A Tumultuous European-Chinese Marriage + Advice Needed

(photo by Leolein via Flickr.com)

When I usually share stories about couples of Chinese men and Western women, they usually fall into two camps: the “happily-ever-after” couples and the couples that once were. 

And then there’s the story I’m about to share — about a couple fighting for their marriage. Petya reached out to me recently to ask that I publish her tale on my blog, hoping that readers could also weigh in with advice on how to save her marriage and family. So please, don’t be shy in the comments! If you have any ideas, Petya would love to hear them. 

Petya, thanks so much for your courage to share this publicly.


I’m Bulgarian. My childhood passed under Communism in the Eastern Block. When I went to study in Western Europe, I got on very well with my Chinese colleagues. There was something deeply similar in the education and behavior that made contact very easy.

Years later I went to study Japanese in Tokyo. The second time I went to Japan, in my class I met a Chinese man who was interested in me. He was working in a big multinational Japanese company and they took him in Japan and payed for his Japanese lessons because they were preparing him to become their Marketing Director for China. I didn’t return his interest, even though we were getting along well. I knew we lived in different worlds — I would go back to Europe and he had brilliant career prospects in Asia.

But one day, we had a debate in class about love and he said in front of everybody that the perfect person to be his girlfriend exists and it was me. Of course it was very flattering for me, but most importantly, I found this very brave and I decided this guy is exactly like me — a fighter — so I gave him a chance.

We started a beautiful relationship. I had to go back to Europe to work. As I have a flexible and well paying job, I was traveling every month to Japan for approximately 10 days to be with him. We got engaged and continued like this. He came two or three times to Europe. We also went to China and he introduced me to his family. His mother passed away a long time ago, and his father is remarried. He has an elder brother who is married with one child.

This situation could have continued for years. He had business trips everywhere in Asia and if I could, I joined him in exotic destinations. Then the big earthquake and the tsunami hit Japan. He was in Tokyo and I was deadly worried. Then Fukushima happened too. It was horrible to be so far away. And suddenly, even though I always said I didn’t want to hurry to have children, I changed. I thought life is so short and we are so vulnerable. I could lose the love of my life and will have nothing left except some beautiful memories. Then I decided I’m ready for a family. We married one month later. A few months later I got pregnant. The big surprise was I was pregnant with twins. We decided it’s better for me to stay and give birth in Europe, because of the radiation in Tokyo. So we did. Meanwhile he moved back to China for the new position. I travelled two times during my pregnancy to China The twins were born in Europe, but he couldn’t be here to see their birth.

My life changed completely. Before I knew I was pregnant with twins, I was still planning to travel. I overestimated myself. With the two newborns and no family to help me, only a full-time nanny, I was crazy tired here. And I had to resume working on the third month after the birth, because we went through all our savings. It was impossible to travel. I thought going to Shanghai to live there, but my husband’s job, even as Marketing Director didn’t pay well enough to allow him to support our big family. I had to take care of the two babies. And I don’t speak Chinese. How could I bring the babies to a doctor without speaking the language if my husband is on business trip? I couldn’t even order a taxi. He said he would send the babies to his family, but I doubted his step-mother would take care of the babies of somebody else’s son. I went to visit him with the babies and the nanny, a long and difficult flight from Brussels to Shanghai. His father didn’t even come to see the boys in Shanghai. Only the wife of his brother came and she helped me a lot.

If we move to Shanghai, we don’t have enough money to live normally, I don’t speak Chinese, and the only solution is we hire an English-Chinese speaking nanny and I still have to travel to Europe to work for at least one or two weeks every month in order to contribute to the family budget and eventually pay my loan for the apartment I’ve bought in Brussels.

If I quit completely my job, I have to sell the flat in Brussels, abandon everything, and become a housewife and somehow live there. I’m not the housewife type. I’m conference interpreter, working for Heads of States and Governments, the European Commission and Parliament. But my main language, Bulgarian, is too small to be interesting for somebody in China.

The third solution was for him to abandon everything, but I didn’t want this. I know how difficult is to make a career from a scratch because I did it too. I could not destroy his career. And as a Bulgarian from the former Soviet Block, I know what discrimination means in Western Europe. I lived as a second category citizen in France during all my studies there, even if I had more diplomas and better notes than most of the French people. I know what humiliation means. I didn’t want him to experience the same as a Chinese.

I was getting more and more tired, depressed, and even crazy. I had also some health problems resulting from complications of giving birth, so I had surgery.

I started asking him to come. We fought, we argued. Then I asked for a divorce. He realized it was serious and quit his job. He came here. Was I happy? No, I was crying over his destroyed career. I was feeling guilty. He came here broken. I think unconsciously he was hating me because I destroyed his career. He hated also to be dependent on me. I tried to find him something to do while we were searching for a job. I registered him to study French and to go to driving school. He refused to finish the classes. He said he will decide when to go to classes and what to do. We argued about how could I help him. He said my job-hunting assistance wasn’t helpful and he doesn’t need my help.

I was nervous, often crying and shouting. He said he hated this kind of woman and if he knew I was like this, he would never marry me. He accused me of using the boys as a tool to make him come here. We fought for half a year. Although I found him a job as a shipment manager, and not a bad one, he wasn’t satisfied and hated it. The atmosphere in the company was bad, he said. Because of the family reunion law, he couldn’t leave the country for 6 months. He felt even worse – like my hostage.

And one day he saw me completely broken, crying and telling him that I made a mistake to ask him come here, that all I did was stupid and I’m ready to quit my job and Europe and go to China. The colleague who replaced him as Marketing director in China had left, so his position was free and he could have gone back. He refused.

So this is our story until now. We stopped arguing and I don’t ask anything from him. I just try to stay calm and he also seemed to calm down recently. But I don’t know what will happen.

What do you think? What advice do you have for Petya?


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114 Replies to “A Tumultuous European-Chinese Marriage + Advice Needed”

  1. did he have a friend there? i fell sory for both of u, but i can’t think any better step than other u take, so u realy did a great job. just show him more that u realy sory. we sucker at women tear and weakless. i will pray for u guys to be okey ,hi jocelyn sie2 . from hokian guy live in indonesia

  2. it’s a practical issue that could happen in any marriage, only the cross-continent situation makes it harder. it’s obvious that u want to stay in brussels and he wants to stay in china, though he came to brussels under the threat of divorce. i think nobody can tell u whether u should stay in brussels or leave for china, u guys need to make up ur mind. once this is decided, all u should do is loving each other and supporting each other as u were. Omnia vincit amor!

  3. A guy quited his job for sake of his wife and family can not be labeled as sexist. Yes, Chinese men do such thing for their wifes. They are the most devoted husbands for the familes and wifes.

    I only have the praise here for the Chinese men.

    On the other side of coin, Jocelyn is an incredible woman who is willing moving anywhere her husband can succeed. Her husband is really a lucky guy.

    At end, person of giving is the answer. Ability of compromising is how civilzation works. My way or high way always (stubborness) often leads to severe consequence.

    Yes, you are on the right track to feel for your husband. Next step is to see bigger picture and evaluate all options. At end, you have to give up something to gain some thing.

  4. It’s so sad you are in this situation. I hope everything gets sorted for you.

    My advice would be…you have children now, so you have to decide what is best for them. Where will you both be able to provide the best life for them and will you be able to move there without tearing your marriage apart? It’ll be hard but I’m sure you can find a solution.

  5. Petya. Firstly, I would like to state that you are one incredibly brave woman for being willing to marry a Chinese man despite the physical distance. Secondly, I wish you, your husband and twins nothing but the very best.

    You two must ask yourselves the most basic of all questions in a marriage: do you still love each other? If your answer is in the affirmative, then nothing should be able to break you two. Since you are Eastern European from Bulgaria familiar with discrimination in the West, I presume you are familiar with the history of Europe during WW II when many Jewish and gypsy families were taken to the concentration camps. They endured tremendous suffering but many of these couples stayed together because they allowed their love to conquer all. I think that William Shakespare once wrote: “Let me not to the marriage of true minds admit impediments where alteration finds.” (I think) Ms. Petya, believe me when I state that you are not alone in your sufferings. Many couples have suffered and stayed together. I am a White boy from one of the southern states in the U.S. and I am familiar with cases of discrimination. I learned in history that a black-and-white couple once tried to marry when the laws did not permit them. They fought the system; they fought with each other questioning whether they did the right thing; they faced ostracization from their families; and they faced discrimination from their peers. However, they prevailed and won the right to marry in the case of Loving v. Virginia. So, Petya and Chinese man, do not give up and continue to believe in each other.

    All the best!!!!!


  6. I am so sorry to hear that you guys are in such a difficult situation. It is not easy to advice you what to do. Obviously, both of you are not happy in situ.

    You will have to calm down and talk over the options, though they look so limited at this point.

    Your hubby obviously isn’t happy there in Brussels, apparently feeling trapped and useless. For a Chinese guy to be in such a situation is really not an easy thing to handle and a big blow to his ego.

    You, on the other hand, obviously enjoy what you are doing, and the money you earn, and are not ready to just be a housewife. With twins to bring up and take care of.

    It is really a time-bomb situation.

    So you guys really have to stand strong.

    If your hubby can’t adapt himself in Brussels and the work options are limited for him or he obviously feel inadequate to take up the challenge to work there, it might be better that he returns to China and pick up from there while you and the kids stay in Brussels until the situation of your hubby in China improves.

    I really don’t see any option unless your hubby takes up the challenge of a career in Brussels.

    You may be wrong that your skill in the Bulgarian language might not get you anywhere in China since you obviously have the skills and experience of a conference interpreter. You could always try teaching English in China for a start and learn Mandarin as you go along.

    Obviously, there will have to be some sacrifice on both sides.

    Whatever you two decide in the end, I wish you guys all the best.

  7. Here are my advices:

    1) Never tell your spouse to quit his/her job unless your 100% sure that there will be a job for him/her when arrives. You must need to know that you’ve quit your job already and will your husband be able to support you and the whole family (ies) . I told my wife that if in the future , I’ll be jobless, she can support the whole family. You always have to think about the worse case scenario situation because nobody can help you guys financially sometimes. Before, I always had 4 to 5 yrs reserve even I didn’t have to work 5 yrs and all food, utilities etc were paid for. All have funds for rainy days !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    2) All my Chinese guy friends that I know will suffer for their wives and the whole damn families. These Chinese men would work out of state or open another business from out of state in order to support the families, wives, kids etc. Chinese men usually don’t complain about hardship that much. We know what to do most of the time. We don’t like women who shout/scream all the time.

    3) You must have confidence in your husband/wife. As husband and wife, we should help each other in our careers. I help my wife all the time . The goal is don’t give up. If you’re willing to work days and nights , things will get better .

  8. Petrya, how long has your husband been staying in Europe so far? His reactions sound like culture shock to me. I’ve seen many Chinese react in similar ways once they were out of their comfort zones (without the networks they usually have in China, without being able to understand fully how things work in Europe, without being able to speak the language fluently). He might want to care for you and the kids but feel unable to do so in many respects.

    I’m not saying you would be better off in China, because as you said, in China you wouldn’t be able to understand the language. But I wouldn’t write China off completely either, I’m pretty sure that you would still be able to find a job there (maybe not with Bulgarian, but with your English skills or some of your other talents). Have you done any research on Bulgarian companies in Shanghai? Or other international companies? If you don’t get any family support, you can try on finding an Ayi that will help you with the kids. But of course, those cost money, so you two would need to make enough in order to be able to afford an Ayi.

