Visiting my Thai Relatives

One of the biggest highlights of our vacation was spending time with Tawn’s relatives.  Some time ago, I wrote about the complicated relationship I have with Tawn’s father.  While he has acknowledged that I exist and we met on two occasions before I moved to Thailand, he doesn’t want to confront that aspect of who Tawn is.  This is, broadly speaking, a typical “Asian father” sort of mindset. 

Because of that, we have had no interaction in the nearly six years that I’ve lived here.  Tawn’s mother is very welcoming but around here, the man rules the roost, so I only rarely manage to see Tawn’s mother or any other relative.  This has left me feeling a sense of disconnection from Tawn’s side of the family, a stark contrast to the very close relationship Tawn has with my family.

Tawn’s cousin and his family, me and Tawn, and my sister and her family.  When considered as a whole, I would call it “my family”.

One big exception to the gulf that keeps me away from my in-laws is Tawn’s aunt and uncle in Los Angeles.  Tawn’s aunt is his father’s older sister.  She and her husband moved to LA more than four decades ago and raised a family there, three boys who are around our ages, and now five grandchildren.  Since first visiting them almost a decade back, they have been very accepting, supporting us, welcoming us into their family, and advocating on our behalf.

Two of their three sons still live in Los Angeles.  I hadn’t seen them since that first visit but we stay in touch regularly through Facebook.  This vacation presented the perfect opportunity not only to see them and meet their children, but also to introduce their family to my family and bridge that disconnect I feel.


We were able to meet with one cousin, Pete, and his wife and two girls Saturday afternoon at the Aquarium of the Pacific in Long Beach.  (A mighty fine aquarium, I’ll add.)  The girls are roughly the same ages as my nieces (although Emily is a head taller than Jessie), so it provided them some new friends to meet and made it easier to break the ice.

Both Jessie and Sydney are very cute and outgoing.  After about a half-hour of walking through exhibits, Sydey tugged on my pants leg and asked if she could hold my hand.  Later on, Jessie stopped me and said, “Can I tell you something?  You’re really nice.”  I’m not sure what she expected, but am glad I made a good impression.

Lots of interactive exhibits kept Sydney, Jessie, Ava, and Emily entertained and engaged.

After spending several hours together, we met up for dinner with the other cousin, Don, his wife and three children, and Tawn’s aunt and uncle.  Spread across a very large table – we ended up being 17 people! – I got to know Tawn’s cousins better, seemed to be the center of attention for their children, and for a few hours felt less disconnected to Tawn’s side of the family.

Unfortunately we didn’t take a picture as I’d love to show you that lovely group.  But picture or no, it was still a wonderful opportunity to get together and, for me, helped a bit to bridge the gap that I feel.  I know many married couples don’t have close relationships with their in-laws.  Ultimately, though, I’d like to have as close a relationship with Tawn’s family as he has with mine.


0 thoughts on “Visiting my Thai Relatives

  1. I imagine it must be difficult to deal with someone that won’t acknowledge your relationship like Tawn’s father. I hope that someday soon you’ll be able to grow closer to Tawn’s family in Thailand!

  2. I’m glad you made contact with Tawn’s relatives. Eventually, news of this meet up will travel back to Tawn’s parents and that’ll add up some good points for you!

  3. Don’t know if you will be able to “break” Tawn’s father. As you say it is Asian father response but I am glad you met the extended family. That is a handsome photo of the group and the kids –well they look like any kids who want to get into everything they can.

  4. Children are a wonderful bridge in difficult situations — I love that they are so open as to want to hold your hand, or to tell you that they like you — prior expectations aren’t necessary.  (You know what — you ARE really nice — exactly what I expected, too!) 

  5. Woo whoo to Thai relatives!I think we are kind of like that since my family lives in Taipei. But we try to get together as much as we can.

  6. This is a heart-warming story.  While it is saddening to hear how Tawn’s father regards you and his son, you can still enjoy the family that does accept.  I’m glad you had the opportunity to not only be given the chance, but to shine! :DAnd thank you for your comment on my blog earlier this week.  I really appreciate your well-wishes <3.

  7. My family is arriving next week for a reunion visit. Since one brother and my sister are a bit older than me, I’ll be taking them to the Aquarium instead of Disneyland. Also, I am a charter member and when I renewed membership for my wife and I, I got extra passes this year. It is a nice aquarium, though not the scope of the one in Monterey. The aquarium and lunch are about their speed as far as outings go.True to form, old biases are ignored by younger people.

  8. Aww…. I agree with the “you’re really nice” comment. I’m not too close with my extended family. My dad’s side was never that close so the next generation down aren’t that close either. I’m close to a couple of cousins but that’s about it.

  9. i know how that feels…to this day i haven’t had the chance to meet daniel’s parents as daniel’s spouse. hope you will one day bridge that gap!

  10. @jace1982 – Yes, when I stop and think of my friends, I realize that very few of us have close relationships with our in-laws.  And, heck, the vast majority of different-sex couples have troubles with their in-laws, too, so it isn’t really a new story, is it?  =D@ElusiveWords – That’s sweet of you to say, Matt.  Your experience just goes to show that not being close to extended family might be the norm rather than the exception.@M_1 – I’m so glad you like it.  The one of the four girls looking in the window of the tank?@jennfaceee – Thanks, I agree with you and hope that happens, too.@jandsschultz – It took something like two hours for Tawn’s aunt to call his mother and report about our dinner.  Loose lips and all that… Ha ha…@icepearlz – Well, honestly, I don’t hold out much hope for Tawn’s father coming around.  But one day he will not be part of the picture anymore and life will go on.  I can only hope that I’m wrong and he will see his way clear to welcoming me into the family.@Ricardo98 – It has been ages and ages since I’ve been to the aquarium in Monterey.  I need to make a return visit.@CurryPuffy – Well, if the news reaches Tawn’s father, then the s**t will really hit the fan!@secade – It is frustrating sometimes, only because I know Tawn’s father wishes Tawn would spend more time with them.  If I was included in events, he would get his wish.@yang1815 – True, and add to it the language issue.@The_Eyes_Of_A_Painter – That’s very true.  Thanks for the kind and supportive words.@slmret – Thank you, too, for the kind words.  It is funny how children can have a directness to them that we somehow lose as we grow up.@everyday_yogi – Oh, you are most welcome.  I hope all is going well.@Sinful_Sundae – @windblown85 – That’s so true – having the family all together is really the most fun aspect of a trip.@Fatcat723 – Thank you, they are a photogenic bunch.  

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