simply need to do is lovingly water and nuture "their own back yard"; to begin to do that they need to learn first: to like themselves and to enjoy their own company, hobbies, interests, & friends, and love themselves before they even consider they will comfortably, and truly, successfully love another.

    I genuinely wish him the best. Thanks.

    P.S. Aging may be a challenge, even in the best of times. However, I will be 57 this year, and I love my life - I am having a wonderful time, & wouldn't trade it for anything! With age comes wisdom, and we learn to breathe.
    (and, setbacks be damned!)

    By Marilyn Brissett

    From WI, 04/14/2008

    H. Jennifer's comment above echoes mine. At 62 and a widow of 5 years, I used the internet hoping to meet a life companion. I used to chuckle when I read the wish lists of men my age. Regardless of their own limitations, so many sought a Meg Ryan look alike in her mid 40's. I could pass for being in late 50's at that time, but truthfully told my age if I chose to actually meet a man. The reaction spoke volumes. Finally, I decided that I was having a good time just meeting interesting men. So few people will take time to listen to one's story and I decided I could do that. I love to hear what has happened in life that brought another to the internet search. If he was interested in MY story, so much the better. I stopped "looking" and just enjoyed meeting and learning. Eventually, I met 3 men for friendly, affectionate, occasional dates--a political buddy, one who loved theater and one who enjoyed good dining and conversation. Not perfect, but good enough. In my old age (70), I believe the elusive chemistry plus values, interests, some links held in common and just enough differences to make life interesting are how lasting relationships begin. But 3 A's are what may help Paul's father find the person who will "come grow old" with him. Paying attention, showing appreciation and lots of affection. All mutual, of course. Two and a half years ago, I was "found" by my present husband. Life is very good. We are the same age, share interests but are not joined at the hip. Whole new worlds have opened for each of us. The 3 A's are part of the air we breathe. Dia Linn, Paul!

    By Carl J

    04/14/2008

    I'm 56 and have lived in Thailand for over 5 years.

    Asia is the best place for a man to live. And it's the ONLY place for an older man to live. :).

    By Ann T

    From New York, NY, 04/13/2008

    I was very disappointed in the narrow angle this story took, completely ignoring some of the power dynamics that exist in many of these relationships. Also, it is a bit to western-centric, nay ego-centric, for the writer to assume that this is something that is specific to Asian women and Western men. I have lived and worked in Southeast Asia and had members of my family in Vietnam give me photos of their daughters asking me to pass them along to my male friends living in America. They all know young Vietnamese women who have been married off to men in Taiwan and Korea, and Vietnamese men living abroad. Why do they do this? In most cases, the women live in borderline poverty with few choices for upward mobility, and marrying a man from another country with more opportunity seems more attractive than their current situation.

    Also, I think John McCarthy's assessment of clearcut gender roles as a MO for these relationships is flawed. Many women in Vietnam seek to marry non-Vietnamese men precisely because of the perception that they will be treated better--many believe men from their own country will not remain monogamous and that they will be more like live-in servants than companions. So in a sense, they are seeking more equality in their relationships.

    It's tremendously disturbing to me that his dad would propose to a Thai woman, without any intention of honoring that commitment. How terribly exploitative that is--regardless of what mid-life crisis he is facing.

    By ronny franks

    From Las Vegas, NV, 04/13/2008

    I am retired in Thailand and enjoying being here. Right now I am in a relationship with a beautiful lady who was a former massause at the Buddhist wat in Pattaya. I am 65 years old and she is 40 and willing to go on adventures with me to Koh Chang island on a motorcycle. I tried for years to find a lady in US and was not sucessful. Here I am considered a wealthy man and the ladies find that very attractive. And that does not necessarialy mean that they are gold diggers. I recommend this place to single men, women treat me better here that I was treated by ladies in the US. I have had extensive counseling so I truly do understand who I am and what I want in life. I am enjoying the adventure of learning about a new culture. I recommend that Paul read (Thailand Fever) By Chris Pirazzi and Vitida Vasant, it helps explain the differences in cultures and is written in english and Thai so it can be shared with a Thai lady.

    By Chaya Kostelicki

    From Kent, WA, 04/13/2008

    I guess It's a good thing my dad has passed on. I don't think he'd have done something like this anywats, but I'd be concerned myself. Still, they're adults, can't stop 'em.

