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The Couple Quandary, Chinese Style by Robert Fulghum & John Abbot

First I'm going to provide an article by Robert Fulghum which I think is an excellent read and also very on point for our members. The points that are made in this article reflect a side effect that you will experience daily as a non-Chinese man in a relationship with a Chinese woman, and at the end of Mr. Fulghum’s article I will add a few brief points specific to dating Chinese women for our member’s consideration.

 
“Do you do this: Stare in awe and wonder at a couple walking by - a couple of unlikely mis-matched ill-builts - and think, “What on Earth do they see in each other?” Yes?  Me, too. Nonstop. We examine the passing exhibition of the human species as if we were the judges in an ongoing State Fair livestock competition. Couples, especially. “Ohmygod, look at them!”
 
Many’s the time in the days when I was a parish minister when an appointment was made to discuss wedding plans and I would look up in astonishment at the couple when they came into my office and think, “You’ve got to be kidding.”
 
I had the same experience with the appearance of my teenagers’ first steady boyfriend or girlfriend. “What the hell . . . ?”
 
Fat with thin. Ugly with gorgeous. Old with young. Weird with straight. Smart with stupid. Zebras with orangutans, a moose with a Jersey cow, a giraffe with a warthog. And on and on and on. You know. In fact, you may even be part of such a couple. (Though you’re probably the last to know it.)

It’s a mystery - the Couple Quandary.

Not only does love seem blind, but also deaf and dumb and stupid and twisted, and hopelessly hopeful as well. At least from the outside.
 
This profoundly original insight is a prelude to telling you of today’s sighting: A couple walked toward me on Queen Anne Avenue. About the same age - mid-thirties, maybe.  Holding hands. Laughing. One was at least six feet six inches tall, athletically healthy, short black hair, well dressed, and well-proportioned. The other was five feet tall at most, likewise in great physical shape, tanned, very fit, and quite handsomely dressed.
 
They seemed blissfully delighted to be in each other’s company, and walked at that casual pace people use to wander about in art galleries. No rush. No cell phones or I-Pods or dog or baby stroller. A couple. Together. (You know I’m shamelessly leading you on. But wait for it . . . )

The big one - was a woman - very feminine - quite pretty.

The little one - was a man - very masculine - quite handsome.
 
My mind went wild.

What was he to her? Her lunch? Her jockey? Her substitute for a pet? What was she to him? His bodyguard? His trained huntress? The other half of his circus act? And, well, I admit it - I wondered what went on between them in bed. Who did what to whom and how? How could I not wonder that? Wouldn’t you?
 
So I turned around and stalked them - followed at a distance for awhile.
 
At times he let go of her hand and placed his arm around her shapely butt. (It was as high as he could easily reach.) And she rested her hand on his shoulder or on the back of his muscular neck. And then they went back to holding hands. Always in touch. And the touching was always tender. They window shopped.

They stopped to look at the flowers in front of the Metropolitan Market. He picked orange roses. She picked some blue flowers I don’t know the name of. They had the clerk wrap the flowers together. “Is this a gift,” the clerk asked. “No, just for us,” she said.
The man paid, but they took turns carrying the flowers as they wandered on down the avenue.
 
We - they, with me still tagging along - went into Café Ladro for coffee. They both ordered an iced latte - single shot - to go. She paid this time, while he held the flowers. They sat down in the chairs outside to drink their coffee and watch the world go by. Still holding hands. And I, sitting three chairs over, finally noticed the wedding rings on their fingers.
 
Really? Really.
 
I couldn’t hear what they said, but they laughed a lot. And once she picked up both their hands and kissed them both lightly in a wordless blessing.
 
I left. I was afraid I would say something to them. Something stupid. Like I had been following them. Like asking them for their story - the rest of it. Like asking them how they saw each other beyond the cultural categories of Big Woman / Small Man. Like some sage comment on the mysterious nature of love. Like telling them the story they made for you and for me - the one I was going to write when I got home. But, no.

Sometimes - not nearly often enough - but sometimes, I am wise enough to mind my own business. And sometimes I am also wise enough not to explain the obvious to those who read my journals. Like you don’t know the point of my telling you all this? I trust you can take it from here . . .”
 
You can read the original article by Mr. Fulghum here..., and also go from there to many other great pieces by him.
 
Now for the Chinese factor:
 
For those of you considering entering a relationship with a Chinese lady you need to consider that much of what Robert Fulghum discusses will apply to you, for you will now be seen daily in public with another person whom many of those watching you will wonder about. You will find yourself being stared at on occasion as different people visibly ponder your circumstances for a variety of reasons. Some will simply be curious as to how you met, some will be bigots who clearly disapprove, some will be men who are envious of you, and others will be Western women who are a little indignant that one of theirs has been stolen.
 
If you are of middle age or older and your Chinese wife or lifemate is your own age, she’ll look 10 years younger than you, and if she’s 10 years younger she’ll look 20 years younger. This will compound the staring factor as countless people will wonder what that beautiful young Asian woman is doing with the old fart. And so far I’ve been describing how it will be in your home country.
 
In China the stare factor is multiplied by 10. Chinese, especially the more rural Chinese who make up a lot of the work force and street traffic in all the big cities, are inclined to stare at other people incessantly and without remorse. They will stare at you as a couple almost in shock. The elderly will not understand what a Chinese woman could possibly want with a Gui Lao and will generally disapprove. Most onlookers will automatically assume that she is with you for your money, what other reason could there be. And many of the men, who substantially outnumber the women in China, will be angry that a Westerner has stolen a potential mate when there is already a shortage.
 
My own wife is 10 years younger than me and looks at least 20 years younger, and in China we draw the “old fart” and the “you’re stealing our women” stares everywhere we go. We have learned to ignore it, and even laugh when someone is so obvious about it that it can’t be ignored, but I have friends who find it very disconcerting and sometimes become extremely angry, occasionally to the point of acting out and then receiving pointed staring from everyone around them. 
 
But the “Couple Quandary” is a fact of life in such a cross cultural relationship and you need to calculate how you’re going to deal with it.


From: Original         Author: Robert Fulghum & John Abbot         Time: 1/15/2010 12:01:37 PM

 
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#2012-05-21 22:37:00 by gaspasser @gaspasser
Reply Great article...very well written and informative...thank you.
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