    Maybe your husband will feel more secure in Europe with time, maybe he won’t be able to adjust to the surroundings at all because he feels that it wasn’t his own decision to go there. Only time can tell. Just don’t give up yet, there’s always a way, it might just be another one than the one you originally thought you’d take.

  9. I do wish the two of you luck. Few days back I gave my friend some hard to questions to answer, which are these: What do you want out of life, and what sacrifices are both of you willing to make? Out of curiosity, do you know any Russian? Maybe knowing some Russian might help you out in China.

  10. This practice issue could happen in any marriage and any places. Even in China, the couples from different provinces will have the same issue. And eventually, one the couple have to compromise for the family. Couldn’t give a better advice.
    Wish your guys all the best.

  11. Petya, first of all I must ask if you have considered the cultural differences between Chinese and your own culture? Although both of your cultures are influenced by communism, this has very little to deal with cultures.

    First I would like to say that Shanghai is not that expensive to live in. From your explanation it sounds like you a reluctant to accept the culture of China. If you put the standards of living at a level of that of Europe then sure everything will be costly. Live like the Chinese and you can survive fairly decent. If you are skilled in English you can easily become a private English teacher. This can earn you upwards of 300RMB/hour. I know this because I currently live in Shanghai and do it.

    You must remember you started this relationship knowing that both of you lived in separate countries. Now this part of your tale makes you seem selfish. You clearly knew the living expenses of your husband’s country yet you married anyway without stability? In Shanghai the custom is to have a house and car before marriage. Your husband is at fault here. Have both of you considered living apart for work until you become stable enough?

    From experience with my fiancé I will say that a Chinese man would rather work himself to the bone then have you give him money. China is still facing a era where the women are still considered unequal to men. Your husband probably wants you to become a housewife because you will be under his control.

    Next, I would highly recommend learning Mandarin. Your husband is Chinese so you should attempt to learn Chinese. This will make him feel that you are trying to contribute to the marriage. This will also help to make your husband feel less frustrated by the language barrier. My fiancé and I still face a language barrier even though his English is near perfection and I have studied Chinese for 3 years. However we love surprise each other by speaking the second language.

    Lastly, do not doubt Chinese parents. They will be there for you because they expect you to care for them when they are old. The father probably hasn’t visited because he feels that you have wronged his son. The family bonds in China are very strong. Parents expect to care for the grandchildren.

    The best way to overcome these problems can be done in one way: Move to China. I highly suggest this solution if your husband has the chance to get his job back. Shanghai is full of wealth and opportunities if you dare to look. His parents will be there to care for you and your children. *Many of the children on the streets of Shanghai are with their grandparents. Give a little, gain a little.

    Many of us make mistakes in our life but afterwards we learn from these mistakes. The best way is to push on and try your best. Sure moving to China will not be easy but it will be a challenge that could save your marriage.

    Remember the foundation of marriage is rooted around family. You marry for a family. Both you and your husband should remember this.

    If moving to China is out of the question then you must help comfort your husband through the culture change. He most likely feels strong hatred for your home country because you forced him there on the basis of divorce. Try to comfort his bruised ego and make him love living there. Talk to him about why he is having a hard time at work. Learn to cook some popular Chinese dishes for him to eat. *I am currently studying in Shanghai while my fiancé is in the US. Many times he has mentioned that he misses Chinese food.

    I wish both of you the best of luck in your marriage. Keep in mind the cultural differences! This ruins relationships most of the time.

    On a side note, twins are considered good luck in China. 😉

    1. To Andrea,

      Most of your advices are good and helpful to a desperate woman who is trying to save her marriage. However, there are things you said here are not helpful to a career woman who has a strong head.

      You gave advice base on your the only Chinese fiancé. Remember that he does not represent all Chinese men. You said: “China is still facing a era where the women are still considered unequal to men. Your husband probably wants you to become a housewife because you will be under his control.” To me, this statement is a typical belief from a typical western woman. This just proves you don’t really understand Chinese culture, and specifically don’t understand Chinese men, and all men in general.

      Lots of Chinese men feel that they have a responsibility to take care of a family. They prefer to be the ones to go out to work and fight, like the hunters in thousands years ago before civilizations. They prefer the wife to stay in a warm home to internally take care of family, not to control the wife like you said.

      If he really wanted to control the wife, the husband would not have let her go back to Europe to work and live on her own.

      Other thing is that you said to comfort his “bruised ego”. Really? Men have bruised egos, and women don’t have bruised egos? This is a very wrong term to use. Not just Chinese men have egos but all men and women of human species have egos to be bruised. Be careful how you carry your message across.

      My biggest advice to this Bulgarian woman is NEVER use the word “divorce” to threaten a spouse to do something like her situation. In love, there are gives and takes. Her husband has shown his love for her and family to quit that promising career he held. But does that what a wife really wants like the situation her and the husband are in? If she really loves him, she must show her love for him not by threatening him to make him quit his good job but by his side and emotionally support him regardless rich or poor.

  12. Dear Petya,

    Usually I give benefits of the doubt to both parties in concern before making a judgement. Besides, your real life situation could be entirely different from what we’ve learnt from the story you’ve written here. Although the overall situation is pretty simple, there might be subtle differences or nuances we might not be fully aware of.

    1. Why did he stand up and say in front of all the students during debate that “You are the one meant for his life.”? Then suddenly he told you “Had I known earlier that you were like that kind of women, I would have never married to you.” Those are totally different sentiments we read here in within 1 or 2 minutes long someone else story. Without going through what had happened during all those years, imagine if my wife asks me for a divorce [economy is not so good, physical closeness is not day in and day out], I would have said “Yes, let’s do that.” on the spot instead of quitting my job and go to Bulgaria. Never would have I done that in my life to quit my job and go to the place where I’m not familiar with, let alone I’ll be depending on the wife and babysit the kids in home?

    This is nothing to do with Chinese culture and Western culture. No husband will ever consider their 1st priority as babysitting and depending on their wives.

    2. Fighter – there are two types of fighters; One is smart, well-planned, trained and suave enough to navigate the world in his own terms and work his way through; the other one is bonehead, ignorant, and work his way through physicality and current circumstances without thinking twice. Since I don’t know your husband personally, making a judgement will only serve me as an arrogant internet savvy D-bags. Anyway, I think your husband falls within these two categories. First of all, who would have wanted to learn Bulgarian in the first place without any financial incentive and real job prospects. In fact, you should be the one start learning 汉语, with the job prospects, even if your current jobs hold you forever. At least you won’t let your children miss out the opportunities in China in 30-50 years down the road.

    Sidenote: Look at those bottom-tier low lives from western countries now started learning 你好话 alot to get into Chinese women pants.

    3. Falling in love with someone from outside your race is fine and dandy in the first few months or years because it’s all exotic, sharing childhood experiences, learn new things. But in reality, without any concrete future plan or thoughtful consideration, those exotic “shine” wears off eventually. By that I must say Jocelyn is the one walking in the right direction and John is also the one doing the right thing. To come to US to peg his career with western education, and going back. In Majority of Asian Men/Western Women couples, in my opinion, Asian men try their best to withstand ups and downs of their lives and try to maintain the marriage. Western women in those couples are also more or less into protecting their marriage. The divorce rate between AMWF is way more lower than WMAF coupling. That’s how it is. For that, I applaud your husband for his utmost attempt to prevent divorce by quitting his job while you yourself claim “I’m not a housewife type. I’m an interpreter.” Well, I’d say your husband would have tried his best from failed marriage because he could have learnt the hard way from his biological parents how it would have been harsher and difficult to grow up without support from both parents.

    4. You have good qualification from France. It’s a plus to look for a job in China if you know the language. Why don’t you just give it a shot and work your way through? Of course life would no longer be the same if you move to other countries no matter it is China or France or wherever. Think about it, at least it’s giving the chance for your children, twins even if it’s not for YOU unless you really want your twins to study Bulgarian and become an interpreter again.

    That’s all for now.

  13. How about trying your best to work out your differences in Europe first? It should take your husband a few years to adjust to a very distinct environment.
    I imagine your children should be a strong bound for you two. Your husband and you are the people to decide why you are in the marriage and if you want to make it work.

    I think it is understandable your husband has resentments, but he also must get help to rebuild a life. It is entirely possible. Europe has a lot more to offer than China too. If he becomes destructive and abusive, you may want to leave the marriage. The bottom line is that we do need to be responsible for our own choices.

  14. Wow, what a complicated and thought provoking sorry this is. I really feel for the op, as it seems she has endured a lot of tragedy in her life. As for practical recommendations, I agree with the analysis above. He is feeling emasculated due to bring unable to provide, or provide at the same level. Also he is resentful for you making him quit his career and move down on the social standing ladder. Unfortunately, compared to the other husband’s and fathers I know of all stripes, he sounds maybe a bit more uncompromising. It could very well be culture shock. At this point, if you plan on staying in Europe, give him room, time, and space to discover himself without pressuring him. Don’t argue, shout, or make demands. He has to come to that realization himself. Discrimination aside, this is probably best for your overall prospects and for the twins.

    Option 2 is to go to China. It’s not nearly as difficult as it sounds, and while you can’t live off just his income, finding work as a foreigner with impeccable credentials such as yours is not hard. Options include language teaching, interpreting, small business with his help, or even nanny work.

    A final out of the box thought is to go to another country whee both of you will be strangers. Somewhere like HK or Singapore or even London come to mind. Not only are there many well-paying multilingual opportunities, but both of you will have the chance to experience culture shock together, which will help you grow as a couple.

    He could also go back and work while you stay in Europe and work, like before. You could cut down on the number of visits to save money and energy as well. It’s not ideal for a married couple, but if you both save like maniacs with a future goal of eventually moving together somewhere, it can work. Heck, this is what my dad did for a few years while getting his PhD from abroad.

    Basically all the roads are still open to you. Your circumstances haven’t really changed since before you asked him to come to Brussels. Just make sure that whatever path you choose it’s something both parties can accept and agree on.

  15. I feel so sorry for you. I hope it will be solved in near future – honestly I wouldn’t just give up the idea of living in China. I know that being a housewife can literally kill someone (I’m forced to be a housewife for now) but in meantime with savings from a flat you can take care of children, use some free time to study Chinese and try to get a job connected to your education – I’m pretty sure there are foreign companies. My husband’s dad has in his factory a man from Venezuela – he speaks literally no Chinese – not even ni hao or xie xie and he got a job, he speaks English to younger ones and they translate it to Chinese. I’m not really sure about being English teacher – too many people from UK, USA etc. came in last years and teach English and since they are the native speakers you might lose with them but as I said – you can give a shot to a foreign company or use free time to study Chinese and use your job experience. If you have friends there or maybe husband’s family could help you with getting a job. Non of you really should give up their dream jobs because it will make you unhappy. I believe you two can do it – everyone has regrets from time to time but you two love each other, have your beautiful twins and from every problem there’s a solution – if there’s no solution it’s not a problem then 😉 hang in there!

  16. What a difficult situation! I cannot add much at all to the many pieces of good advice you’ve heard already here. Here are my small points:

    1. Talk with his family, together with him, about the difficulties. Chinese family ties are normally very strong, even when it doesn’t appear so. He may also wish to discuss the problem with his Chinese friends in Shanghai who can offer help and advice. With advice from trusted family and friends, you might learn of new options that you didn’t know were there, and it’ll get them thinking so that if you do move to China, they will support you in ways you might not have imagined.

