Initially it seemed like I had a truly committed loving partner, and for me, I think that was the big attraction. The love seemed quite strong and warm, and we started to carve out a life together.
The first years, I guess, like all relationships, where a whirlwind of family dinners, travel, fun times and sweet love. I went to her home city where we met all of her family, she came to my home country and met mine. Both sides of the family were extremely friendly to the new member of the family.
At first it was a struggle, financially, but we managed to survive. She worked long hours and I worked on my home business. Actually we lived well in comparison to many. We always had food, shelter and some spare cash for some fun. Many don’t have these things.
While I really wanted to build our financial platform whilst in her home country, constantly she would tell me, how bad life is here, how bad the local people are and how we should not live here. I didn’t think too much about this, other than that she dreamed of moving out of the country which we had later plans to do. In the mean time I made a plan to build to build some kind of business in her country where we could maybe take advantage of the fact I’m a foreigner, certainly, an advantage with many disadvantages, but the only one we really had.
I remember when I come home one night and I was excited to tell her about the guy, who spoke fluent English, that I’d met on the train and discovered we had some connection with a few business ideas and cheerfully agreed to meet again. When I told her, she went crazy. Asking why I wanted to know this guy, how could I trust this guy? Being in a strange country, and being my loving wife, I trusted her and threw the number.
For the first couple of years we only went out together, never in groups, never to any parties, never to any social gatherings, no one ever came to our house or shared in our life. Her family lived in another city, and occasional she had calls from her sister and mother, not speaking Chinese, I was usually passed the phone and never conversed much more than a cheery ‘ni hao’.
That was my only connection with her family, no phone numbers, no email, no wechat, no social site connections, nothing. Just a ‘ni hao’ on the phone. I appreciate there’s communication difficulties, but in a modern world of the internet I really think those barriers are broken to some extent.
In many ways, I found this really hard to comprehend, if something happened to her, how do I get in contact with her family, if she had some trouble, who could I call for help? No connections to any friends or family, it was just odd. The only times I could meet and talk with any of them was with/or via her.
As for my family, it was much more open, she had phone numbers for all the family along with emails for all the family.
Life seemed to get lonelier and lonelier, with her working and me at home, the only social interactions I had where ordering a latte at Starbucks, where, if I was lucky I might find someone who spoke some English.
It was becoming obvious, she was protective, very protective, if she caught me talking friendly with someone she would later castigate me for it. I really started to retract, to be honest I was not the most socially confident person, but she doubled down on that and perhaps unwittingly made it even tougher.
After four years I had not built, at a deep level, any social relationships or friendships. So much so she regularly scanned my computer when I was out, or in the shower, checking emails and such. My phone was the same, constantly screened for outgoing calls and messages. Anything mildly suspicious was dealt with a sustained verbal barrage and irrational questioning. A little of this is understandable, but this was way out the realm of normal
I never really stood up to it at first, I should have. She wanted me as the only person in her life and she was winning, but it was killing me. It’s challenging enough living in a foreign country, let alone not speaking the language buy try adding to that the lack of friends, any friend, any connections at all.
On weekends she would occasionally welcome some of her friends to come for a lunch, mostly all Chinese speaking and never speaking together without her in the room. Never where any contacts exchanged or friendships built, it was always a ‘hi and bye’.
Having time during the day while she was at work, I would often go to coffee shops to work an the laptop. As time went on I started to meet some local English speakers and develop casual ‘coffee’ friendships, which was so enjoyable. But I kept them to myself, they were so valuable, I didn’t want to loose them due to a fear of jealous retribution. Later, I would find this was the right choice.
Even to build business relationships was difficult if not impossible, I tried to develop a relationship with a local coffee distributor only to later get castigated again. The imagination was beyond belief, whilst I went there for a machine part and to buy beans and talk business, in her mind I had lunch date with a woman and we were having an affair!
It was just too tough. I was not dealing with a situation of fact or reality, it was an emotional demon that was ruining both our lives. The constant accusations of cheating, having affairs along with the loneliness was really adding up. At least for her, when there was difficulties, she had someone to talk too, I had no one. I was becoming isolated and depressed, and she was loosing me.
Whilst she was trying so hard to be protective, sheltering and controlling and keep hold of something she believed she must have, she was actually driving it away.
I tried to learn her countries language, I figure if you are in another country then you should at least try to speak the local tongue, and every night I would listen to language training on the headset. But, that was out of line too, Often I would be relaxing and listening to have the headphones ripped from my ears and then to be accused of learning language so I can go and meet more girls. So, I gave up on that too.
