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Recent headlines
Dear Emma;
I must confess that the most recent headline about that elderly Austrian man has me concerned. I am also older than my Thai wife and while not frail and elderly like this gentleman was, I am quite a few years older. At first I thought it was love but now that we have been together a couple of years it seems like I am married to a different woman. She treats me with scorn and often leaves with her friends for hours on end. We live out in the countryside outside Chiang Mai and I don’t have many friends here. I have found that I do not have much in common with the few foreigners that do live here nor do I speak much Thai. So, I feel rather isolated.
If my wife still behaved like she did when we first married then I wouldn’t be too concerned as she was very loving, considerate and caring. But, as I said, this has all changed in the past few months and now I wonder if she married me for what she perceives to be my money. I am on a fixed pension and as the baht seems to be getting stronger, it is worth less and less.
Should I cut my losses and get a divorce? There is very little she can get out of me at this point, I bought a car in her name but I don’t mind if she keeps it. Or should I wait and see if things improve?

Dear Confused;
If you are already thinking of divorce then perhaps it is time for you to move on. Only you can know if you are willing to put the effort into this relationship and only you can determine if it is over. You need to figure out if your wife really does love you and if this is simply insecurity on your part or if you are correct and she really doesn’t care at all.
Some would suggest hiring a private investigator to determine if she is up to no good. However, in Emma’s opinion, this should only be done if you are gathering evidence for a divorce as she may not agree to an uncontested divorce. Otherwise, there must be trust for a relationship to work. If you don’t trust her then it will not last.
So, I am sorry Confused, the only advice I can give you is to listen to both your heart and your head. But use your head when making decisions.

Not feeling neighbourly
Dear Emma,
I can’t stand my neighbor. He is also a foreigner like myself and seems to think that because we are fellow expats we should be mates. But the truth is, he is the last person I would want to spend my time with. We have opposing views on politics, religion, everything. Frankly, the man is too racist for me, treats his wife like a servant (he actually told me he paid a large enough dowry for her that she owes him!) and treats our Thai neighbors very badly. He has made it clear he thinks he (and by relation all European cultures) are superior to everything Thai.
Honestly, Emma, I have no idea why this man lives in this country except perhaps that it is cheap. I have no desire to sit and listen to him spew his particular brand of bollocks. However, I was raised to behave a gentleman and so sit in polite silence while he talks. He is too obtuse to see that my behavior is mere good manners and not friendship.
How do I get this man out of my life?
Too polite

Dear Polite
First of all sir, there is nothing wrong with being polite. Unfortunately there will always be some individuals who take advantage of that but that is not your fault. It is, however, your fault if you allow it to continue. And while there is no need to tell this man you find him odious but there is also no need to call on him at his home or invite him to yours.
In this case the “Thai way” of handling matters, ie non-confrontational, is perhaps the best. After all, you must still live next door to him, there is no need to make an enemy or make your life unpleasant. In the future, if he invites you over apologize and tell him you just don’t have the time. If he invites himself over, and people like this often do, don’t they? Then simply tell him you are so sorry but you are right in the middle of something rather important. If those kinds of hints do not work on him, then you may be forced to just say, “I am so sorry but I was just on my way out the door.” And then go somewhere , perhaps just the 7-11 or to a friend’s house. After a few excuses he should take the hint but it won’t have been done in a way that makes your next door neighbor angry with you and likely to take it out on you or your dog.
Best of luck,

Skater fashion
Dear Emma,
My teenage son wants me to buy him what he calls skater boy clothes. I am not really sure what this is much less how to find it but his birthday is coming up and I would like to get him something that he really enjoys. He has been a great sport about moving to Chiang Mai and leaving all his friends behind so I would like to do something special for him but don’t know where to begin.
Skater mom

Dear Skater Mom,
Or, as the kids might say, Sk8tr! Skater fashion is actually not that hard to find, there are some cool trendy shops in the Rincome Market as well as the night market just across the street from Chiang Mai University’s main gate on Huay Kaew. If you are short of time, then the basement floor of Kad Suan Kaew has a shop past the food courts on the way to the Post Office. Skate on!