    2. As another poster mentioned, consider living apart for awhile. You have done it before. He can work in China, and travel to see you and the children whenever he’s able. The time goes fast with babies, and soon you’ll be able to travel more easily with them.

    3. Have patience, focusing on your priorities. Jobs, money, travel…. these are all temporary manifestations in life, not to be confused with the more elemental (love, relationships, family) as you intuitively knew when the earthquakes hit. The dying person doesn’t care about the job as much as her loved ones. I would do everything possible to provide love and support to your spouse and children. Take care of the relationships in your life as a highest priority, and the other things next.

  17. Living apart is a bad idea when your children are so young. You or your husband will regret in the long run. I live in US. Maybe it is more common to see immigrants come here to start a new life from bottom. There is nothing to be ashamed of. Take advantage of many educational opportunities,which are much better outside of China, and make new friends. One important thing is to stop comparing to life as you remembered and focus on what is in front of you. If your husband loves you, you can help him to see things through by talking to others who have similar experiences. I am sure there are lots of such people around once you are willing to look.

  18. Hi Petra,

    Having kids is a big challenge for ALL parents – even with grandparents helping – it is normal for wife or husband to make some career sacrifices for some family stability at this stage. It is normal for more arguments to happen. It sounds like you both are intelligent, good people that can sacrifice for each other – so to me, your marriage sounds promising if you keep that up.

    You guys need to figure out if China or Brussels has better economic opportunity including how to get help with the kids. Making money and raising kids are universal issues. You should reach out to parents if they are retired and use daycare/nanny to regain sanity. Shanghai sounds too expensive if you arent’ making a lot, consider rent or live in suburb.

  19. 1.) Marriage counseling, stat. If he’ll g0 (I know it’s not really a thing in China). This is the sort of issue that professional grade help was made for. A therapist won’t have answers but (s)he’ll be able to ask questions to help lead you to your own solutions and have coping strategy suggestions and communication suggestions in the meantime. This sort of problem is above all of our pay grades.

    2.) I think both of you need to consider this: when you make a decision, you don’t really have the right to complain when the predictable results of that decision happen. You decide to have kids – well, what did you think would happen? He decides to quit his job and move to Europe – well, what did he think would happen? Rather than complain that things aren’t working out (in fact, they’re working out exactly well as you could have expected them to), accept that you both made these decisions and that the only way forward is to make them work. You’ve done that vis-a-vis the kids – now it’s his turn vis-a-vis accepting that his situation is the obvious result of his decision to quit his job and move.

    I don’t mean this to berate you for decisions that have already been made, but as a template for future behavior regarding the consequences.

    3.) I get the feeling from your post that both of you “make decisions” but you rarely make them together. HE said he wanted to be with you, YOU decided to stay in Europe, HE decided to go to China (what did you guys expect? Did he think you’d move to China? Did you think he’d move to Europe? How was this supposed to play out long term?), YOU decided to have children, HE decided to quit his job. I’m not hearing a lot of “WE decided” and that is probably at the root of the problem. What makes marriages work is that the two people in them, defenses down, think about what’s best for them as a couple, and always consider that when making decisions together. There’s not that much “I decided X and he did Y” but more “we found ourselves in A situation and we did B”.

    4.) I don’t think this is a sexism issue, although I see sexism here: he did quit his job and move to be with you, but now he’s not owning that decision, and he seemed fine with leaving you on your own to raise his children. He’s quit his job and moved to Brussels – but he doesn’t seem OK with being the primary caregiver to his kids (I don’t know how he feels about you being a breadwinner). It’s not babysitting – they’re his kids, you two are equal, and it’s his responsibility as much as yours to set aside whatever it is *you* or *he* wants to do and do what’s best for them for a time. And what’s best for them may be that he stay home. There’s no shame in that – and if he thinks there is shame in it because “men don’t do that”, then that is sexism talking. If he thinks he ought to be earning more than you (although this doesn’t really seem to be a problem), then that’s sexism, too. Perhaps a good counselor could also help you navigate that. Less you, less he, more we.

    5.) My guess is he didn’t take to French classes and the job you found because he feels pushed to do whatever you want him to do. If he feels that’s a “bruise on his manly ego”, that’s sexism talking, too, but it may just be like any normal human: nobody, male or female, likes to be told “and now you’re going to do this”. Instead of you finding things for him to do (notice the “you” here again), he needs to find his own direction – and you can, as a more local person, assist him in that, but you can’t decide for him. And he would do well to consider what’s best for the whole family – you need to back off on his finding direction (less you), but he needs to a.) drop his dukes and b.) stop whining (less he) so he can take charge of whatever it is he wants to do in Brussels (more we). He doesn’t want to do anything? Well, why’d he quit and move there? He can find something. And if he does it on his own, he’s more likely to find meaning in it and stick with it. And he probably is suffering from culture shock – it’d be good to forgive him for this period of emotional turmoil.

    6.) Don’t discount moving to China (or Tokyo – could he do his job there? The radiation in Tokyo is not a problem now, it’s north of Tokyo where one needs to worry). I know it’s not fair that he comes to Brussels and mopes around, so now it’s you who have to consider changing your life because he lacked the will and tenacity to fully change his (moving but then whining that he can’t find anything to do does not equal changing), but think of it this way: he did try for you, although he possibly didn’t go about it in the most grown-up way. So now you may try for him? How is it all that different anyway from what you were doing before, flying to Asia for ten days of every month? The only real changes from before would be that the kids will be in Shanghai (or Tokyo?). The downside is that you don’t want to be putting them through Chinese school (I don’t have much faith in the educational philosophies of Chinese primary and secondary schools – I’m not a big fan of rote memorization, overwork and tests) so you may want to pay for a private option.
    You’ll be there for a portion of every month, flying back for your job for another portion, and a full-time nanny in Shanghai will be much cheaper than a full-time nanny in Brussels. You can live in the apartment you’re paying off now in Brussels for that period, if you find work in Shanghai or wherever, you can rent it out to cover the loan costs, once its paid off renting it out will provide a nice side income, don’t give that up if you can avoid it.

    Remember culture shock may hit you as badly as it seems to have hit him – and Shanghai may not be the place you want to live out your days (I know I wouldn’t want to live there). You probably will pay more for a ‘Western’ style of living there – what’s kept me in Taiwan long-term is that I can afford certain Western amenities, so my home life is not that different from when I lived in the USA, but when I leave home my lifestyle is pretty Taiwanese. I have both, and that’s helped keep me from long-term culture fatigue. You may not want to live like a local and there is no shame in that.

    7.) His whole “I wouldn’t have married you if I’d known this is what you were like” is troubling: you were acting that way out of frustration directly related to him. On one hand, I can see how he’d think “I quit my job and moved for you, and this is what I get for it – I did a lot for you and now I feel guilty that you’re still crying and screaming”. On the other, with who kids, and you working, and he has no direction in Brussels and doesn’t seem to be doing his part to raise the kids (again, not babysitting, he’s their dad, IT IS HIS JOB), of course you are frustrated. I feel like he has this idea that he can act how he likes, and you have to be resilient and take it. That you, as a woman, are meant to be always stoic, never angry, never upset. You’re not allowed to own your own feelings of frustration. That’s not right. You do have a right to those feelings (as he does to his own frustration at his situation). A good counselor can help you navigate that, too, and balance “I have a right to feel this way” with “I feel this way due to the entirely predictable consequences of my actions, and I have to do something about that (see above)”. Getting from the first to the second is usually what makes people ‘snap out of’ whatever crap they were feeling.

    Too long, didn’t read?

    1.) Get marriage counseling.
    2.) Don’t discount moving to Shanghai and flying to Europe for work.
    3.) Less you, less he, more we. You need to start making decisions as a unit. A good counselor can help with this.
    4.) Don’t accept that it’s more your job than his to raise kids – he’s their dad. If what’s best for them is that he look after them while you two try to figure out your situation, then it is not babysitting and it is not an affront to his manhood. He doesn’t get special Get Out Of House Duties Free merits because he’s got a penis.
    6.) Work with him to help him find his own direction in Brussels, rather than finding things for him to do.

  20. To be honest, I really don’t get it. When you decided to be together (even before you got engaged) you two never discussed where you are going to live? Maybe I’m old fashioned but to me beeing with someone means living together, long distance relationships just don’t work for a long time. Then it’s getting more and more weird. After the engagement your husband was ok that you live in Brussels and he’s in Shanghai? That doesn’t seem to be very chinese. Also, he married you and made you pregnant while he was aware that he can’t provide for the family and now he doesn’t like it that you are trying to help him in Brussels and complains about bad atmosphere at work? Hey! Shouldn’t you talk about all these things BEFORE you got married? Where will we live and what is the best for our children – these are decisions every couple should make TOGETHER (agree with Jenna here). And one more thing: why did he refuse to go back to Shangai? He doesn’t want to learn French and work in Brussels but he also doesn’t want to move to China with you? So what is his problem?
    But you are in this situation already (and it’s not as difficult as it seems) so here’s what I think:
    You can stay in Brussels and he’ll go to work or stay at home with the kids. It’s not like every single Chinese man can’t accept the fact that his wife is the main or only breadwinner. My boyfriend doesn’t work at all because I can provide for both of us and he seems to be perfectly ok with it (I’m not but that’s another story). Probably he’ll feel lost and lonely in a foreign country but that’s a price he’d have to pay. After all, he’s the one who said first that he wants to be with you and married you. Also in Europe your kids will get better education, healthcare and better standard of living. He’s their father and has to think about their future too.
    Or – you can go to China (back to Shanghai or somewhere else). He can get his old job back or find something new. You can get a job too. I’m from Poland and got a job here in Shenzhen within 24 hours after my arrival (and I didn’t speak Chinese at all). One year later had to change the job and found a new one without any problems. Actually, there are many Russians and people from Eastern Europe here. Not everyone has to teach English. You seem to be well educated and I’m sure that you can get a very good job here. Still, probably you’d make more than your husband. You also don’t need to speak Chinese at the beginnig and actually you really don’t have to know Mandarin to catch a cab… Yes, you’ll have a culture shock, you’ll feel lost and lonely just like your husband right now. At the beginning you’ll depend on him or his family but you said you were a fighter, right? It’s not that bad here, you know. Another plus is that your children will learn Mandarin. There are many good kindergartens in big cities but I’d never send my kids to a chinese school (and private international schools are expensive like hell).
    Whatever you’ll decide, you have to make this decision together. I think that there’s been enough frustration, tears, screaming and guilt on both sides. Now it’s time to discuss your situation like adults and partners. I wish you two all the best.

  21. @Jenna Cody, everything can possibly be put down to sexism. And sexism is the root of all evils. We get that. Ego hurting is sexism. Sex itself is sexism, Jenna. Stop being male and female. Stop being Chinese male or western female. That is intrinsically sexist by themselves. Well, well, well. Maybe the much touted “couch potato therapist” might help. Well, well, well as the bishop said the the damsel in distress.

  22. oh my gosh

    I am coming out of lurking to comment here. This is a brain dump, sorry for not organizing well, I just want to get it out there since it sounds like crisis mode.

    First of all, Petya, I am so inspired by your love story. It is rare for people to really risk everything

    for love, as you have both clearly done. You are fighting for the marriage instead of throwing in

    the towel, you are asking for advice instead of giving up. I am cheering and hoping you will pull

    through this.

    Okay, I haven’t gone through the other comments, so I’m going to write my thoughts down first

    before reading them all.

