Patee & Pitipat Sarasin
When it comes to a marriage of like minds, age makes no difference to Patee Sarasin, also known as Doong (52) and his wife Pitipat, or Be (41). The couple are now parents to two lovely children, Paphee, or DD (four years old) and Rapheepa, or GD (two years old).
“When P’ Doong is around other people he’s very mature, but when he’s with me he’s just like a kid—he’s funny and jokes around even more than I do, so I don’t feel that there’s any age gap between us at all. In fact, the more I’m with him the more I feel that I have to look after him. We joke that when we go on trips it’s like travelling with three kids, him being the eldest,” she laughs.
Patee explains how being single for so long affected his decision about having children. “Be wanted to have kids but I didn’t at first because I’ve always been independent. It’s easier when you travel a lot and it’s just the two of you. When she got pregnant I was excited. It’s different with guys. We don’t really feel how it is as a father until they’re born,” he says. “The difference in our ages doesn’t affect the way we raise the kids, I think it’s more about gender.”
Pitipat quips, “We’ve had conflict over P’ Doong having a soft spot for the kids and always giving them what they want, which I’m sure is quite common. But because I’m a mum I’m quite strict with them, even when I don’t want to be. I don’t want them to be spoiled—especially since they’re the youngest generation in the family and everyone dotes on them—so I have to temper P’ Doong’s enthusiasm and we try to meet halfway. Previously, when he was the CEO of Nok Air, he didn’t have much time with the kids but now that he spends more time with them he’s also starting to understand that they’re at a development stage where we have to teach them what to do and what not to do.”
Maj Gen Patchara Rattakul & MR Srikhumrung Yugala
Ask Maj Gen Patchara Rattakul, or Maj Gen Dollar (55) and MR Srikhumrung Yugala or Ying Mangmoom (33) how they met and Maj Gen Dollar’s side of the story could be captured in one perfect film-still: a dark room and standing out from the crowd a mysterious 23-year-old, freshly returned from abroad, attractively attired in red. “It’s a bit of a cliché. I first spotted her in a pub. She was wearing a red dress with red shoes and I thought it was quite unusual to find a girl properly dressed up in a pub full of people, so I asked around and we were introduced later by a friend of hers,” he recalls.
This year marks a decade since they were first introduced. Happily married for the last five of those years, Ying Mangmoom reminisces on Maj Gen Dollar’s love and care that won over her heart. “The moment when I felt that he was really the man for me was when I fell very ill and had to be hospitalised for a month. P’ Dollar took great care of me. He came to visit me every day to keep me company and he would discuss my condition with the doctors and help me to keep a diary with notes on which medicines I took and my state of health each day—it was like a journal. He was very consistent. Even when he had to work he would pop by during lunch or come back to stay with me after work.”
When asked whether the couple felt any dissonance due to their age gap, Maj Gen Dollar and Ying Mangmoom share thoughtful insights. He says, “I never really perceived an age gap in the way we think. I felt Mangmoom was more mature than other girls her age when we first met—she was around 23 then. Obviously, as I’m almost 24 years older than her, there are things that, no fault to her, she hasn’t been through which I’ve already experienced. So sometimes I feel that she needs a bit more mileage in her experience. Then again, I try not to use my own experiences to judge her by. We also respect each other’s opinions. We try not to be emotional about issues and if we do have disagreements we try to reason them out. At the end of the day, I think rationality and reasoning reign.”
She says, “No, the age thing never bothered me because he’s very patient and understanding. Our tastes blend together well and despite the age difference. P’ Dollar is very up-to-date and understands my lifestyle. He would never say something like, 'This is too young, I’m not going to join in.' He also gets along with my parents and my friends, which is important to me.”
Na-Chanok Ratanadaros & Sikanya Saktidej Bhanubandh
The story of Na-Chanok Ratanadaros, also known as Golf (54) and Sikanya Saktidej Bhanubandh, or Pau (37) is one that is well known in society. During our conversation, Sikanya—ever the modern society belle—straightforwardly acknowledges the point that some might try to skirt around. “It’s unconventional, our relationship, so one of the downsides at the beginning was that there were obstacles. There were people who judged or those who kept asking whether I was sure about this or whether it was going to last. Of course they meant well, but it would make you doubt. Nowadays it’s not about that anymore. Marriage is about two people adapting to each other, regardless of age, to make the marriage work.”
