Our featured intercultural couple for today are Mills Yamoah and Rebecca Cui. They have been married for eight months and they´re currently living in Nanjing. Both are English tutors and they own a teaching agency, Yingwuyingyu. Their marriage isn´t only mixed culture, it is also interfaith. Find out how they found an easier route to nagivate the intercultural world.
What makes your marriage offbeat?
Well the fact that we both are from different countries with different racial background, pretty much makes it an offbeat marriage. I was raised and born into Christianity back home in Ghana but sometimes it gets interesting when my wife who had lived a non-religious life here in China asks questions about being a Christian and the whole Christianity background. We get to share time together talking about the religion aspect of our offbeat marriage since our future kids will be raised as Christians.
What made you end up in an interracial/interfaith marriage? What was your motivation in deciding to marry someone of different culture or faith?
After being together for the past 5 years, we had each known whatever we needed to know from or about each other…and my motivation personally in deciding to finally settle down with the love of my life was based on our past experiences together and how we solved our difficulties together as couples although we were not even engaged. It felt right to settle down with someone you know you will still marry to at the long run, this way, we could have more time to build a better future as a family.
The differences in culture or faith comes with the ‘pack’ of an offbeat marriage. Understanding both differences in culture and faith is the homework both couples need to solve together, and after being together for so long, we know we’ve both done ours.
Tell us about the wedding. Did your different religious and cultural background affect how you planned the wedding?
I’ve been the MC of most of my University’s school performances so i am actually ok with stage freight and all that, but my wife is the shy type and she was nervous right from the start.
Our Chinese wedding was kind of a stress free one since my wife’s parents took care of the planning and everything in Beijing cuz that’s where she is from. My wife and I left Nanjing on the 3rd of May 2014 to Beijing just in time before my parents landed in Beijing on the 3rd of May 2014 in the evening; the wedding was on the 4th which was just the next day so you can see there was no time for rehearsal.
After the wedding, we went back to my wife’s home and our new room was decorated with red stuffs all over. The bed was covered in red bed sheet, the pillows were covered in red, and the door had a couple of red scrolls on them. Later on, my sister-in-law’s son who is just about 2 years old was asked to roll on our bed and do all kinds of playful things on it. This was to grant us fertility in our new married life.
Later in the evening when i thought all was said and done, all my brothers-in-law came to our room and really worked me out. I had to do all sorts of stuffs like carrying my wife all over the house, sing a couple of Chinese songs etc. I guess it’s not easy to find the right woman after all 🙂
We had a second western style wedding ceremony back in Nanjing were we both live and work. The second wedding was really difficult since I had to plan everything myself and my wife had no knowledge of how the western style marriage is held. We had the pleasure of being blessed by my Dad who is a Christian Minister back home.
What are your biggest challenges and how do you solve them?
Most of the challenges that we have are those that are normal in every marriage be it offbeat or not, so we are lucky not have one that is as a cause of the differences in our culture or race. Our parents from either side have been a great source of inspiration for us too and we look upon how they’ve solved their past problems and take advice from them too.
What compromises are required in order to make your marriage work?
I originally came here to China to study and during my learning years, I fell in love with the country and mastered the language, I will say the only compromise needed was me staying here permanently. My wife and I have worked out a process to help us visit my country from time to time and we both believe it’s the best decision we could ever make.
Are there any marital issues that come up due to different religious background? How do you address them?
As a Christian, the wife should be submissive to the husband and the husband is to respect the wife and take care of the family as the head. In China, the man should provide the money but the woman should be in charge of how the money is spent, for us in our offbeat relationship, both ideas are just great. We both make decisions on how to allocate our finances although she keeps the bank cards.
Did you ever encounter people who frown upon interracial marriage? How did you deal with them?
For me, reading about people who frown upon interracial marriage is like reading a fiction book. From the first day I visited my wife’s family in Beijing, every member of the extended family was eager to meet me including one who was even hospitalized but tried to get out of the hospital just to see the future son-in-law. It’s been great so far not only within my parent’s family but with my friends and family back home too who are very much happy with our offbeat union.
How did your in-laws and extended families from each side react to your interracial marriage?
(Some in-laws are committed to their cultural identity and can’t appreciate foreign culture therefore they become critical towards their daughter/son in-law. Did you experience any of these issues?)
I think both families were really concerned with finding the right person in life and not on the cultural/religion aspect, and basically the Chinese surface culture is not that different from that of Ghana.
What are the benefits of an interracial marriage?
There are lots and lots of benefits in an interracial marriage. You get to learn something new from each other. You get to work with new languages, foods, behavior each and every day. And at the same time you find connections between these racial interpretations to yours. The thoughts of having kids with different racial background is something we both are excited about and can’t wait to raise good kids who will grow up to respect both racial backgrounds and to learn from them.
What are the things that you learned about each other’s culture? How does learning about each other culture benefit your relationship?
There are lots of surface cultural practices that if one is not in a relationship with a Chinese might not notice. An example is the man being able to cook for the wife or carrying the lady’s bag when out for shopping, learning all these differences has helped me a lot in maintaining a good relationship between my wife and I. She almost feels as if she is married to a Chinese.
If children come, of which culture (and religion) do you plan to raise them?
Our future children will be raised as Christians and this is a decision my wife and I both made. It’s all about raising good children who will believe in something and know the reward in having a good life and the punishment in having a bad one.
What’s your favorite way of spending time together?
We both love singing and watching movies together, so we’ve built this personal KTV in our apartment, where we go to, sometimes after work, with all the lights out and only the projector on, with some locally prepared popcorn, and then watch something nice with our feet in a nice hot bowl of water. My mom-in-law is also a great singer so when we invite her over, we will have some singing competition.
What are your secrets in keeping the romance alive?
We each know what makes the other happy and it’s all just about understanding each other and know what one is going through each and every day. No problem is left unsolved before the next day and if we both find a moment that keeps us happy and together even for a minute, we cherish it to make it last like a lifetime.
What advice would you give to those who are planning for or are new to an interracial/interfaith marriage?
What I would recommend is finding the right person. Some requirements must be met, but if they should be met to have the right person, then it’s worth it, ´cause at the end, you are both going to share new and different ideas, religion, faith with each other and the only way to make this work is if you both were really meant for each other. My best advice, find the right person, the problem of interracial, interfaith will come as a no problem at all.
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