    My first solution is to consider living apart, you in Brussels and him in China. It’s not ideal, but

    frankly none of your choices are really ideal. So every idea is worth considering at this point.

    If you are committed, really committed to each other, it is possible to live apart. It is not

    conventional, and it is definitely not Western or American way of thinking. But in my family and

    social circle (Taiwanese-American) it is not uncommon at all. I know a lot of friends who moved to

    the States with their moms while their dads worked in Asia. For years. You do need to

    communicate what this means and what you expect from each other. And how you see this

    scenario ENDING.

    Which is something that you need to discuss ASAP. How can you see this scenario ending? I

    recommend that you continue to explore your options slowly– you are in this for the LONG HAUL

    and you do not need to make a quick decision– take your time.

    Where do you want to end up? Where does he want to end up? China? Brussels? Together? is that

    the most important, a place to end up together? How about a third option? Singapore was

    mentioned as a possibility. Maybe Hong Kong?

    In either case, I think both of you should start making serious efforts to learn each others’

    languages, for the purposes of future traveling and family, and to allow yourselves the greatest

    availibity of opportunities. It must suck to take on something new along with newborns. But start

    with Chinese nursery songs. One at a time, learn with your kids. You want them to converse with

    their dad right? And also be able to speak the most important language of this next century? If

    you’re with them, growing up, you’ll need to encourage that, and the best way is if you do some


    A tentative question: Would you consider letting the children live with him and his parents in China for a few months? He made these babies with you, and you need a break. Obviously see if his stepmom and sister in law would be willing to help out, it will be just as challenging for him to do it alone as for you, but he has the benefit of a larger family base. My only caution is to understand the legalities of doing this, you don’t want to accidentally “abandon” the kids and then be unable to get back custody of them if a fight goes down. Only if you and your husband are rock solid would I consider this, and even then I’d still double check the custody laws. (Chinese laws tend to favor paternal custody.)
    But if all the boxes are checked, I think this is a worthwhile idea for several reasons. (Time spent with dad and family and culture, break for you.)

    Anyway, I also agree that there may be opportunities for Bulgarian in China. Perhaps not in Shanghai, but probably at an embassy or some such position. Maybe Beijing?

    SO. Short version:

    All options should be ON the table.

    Both of you should reconsider your options of what is impossible, instead all options should be possible, but how would you need to adjust (skills, attitudes, expectations, time to make those adjustments) to make them possible.

    Take your time. Also, make him understand how difficult it is for you to handle two newborns and think sanely. (Seriously, he needs to do this and see if he can function with the tiredness of babies.)

  23. What do you have against therapists? They’re professionals. They generally know what they’re doing. They’ve studied a lot of sociology, psychology and often psychiatry, too.

    They’d certainly do a better job of providing these two with solutions than a bunch of internet commenters.

    I have no idea what you’re talking about – seriously – with bishops and whatever so I’ll leave it there.

    1. Thanks so much to everyone for commenting! I know Petya will be so grateful for all of these different perspectives.

      @Jenna, they actually sought marriage counseling, though found the counseling wasn’t so helpful to their situation.

  24. Maybe I won’t help much with my comment here but….. I can’t grasp how adults can be so reckless and irresponsible?!?….. I’m also a European girl in LDR with a Chinese man but when I was reading the article, I couldn’t believe it, how could they decide on kids before even settling down together in one place?!?! So bloody irresponsible!! Getting married – fine, I understand, it makes it easier to meet each other and settle down somewhere when the time comes but….kids O_O???? That was totally reckless. How could you not think it through properly first? Did you even think for once how the situation will look like and what are you guys going to do? I wouldnt ever agree to have kids if my man wouldnt be able to be there when I’d be giving birth or help me everyday. Having kids is hard enough for a couple but being left alone with TWINS….. total stupidity.

  25. I can see the heartbreak and how difficult this is for you, but I agree that the children’s interests need to come first. From what you’ve explained that might mean your husband moving back to China and taking his job back, and you looking really hard at what job options you have in China. It also sounds like you have reasonable social support in China, from your inlaw’s wife. The social support side of things is crucial to your well being. Is there anyone that you both can talk to who can help you with decision making? People who know you both well? This could really help in terms of seeing all possible options.

    It is great that things have settled down for you both. No-one can make decisions if they are distressed. Is the love and commitment strong for you both? That’s the next hurdle. Completely looking after each other so that you are both free to care for your children. Resentment is bound to be present given the relationship history. Find people to talk to who know you really well. Revisit the reason you fell for each other in the fist place.

  26. chiao – while I agree with what you say, that it did show irresponsibility when making these decisions, seemingly unilaterally, without thinking through what the consequences would be, I’m not sure berating her for those decisions is worth it. Why? Because they’re already made, it’s already done, and they have to live with the consequences.

    And the consequences, as they are now, are something any sane person could have predicted. Of course it turned out this way – it’s the most likely result of the set of choices they made.

    So I figure, the letter-writer must know this. It must be quite clear to them both that they made some bad choices. Rather than lecture them on that, perhaps it’s better to think of advice for her now as “OK, now you see what led you here, what can you do going forward with the set of circumstances you’ve created?”

  27. @Jeana Cody, no, no, no.. .I have nothing against therapists! Bless their souls! But you have heard, they had consulted their therapist and…? Sure, not the therapist’s fault. Just saying. As for how much better a trained therapist is worth his or her salt vi-a-vis a bunch of internet commenters, presumably including yourself, well, well, well…what has the bishop to say? Anyway, don’t take it seriously. Seriously, don’t! I am just being my sexist irascible self. A cheers from Bolehland!

  28. Your husband’s parents can babysit the twin in China. You don’t have to live in Shanghai trust me. I have seen so many Chinese couples do this. Your families are the most trusted people to look after your twin. Another issue I have to inform you first that being away from your kids will cause a lot of problems in the future. This is just a temporary fix only like for 3 yrs so you can get back on your feet. You know I know lots of moms who travel across America weekly for their careers. They are gaining financial freedom but they’re losing their families and husbands or vice versa. Let me tell all you people here on Therapist/ counselor for marriages. Most of them are good but most of them are not even MARRIED!!!!! If you’re not even married , how can you have enough experience to tell people what to do. You need people like me or others here who have everyday experience with this kind of situations. Last , your man and you must compromise and get back on reality.


  29. @Jenna Cody, no, no, no… I have nothing against therapists! Bless their souls! You have heard, they have consulted their therapist and…Not the fault of the therapist though. As for a trained therapist’s worth of salt vis-a-vis a bunch of internet commenters, presumably including yourself, well, well, well….what has the bishop to say? I’m just being my irascible sexist self, so no problem. And cheers from Bolehland to Taiwan!

  30. Dear all,
    Thank you very much for the comments, the support, the critics.
    In the initial story there was word limitation so I couldn’t put all the details.
    So, I will try to give more details (I’m sure, I will still forget some).
    When we decided getting married and have children, it was a common decision. In the begining, he wanted to have children, I didn’t, exactly because of our separated life. Then, after Fukushima, I have changed my point of view. We made these magnificent children and I have never regretted this decision.
    Tokyo was not an option, because he was there only for 3 years ( company’s decision), they were only preparing him there and he had to take the position in China after that.
    By the way, Fukushima is only 200 km from Tokyo . Tchernobil was 600km from Bulgaria and I saw 4 of my classmates dying before the age of 30 from cancer, as well as a lot of other people.
    We had decided we live separately for 2 or 3 years after the company sends him back to China – the time he prepares to go to Europe. He promised me he would come here in a few years. The problem was that I didn’t manage to wait two years, but only one -I really could not cope alone with the twins, that’s why I begged him to come and he had to quit his job, earlier than planned. It’s my fault.
    I did consult a marriage conselor – before I took the decison to beg him and after he came here. Of course, my husband refused to see the conselor.
    Some of you didn’t understand- I’m not living in Bulgaria, but in Brussels. I’m working for the European Commission, the Parliament and some governments.
    My husband didn’t even try to get his position back – it was still available when I told him I’m ready to go to China, because it’s a Japanese company. I will try to explain – for the japanese company’s mentality my husband “lost his face” – he had quit chosing the familly. In Japan the company would be more important than some personal problems. Even if he returns, they would never give him back such a high position and nobody will trust him. He cannot be a director.
    I’m already learning chinese. I’ve started from the moment we got engaged. The problem is with my job and all the travels to Asia I did, I could not follow regularly the classes. After the twins came, it was totally impossible, because I had to take care of them and work ( I had no more than 3 hours sleep per day, as well as the other health problems). That’s why I became so nervous, almost like crazy and that’s why my chinese is basic, but I resumed the study, even if it’s going slowly and I do study with the children.
    I knew the baby-sitting is not an option for a man, that’s why I tried to find him other things to do – just to distract him. He had a culture shoc, that’s for sure, because he was saying all the time how bad is here, how bad are Europeans and so on. Just an example – he asked me if we produce cocoa and coffee in Europe. I said “no” of course. Than he said: “How is then possible you have the best brand of chocolates, coffee and other products?! So you just conquest the world and exploit their ressources, that is what the europeans did with Latin America, with Africa – only know to exploit” I tried to explain that we don’t produce coffee and cocoa, but we had some know-how, some knowledge how to transform them, that’s why…He didn’t listen. He was telling me all of these hurting words, because of the culture shoc, I’m sure. I’m trying to be be patient, but I cannot do it all the time with all the fatigue from the children and work. He wants me smiling and patient like I was before. I couldn’t do this all the time. From June this year, my health is going better, I have almost recovered now, that’s why I told him I have the strenght now to move back to China. He said it’s too late- he has no job there, he returned his citizen registration to his hometown- 5 hours flight form Shanghai.
    If we move to China, his familly won’t help, I thing, because they live very far in the countryside and are taking already care of his brother’s daughter.
    I also thought before I could move to China and leave the boys to him (or better said to a nanny, because he had a lot of business trips everywhere in Asia) and travel to work in Europe. But after I became a mother, I understood it’s impossible for me. Called it mother instinct, but I cannot imagine myself anymore flying abroad for two or 3 weeks every month. With two parents on business trips, how can these children feel parent’s love and familly ?
    I said in my story I know what discrimination in Western Europe means. But even discriminated, I still succeeded to achieve the very top in my field. So I believe a hardworking person (and all the Chinese are hardworking, I’ve never seen a failed Chinese here) has all the possibilities to achieve the top in his carreer here, even if it could be a little bit slowlier than in his own country.
    I also don’t exclude the possibility he studies here ( he always wanted to have MBA ) and then, returns to China. He rejected the idea to prepare the GMAT test for entering the MBA.
    It’s very easy to leave him do what he wants, but he is depressed and the only way getting out of depression is to be busy. That’s why I’ve tried to make him busy. I have chinese friends here, I asked him to go for a drink with them, he refused. It’s a culture shoc and depression.
    I’ve never excluded the possibility to live in China. China is the future. But as a parent, I think we need to chose the best place for the children. And I thought for the moment Brussels is a better place. For the moments, I repeat. If we had to live in China, 4 person with the equivalent of 800 euros ( according to my husband calculations) I think we could not afford to buy good food and milk for the boys and with all the poisoned babies from the local milk powder, I could not accept that risk. The foreign schools are expensive there and in Brussels, we have even a chinese school.
    I know Chinese are ready to live separately, working hard for the future familly life. But I think the children need both of their parents, now. I did a decision, I have to accept the consequences (I regret I didn’t know this blog at that time to ask your advice before taking such a hard decision).
    I cannot say where and how I see our life in future. The only thing I know is that I love him, I don’t regret marrying him and having children and I would do everything possible to save this marriage.
    Thank you once again!