    By Thitiya Conrad

    From NV, 04/13/2008

    After read all comments, I understudied why many told David's dad to be careful. One of many reasons why Thai women choose to marry guy from different country because Thai men most likely to have another woman when their wife get older, or many not even wait that long to looking for another woman.
    I am a Thai woman who looked for a husband online. My family was poor. My dad left us when I'm in high school. My mom had to raise me and my brother by herself. She had to work two jobs in order to make sure that will be money enough to paid for all the bills. I remember sometime she potent like she is not hungry in order to make sure that me and my brother have enough to eat. I meet my husband online after I got my degree in Mathematics and have been working as math teacher for 3 years. We talked online for a year before we decide to see each other in person. Now we have been happy married for 6 years. I am working as math teacher in Nevada and will getting my master degree in Mathematic next spring. My mom and brother in Thai are not poor any more. My mom spent time travel around the world and my brother going to get his degree in computer engineer. My husband parent love me like their own daughter. All of this will not happen if I did not married my dear husband.
    So that why I think David is worry about his dad too much. He will be find in Thailand. Don't worry about Thai woman going to rip him off. Why I said that? Because if your Dad not going to marry someone who work at the bar or night club, he should be OK. So I will say give him sometime to find what he really want or let him enjoy his life well he still can. I can said that about 80% of women he seeing in Thailand, they are well educate or even have education higher than master degree. So don't worry, if he decide to marry Thai woman, he will be pound of his wife. Because Thai woman have been learned to love, honest, take a good care of their husband. Thai women want to only married once.

    By Robert Johnson

    From Seattle, WA, 04/12/2008

    Double ditto as to what Steve from Boston said. They don't say Seattle is on the LEFT coast for nothing.

    By Margaret Heller

    From WI, 04/12/2008

    I left California for the midwest. Cheaper houses and I don't have to babysit the "girls' that deperately-seeking-youth California men are stcking me with at parties. Try going to an event and all the men your age are chatting together while you are stuck with the teenager he has married who knows nothing about politics, film, world events, religion, art etc. He can't stand to talk to her and he can't stand to look at my 60 year old white flesh.
    Women my age need to head off to Mexico and start beinging back young guys who know how to fix things and let the guys hang out with our "babies". Or maybe they should grow up. I thought that the interviewer in this program was very offensive. He covered the piece as though both men and women in America are doing this. Nope - men who won't grow up and can't handle a woman who matches him.

    By Paul Makor

    From Washington, DC, 04/12/2008

    I am glad that a person the author's father's age is willing to look further afield for what he wants. You only have 1 life and you should try to live it to the fullest.

    Like any place else, Asia will have its share of gold diggers, but the tone from some of these responses seems to suggest that gold diggers only come from Asia which just demonstrates the underlying racism that exists in the typical western mindset.

    I hate to break it to some of you guys but you can find American gold diggers just as easily (ask my uncle - married 7 times). The less you stereotype people of foreign lands - the less likely they are to stereotype Americans as just stupid tourists to rip off.

    People should use the same discretion that they use everyday when meeting people - regardless of being within the US or in a foreign country. Crossing borders doesn't mean tossing out your common sense.

    By Y Gadbois

    From CA, 04/12/2008

    There has to be some way for men in this country to find what they aare looking for here. I'm 60, female and don't have an uppity attitude about life.
    On the contrary, most men I meet want to be taken care of. Some want a full ride relationship and I think that's where most American women have a problem. I had lost's of suiters when I had a nice new car, a home, and some spare change. As soon as a lo of my apparent 'she has money' appearance was gone, the interest suddenly faded.
    It's okay in a way because I think that I need a different kind of guy. One who is stable, comfortable and wants some semi-equitable companionship. I think I may have to wait till the next life, but I hope I'm wrong. Is there really any hope in that?
    Still hoping in California

    By Giulia Latini

    From Sonoma, CA, 04/12/2008

    Well, I'm 55, single, slim, (5'8", 143 lbs), attractive, well educated, adventurous, healthy, bowl and play a mean game of pool. My children are grown and doing their own thing (One is a Sous chef in Sausalito and the other is doing his MFA at the CCA). HOw come your father never contacted me?! Just kidding, I'm not signed up on any internet dating services. Right now I'm in Baja, exploring, but I'd be delighted to join him in Thailand. I love to travel, am fluent in Italian, good French, Spanish, fair German. I have a valid passport and I can be ready in a thrice. How about an intelligent conversation with a woman... and not a girl who is mainly thinking about how she can be taken care of while looking at the ceiling.....

    By Stephen Johnson

    From Boston, MA, 04/12/2008

    Heard the story! My answer is more involved then you probably care to post! The reason he (or anyone) wants what another country has, is because women (particularly around Liberal Boston) do not want a guy! They grew up with the liberalism from the hippie kind of upbringing with liberlism its 100% their way or the highway! That's just the way it is with liberals! And like Winston Churchill said that "generalities are generally true" is ever so true around these parts! And look at how horrible they take care of themselves! Too feel amorous with these local women is a lie to ourselves! The fault also lies in the global economy that is coming along and if a guy wants to have a decent kind of sex life then the marketing of this stuff before the viagra train pulls up at his door..., then he takes a big notice of options before he kicks off! Yet, inheritance and stuff like that is a huge issue also! Too make a big deal out of this is like trying to hold back the tide with a few sandbags! Can't be done! Sexual morrays that are originated from the corrupt Catholic church are going to be around a long time! Other countries, even in Europe aren't as backwards as the USA! And the media is beating up on anything that is news worthy! Change, particularly around sex is a long long way off around an econmy that uses sex but also child rearing that propels the economy! In many ways it is two-faced, but what makes people spend money is good for America. except over-the-top sexulaity! (i.e. Elliot Spitzer). And what about the oval office?? Got to lighten up about this stuff and enjoy what was intended! Nuff said!

