There´s enough stereotype for tall women who date shorter men, but there´s even more received ideas on white women who marry Asian men. This is probably because there´s just way less white women dating and marrying Asian men as opposed to the increasing number of white men marrying Asian women. But more than the height and the stereotypes, how could an intercultural couple build their dreams and survive challenges if racial discrimination exists anywhere even in the land of opportunity?
We´ve already heard how a Chinese-Filipina intercultural couple built their business empire from nothing but love and trust, and we also chuckled reading the story of a Canadian-Chinese interracial couple who figured that in a language-gapped argument, patience is crucial. This time, we´re lucky to have a window peek to a Chinese-American interracial/intercultural marriage.
The Offbeat Couple
Jocelyn and John have been married for almost 9 years. They currently reside in Cleveland, Ohio. Jocelyn writes about love, family and relationships in China at Speaking of China.
What makes your marriage offbeat?
My husband is Chinese, and I am a white American. You don’t see nearly enough white women married to Chinese men or Asian men, which would certainly qualify as “offbeat” as you say!
What made you end up in an intercultural marriage? What was your motivation in deciding to marry someone of different culture or faith?
I chalk it up to what the Chinese call yuanfen (or destiny). I never intended to marry a Chinese man or marry “differently” as you might say. I just happened to make this serendipitous decision to go to China — and while there, love somehow happened.
Tell us about the wedding. Did your different religious and cultural background affect how you planned the wedding?
Our wedding took place in the rural Hangzhou area in China — we held it in the banquet hall of a hotel, and planned the entire ceremony (with the help of my husband’s family) in just one week.
I think the fact that Chinese weddings have borrowed a lot of Western elements/traditions (such as the fact that in China most brides wear a white wedding gown, in addition to other dresses) made it easy for us to reflect the reality of our own relationship — a melding of East and West. So for example I wore a white gown that was very Western, but also wore two qipaos (one red, one purple) as a way to reflect Chinese culture.
What are your biggest challenges and how do you solve them?
I’d say right now one of our biggest challenges is the discrimination my husband has faced in this country. While the US is often touted as the land of opportunity, what many Americans — especially white people like myself — don’t realize is that often people from different cultural-linguistic backgrounds do not enjoy equal treatment in the world.
My husband has experienced outrageous indignities during our time here. We solve these issues by facing them together, and by our mutual willingness to fight injustice when we feel it needs to be addressed. You cannot just stand aside and let something happen — sometimes you have to stand up and let the other side know you won’t take “no” for an answer.
What compromises are required in order to make your marriage work?
Obviously when you’re married to someone from a different country, where to live is always a huge issue. Fortunately for us, the decision was pretty simple — we both felt that China would offer us far more opportunities and that’s why we’re planning on moving back there for good in the near future.
Did you ever encounter people who frown upon interracial marriage? How did you deal with them?
I don’t personally encounter these people, but I do run into them online from time to time — particularly those Internet trolls that seem to enjoy nothing more than to tear down Asian men and the non-Asian women who love them. There’s usually no point in responding to trolls, because you can’t reason with them. But I do respond to them in a way through the writing at my website — by promoting relationships between Asian men and non-Asian women.
How did your in-laws and extended families from each side react to your interracial marriage?
We’ve been pretty fortunate that by the time we married, our families were both extremely supportive of our relationship. That wasn’t the case for my in-laws when they first heard about me through John. They assumed that foreign women were “loose” and unreliable — and I think they even worried about the language barrier. But then they met me and realized I was a nice girl and I could even speak Chinese, and afterwards they were supportive of our relationship.
What are the things that you learned about each other’s culture? How does learning about each other´s culture benefit your relationship?
There’s a lot we’ve learned — I could probably write an entire novel on that, so I wouldn’t even know where to begin! But I definitely feel there’s a benefit to learning about each other’s culture. For example, John and I are both bilingual — and we share that in our bilingual relationship, as I once wrote on my blog. I think we become better people because we’re able to always learn something from each other — it strengthens our relationship, and in a certain way the egalitarian nature of having a bilingual relationship seems to encourage a certain equality between us.
What’s your favorite way of spending time together?
Hiking — there’s a national park nearby and we often hit the trails to get a little exercise and enjoy the natural world.
What are your secrets in keeping the romance alive?
Make time for each other as a couple. We try to spend quality time together whenever we can — whether that’s taking a walk, going out to eat, having vacations, or watching a movie curled up in bed. Just having that one-on-one time makes all the difference for us.
What advice would you give to those who are planning for or are new to an intercultural marriage? Would you recommend it?
Communicate often — which is really great advice for anyone contemplating marriage. Sometimes we don’t always say what’s really on our mind, and that can get in the way of an otherwise happy and fulfilling relationship. Just opening up and talking can solve (and avoid) a lot of issues down the road.
Yes, I would recommend it.
- Spanish-Chinese Intercultural Marriage – a doorway to a new world
- Lessons from My (Failed) Cross-Cultural Marriage
- Ghanaian-Chinese Intercultural Marriage – Challenges Are Easier Solved if You Find the Right Person
- Texan-Japanese Intercultural Marriage – Finding Your Best Friend Beyond Race
- Canadian-Chinese interracial and intercultural marriage – patience is crucial