    I would be the same in China, that’s for sure. Even if I used to live in 4 different countries, even if I’m not living in my homecountry. I remember the culture shoc when I lived for a first time in Japan. At the end of the first month I cried every day and wanted to leave

  31. Thanks for the update and more information. It’s much clearer now.

    I still don’t see why “babysitting is not acceptable to a man”. First, that’s not true, there’s nothing about being a man that makes it impossible to watch children, or raise your own children. If he really believes he can’t take on the role of raising his own kids, that is sexist. Forget about culture difference, no matter what culture that comes from, it IS sexist.

    Second, it’s not babysitting. They’re his own kids.

    So…honestly, if that’s his attitude regarding his own children, he won’t get much respect from me. Doubly so if he also refused to see a counselor.

    Is there any way to get through to him that if he won’t do anything in Brussels, won’t see a counselor, won’t take care of his kids etc. that despite making a big move for his family, that he’s not doing anything to make the situation better? That his recalcitrance is a big part of the problem? I have no idea how to get through to someone who, to me, seems unreasonable (I know I could get through to my husband if he became like this, but…he’s reasonable. He almost certainly wouldn’t become like this). So, you know him best. Is there any way to approach him that would help him see that? Of course, a lot of his behavior is likely culture shock – giving him time to get over that may just be the only answer.

    (Although I still don’t agree that a man can’t take a bigger part of raising his own damn kids. GAH! What utter bollocks!).

    If he only came to Brussels a year ahead of time, then what was he planning to do when he did move there? Can he do that now? (Emphasis on *he*, you can’t do it for him). If not, why not?

    I agree about China vs. Europe. There are plenty of reasons to move to China – language, culture, food, the economy, job prospects, cost of living, easy to travel around the country and Asia – but you articulated quite clearly why it is right to hesitate, in your position. I would too. I love living in Taiwan, but I could not imagine trying to build a life in Shanghai and I would not raise children there, with the food supply issues, the lack of freedom/human/civil rights guarantees, pollution, school system and the status of women in China, everywhere except Shanghai (where apparently things are pretty good for women).

    At the end, the other thing to remember about people is that you can’t control what other people do, you can only control how you react. You can assert your rights and boundaries and support/make suggestions where helpful, and walk away when the relationship is not viable. But you can’t make anybody do anything.

    That’s why it’s so important not to try to decide for your husband what he’s going to do in Brussels, but instead discuss with him what he plans to do, what direction he intends to take, and how you can support him (that’s not a gender thing, I assume he would support you in a similar position), after giving him time to get over the culture shock. Being a calm, supportive place for him during a difficult time doesn’t have anything to do with you being the wife and him being the husband, it’s just what spouses do for each other (of course, if he wouldn’t do that for you, that’s a problem, but not one you have to worry about now).

    And it’s important to think about this: since you can’t change him, and you can’t make him do what you want, are you willing to accept this as the status quo for the foreseeable future? For how long would this be acceptable to you? For how long are you willing to be the calm, supportive partner? At what point will you say “no more, if this doesn’t stop, I’m leaving”? It’s not something to act on now, but something to keep in mind. It may make sense to tolerate this for now, but it’s absolutely not acceptable to tolerate this forever.

  32. By the way, even if he refuses to see a counselor, it might behoove you to see one on your own. There is no shame in seeing a counselor solo to work through a big problem.

  33. Petya, thanks for being so frank and for filling us in on the details. Your strong love for your hubby and your children augurs well for the family. Just give your husband a longer time to come to grips with the culture shock. I am sure he will get around soon enough. Losing his position in the Japanese company must have added to his misery. It also must have felt like a big loss of face to him.

    Everything is already water under the bridge. So no point pining after the fact. Stay supportive of each other no matter how hard this may be under the circumstances. Things never remain hopeless for long. That’s the nature of existence.

    You guys will find a way out. So cheers from Malaysia!

    And yes, by the way, Singapore always welcome talents. And remember, there are also many Chinese expats too in Singapore. Give it a shot. Check out the opportunities in the Lion City.

    Call them.

    If you a professional or have special skills to offer, you might not be surprised that you will land a job not only for yourself but also for your husband. Not only that, you might also land a permanent residency to boot.

    Singapore is really a modern thriving cosmopolitan metropolis. Public transport is a breeze and many Singaporeans do speak English (or Singlish, if you like) besides Mandarin too. And the place is safe and clean. You can find all kinds of food and cuisine and I am sure you won’t have any problem here.

  34. Well, kids need both parents with them, that’s for sure. It’s very very important. I also wouldn’t choose China right now, hearing all those stories about poisoned food, toys, even fake food (like buns made from cardboard!) , awful pollution, etc. Europe is so much better. Someone suggested SG but I’d say, try London or Australia, though seeing you’re an EU citizen, like me, London would be much easier to settle in for both of you. Have you suggested it to your husband or thought about it? I may have said harsh words, to let them out but I sincerely wish you all the best and hope you guys will get out of this even stronger and that everything will end well.

  35. Also, you should revise your views on parenthood a bit cause a dad has as much of a duty when it comes to taking care of kids, as mother has. He has to spend as much time with them, take them out for walks, put them to sleep, bathe, etc. We have 21st century, not some old times. Looks like he is subscribed to the old views that women should stay at home and take care of kids and men only focus on work. You guys should talk about it and divide your responsibilities equally, you can’t be the only person responsible.

  36. @Petya

    After reading the story from your own point of view, I wish to smack your guy.
    It seems to me someone needs to knock some senses to him. You get the idea.

    If you are determined to save your marriage, you can try to arrange opportunities for your husband to meet people. You might need to hold his hands for a while longer. He needs to improve his language. I think that is half of the battle to be happy in a new place, whatever it takes. You are probably the best person to save this guy from missing out some of the most valuable things in life. I hope he can come around soon.

  37. Wow, this is a very complex situation. I think first you and your husband need to ask yourself this:

    How important is your partner and family to you? Are they worth bearing some discomfort? All relationships involve compromise. Its just more dramatic in IR’s due to the unknowns. TRYING NOT TO MAKE COMPROMISES WILL ONLY END YOUR RELATIONSHIP.


    Whats the best choice for your kids. Where would they grow well best?

    EVERYTHING else comes after that. You have a family together and that honestly is a priority. BOTH of you should keep that in mind and make choices… BOTH of you will have to make compromises.

    I read your fear about moving to China and it is indeed very real. However no move is static. Yes, moving to a foriegn country will be hard. You will hate it. You will reject it. It will be horrible finding a job. BUT, none of it is impossible. You CAN learn the language. You CAN struggle and you CAN establish yourself and succeed. Look at your time in France… you came for better opportunities… sure it was hard. But arguably you are doing better than you might be in Bulgaria right?

    The harder part is : who makes the compromise. THAT is why you need to put your kids first. Any choice made for them will not be about him or you conceding. It will be about ensuring that you dont compromise your kids happiness because of fear of compromising life opportunities for yourself or your husband.

    Lastly, all the best. I am sure this is not easy… far from it. I really hope you and your husband can work together as a unit to ensure the happiness of your kids. I also hope that this dark period will bring you both closer and make you stronger as a unit rather than driving you apart.

    Be hopeful and I wish you and your family only happiness.

  38. Sorry just read your update.

    I am sorry your husband is being uncooperative. It is definitely possible that he is reacting to the culture shock and the shock of loosing his job AND his professional desirability so suddenly, AFTER he probably came to Brussels unprepared and out of fear.

    I think you might know him best about this: you guys conquered long distance love, but people are different in how they express their frustrations. If he is the type that goes in… then pushing him, by trying hard for him will only push him further away. It is clear that you love and care for your family. Also love and care for yourself. I agree that if it is too much, see a counsellor by yourself. Dont loose sight of what is important to you: yourself and your family.

    Sometimes when people refuse the help we give them to be strong, the only way we can help is to be strong for ourselves, and hopefully they can be strong for themselves too.

    Finally, make your decisions together. WRT raising kids and anything else, both of you should weigh in. Give him some space but be supportive. Just as you are, he might also be suffering. But I am sure he can see that you are also trying, and trying very hard. Maybe he needs to process that and the only way he might be able to do that is by dealing with his frustrations and then realizing he isnt the only one who has been making an effort.

    All the best again. If things are improving with your health, you guys might already be on the road to recovery. But be strong for yourself and your kids.

  39. @ Petya

    Your husband as you said is going through culture shock as well as depression, and until he recognises and does something for his depression your situation remains in limbo. You can help, support and guide him, you can’t do it for him and the more you the more resentful and depressed he’ll become. Ultimately he needs to work to “pull himself out of this depression” for himself, his future and for his family.

    Can he and will he open up to anyone (apart from you) e.g. his brother or close friends in China? Or can they call him now and then just for a casual “Hi how are you”? Are there things he use to do during your courtship that made him happy and that he no longer does e.g. play badminton, table tennis.

    Don’t try to solve the big picture all at once, fix it bit by bit (or as the Chinese say step by step). Do little things to remind him of the man you fell in love with and of the woman he fell in love with ( you are both there it’s just that a situation happened that turned something beautiful upside down/inside out). Take the relationship back to the basics before this all happened. ( But remember it’s not your job to make it all better and you can’t solve this on your own, he needs to take responsibility and work towards getting out of this depression so you guys can move forward as a family)

    In life there will always be good things and bad things; and as a couple it comes down to your relationship, the strength and bond you have together to get through whatever s… comes your way. There needs to be compromise; there needs to be trust and there needs to be forgiveness.

  40. Everybody says that the priority is the kids. Look fellows, this is not a court room with parents fighting for custody of their children. The priority is the FAMILY as a whole, as a unit!! If everything you do is ONLY on account of the kids and not also for yourselves, you are likely going to be disappointed. You become limited because you won’t feel able to move where you, or one of the spouse, might have a better career. Without a better career and when you are hard pressed and lacking the wherewithal to feed, provide and bring up the family properly, even you children will suffer! So, in making any decision, do not just focus on the child’s interest. Unthinking sacrifice is not noble, if the effect is to diminish the overall happiness and well being of the family; it is just silly and detrimental to everyone. In making any decision consider the family as a unit, not just that of the children.

  41. @ Petya. You answered the most basic question of all: do you love him? You answered in the affirmative and thus I think your marriage will likely succeed despite the problems. All the best.


  42. Why don’t you try Europe but outside Brussels? For example Luxembourg, maybe you can still work in a European institution here and your husband work in one of the banks of china here, I don’t know the names but I know there is 2 and one more coming next year. It will be worth to try if there is any job opportunities.

  43. There is also the brand new and multilingual University of Luxembourg. If he likes research there is a good chance he can find something. Fluent English is enough.

    Making a long story short, my suggestion is look for more than just in between Brussels and Shanghai. It’s a good time now that you are young and the kids little. The world is full of opportunities, you never know where are you going to end up.

    All best!

  44. I have two views on this, of which I hope both can give you some new ideas/insights.

    First of all, I think you should start working on your problems in Brussels first. Your husband is obviously depressed and in a cultural shock. He has to get used to the idea of having to depend on his wife (at least for a certain period of time) financially and with regards to his legal status, which is not easy for most Chinese men. As said by a previous commentor, you cannot do this for him, he needs to get there himself. All you can do is lett him know that you support him and that you’ll help him wherever you can. As a Chinese saying goes: you can open the door for him but he has to walk through it himself.

