If you’re having a bad day, lost any hope in this world or thought love only existed in romantic comedies, you should definitely read the story of Shana and Sunny.
Discovering the story of this wonderful binational couple moved me deeply. Their love resisted the challenges of opposite cultures, different religions, long-distance, language barrier, a global pandemic and the legal complications of a same-sex couple.
You will feel through their words the deep respect that they have for each other’s culture but also the genuine tenderness that sparks from their smiles.
From Thailand with love
Shana grew up in Beerse, Belgium while Sunny is from Kon Kean, Thailand.
When Shana decided to move to Thailand for work, she discovered a culture rich in traditions that fascinated her.
Even if the spicy food was not an easy obstacle to overcome, Shana immersed herself in this foreign country for thirteen years and started to feel like she belonged there.
« I have lived and worked for 13 years in Thailand, which is most of my young adult life. I’ll never forget that amazing part of my life. When I came back to Belgium, it took me some time to adjust to my own country. »
During her time there, she met the lovely Sunny. And this was the beginning of a beautiful love story.
But to be together, the couple had to overcome a number of hurdles.
Traditions and respect
The first one was linked to a major cultural difference : religion.
Sunny is a buddhist and Shana decided to learn more about her beliefs.
« I didn’t know anything about buddhism so I went to visit temples with my Thai stepmom. I learned how to pray in Thai and how to respect their traditions. »
Shana even recalls a funny situation when Sunny visited her hometown in Belgium in 2019.
« When we visited Belgium for the first time, we went to visit Churches there and she was praying in a thai way. That was very funny to see! »
Buddhism is now a big part of their life and even if they currently live in Belgium, they imported Thai traditions with them. Shana is proud to say that they pray together before going to bed. It is a unique way to connect with her wife’s culture.
Tolerance and respect are what define best their intercultural marriage. And they can count on the support of their friends and families who welcomed their foreign partner without any prejudice.
« Thai people are always open and friendly and give everybody a chance even they are from another country. We’ve never had any issues with our families about our love because we are there for each other and take care of each other. »
And yet, their story was not always easy.
Not your typical wedding
After having to learn about each other’s culture, they had to go through the challenges of a same-sex couple.
In Thailand, same-sex marriage hasn’t been legalized yet, which made their wedding project more complicated.
But that was not enough to discourage them ! In 2017, with the help of Shana’s parents, they organized their dream wedding in Thailand.
« We decided to get our own small mixed Thai-Western wedding anyway. We invited my family that came from Belgium, my friends from England, and Sunny’ s family and friends from Kon Kean.
In the morning we had our traditional Thai wedding : we cooked and offered our food to the monks, we prayed together. In the evening we had our western style wedding with a small ceremony and enjoyed a live band with foods and drinks. »
But after this memorable time of their lives, they had to face new difficulties.
In love but worlds apart
When Shana had to move back to Belgium in November 2019, she didn’t know that a pandemic was about to keep her apart from her wife for more than a year.
Because of legal issues, Sunny was not able to join Shana in Belgium.
« With the Covid crisis, we faced a lot of problems with our marriage visa. Our local district didn’t know about this process and we lost a lot of time getting the right papers. It took us 14 months to be reunited!
We were apart for the first time in nine years. But that made us realize that we are stronger than ever and that we will love each other for the rest of our lives. »
Now that Sunny finally managed to move to Belgium, they are ready to start a new chapter of their life. And they even got married a second time on February 8th!
“There had to be an end to this”
Shana and Sunny have a bright future ahead and couldn’t be more excited to live in Europe.
Even if Sunny misses her family, her Thai food, and has some issues adapting to the weather, the couple is celebrating their new life together.
« We are just happy to be together, it doesn’t matter in which country we are. As long as we are together we can face all obstacles.
Our advice for other binational couples is to keep talking about their feelings. Don’t give up when the relationship has a small bounce. We have been separated for 14 months, we had some bad days, we felt very lonely, but then we kept talking. We knew there had to be an end to this »
You loved this story and want to read more? Check the beautiful experience of Paola and Friedrich.