A woman tries to be a good Chinese wife, but her marriage fails anyways. I wasn’t expecting it to be a trashy romance, romantic-comedy book… and ended up really loving the book.
I was interested in this book not only because it is about an American woman married to a Chinese man – a rarity because the only other books I know in that field are “Kissing Outside the Lines” by Diana Farr [American wife, Korean husband] and “Marriage in Translation” by Wendy Nelson Tokunaga [anthology of American/foreign wife, Japanese husband] – but also because it promised an ‘unhappy’ ending.
I used to, well, love “Love stories.” But then I actually fell in love and got married.
Now I find myself frustrated with the “Happily Ever After” ending, like getting married magically “solves” all your problems.
Marriage doesn’t solve any problems. If anything, it makes some of them worse. The arguments my husband and I have as a married couple are completely different than the arguments we had as “just” boyfriend/girlfriend.
It’s not such a big deal if my boyfriend wants to go out drinking twice a night with his friends. That’s his choice. However, it is a big deal if the future father of my 3-4 children is wasting time/quality “couple time” out drinking with friends.
Arguments like that spring up from time to time – things I used to do that the thought were “kind of cute” now drive him crazy.
So believe me when I say that I was 100% into hearing “real talk” about an AMWF relationship in “The Good Chinese Wife.” [In case anyone doesn’t know, AMWF is a sort of “slang term” used to define an Asian Male dating/married to a White Female]
The premise of the book is pretty straightforward.
It is a memoir written by Susan Blumberg-Kason.
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While Susan is studying in Hong Kong, she meets an attractive Chinese man, “Cai.” He essentially proposes before the even begin dating, they seal the deal with a kiss, and are married shortly after.
But then cracks start to appear in their marriage. There are late nights, sneaking around, porn, STDs, marathon rounds of “the silent game,” one-sided fights, and a lot of miscommunication.
They move to the US. A baby is born. Things don’t get better.
She realizes she might be in an abusive relationship… but isn’t ready to just throw in the towel. Things get worse.
Here’s the thing about abusive relationships – you don’t know what they’re like until you’ve actually been in one. I haven’t been in one. I never will be in one, because I got lucky and married someone who is far more supportive and nurturing than I am. My husband makes me feel stronger, wiser, and more in-control.
But I have seen abusive relationships. Sometimes the abused wises up and leaves. Often they don’t.
It doesn’t matter what anyone says or anyone does – you physically can’t make someone else change unless they want to change.
My favorite part of this book was when the author realized that she wanted to change.
She needed to change.
And she did.
I highly recommend you read the book a Good Chinese Wife: A Love Affair with China Gone Wrong
It’s hard to read books like these, as you slowly watch the supposed “fairy-tale” life crumble. But without the bitter, you can’t appreciate the sweet.
I highly recommend this book to anyone currently in or thinking about jumping into an intercultural relationship. When you fall in love with someone from a different culture, there is no “normal.”
Everything is a decision.
Do you do the housework their way or your way? What about gender roles? What about family visits? What about raising (possible, future) children? Friends of the opposite sex? Gambling, drinking, and spending money?
Don’t get me wrong, I love my own intercultural marriage. I’ve learned so much not only about myself, but also about American, Texan, and Japanese culture. I love exactly where I am right now.