    And as others said: Europe is bigger than just Brussels. Are there any other countries that you would both be interested in living in? Bulgaria is really not an option?

    Should living in Europe as a family really not work out, I think it would actually be easier for you to find a satisfiying job in Shanghai than it is for him to find one in Europe. You have experience living in Asia, and Shanghai is a very international city. Even if you don’t speak Chinese you could find a job there in an international organisation, possibly the Bulgarian Consulate or with the ministry of foreign affairs.

    I don’t know in which financial position you are now, but you could consider saving up money to survive in Shanghai on his salary for a few months, so you have the time to find a job. There is always translation and localisation work (very low level) needed to be done or English teaching, which could help you find some bits of cash here and there while looking for a proper job. You say that moving to Shanghai would mean selling your house in Brussels, but what about renting out this house so you have an extra source of income, and keep the door back to the EU open?

    Living in China also has the advantage of having at least some family there to help out if really needed (as you mention that your sister-in-law was very helpful when you were there last time).

    Needing time to save up money has the additional benefit of you having some time to adjust to the idea of moving abroad and to prepare the move well. If you decide to move to Shanghai now this wouldn’t mean living there forever. Maybe meeting each other in the middle here means that you live in China for a few years, then a few years in Europe. Maybe his company will set up an office in Europe which he could manage, or you could find a position in line with your career in China, as mentioned with the Bulgarian government. You never know what opportunities will come up in the future. If you’d be open to living in Beijing there is a Europen Delegation there, and many EU-funded and supported projects that could use your experiences.

    I admire your braveness in fighting for your family. Judging from your story both you and your husband don’t want to give up on each other, so I am confident that you will make it somehow. But please keep talking to each other, so you know what option would be the most agreeable for both of you.

    1. “He has to get used to the idea of having to depend on his wife (at least for a certain period of time) financially and with regards to his legal status, which is not easy for most Chinese men. ”

      I have to take issue with this. Whenever there are surveys in the US, UK and Europe about a more richer/powerful/ higher status woman and her partner or husband, the man almost always resents her for it. This is little to do with region and more to do with sex and the fundamental desire of ALL men to be the breadwinner

  45. Once you said you had kids, it made the problem far more simpler to solve. Do what is best for them. Where will they have the best upbringing, schooling, where do they feel at home? Raise them up there, and the parents have to do whatever to fit those needs. If that means taking a job where everyone hates you and you are in a foreign land, so be it.

  46. (this so so long, sorry!)

    Thank you for coming back with an update. We are all cheering for you and hoping for the best for your family.

    (first, so sorry about the formatting on my last comment. cut and paste included the line breaks oops!)

    Please, other commenters, let’s ease up a bit more on the negativity? It’s going in the right direction, but I think we could still be more supportive and understanding, especially of Petya’s husband right now. Unless if you grew up in China with a very traditional family (which I would be surprised if many of us were, we all have pretty solid English so I’d say we’re pretty Westernized, relatively speaking), it would be very difficult to wrap your head around more rigid gender roles that he grew up with and is stuck thinking with. (To give an example, I have a cousin who actually bragged that he had never gotten stuck with a poopy diaper, and I was like, what decade are you from?? So I def agree that fathers can care for their own children, but he may not have been brought up to agree with us.)

    So you can add culture shock, along with dealing with family and the western culture’s new-to-him expectations with regards of what a father’s role is, plus I frankly know many people, not just new dads, who are really just not into infants and babies until they are conversational and reasonable. So let’s keep up the supportive and less with the blame, I think we’re going in the right direction.

    Depression is really hard. It’s very stigmatized in many cultures, including Asian American (me), where people don’t recognize that they are clinically depressed, so they don’t seek help because that would mean that you can’t handle things, and lose face. So we keep on by ourselves, figuring that this will pass. So that family doesn’t worry about us. Depression is horribly lonely and isolating because part of the shame makes you NOT want to tell others your problems.

    My main question is: How does your husband see this working out? “I don’t know” is going to be a difficult answer to work with. Choices? Do you think A or B? This might be a no-brainer question for him: Are his family, his sons, important to him? Does he want what is best for him? What does he think the best for them, would be? If he really refuses to answer, try this: How do you see this working out if we continue like this? You’re unhappy, I’m at a loss for ideas, what will be the end result of keeping things the way they are? Maybe that can shock an answer from him…
    This may be something that a counselor can help with, even if you go by yourself, but I really hope the counselor has some experience with Chinese culture and expectations, because that will inform her advice. Otherwise, I can see how your husband could feel ganged up upon, like he is, a bit, here in the comments section.

    I really encourage you to do what MM says above, work on one thing at a time, and while it may be challenging, don’t forget to remind him, with actions, why you love each other.

    I like what Anonymous said, the problem is simpler with kids, do what is best for them. Though, add in what O Malaysian said, what’s best for the family will be best for the kids, and having happier, satisfied parents will be better for the kids than anything, better than good food and good schools. Who cares about those things, if parents are visibly unhappy?

    Again, may I repeat that living apart is NOT the worst thing that can happen to you, if it can give you guys a few years’ break to figure things out. It’s a real option. Truly, lots of Asian families separate for a time. You mentioned concern that kids won’t know a parent’s love, and I think that is not necessarily true. In less affluent countries, parents move away to work and children aren’t with EITHER parent on a regular basis. It’s not ideal but it can work for some families if they are committed to it, and in your case I think you can make it short term, 2-3 years.

    Western people believe deep down that children need both parents, now. You are married to a non-Westerner, so you can accept that Western cultural expectations are not the only way of doing things.

    It sounds to me like your marriage is at risk… would you agree? I think that saving your marriage, and setting an example for your children of compromise and sacrifice, and thinking long-term, is more important that having two parents present now in the short term. You said that you would do everything possible to save the marriage. So open your mind to different possibilities, and place your priorities in order. Save your marriage, have happy parents who are good examples of adults, because that will be best for the children.

    (Also side note, China recommends kids to use milk formula until age 5. I think that’s part of the milk powder problem. I think that’s ridiculous, just give them real food, not food products.)

    I think the end of Jenna’s comment has some important points: You can’t change him or make him do what you want, and may have to accept the status quo for a while. 🙁 Be a support for him as long as possible, and recognize that, as difficult as this is for you, he is in a foreign land and without family and friends and culture. Try to be as gentle with him, as you hope he will be with you when you are in China.

    Good luck, and we are all hoping that you will work this out. So keep up the hard work!

  47. @ Chang
    You are very lovely, and I really like your response, along with the response of others. In fact, most people have put so much thought into their replies it is just wonderful to see. Some very wise insights have been been offered. Overall I agree; a happy mother makes for a happy child. Just know that at this stage, most decisions you make as a couple are going to lead to a better place.

  48. You know I think your marriage CAN be saved!!! Come on man, our parents sacrificed so much when we were young, this should be nothing to you. When our parents were dirt poor and had to struggle just to find food, they still made it . Especially Chinese men… We are very hardworking and very stubborn at times.. You just have to know how to get to us. Sometimes, it’s not about MONEY. When you are not united as a couple , you have nothing. When you are united , you will have a lot combined. This is from my experience and the people surrounded me.



  49. @ Petya. After reading your story, I wanted to cry for you and your husband. I know that you are in a very difficult situation. If there is anything that I can say to inspire you, then it is the following story which I present to you — the cold hard facts.

    If you have ever studied modern Chinese history, you will know about the civil war between the Nationalists and the Communists. The Nationalists eventually lost the control of the Mainland and were relegated to the big Island of Taiwan. I have heard of Chinese couples who lived apart physically but their ever lasting love did not wane due to the passage of time or the separation casued by distance. I have heared of stories about Nationalist soldiers who were told by the commandersthat in 1949 when they were retreating from the Mainland to Taiwan, they will only be resting and regrouping in Taiwan and then they will reconquer the Mainland in a few years. So, before their departures, they told their wives and children to wait and not to despair as husband and father will return soon after Chiang Kai Shek’s forces regroup, rebuild and reconquer. But as we all knew, days turned into weeks, weeks turned into months, months turned into years, and years turned into decades. Then only after the rise of Deng Xiao Ping who opened the doors once again in the 1990’s, these old soldiers returned to see their families. Many of their wives waited and did not lose hope of their husbands’ eventual return. They never divorced; they never cheated on each other; they never hated each other; they simply waited for each other holding in their empty hands nothing but hoope and love. I know how futile that these few words of mine can ever assuage you for the suffering that you are facing, but if you can take some comfort by hearing about how these Nationalist soldiers and their wives who never lost hope or their love for each other, then I think that you two can survive the tumult.

    All the best.


  50. @Fred – that story about Nationalist soldier families waiting decades for each other is not strictly true. In fact, it was quite common in Taiwan after the soldiers realized they weren’t going back to China anytime soon to marry a local woman. There are thousands, if not millions, of families in Taiwan where the old veteran (now in his 80s, 90s etc.) has a Taiwanese wife here and a Chinese wife in China. These marriages are not strictly legal in that sense, but a lot of the time the women involved have just decided to accept it for what it is.

    I don’t know if a lot of the women left behind in China did the same thing, but I can say for sure that a lot of the men who came to Taiwan were not faithful at all to their families! A lot of them felt “entitled” to a wife – someone they figured would cook and clean for them, take care of them – once they realized they weren’t likely to see their original wife again.

    Worse yet, a lot of them expected their Chinese wife to wait for them, but did not think they should have to wait themselves!

    The KMT/Nationalists have done a lot of harm in Taiwan – although generally I reserve my anger at how they’ve hurt this country for the political party, not the old veterans who just wanted to settle here and live a normal life like anyone – but in this case, a lot of Taiwanese women were hurt by them, as well as a lot of women back in China. It is not the romantic story you think it is.

  51. @ Jenny Cody. Thanks for your contribution to my story. I was aware that some KMT soldiers thought that they would never see their original wives on the Mainland again and chose to take another bride in Taiwan. But there were those who remained faithful and true to their loved ones on the Mainland. I am certain that you will find both faithful and unfaithful men as well as women everywhere. But I was trying to tell Petya about those who were truly faithful to their wives and children and not about those who were unfaithful. I could have chosen tell about infidelity but it is not the proper subject to help Petya.

    As for your account of the harm that the KMT did in Taiwan, it is a political discussion which should not be discussed here because the scope of the story is about Petya, her husband, and her tumultuous times in their lives. But appreciate you contribution though.

    All the best to you, Petya and Jenna.


  52. I agree with Fred on that. Everything should be POSITIVE! It’s like cancer patient’s families come to me and ask if their wives will live after the operations. Of course, we always talk about the positive so they can heal faster even though you know there are negatives .

  53. @ Bruce. Thanks for supporting my viewpoint. I wanted to inspire Petya with positive stories of faithful Chinese men. I did not want to tell her about the unfaithful ones. I am certain that there is a fair share of those men who are not so faithful. But telling her those stories is not positive advice. Remember, the request was for advice and not a request to recount stories of unfaithful men or about politics such as the harm that the KMT did to Taiwan.

    @Petya. Do not give up. Stay true to your man and he shall stay true to you and your 2 beautiful children. All the best.

  54. Amm…I wanted to write something, but I will ask my husband’s opinion, who is Korean. I’m Hungarian, and we are living here.

