Posted on March 11, 2010

Westerners Burned by Foreign Marriages, March 9, 2010

From “Brokenhearted Brit in China”

I met my Chinese wife some four years ago online. Despite her speaking no English and my Chinese being basic at the time, we seemed to hit it off. We had issues though from the very start: cultural chasms, worlds apart. The Chinese in the mainland at least, inhabit a world of expediency where it’s not a question of what is good or right or true; but rather, what one can get away with, it’s the worst kind of dog-eat-dog world but devoid of any of the civilizing values such as fairness, kindness or basic courtesy.

Everyone’s out for their own interest and devil take the hindmost. Pure unadulterated capitalism with a cruel twist. In China, there’s a saying that if you put head over the parapet someone will shoot it off; it’s a collective culture and so you’d better keep a low-profile; do mediocre work at best and so avoid being noticed, utterly at odds with Euro-American drives to excellence and competence. You can imagine the kind of fall-out that happens when such disparate cultures collide.

My wife (then my girlfriend) told me she loved me and I was suckered in by her victim sob-story of how her violent dad would throw her against walls which is why she behaves like a demented control-freak most of the time: has to have her own way, be right about everything and have an opinion about everything. . . . Despite a professed conversion to Christianity she still behaves like a psychotic harridan most of the time but is now an expert on the Bible too to add to her list. It is truly sad that she can only feel safe when she is dominant in every conversation, every situation, bosses everyone around.

She’s massively insecure and this is just compensatory behaviour but if you think it’s no big deal you should try living with it day-in-day-out: my confidence is almost all gone since she makes demeaning comments all the time, has to in order to feel good about herself. Don’t get me started. Don’t repeat my mistake: you cannot love these people better, at least, I have failed to, but I really tried, boy did I try. I read this online yesterday and it helped me wake up a little bit, see what you think (the language is a bit rich):

This is my wife to a tee, bar the sensitivity mentioned in point eight:

I realized I’d been had when she fell pregnant and aborted without even a discussion and in face of her professed love for me. ‘You’re not suitable’, was her retort. I now know this meant I didn’t have enough money.

How do I know? Easy: when I got a high-paying job suddenly she wanted to marry me. That’s when my own neediness kicked in (no living family, no friends here in China or elsewhere for that matter: ‘There is safety in having many advisers’–Prov 7:14) and when I should have run a mile, I stayed. Now my life is a daily hell of put-downs, demeaning remarks, undermining me in front of her daughter (nine-year-old). Don’t make my mistake. “Every credibility gap has a gullibility fill”–guess who supplies it? . . .

Lessons? Heed the red-flags early. A man can live without trust, without love, but not without respect.



I married a girl from the Dominican Republic. The marriage came about as a result of a complicated string of events. She lived with me for 3 years prior to marriage and for me she was a soft loving person and physically attractive. Her education was basic and now that we are married she has not made any attempt to improve herself. Her written Spanish is embarrassing and she still speaks pidgeon english after more than 8 years together.

She has no understanding of finances and her expectation of me is to pay all expenses and keep her in an upper middle class existence. I have adopted her son who now I found out has an IQ in the mid 80’s and at 18 his only interest is in eating and watching movies especially cartoons.

When we go shopping she never looks at price but simply picks up what she wants. While I am busy getting groceries, she is outside picking lottery numbers or lounging in the cosmetics section. Her son is better dressed than I am and he gets whatever he wants whenever he wants it, not as a reward but out of some genetically encoded programming.

He has popcorn to watch the cartoons with and has absolutely no interests or motivation. In summer vacation he watches TV until the early hours and gets up at noon. He has no motivation to get an advanced education and it looks as though i will have a son for life . . .

As you can imagine intellectual stimulation does not come at the dinner table but through the internet or reading. It is like having two young children at home; her and her son.

I married not out of love but out of pity; to break off the relationship would have catapulted her back into a 3rd world lifestyle. I ended up learning a hard lesson in life. If you apply your experience, perspective and values in life, to judge how another person from another culture views life you will invariably be wrong. I felt that she would be forever grateful if I pulled her out of the gutter and graciously allowed her to live like I do.

Wrong! All of this is expected and taken for granted. I feel like a doormat. In terms of priority in our family unit, it is her son, the dogs and finally me.

My job is to be the rice bowl. I am the ATM machine to spew out $ on demand.

The argument I hear from many men is that American women are spoiled and demanding and have no respect for their husbands. My experience is that once you bring a foreign woman into an American lifestyle she will metamorphose in a nanosecond but still maintain her cultural values. In the end it is better to stay with your own culture, the culture you know. They understand and think, eat and live the way you do and in the end there are fewer unpleasant surprises. In my case, I am patient but very aware that the day will come where I will be unable to jump across the cultural abyss that divides us.


Max (“My Chinese Wife Set a Trap!”) was either very naive or so out of touch with the realities of Chinese Culture, traditional family obligations, and sexual politics. He seemingly had no idea what he was getting into when he married a Chinese woman.

He deserves what he got; as do the other western expats in China who fall in love and marry a Chinese women who later prove not live up to the ideal image of the demure subservient Asian honey.

I could write volumes about the disastrous results of relationships, marriages, and divorces of expats I’ve met here who married Chinese women.

Before I even arrived in China, I took the time to educate myself about the culture. As a result of my research, I knew I would only become involved with a Chinese woman if I knew they clearly understood marriage was never something I would consider. Once talk of meeting parents, giving money, living together, or marriage is mentioned, the relationship ends. Sometimes I have ended it; but most often it is the woman who walks away because she knows I have nothing that her culture and tradition demands I give her. That approach has served me well.

As each Laowai [greener] friend I have known here has got married, I knew they would be divorced within a two to three time span after a green card or citizenship in their home country was granted to their spouses.

Perhaps for your readers who which to learn more about relationships in China and Chinese women, I could recommend an excellent website operated and written by an Expat American Psychologist who has lived in China for many years. Gregory Mavrides, Ph.D. aka Talkdoc to many expats in China, discusses many aspects of issues raised by recent articles on your site. His website is called Middle Kingdom Life. This page is a good entry point . . .