Na-Chanok agrees. “I don’t think a relationship starts with how old you are. It’s about our lifestyle together and how we feel about each other. With Pau I think the good thing is that most of the time we like to do the same things and when we do different things it’s actually good because I get a different point of view from my own generation and we get some time apart.”
Sikanya chimes in. “Speaking of difference, there is a funny story from when we first started dating. People of my generation grew up with Blackberrys and texting, but for his generation texting used to be just for emergencies because they didn’t grow up with smartphones and the culture of instant messages—at least not for general texting. So at first I would wonder why he didn’t read and reply to my texts. For his generation, phones are tools for verbal communication. But for my generation, social media is everything. So that was confusing at first,” she laughs. “There are also advantages. With the age gap, I think there’s less of a tendency for us to have a big row. Put it this way, if you’re with someone of the same age no one relents when there’s a fight. But because I’m Thai, I feel like it’s bad to argue with someone older than I am. Also, with him being older, he lets things slide when I’m being temperamental because he thinks, ‘she’s younger and now she’s being child-like, just let her be’. On the other hand, if you were with someone of the same age, there would be no room for those excuses.”
Colonel Fuangvich & Suwattana Aniruth-Deva
Married for seven years with a six-year-old son Fuangvuth, or Frankie, the story of Colonel Fuangvich Sam Aniruth-Deva (55) and his wife Suwattana, or Tong (39) is sweetly poetic. “It was at the 1998 Asian Games, which was hosted in Thailand. We met on the final day of my equestrian competition. Luckily I won the gold medal and as I was waiting to receive it she appeared in front of me as a representative of Srinakharinwirot University. It was love at first sight. Even though we’ve been married for the last seven years, I’ve more or less known her since she was in her first year of university. So our relationship before we got married was very long and we’ve been through a lot together.”
Despite an age gap of 17 years, Fuangvich and Suwattana make a perfect match for each other, with her calm composure complementing his joie de vivre. “Even though he’s older than I am and very mature, the fact that he was a teacher and spent a lot of time with students meant that he understands and can get along well with younger people,” Suwattana explains.
From the colonel’s side, he thinks her mature nature brings a good balance to the relationship. “She’s the type of person who gets along well with people older than her, so in the end we didn’t feel that there was an age barrier. We’re really not concerned about the age thing at all. I’m always planning ahead and I would say I’m lucky because I’ll be the first one to pass away. I will make sure that when I’m not here, she’ll be well provided for and able to raise our child and maintain the family name. When we married I was 48 and she was 31. I was always hoping for an heir and the best part was that in the year we married, Frankie, our son, came along.”
MR Rujayapha & Pathumporn Abhakorn Na Ayudhaya
Having met through a mutual friend, MR Rujayapha Abhakorn Na Ayudhaya, or Ruj (56) and wife Pathumporn, also known as View (43), have been married for eight years. “The first time we met she thought we were of a similar age, like maybe I was slightly older because her friend was also my friend,” he recalls. Pathumporn, on the other hand, was aware of the age difference.
“We first knew each other through a friend before I left to Japan for a year. When I came back we met again at a birthday party and he asked me out for a meal. I almost didn’t go because of the age gap.” However, that proved to be insignificant to their love.
“Actually our pace in terms of lifestyle is in sync, but because I’m older she has more respect for me. At the same time, because she’s younger I feel that I have to be a gentleman who has to take care of her even more. So there’s a balance, which means we have less conflict.”
Pathumporn has naturally changed her perspective since their early days together saying, “Now I don’t feel that there’s an age gap at all because as Ruj points out, our lifestyles are very similar. I never try to pry into his life because we already spend so much time together that I doubt whether there’s anything we don’t already know about each other.”
When asked whether Pathumporn keeps him young, they both laughed. “I keep her young,” says Ruj, “because I like to keep up to date with all the latest gadgets and technologies. I think we keep each other young in a way—she likes fitness and looks after me in terms of the way I eat and my health, while I keep her young in the sense of the mind and new ideas.”