    But my opinion is, that you should let him, to do whatever he wants. Okay, he took a job, he doesn’t like it-I don’t know, if he is still working there, if yes, that’s fine, at least he chose one thing and give it time. If he quit, just let him be like that. Don’t push him. You know, not everybody has the opportunity to help their hubbies with work, conselor or whatever. Husbands needs to be fine on their own. They are man, I mean man in general, not males. So everybody needs to be fine, who is grown up, I mean. U cannot do everything for him, or instead of him.

    Sometimes not helping is helping more. U should think, if u don’t let him now to solve his own problems, u will never know, if he can. Life is long, and next time u maybe won’t be so lucky to help him financially, or with conselor, what not. Will he be able to help u, or he will be totally dependent on u? U loved him because he is a fighter, don’t forget that. U won’t be okay with a man, who can’t solve his own problems, and he knows it.

    Give it time, give him space, and just put yourself in the background, like a housewife. Just to have a challenge for yourself too.

  55. I asked my husband, who said he would gladly stay home with kids, if I can provide for him -.-;; I repeat, he is Korean.

    Then he added that the culture shock must be very big for your husband.

    As for me, I stand by my opinion above.
    Wish you the best!

  56. I told you guys last yr that I wouldn’t mind staying home as a stay at home dad. Let the women work their butt off. That doesn’t mean that I’m a lazy ass. Your talking to a very unique guy here.

  57. @ Bruce and others. I would love to be a stay-at-home dad and take life easy while the woman works and supports me and my children. In fact, it was a long sought-after dream of mine. However, I had the misfortune of not being able to find myself a rich girl and so here I am working my a** off to support her and my children. So, if Petya is working to support her man and the children, her husband should not complain but enjoy the children, his wife, and the children. Children grow up fast and before you know it, they will be big and you will have missed out knowing them.

  58. Hello Petra,

    I think instead of bringing husband to Europe you should have rather follow your husband to China, I totaly understand your concerns about the language, job and what not, however I know a western woman, here in Shanghai who got pregnant with her chinese bf. He didn’t want a child, or to be a father so he suggested an abortion, and after he realized she would never do that he abandoned both of them. She is a single mother here and guess what? She is doing really fine! She works a lot, but can provide for her and her daughter. She also started learning chinese after her bf left her.

    Your husband you said was not getting much paid, Ithink it is not really true, at this high position I think that would be enough for the whole family and if it wasn’t enough you can find some job in Shanghai, teaching English, editing for some companies or some office job (plenty opportunities in Shanghai!) you are educated person! Im sure you would find job easily.

    I also know a western woman who married japanese and because she was selfish she also made her husband quit his job and follow her to her home country, which only made things worse, he was frustrated, she was not happy and the both decided to return to her husbands home country and relationship survived. women are fighters and can adjust to any environment!

    Good luck, and really don’t worry!! Anything is doable, you’re great person!

  59. Disagree. It is not selfish to ask your husband to live with you in the place where you want to live (it is selfish to refuse to consider alternatives, but Petya is open to alternatives, ergo, that is not selfish).

    I disagree that the woman should follow the man, because “women are fighters who can adjust” but men can’t. That’s really, REALLY sexist and wrong. It basically sends the message that “your desires and needs are never as important as a man’s desires or ego, so you should always sacrifice for men”. No. NO NO NO NO NO NO. It’s “work together” or nothing at all.

    Ideas like that are hurtful to all women (and by extension, men)…not just Petya.

    Consider moving to Shanghai? Sure. Couples should consider all the options together. Sometimes the man sacrifices, sometimes it’s the woman. But to do it because you’re the woman and that’s what women do? No. That’s wrong.

    Please don’t be taken in by sexist drivel like “men shouldn’t have to watch their kids, that’s babysitting” and “women should follow men because women can adjust to anything”. Do what you need to do to work on the relationship, but remember – it’s always something you both must do together, and he is also obligated to be mature and giving. Not just you.

  60. Oh god Jenna don’t be so emancipated, I really think both of them would be better off in China since she has more opportunities to find a job and have her husband’s relatives here. She can take it slowly, learning chinese, working part-time, meanwhile focusing on kids. At least her husband would be at “his place” doing everything to provide for his family.

    If we reverse situation: bringing husband to Europe because she wants to keep her job we have working her ass off fresh mother of two, with a husband who even if he wants to help he cannot because he doesn’t have job prospects in the country. (definitely less than her in Shanghai)

    I also know another example of western woman and chinese guy where a girl made her bf to move to another city because she got some lousy teaching job while he was building his career in shanghai. They both left for 3 years, and now they are backing starting from nothing, admitting that was a mistake what they did. So as you can see Jenna put your slogans aside, and focus on reality.

  61. But her job isn’t lousy. She enjoys it.

    And why wouldn’t I want to be emancipated? This is reality for me. It’s crazy to not want to be “emancipated”!

    Not only does she like her job, but her job sounds far better than the low-paid office work she could get, comparatively, in Shanghai, and she may not want to teach English. Or maybe, as she’s said, Europe is just a better place to raise a family in her opinion.

    The idea that she should move because she can handle it and he can’t is justifying generations of expecting women to adjust to men’s insecurities. No, no and no. There is nothing at all wrong with asking a man to move for you – it’s only wrong if you refuse to consider other options. But she is just as able to say she wants to live in Europe as he is to say he wants to live in Shanghai. She doesn’t need to defer just because she’s female. It may be wise to defer because they have better opportunities in Shanghai, but not because “women can adjust”. No no no.

    Now, if your comment had been “consider moving to Shanghai because it could be good for both of you”, I wouldn’t have made my comment. I too think she should consider moving to Shanghai for the good of both of them. But you didn’t – you made it about her being a woman and that’s not right.

  62. Just because a few couples moved because the woman wanted to doesn’t mean it’s always a bad idea to move at the woman’s behest, basically.

    My husband moved to Taiwan for me (we’re both Westerners), rather than me moving to Korea for him. It’s worked out really well for us. It really was better that he moved for me than I moved for him, due to our situation.

  63. I did not say she should move because she is a female. I said ” I really think both of them would be better off in China” please read carefully.

    I know that few examples don’t prove anything however in those situations females brought up “don’t be sexist” card and “if you really love me you should do as I say” without considering what would be better for the relationship ( well they thought that would be better probably, not taking into consideration how it would work for a bf/husband).

  64. Ok, u are seems to clear the argument, but please careful when choosing examples. It can be totally working, if the guy moves, too.

    Plus you should know your boundaries. She said she prefers europe, guy didn’t say, he just can survive in china.

    It’s not just about the money, and job prospects. You can have those, and still you can’t stay together if you don’t know yourself and your limitations. How long a relationship can last and how can you raise children, if you freak out all day everyday? She was thinking about that, that why she has a preferation.

    I don’t know if her husband was thinking about such things earlier, how he can adjust to cultural differences, but now he has to.

  65. “…he was frustrated, she was not happy and the both decided to return to her husbands home country and relationship survived. women are fighters and can adjust to any environment!”

    …sure sounds like “you should move because you’re the woman” to me!

    I just don’t agree with that and would advise Petya to ignore it. Women are not required to always be the ones to adapt and make sacrifices.

    The men you discuss? Maybe the moves didn’t work out because they were not fully committed to the sacrifices they agreed to make. Maybe they felt that, as men, they shouldn’t have to do that. But you blame this on the women, saying they were “selfish”. You seem to think it’s fine if she gives up her great job for “editing” or “office work” or “teaching English” – things she may not want to do, that may be career black holes for her – she has a career now, too and all – but that he shouldn’t have to give up his career prospects for her.

    To me this is a sexist line of thinking.

    I mean, why don’t you expect men to be fighters, to adjust to any environment? Certainly they can.

  66. Petya,

    I wrote this down for you a few days but never put it into a comment here. At the end of the day, take everyone’s advice with a grain of salt, because no one except you two can fully understand all aspects of your specific cross cultural relationship.

    Remember, “Opinions are like assholes 🙂 everyone has one.”

    They’re making me hyperventilate too (serious). Don’t feed the trolls.

    I’m begging you– helpful and civil! This is not a nameless anonymous bot on the internet without feelings. They’re a real people, if you don’t want someone saying it to your best friend or your (possibly hypothetical) daughter, don’t say it here. Thanks!

  67. Ask yourself a question what is a marriage? It’s not about sexism or men and women issues here. And this is not about who has the stronger authority in the family. Why do I have to sacrifice so much for my families? Why ? You have answer already. Why don’t we just find another successful person and run away? Why not? Again you know the answer already. My advice is stick
    To the end. Let me tell all of you here that I don’t have to be successful in order to be happy. I have lots of families and friends here. You all can be the same like me. Who is not struggling here nowadays? Work it out w your husband and stick together. ” I come to this world with nothing, I’ll leave with nothing”. You can be a millionaire but your not happy? Why? Tell me now!!!!!

  68. Don’t let the truth get in your way or “civility.” Get sympathy. Seems your husband said it right. Real people need direct advice, not pandering. Own your life.

  69. Dear all,
    thank you so much for the encouragement! To see all of us, so engaged with my story and so supportive – I almost cried from happiness! Thank you again!
    Well, for the moment, we cannot change anything- my husband doesn’t want to return in China, even if I’m begging him-he said he had lost everything there and we have to start from the absolute zero, so no way back.
    Don’t understand me wrong – he loves his children and helps a lot with them. He is amazing father. But I said the baby-sitting is not an option for him because he is an young and carreer-driven man – how long he can do the “nanny job” without feeling bored? And imagine his CV – young talented marketing director who suddenly quits his job and then 2 years black hole in the CV. And if a future employer asks him “What did you do these 2 years?” and he answers : “Baby-sitting my children” , I’m not sure he can obtain any good position. In Europe, as well as everywhere, the job competition is hard.
    If it was only me, I would move to China without problems, I’m not scare to study the language and to survive in difficult conditions, but there are 2 babies too.
    I don’t say Europe is perfect, I even think Europe is dying,everything here is decaying, but beeing the capital of European Union, Brussels is very international city, english is the second language spoken here, all the expats services are well developped and the representations of all the big multinational companies are here. And even better – we live near the Chinese district of Brussels, so we have a lot of chinese restaurants and supermarkets, so he is not missing chinese food.
    My husband is specialist in food and food ingredients- I thought there must be marketing and sales jobs everywhere, because the food business is everywhere. But there is no chance for me to be interpreter with french and bulgarian (these are my main languages) in China.
    Now, I see it was a mistake. Now I’m convinced I should had move to China, it’s impossible for Asian man who had a carreer to adapt here. But it seems it’s too late, he just doesn’t want to move anywhere.
    We cannot move anywhere in Europe, because, for my job, my domicile must be in Brussels and his documents here are based on the familly reunion status – he has to live and work where his familly is.
    Well, the only thing I could do is just try to confort him. I will listen your advice and try to cook chinese food for him. We are still searching some better job for him and he is studying french. Every two weeks I organize a romantic evening for both of us – dinner in a restaurant and night in a hotel (we leave the children to the nanny and we try to relax and compensate the missing sleep from the week). The last 6 months, he wasn’t allowed to leave the belgian territory, so I organized only hotel noghts and one long weekend in the countryside – we went into some abbey in the forests, very beautiful and quiet place.
    Now he has already his resident card, so we can travel everywhere. I have planned for the next year some small trips (there are a lot of long weekends the next year). He said he wanted to see London, Prague, Zurich, as well as Italy and Spain. Ok, I have already booked the plane tickets and hotels for these cities, as well as the plane and hotel for the carnival in Venice and I’m planning some trip to Granada too. I want to show him that not everything is bad here even if for the moment my attempts are quite unsuccessfull:-(
    For the first time the next year he will see his children’s birthday. He missed their birth as well as their first birthday. For the first time he will have Christmass with them. These are also small joys that we tend to forget sometimes. I think this is all I could give him now. If you can advice me something more, don’t hesitate.
    Thank you again!