The odd thing about this is that none of this was giving her what she really wanted, a happy home, and happy marriage. In fact it was delivering the exact opposite, I was becoming increasingly depressed, angry and bitter, not only was my life sinking, it was sinking hers, and the marriage. Let alone that the business we needed to secure our financial life and dream was just not progressing.
We started to fight regularly, i tried to discuss new ways, I tried to look at things in a way that I we work on the core issues that are leading to our troubles then things should get better. I tried and tried, researching, and sending emails to her with suggestions, websites with useful information and advice. Anything so we could get to the core issue and work through it. Language was a barrier here again, but not the ultimate barrier. I even suggested getting help from professionals. I think in Asian countries there may be some stigma associated with getting help from professionals, but for most people, I’m sure they see it as a path to resolving anything that may be holding them back from living a full life.
Perhaps also it is a cultural difference, maybe western relationships are more open, in that we expand our circle of trust and friendship, outside of the family circle. In some Asian cultures it’s very much the family circle where trust lies. That may be OK, where there is a strong family network, but there was not. And if I tried to build up a network, it was shot down.
She was just too possessive, whilst I am no psychiatrist, apart from the cultural context, I can only think that this comes from fear of some kind of form. Fear of loss, insecurity or the need to constantly be assured, I’m not sure. So I thought we could learn through this together, but that idea fell flat.
Now, that’s not to say that I’m without issues too, everybody has some, but the key is the willingness to face them, respect them and learn to overcome. Which is really just the story of life itself.
The arguing and fighting was constant, and vile. My life had become hell and, I take responsibility, as I in turn was making her life hell. The love was gone, the love life was not existent. I really had no enthusiasm for anything physical, but she would relentlessly push for it. Even demanding, as it was my duty as husband. After being forced to it, with my arm covering my face and even without erection, it was too much, But a man could never say they were raped, so what does one call that? Even in an email when I expressed in words what had happened and how I was about it, I got no response. I don’t care, but I was never really truly able to look her in the eye and I most certainly didn’t want to engage with her physically or emotionally after that.
Perhaps not just from the relationship situation, but also from the work front, I was becoming so depressed that thoughts of suicide entered my head nightly, I woke up feeling the same, just thinking ‘i want to escape this’, ‘I want to be free’..
That’s when I decided to change, I decided to take responsibility for things in my life. So, I started to be more active in meeting people and to be more open, if she was to have a problem, then that’s her problem to have. But, that was not so easy, either, constantly I was accused of having relationships, dating, having sex with massage girls, and so on. It was too much.
So is this a problem of Chinese culture vs Western culture? A little, possibly. Speaking to different people it seems to be a trait of Asian women that they are very loving, but with that comes a protective factor and extreme jealousy. Some of that may be formed from environmental and cultural factors but I think you find examples of this in either culture, so it’s best to look deeper.
The problem I think actually comes from three factors, a little cultural, a little language, and a little of deep seated emotional issues. The first two can be overcome, or at least come to an understanding. The third is the tricky one, as a person has to go inside and face themselves. Face the fear and see things in a new way.
I feel it’s really important to establish what is love. It may mean very different things to different people. For some love may be a panacea to various underlying issues, but I think it is probably wiser to view love as the shelter. A place where two people can support each other on life’s journey. Its a simple sentence but it really means letting go and clearing out any emotional hangups like jealousy, envy and so on, so that you can love the person openly and say “I love you; go on and experience all of life”. Whether that experience is in the professional life, in the spiritual life or personal development, the love would be without condition.
It’s a pure form of love, which is defined by a simple quote from Richard Bach “If you love someone, set them free. If they come back they’re yours; if they don’t they never were.” Other forms of love may not really be love, they could just someone who is dependent and can’t let go, either emotionally, financially or otherwise.
The purpose of the story here is not to complain nor vent, but to give some warm advice to those planning a relationship with someone, especially if they are from a different culture. My advice is to take your time, don’t rush into anything, and you will undoubtedly come up against being rushed. Take your time and truly get to know the person. Take your time to understand the local culture when it comes to relationships and his/her particular culture. Have clear discussions on the expectations in the relationship, do discuss at detail what love means to either of you.
Lastly, don’t let these words put you off interracial marriage in an way, it’s just my story and is probably relevant regardless of race, country or whatever. Take your time.