Chinese woman carrying
Chinese woman carrying (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

One of the things we face being an intercultural marriage is … well .. basically the differences in cultures and social norms.   Our views on some things do not always mix. For Example:  I think because we work long hours we should have a maid to clean our home…. He thinks it is a waste of money.. no matter how inexpensive it is….. I think a day off means to go do something and see some sites in China…. He things a day off means just sleep the whole day.   I think going out to eat is a treat and something special…. He thinks why go out when we have food in the house…

These are simple things that we bicker about but get thru rather quickly.  However, somethings are not so easy to get passed.  Our ideals of what the gender roles should be for one.

A traditional Chinese man… (my husband) believes…. If he is out of the house working, or forming relationships (as you have to do in China to get ahead)... it does not matter what time you get home or if you make it  home at all because you are not doing anything “Bad” (meaning .. No other women, No gambling and No bars) …. He also thinks … working seven days a week or 15 hours a day is okay… because it is for work.  He is just doing his job of taking care of the family.

However, my views on what a husband should do are a bit different.

I do not agree with the long hours, long nights.. and most definitely the over night outings for forming relationships for business.  I do not agree with wives staying at home and men go out and .. do whatever they do .. in the name of business.  Family time and quality time are very important to me.

Wherein lies the problem, Chinese social norms suggest that the men go outside the home and have dinner, drinks, or whathaveyous…. for hours at a time without your wife.  If one was to bring his wife to these social outings he is considered less of a man.   He is pressured to participate in all activities if he wants to be accepted as “one of the boys”.   Which usually means heavy drinking, long dinners, KTV and maybe having female companionship.

The women, however, are supposed to go to work  (if they work) then stay home with the children, clean house, wash clothes..(by hand) and cook dinner if necessary.  It is not acceptable for them to go to bars, go out drinking, etc.

Lately, my husband and I have been butting heads on these social norms…. I find them unacceptable..and I am not happy with the arrangement.  I am totally appalled at the disrespect the men show their women.  When I asked Chinese women about this arrangement they even say they do not like it either but it is the way it is and you cannot do anything about it.

They even told me that sometimes their husbands will have other girlfriends.. they have to accept it because if they divorce they will lose everything and never be able to find another husband their life will be unbelievably hard… and they would get no support from the ex husband.   So, basically women’s rights are nonexistent over here.   Not a good thing for a strong, outspoken, Black woman like myself.

However, after a long…. long… long … discussion with my husband … I realized that in all the time we have been together that he has kind of forgotten that I am American.  I mean he knows I look American.. but he forgets my ideals and beliefs are different.   He even told me … But you are Chinese….. I had to clarify that I was not Chinese and although I have adapted pretty well to the culture, the food and the craziness here.. my thinking and ideals are and always will be … AMERICAN.

I think this really was an eye opener for him…. I feel he really did consider me just like any other Chinese woman… that in his mind and eyes I wasn’t any different….. I am confused by this

… I think it is a good thing that our marriage in his mind isn’t any different from any other marriages… but I also think .. It is a bad thing that in his mind our marriage is not different… because we are different from other Chinese couples.

So… we did come to an agreement that he would pay more attention to the fact that I am not a traditional Chinese woman and I have very different ideals…He will do his best to come home at decent times… and spend more quality time with me and a little less at work…. and I would try to understand that he cannot change an entire culture… and it is not so easy for him either.  We are in China and the game is different here… like or not.. you have to kind of deal with it….

Our marriage has challenges that we face because we live in China.. that maybe we would never have to face if we were in America.  However, .. through communication, love and determination… we will find away to make it work.


until next time….