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See Titanic, Hindenburg & Pearl Harbor by Justin Mitchell
Cross cultural relationships: See: Titanic, Hindenburg, Pearl Harbor. Despite your fondest romantic fantasies and clichés, they are damned hard work for both parties. I know what I’m talking about. As a twice divorced, bleeding heart liberal American WASP whose ex’s are Korean and Jewish, if I wanted an “exotic” partner I’d probably hit on a blonde Republican Party committee chairwoman from Dallas or Orange County, California.


 “Breathe #6”
by famous Zhejiang artist
Li Qu

So why am I approaching my third committed relationship (and fifth year) with a native-Chinese woman? Haven’t I learned a lesson? Or am I just a masochistic glutton for cross-cultural domestic partnership hell? Well, she’s a babe and more than that, extremely savvy, funny and quite unpredictable. Which is all part of the appeal as well as the challenge.

I’ll start with some basic rules based on experience and common sense.

1.  Despite Hollywood’s portrayal and every stereotype you’ve seen about Asian females, the woman you may be wooing ain’t no servile, cooing geisha or ass-kicking, kung-fu dragon lady. She isn’t going to slavishly service you in every way, or seduce you and then cut your wah-wahs off – unless you ask for it. Or maybe that’s your thing. If so, maybe you’d be better off at a different website.

2.   She’s a human being with needs, ambitions and expectations of her own and, surprise, it isn’t all about you. Just as you have preconceptions – and possibly some limited first-hand knowledge of Asia, Chinese women and the Mystical East blah-blah - she has at least the same warped media-spun views about average life and times in the West. Despite gritty real-life documentaries such as “Sex and the City,” “Friends” and “Prison Break” (all hugely popular in China) you may have to explain to her that life overseas isn’t like TV. Ditto for you and “World of Suzy Wong,” “Memoirs of a Geisha” or Lucy Liu in “Charlie’s Angels.” Deal with it and make your own story together. It will ultimately be more satisfying.

3.  She isn’t working from the same script, much less life experience as you. You can learn as much from her as she from you, but you must stow your fantasies and make room for hers as well as ones that you, hopefully, will cultivate together. If you insist on doing it all on your terms at all times, it simply won’t work.
4.  Fights will occur. After the initial glow is gone you’ll find yourself quibbling over issues you never would have imagined. Case in point: “I wish I could fight with you in Chinese!” my frustrated and English-fluent partner said early in our relationship regarding an issue I thought was pointless. It was something about “lucky numbers” for phones. I’d foolishly signed up for a mobile phone number with no 8s (8 is very lucky) and a multitude of 4s (the worst, despite being a multiple of 8). What did I learn? A crash course in Chinese hoo-doo, as well as the fact I was fortunate to have a foreign partner who could express herself in my native language and as well as teaching me to tolerate, if not respect, her frustrations and superstitions. I have no belief in lucky anything (except my faded, torn and shrunken 1978 Denver Broncos first Super Bowl T-shirt; if I stretch it over my now-swollen belly on any given Sunday or Monday Night they’ll win, even if they did tank in that Super Bowl and several through the years that followed) but if it made our path smoother to change my number without delivering a sanctimonious lecture or asking a lot of belittling or annoying questions, let it be.
5.  Speaking of fighting, Western shrink-think advice says “Talk it out … don’t go to bed angry, etc.” Chinese culture seems to say, “Stuff it inside until you’re ready to explode but make no waves until the most inappropriate moment and then let him have it - take no prisoners!” That’s usually after you’ve gone to bed thinking everything is rosy. No advice here. Just a warning … “Incoming!”
6.  Her family comes first and largely speaking, “family” isn’t necessarily you two. It’s her parents and what siblings she might claim, be they real, cousins or distant relations she can’t explain in terms you understand except as “sister” (though she’s not), “brother” (ditto), “auntie (ditto) or “uncle” (see: sister, brother, auntie). Odds are your true love is probably their social security, especially if she marries a “rich foreigner.” Expect a warm welcome and later some outstretched palms.
7.  Be honest. Otherwise you’re gonna pay big time when she discovers your “spacious country cottage” is a 125-square foot,  1958 Airstream  rusting away in Beulah in the Pines trailer park in Micro, North Carolina.
As for the rest, that’s up to you, the Green Card Lottery and her. You can work it out. We have and we’re better for it. Now, pass me the boiled chicken feet, please.


From: Original         Author: Justin Mitchell         Time: 3/5/2010 2:56:08 PM

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