The shifting tectonic plates, part one

Two days after my birthday, the tectonic plates of my life started shifting. While I am not a believer in fortune-telling, one has to wonder if the stars and planets were aligned just so, to produce so much upheaval in such a short time! This chapter covers the first of the changes, involving my father-in-law.

For the more than 18 years that Tawn and I have been together, my father-in-law has wanted no interaction with me. Not atypical for a Thai-Chinese father, he wanted a “don’t ask, don’t tell” approach to Tawn’s relationship with me. In fact, the only time we spent together was some 15 years ago when Tawn’s parents came to visit him in San Francisco. That was limited to a visit to Mission Dolores and then dinner at a French restaurant.

In the 13 years since I moved to Bangkok, we have had only one very brief interaction until two months ago. Two months ago, while Tawn was taking his parents to the hospital for a check-up, he mentioned that I was going to be there, too, for an appointment. His father waited to see me, but that interaction lasted less than two minutes.

Then, two days after my birthday, Tawn had a severe allergic reaction to some medicine and I had to rush him to the emergency room. (He is fine now.) He called his parents and they joined, resulting in us spending the day together and having to confer on decisions about the best course of treatment.

At the end of the day as the staff was preparing Tawn for release, Tawn’s father suggested that if I had to work the following day, I should drop Tawn off at their house and they would look after him.

The following morning, after taking some conference calls from home, I dropped Tawn off at his parents’ house – about a ten-minute drive from ours. Tawn’s father came out and greeted me and suggested that after work, I come back to fetch Tawn and he would open a bottle of wine for us.

That evening, I stopped by after dark, not sure what to expect. What do you discuss with a father-in law with whom you have had no real interaction? Tawn’s father greeted me, invited me in and for the next two hours, served wine, engaged in a conversation about many things (including wanting to understand more about what I do for work) and we had dinner.

The evening ended with a “will see you again soon” that seemed to indicate that a new era has opened. In speaking with Tawn, we suspect that this medical emergency was sort of a catalyst. Perhaps Tawn’s father had already softened some time ago, but had not had an opportunity to break down the walls. The medical emergency provided the opportunity.

That was about five weeks ago and I haven’t seen Tawn’s father since, so we’re easing into this brave new world. But we have a holiday meal planned for the next week and I suspect that it will change the landscape of our world considerably.

For my own reflection, I realize that while I had accepted from the start that Tawn’s father’s openness and acceptance was not something I should expect or hope for, deep inside I think there was a lot of insecurity festering.

We don’t have the legal protections in Thailand that a married couple in the United States or some other countries have. Knowing that, if something happened to Tawn, my rights to his portion of our property could be challenged by his father, created underlying tension. As the relationship with his father has improved, it lets me relax my guard a bit and worry a little less about the future.


18 thoughts on “The shifting tectonic plates, part one

  1. I do hope this points towards a whole new era of improved relationship between you and your father in law. And not that it is any of my business, but can’t Tawn leave his estate to anyone that he wants, as long as he puts it in a will…or is that completely different in Thailand??

    • I really hope so. We do have a will and power of attorney but these things can be contested in court, especially as same-sex relationships enjoy no legal protections in Thailand yet.

  2. CHRIS!! OMG! How wonderful and what a blessing! I am so happy to read this. I know how difficult it had to have been for you all these years, when you could talk to Tawn’s mother with ease but not have the father say anything to you. This is such a huge milestone Chris. Very happy. All things good happen to people who wait with patience and humility.
    Love and hugs. Thank you for the beautiful card which I received a week or so ago. have been under the weather with side effects of Radiation, and not feeling like doing much. But love you for your kind thoughts and words. Blessings to you both in the New Year. Merry Christmas.

  3. I saw a play in NYC a few months ago called, “Daniel’s Husband.” It spoke about how important those legal protections are and was quite eye-opening to me. I’m so glad that your father-in-law is coming around.

  4. I’m smiling! It seems some people take longer to accept things outside their comfort zones or the scope of their experiences. So glad things are improving. Good luck with the holiday celebrations and dinner with the in laws. A merry Christmas to you and Tawn!

  5. Pingback: The shifting tectonic plates – part two | christao408

  6. The meeting over wine sounded very stressful leading into it but it sounds like it turned out well. Hope things will continue to evolve for the better in your relationship with Tawn’s father.

  7. i think it is very much a blessing to have had the wine session with tawn’s father. i have to agree with you that he may have softened a while back but never had the opportunity or the excuse to just spend time with you. i believe he may have changed his tune realising the older he gets the more he just wants the best for his son, which means accepting you as a family member. it is not very common to get this sort of acceptance here in south east asia and i’m very happy that both of you and tawn do. BIG HUGS.

  8. I feel awful for just having seen this now! I’m so glad to hear this! Medical events always seem to catalyze these kinds of shifts, don’t they?

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