Enjoying the spoils of a Chinese marriage

By Tom Fearon Source:Global Times Published: 2012-10-30 22:18:08


Illustration: Peter C. Espina
Illustration: Peter C. Espina

A Chinese stand-up comedian living in the US poked fun last week on Sina Weibo at a dozen foreign men married to Chinese women. The post by "Brother Cui" generated 3 million related discussions as he correctly, and humorously, observed how many men bite off more than they can chew when they marry Chinese women.

Marrying a Chinese woman means having "no privacy," "a palate for everything," "driving your own kids to death," Cui claimed. But there are also plenty of benefits to marrying a Middle Kingdom maiden. Here's an abridged list of some of the perks for a laowai (foreigner) with a Chinese laopo (wife).

Say goodbye to those visas. Well, maybe not straight away, but good things come to those who wait. Just as a loyal traveler of an airliner accumulates frequent flyer points, you're up for permanent residency in China after five years of marriage and living in the country.

Try not to smirk too much as you casually stroll past those long queues of foreigners madly filling out arrival or departure forms at Chinese airports.  

You have your own Minister of Finance. If there's one stereotype Chinese probably don't mind, it's being known as the world's best mathematicians. Spending is tightly controlled and money can't be squandered on frivolous pastimes - at least, that's what you'll have to tell your friends when they ask why you are staying home on a Saturday night drinking a couple of 3-yuan ($0.50) bottles of Yanjing Beer instead of partying with them at an expensive Sanlitun bar.

As for why your wife bought that handbag on shopping website Taobao, you'll quickly learn it was heavily discounted and actually helped you both save money overall, somehow.   

You get to eat Chinese food. Remember back home when ordering Chinese food was a special treat in the office or at home? Now you're married to a super chef, you can have it every night and, even better, it's the real Chinese food - not that expensive, oily Cantonese-Vietnamese fusion slop served with fortune cookies back home.

Sure, you might have to smile and eat pig trotters or duck necks every now and again to please the mother-in-law. But most of the time you're in a culinary paradise. After you become used to some of the stronger flavors, you will even be able to shock your Chinese friends and tell them: "Yes, I can eat spicy food despite my delicate foreign palate."   

You learn a new language. Actually, you learn two. Aside from the polished Putonghua that your wife speaks in the company of friends and colleagues, you'll also learn to decipher one of standard Chinese's feral linguistic cousins - the language your wife speaks with her family.

In time, they will in turn speak it to you and you will be expected to comply by adding "er" to the end of every word or, when completely lost, nodding and offering a stern yet thoughtful expression.  

Her family loves you. Sure, it was a little bit awkward bending down to hug your wife's mother the first time you met, only to have her pull away. And your grandfather-in-law didn't quite smile as much as you did when you told him your own pop also fought in the Korean War (1950-53).

But when you tie the knot to a Chinese woman, you marry into a family of people who will love and treat you as one of your own - for better or worse.

Posted in: Twocents-Opinion

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