Think Twice before Saying “I Do”
With the changing of times, it’s easier today than ever before to meet someone from another country. International marriages are more and more common and getting equally acceptable nowadays by Chinese people. Not a few of Chinese women have a great longing for an international relationship or even an international marriage. Marring a foreign man with a background very different from Chinese traditional culture seems mystical and romantic. On the other hand, it has to confront more conflicts in ways that might not be predicted. X and Y are both my close friends; X married an Egyptian man, while Y chose a same national marriage. Let’s look at their marriage life and see the differences between two types of marriages.
First of all, it seems that foreign husband is more enthusiastic; he will spare no efforts to praise his wife’s beauty and virtue, to express his strong affection for her at any time and at any place. In comparison, Chinese husband is more implicit; he is more likely to keep his affection inside instead of conveying it in words. For example, X’s husband often glorifies her directly in the sweetest words and the most honeyed phrases in the presence of their friends. “Every day, he makes me believe that I am the most beautiful and intelligent woman in this world. His eyes, words and acts show his hot affection and I can’t resist him. To be frank, his flattery excessively expanded my self-confidence.” said X, laughing. While, Y’s husband will blush or feel shy if he is asked to show adoration for his wife in public. Many Chinese men may not be good at expressing his love in words. They believe what they do is more important than what they say. Y told me that same national marriage offers her a sense of security; she prefers to have a Chinese husband, though he is sometimes clumsy of showing his love in words, she can still feel his tenderness and gentleness through his behavior.
Secondly, communication may be a matter of prime importance in any marriage. A good effective communication plays a critical role in maintaining the couple’s relationship over time. For those couples whose native tongue is same, verbal communication is easier; they can grasp readily what their spouses say and make a response rapidly. As for those couples in international marriage, it may be more difficult to construct a sufficient communication. To take my friend X for an example, her husband doesn’t know Chinese at all, so she has to use Arabic, Egyptian dialect and English, as well as dictionary, to communicate with him and exchange ideas. “I would be like a cat on hot bricks when he can’t grasp the message I send to him, or I can’t catch what he means.” X said. Nevertheless, this kind of language obstacle may help defuse or put down a potential quarrel between the couple sometimes. “It’s not meaningless, to some extent, it reduces the possibility that husband and wife fight in words shot for shot.” Y commented on this issue, “I think that most of the quarrels between me and my husband result from our harsh tongue. Although I know it’s inadvisable to speak hurtful words, I just can’t help doing it, for it’s an outlet for my discontent. If my husband couldn’t understand my native tongue, there would not have been those quarrels.”
Marriage is a union of two people who have their own thoughts, ideas and values. It’s said that when husband and wife are in conflict, it’s because they are operating within two value systems which are not in agreement. Every individual has his own values, which are taught in the home unconsciously, and reinforced by his social environment and cultural surroundings. On this point, international marriage seems more dangerous than that of the same nation, in respect that both sides of international couple have their own cultural backgrounds and value systems, which may be totally different, complex and obscure. This means that for international couples, there may be complex differences in their view of the world and vision of life and those differences may lead to many issues causing misunderstandings in their marriage. By comparison, marrying a native person would be much safer; after all, his cultural backgrounds and value systems are more similar to yours. Not only once, X has complained to me about his husband’s strange thoughts that are dictated by his Islamic religion. “We have so many contrary ideas in regard to many things, and many of his ideas I can’t share, such as the number of children, the way of childrearing, and male and female roles in society: he’s ok with the fact if our child couldn’t enter university in the future, while I am determined to offer my child the best education. He insists that I should quit my job and become a full-time housewife once we have a baby, while I adhere to the principle that I must carry forward my enterprise.” By contrast, Y and her Chinese husband are able to reach a consensus on such fundamental issues because of their same cultural backgrounds.
The situation is further complicated for international couples if their religions are different. Faith differences will certainly raise a string of setbacks, for instant, the problems with regard to in which manner and which religion their children will adopt.
International marriage may sound romantic, and there are some benefits indeed. However, marriage is not only infatuation and love; it needs a broader base, in which culture background plays an important role. In fact, the latest investigation shows that international marriage has more potential divorce rate, compared with same cultural marriage. Hence, if you fall in love with a foreigner and hope to constitute a family with him, think twice before saying “I do”.