Being born to Thai parents and raised within the warmth of an extended family, I heard a saying all through my childhood: that to achieve long-lasting happiness and peace of mind, it was best that people marry those from families of the same culture, and raised with a similar background.
Even within Thailand, there are different cultures. Those from Bangkok have a different culture than those growing up in other cities. My mother was not allowed to marry my father, even though he was a college graduate with a law degree. Both of his parents were scholars, as well: one was a criminal court judge, the other the principal for all the grades in the their town's school district. My father's family was well-to-do and highly regarded in their town of Pisanulohk.
However, to my maternal grandparents, my mother and father were not compatible, because -according to my grandmother- my mother had been raised as a proper fine young lady with the palatial influence, whereas my father -as gentlemanly as he was- was a young man from a family in the country. If they were to be married, it was thought they would have a problem understanding each other and this would lead to an unhappy marriage.
My paternal grandparents, though also not agreeing with my father's wish to marry my mother, still came to my maternal grandparents to ask for her hand in marriage. To their relief, their request was politely declined.
My parents, however, defied their parents' decision, went on to get married without any consent or blessing, and this is how my sister and I got here.
When I was young I didn't understand and thought it was mean of all my grandparents to be in the way of my parents' love for each other. How could anyone stop love, anyway?
As I grew up, I was taught the same thing -to marry someone from the same culture, background, and up-bringing. I neither agreed nor disagreed; when love finds two people, it doesn't have any exception. I felt that when that time came for me, I and that special person would have to work out our differences and let love lead the way.
Meanwhile, my sister and I lived though many disagreements and quarrels. Our childhoods came with many flavors, and they were more real than daytime soap operas.
I used to wonder why my parents argued about little things, such as place settings at the dining table, proper clothing for different occasions, or socializing properly.
Then, they started calling each other names:
"You and your 'bann-nawk' up-bringing!"
("Bann-nawk" means something like country bumpkin -but my father was not acting like a country bumpkin!)
-And from my father, "You think you are so 'poodee' just because that was how you were brought up? Well, let me tell you that you don't act like one!"
("Poodee" is somebody who is brought up with proper and refined manner from inside out and upside down. My mother was every inch a "poodee!")
However, both of them only brought out their ugly sides when they argued, and they would forget the gentleman my father has always been, or the proper and fine woman my mother was. All they let out were hurtful, insulting words.
More fuel was added to the fire because of their extended families. As my parents would seek advice from their relatives, the relatives from each side would only sympathize with their own.
As a kid, my only wish was for my parents not to see only each person's bad side. Surely, there must have been something good that attracted them towards each other; or else, they wouldn't have married.
I grew up, and I grew away as I was busy starting my own family -also, with a husband from a different culture. In my case, we're speaking different languages. Then I realized something.
Seeing my parents through the eyes of an adult, I noticed that they argued less and got along more. The older they get, the less they argue. At this point in their lives, my parents stick together like glue, and they don't let anyone say anything bad about the other, because they will immediately jump up to defend him/her.
Then, I realized that they must have made up after their big fights; otherwise, they would not have been nice to each other the following mornings -and that was every morning. I might, or might not have witnessed the making up part, but I only remember the fighting part.
As for my own story, I will share it with you in a separate piece of writing, for it's taken off on its own.