Im from england and im 25 i have been married for about a year and a half to a chinese guy who is a year older than me. I love him very very much and i trust him with all my heart but i can sometimes feel so frustrated with the way he shows his love. I know its a culture difference and his upbringing as he is from a very small village , and has lived a bit of a sheltered life. Like i read in some of your articles about sex and love i had to teach him. the lack of eduction is also an issue when making big decisions or planning for the future. I hate to feel like im unsatisfied with him but sometimes i need reassurance and comfort. I have found the biggest problem can be him recognising my feelings. He doesnt speak english but im fluent in chinese and i make it very clear how i feel and i try not to critise him as i dont want to affect his confidence. It probably sounds so horrible that im moaning about him. We are very happy together and he compliments me perfectly but sometimes i feel uneasy. I am alone in china and not only am I committing my life to him, but also his family and this island and if you have ever been here you will know that the people here are not used to foreigners and you feel a bit like an alien. I feel i need more emotional support and comfort and reassurance about our future and our plans for a family. How do i get that??? i also wants to know that he is happy with me, he very rarely talks about how he feels and this can sometimes make me insecure? do you have any suggestions that could open him up a little.
Your husband reminds me of John, who once confessed that he wasn’t even aware of his own feelings, let alone how to express them. Oh, the arguments we’ve had! I considered him clueless, and even callous to my own cauldron of emotions; he thought I was too emotional and too out of control.
Clashing over the years became our own personal wake-up call that something wasn’t right, and we started talking. While I realized I had to learn a little emotional management, he learned he needed to be more responsive to my feelings and provide that emotional support.
I don’t necessarily recommend the “argument method” to get your husband to open up and realize what he’s missing. For example, you might do it with a good emotional Western movie (such as Steel Magnolias, where the characters lose it — emotionally speaking — many, many times in the course of the film), subtitled in Chinese. Doesn’t have to be a chick flick, but it should show people letting their feelings show. You might use something like this to start a conversation about yourself and your own emotional needs. He should know you come from a different culture, that you weren’t brought up the same way, and you have some different expectations in your relationship.
My Chinese husband always likes to say his job is to solve my problems — maybe your husband feels the same way? So ask him to “work” for you, so to speak. Tell him you have these problems and you need his help to find solutions — not just with the emotional support, but even your worries for the future (anything on your mind, really). If he loves you and really cares, he’ll want to make sure you’re happy in your marriage.
Speaking of happiness, I have to wonder if living with your Chinese husband’s family in his small village on an isolated island is the kind of “happily ever after” you really want. I love my husband, and love his family — heck, I’m spending the majority of this summer living with them at the family home, while my husband works on research in Shanghai. But I could never manage doing this full time. My Chinese mother-in-law might stuff me with three delectable meals a day, but I’m starved for hugs, kisses and the company of friends who really understand me, with whom I can just be Jocelyn (instead of the bizarre foreigner in the village). That’s why, as much as my in-laws don’t want me to leave, I still have planned trips to Hangzhou, Shanghai and beyond to visit my friends and husband.
You’ve compromised a lot in this marriage, perhaps even too much for your own good in the case of where you live. It’s no wonder you’re feeling so misunderstood.
Have you ever considered moving to a larger city — or working something out where you can take planned trips outside to the big city? I’m sure your Chinese husband would understand. After all, most Chinese feel very lonely when they leave their own hometowns, and long to connect with their own laoxiang (people from their hometown) when they’re outside. Tell him you need to connect with your own laoxiang too.
What do you think? What advice do you have for Hainangirl?
Do you have a question about life, dating, marriage and family in China/Chinese culture (or Western culture)? Every Friday, I answer questions on my blog. Send me your question today.