    By Lily Keyes

    From Raleigh, NC, 04/12/2008

    Paul's approach to finding a mate may be a bit unorthodox, but I say good for him for putting himself out there! Who knows what he'll gain from this trip? The organizers should make these "junkets" co-ed and give participants one more way to meet a kindred spirit!

    By Esperanza Giraldo

    From CA, 04/12/2008

    Dave's father is going far to look for a relationship that he surely can find in his home town. Yes, he will find servitude in other countries from women from other cultures. The reason is... they are willing to do anything to get out of their countries. They know the standard of living is better in the United States and are willing to do anything to please the westerner. When going to foreign lands to look for a "life partner" the seeking partner has to go with an open mind and should think with his / her brain. I was born in another country, my husband went to my home country looking for a bride. I was working full time and going to school at the time. I was not looking to get into a relationship. Common friends had dinners, trips and parties to which I, as well as other females, were invited and I experienced the way other females acted towards the man that I ended up marrying. I agreed to marry him and came to this country. I was not in love with him and he knew it.Things changed and I learned to love him as well as he loved me. We were married for nine years, we had a son. My husband died when our son was 5 years old. I never re-married. I dedicated my life to raising my son. He is now 21 and finished his service in the US Navy. Now I am working on getting my teaching credential. Dave's father should be careful when going overseas looking for a bride. Many people are desperate to get out of their countries, only a few are honest.
    Best of luck to your father, Dave.

    By H Jennifer

    From Gainesville, FL, 04/12/2008

    Sadly, I don't think that the type of relationship David's father truly yearns for will be found in Thailand. Are there young women there desperate to get to the US? Yes. Will they give him a lot of attention and make appealing promises? Yes. However, even if he finds an appealing woman to marry, what are the long-term prospects for this relationship? My impression is that most (although maybe not all) are probably looking for a ticket to the US, citizenship, and then off they go. Perhaps with a divorce they can even get a lot of money out of the deal. If David's dad really wants to find a soulmate, he should stay in the US and find women with whom he has more in common, and who might really want to be with him for the long-term. There are many single women in his age range in the US, probably with similar histories and interests, who are also looking for a long-term relationship. It isn't always easy to find them, but I have to say that the Internet has opened up a lot of opportunities to meet people. If he hasn't tried it, or if he has tried and hasn't succeeded, he should keep trying. He should also work on developing his interests, maybe joining clubs and groups where he might be more likely to find women with similar interests. Finally, if he has a history of relationship issues, he might want to think about going for counseling. It may be that he needs to fill that emptiness inside himself before he's going to be ready for a truly meaningful relationship, rather than trying to find a relationship to fill the void. My heart goes out to David - it is so difficult to watch our parents make bad decisions. He seems to be handling this situation as well as he can (being supportive and understanding but also pointing out some of the problems with the situation), and I hope that in the end his dad will realize that running off to Thailand is not the answer.

    By John McCarthy

    From FL, 04/12/2008

    At the end of the segment, you posed 2 questions: why men would do this, and why the women would do this. Anyone who has spent a few weeks in most Asian countries would quickly understand the benefits for both. I'm currently in the US, but have spent 7 years in Asia, spread throughout countries like India, Japan, China, Taiwan, Thailand and Hong Kong. Although I am making broad generalizations, many Asian cities have poor work prospects for the women, low pay, pollution, crowded cities and few American-style luxuries and amenities. The women are attractive, thin, hard-working, less money-oriented, loyal and readily appreciate small luxuries. There is often a more clear difference between the male and female roles, which some - myself included - find attractive; Western women often appear more masculine. If you can work around the cultural differences, these types of relationships may start out with less love, but there are many practical benefits. Many countries still have arranged marriages which work more successfully than "love" marriages, so it can look very attractive sometimes.

    By judy vee

    From san francisco, CA, 04/12/2008

    Happiness comes from within, not from someone else.
    I hope he gets what he's looking for.

    By Olivia Houin

    From Plymouth, IN, 04/12/2008

    I have a boyfriend from Thailand. He is an exchange student at my high school. One of your questions was: "Why do you think people are compelled to seek marriage by going to another country." My answer is for the exotic rush. People are curious about their world and the different people around them. When they meet someone that looks nothing like them, lives differently, and speaks a different language they become fascinated. It is amazing how someone with so many diffences compared to you can still find things to talk about because you have the same morals and values.

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