Cross-Cultural Couplings: The Challenges of Marrying a Chinese Person

Cross-Cultural Couplings: The Challenges of Marrying a Chinese Person
Sep 13, 2018 By Degen Hill ,

They say love conquers all and perhaps that’s true, but the logistics of a relationship should also be taken into consideration, especially if you’re marrying a Chinese person. For better or for worse, there will be some inevitable challenges. So before you go all in, here are a few things to consider.

Language issues

Speaking in a foreign language for an extended period can be tiresome frustrating. For couples who don’t share the same native language, patience is your best friend. In addition, working to learn your partner’s native language shows them you care and are interested in their culture.

Pro-tip: If you’re working to learn your spouse’s native language, don’t have them be the primary teacher. It’s too easy to get frustrated and make things personal.

Cultural differences

Many disagreements, either between Chinese friends or spouses, are likely to involve the phrase, “It’s just cultural differences.” In a marriage involving a foreigner and a Chinese person, there will be many cultural differences, such as ideas about how to raise children and marriage/gender roles.

Remember that your ideas about these things come from your own culture, the society you grew up in and your parents. Trying to see things from your partner’s perspective, therefore, can be challenging but also useful.

Choices concerning your child should naturally be made together, while the roles of a husband, father, mother and wife need not be set in stone. It’s 2018 and times are changing. Women are now a much more dominant part of the workforce and many men choose to be stay-at-home dads. There is no right or wrong regarding the kind of family you want to have. Just be clear and upfront with your partner about your wants and needs.

Home or away?

Deciding to stay in China, return home or start a new life somewhere completely different will inevitably be at the forefront of your discussions with your Chinese partner. “My family is here” will probably be the main argument on the Chinese side, while you may try to persuade them that other countries have better employment opportunities and offer a better environment to raise a child.

Ultimately, each couple will need to have this conversation at some point, and there is no ‘right’ answer. Best advice: write out a list of the pros and cons, just like you used to do in primary school, to help both parties see the good and bad of either staying or leaving.

Dealing with the in-laws

Meeting your in-laws is not always easy, especially if there are language and cultural barriers in the way. It’s not always the case, but be prepared for some challenges or unusual conversations with your Chinese in-laws.

Chinese families have higher expectations in many regards than most Western families. In addition, they will likely fight for their child (and you) to remain in China.

It’s important to respect the opinions of parents on both sides of the equation, but remember, it’s your relationship and, ultimately, you and your Chinese partner need to do what’s best for you. Making an effort to get to know your spouse’s parents and communicate with them will go a long way, however.

Passport & visa issues

According to the 2018 passport ranking index, having a Chinese passport means having to apply for a lot of visas (124), while renouncing one’s Chinese passport for a foreign passport is a whole other issue. If your Chinese spouse gives up their passport, coming back to visit their family will be a challenge. However, keeping their Chinese passport will prove to be a challenge for everything else, including continual visas if you move or travel abroad.

This is a tough issue as a passport is perhaps the most tangible indicator of where someone is from. However, by working together to figure out what’s best for the relationship, and not just for one individual, most couples will be able to find a reasonable solution.

A new life abroad

If you take the plunge and move your Chinese partner to your home country, try to remember what it felt like when you first moved to China. Faced with a foreign language, strange food and no sense of direction in your new city, it was easy to get frustrated and lose your cool.

Keep in mind that your Chinese spouse will need time to adjust to their new environment. In addition, your family and friends will likely have a hundred questions for them, some perhaps insensitive, so help them prepare for the initial barrage of inquiries and always have their back.

Marrying a Chinese person is undoubtedly a wonderful experience, but it’s not without its challenges. Being aware of these challenges is an important first step when it comes to dealing with the issues that may arise. However, you love who you love, so don’t let “cultural differences” get in the way of the life you want.

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Keywords: marrying a Chinese person


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Big problem

Oct 16, 2019 01:48 Report Abuse


It is very good article it is definitely a challenge, my girlfriend is Chinese that's my first motivation on moving to china let see what's gonna be hopefully I can find a nice job there.

Sep 17, 2018 12:56 Report Abuse