  70. Petya – that’s good to hear.

    I can understand that a *person*, especially a young and career-driven one, wouldn’t find staying at home to raise their children to be a good option (although I can’t really see how it would be a bad short-term option, with different long-term goals). Women take a few years off all the time to raise children, in a more liberal place like Europe I don’t think that would be as bad for a man as you two think it would be. In Sweden they’d think he was a great candidate if he did that!

    But that’s not because he’s a *man*, it’s because he’s a *person* who doesn’t want to do that. That’s okay, but whether or not someone can/should stay home to raise kids has nothing to do with gender. So from that perspective I can understand it. As a woman, if I had kids, staying home to raise them would not be an option either! I just don’t…want to!

    It’s not babysitting, though. If they are your kids – whether you are the mother or father – raising them is really not babysitting. It’s important work. When you spend time with them, is it babysitting? No…so the same is true for him.

    @chang – you’re right.

    But I don’t think they’re trolls. Trolls by definition don’t really believe what they say, they just want to stir up an argument for fun. I think some commenters really believe these sexist ideas.

  71. Hi Petya,

    I’m happy to read your lines again, and see that maybe you are feeling better.
    It’s all wonderful, what you have planned and all the efforts you make. Don’t stress yourself so bad anymore, it’s gonna be okay!

    My husband is okay too, okay, different situation, and it’s hard for Asians, but they can adapt with time!

    And don’t blame yourself too much. There is a reason, why you made your decision. Now it’s hard, but finally, nobody knows, or can be sure how it would turn out any other way. Because there are just things in life, we cannot control, just have to bear with it. He is gonna be fine!

  72. @ Petya. I am so delighted that you responded and that you drew inspiration from us. You wrote:

    “If you can advice [sic] me something more, don’t hesitate.
    Thank you again.”

    You said that your husband can only do baby sitting for now and is studying French. I believe that he can offer some lessons in Mandarin Chinese for those who want to learn. I do not know if there is any demand for this language there, but since you live near a Chinese community, there is probably a need for the parents of the Chinese children to maintain their language. I live in Torrance, CA USA where there are few Chinese people, but we have a several churches which offer Mandarin to young children for a fee. So, perhaps he can teach some Chinese to the children. I sent my children to study for 2 semesters at the local church for $150 U.S. per semester per child. Some classes are once per week and others are twice per week. The teacher receives 60% of the money as her pay. There were some 10-15 students in each class. Some students are 1/2 Chinese, some are full Chinese, and some are African Americans and Caucasian Americans. This is my suggestion to you.

    Petya, I wish you and your husband nothing but the best.


  73. I don’t feel the situation is so bad. He is just lost, not knowing what to do with himself in a new country. I think not knowing the language is a big problem. If you will stay in Europe, try your best to get over the language barrier. Social activities help his language. I assume he knows how to acquire a foreign language (Japanese?) already.

    About staying home with kids, you can certainly come up a plan to remedy the time away from labor market. Acquiring a new skill to help your future career is a great way to market yourself down the road. As soon as he can get over the language hurdle, your husband should be planning the next move. Sometimes life deals you a deck of cards, you play it bravely. It is the best way for situation like this. I don’t think many US employers won’t give someone a chance if you have the skills they are look for. If you wait longer, it will only gets harder. Someone else suggests to give your husband spaces and not pushing him. You wants to reason with him instead of giving him more pressure. Hopefully he can see through what is ahead of him and takes control of the situation.

    Also, if you don’t take steps to integrate into your new surroundings, you will never find out new opportunities, ones your husband does not have access to in China.

  74. Wow, Petya… I only want to say that you are a great wife! I wish my bf was so supportive and understanding when I was dealing with culture shock after I moved to China. We haven’t been anywhere together in last two years, when I was in the worst stage of the culture shock he could just leave me at home crying and go to his parents for all weekend and he completely didn’t care about helping me with learning Chinese or finding a job. Your husband is very lucky to have you and he should know that.

  75. @ Barbara. If your boyfriend did not treat you so well, then why are you still with him? You should look for another bf who is more supportive and understanding. I think you told me that you are Polish. Perhaps you can look for a young Russian man in China. I heard that the Russian men are super masculine and are very dote to their women. I also heard that there are quite a number of Russians in China especially the cities, because China and Russia have improved their relationship a lot such that many Russians now travel and live in the PRC. I do not believe there are many Polish people in China though. What do you think about this suggestion?


  76. Only Barbara knows her relationship. You know what Fred…. Sometimes, some women don’t like their men to be so attentive 24/7. It’s good for the women to take actions also.

  77. Hi Petya!

    Based on your last update, I highly second askdsk’s recommendation. With today’s economy, lots of people are spending a lot of time “in between jobs.” Employers want to know what you did with that time. If your husband can show that he spent that time productively, learning new skills, that time off can become an asset!

    So yes. Start planning your next move. Brainstorm ideas and possibilities, no matter how bizarre. 🙂 Good luck!

  78. Petya!
    Maybe I am too late to reply, but your story touched me. At this point you are both in what could be called a “rough patch.” Every couple must go through these hard times together. The truth is, no matter where you are, how much money you have, what job you have, etc. you must never lose sight of what is important, and that is each other. Your husband has made a sacrifice of losing his job because he loves you more than he loves his job. That is why he didn’t take a divorce and moved to be with you. Please just make sure you are expressing your thanks to him for this large sacrifice he has made. I would hope he would be the same to you if you did the same thing for him. When you are married you both have to give 100%. Sometimes you have to take turns giving, even when it is hard. At this point there is no turning back and he can’t go back to China, so you two must set aside some time together and come up with a life plan to make sure you can both be happy. At this point, he must feel like his life fell apart since he gave up his job. I would too. But ask him what he wants to do as far as a career goes and make sure you can do everything on your side to help and support him to make his plans happen. And like you said, he was sad that the cheerful woman he married became so angry at him. He must realize that you are only human too and sometimes you get frustrated. I can’t even count the number of times I have had to ask my husband for a do-over and apologize. If you have treated him badly you must apologize to him – including how you threatened to divorce him. The “D” word is not something to use lightly, except for if your spouse is abusive to you or cheats on you. I think he would probably be glad if you recommitted yourself to be more supportive and make a plan to try to make decisions together instead of just doing what you each want without consenting to each other. I think it is great how you planned romantic nights to spend together, since that can be hard with children. Speaking of children, I think it took a lot for you to stand up and look at what is best for them. Keep doing that. The last thing you would want is your babies being poisoned by powder milk! Maybe in the future you guys could consider going back to China. Your husband needs to realize that there is more than one opportunity in such a large world! 🙂 I wish you the very best. Good job to fight for your marriage! YOU GO GIRL!

  79. This is truly a touching story and as a Chinese man who is also involved in an cross-continental relationship. I am so sorry for what has happened.

    From my point of view, I think it is best to revert back to the past where he lived and worked in China and you lived and worked in Europe. Travelling and getting together a few times a month is probably the way to go.

    In terms of children, I am really sorry to hear the difficult situation you two are in. I guess the when the kids are young, it will be difficult.

    Is there a way for you to get his parents to live in Europe periodically? Maybe in that way, his parents can look after the kids for a few weeks. I know this does not help completely, but at least you get some break and until the kids grow up and go to school, there is unfortunately not much to do unless someone can be there 24/7.

    I sincerely wish you two all the best.

  80. Dear Petya,

    I am an overseas born chinese woman who grew up in a western country. Fortunately my upbringing was traditional so my culture shock is reduced (but not eliminated).

    He can never go back to China – because essentially when a man loses his ‘face’, that’s it. He can never lift his head up high until he finds a redeeming point. There are people calling him sexist here. This is not sexist because it goes the same for women. I remember refusing to see my relatives for a month or tell my schoolmates my results after I fell from the top 10 ranking in the school. So ‘face’ and blows to the ego are common form in both males and females within our culture. It is safe to assume that most Chinese children are aware of the pride (and disgrace) they bring to the family and they are aware that they are bragging trophies. So that is grounded in our early formative years. No face = don’t show your face even if it means starving to death which might explain the suicide rates.

    Now many of you think that it is sexist for a man and push for equality. Westernised equality to me is hogwash. Women are traditionally the housekeepers and men the breadwinners. Yes, I am the woman who will tell you that a woman’s place is in the kitchen and for another reason other than the kitchen being the place where the most dangerous weapons are held. The major reason being an easy way to a Chinese man’s heart is through his stomach or so my mother says. When she and my father argues – she has no way of winning so she goes on strike in the kitchen. Now ever seen an absolutely helpless chef? Yes that’s called my father and after 2 days, he begs for forgiveness in the privacy of their bedroom. Tried that on my few ex boyfriends – works beautifully and they are the ones always begging and grovelling. So a man might be the head of the house but the woman is the neck that turns the head (take it from my big fat greek wedding). That includes looking after children. Woman’s domain. When my mom had a hissy fit at dad during my childhood days, she would walk out of the house and I would be all over pulling stuff and breaking things much to my exasperated father who wants nothing but a piece of mind at home. So he ends up grovelling at her feet – in comes the gold jewelry next day for appreciation that he does not need to deal with a very hyperactive daughter all day long.

    Another thing Chinese men don’t like is being told what to do directly. That goes for Chinese women too except they back-stab you. Nothing sexist there. Its the culture. Matter of face again. You have to make it appear that you are merely putting in a suggestion to their already apparent ‘imminent’ ideas. Even if they are depressed and you really want to slap the crap out of them to snap them out of the depression, you still have to make it look like you take their side against the nasty world. Makes it easier to grease the wheels and keep them running instead of having them jammed to discontent. Everything has to be indirect. Like it or not.

    So hope it helps.

    1. Oh yeah forgot to say. My mom is the millionaire controlling his fortune of at least 75% (in her bank account) and poor dad has to pay the bills and school fees for us out of his ‘pocket money’. So if us kiddies want to borrow money, we always ask her first – the Finance Minister, Prime Minister , Minister of Domestics . Dad is just a president – a figurehead in name only.

      Western Equality will just tip the balance towards the men , in those of us who are trained in this skill. Talk to any Chinese woman whose loyal husband has never ever got a mistress. Most of them tend to be Shanghainese with some being Cantonese.

      1. Oh my God!! I did NOT like your comment at all! What you are saying is that chinese men are “special needs” people who should be treated “differently/special” and constantly being manipulated by their wives because otherwise they would not listen to them because they cannot loose the face ????

        if that applies to every chinese men, that it is such a turn off, and I seriously should stop looking for a bf among chinese. If i cannot say directly to my partner what is on my mind, then Im sorry, he has a problem then. Not me.

        1. Of course it doesn’t apply to every Chinese man… just her limited, superficial and stereotyped view of Chinese men. Quite worrying that you are taking that on board as to reflect ALL chinese men… I guess this is why stereotypes are so damaging. Because they are infectious, the gullible will believe them.

        2. I am entitled to my opinion as to yours. My upbringing is different. And call it what you will but my parents do have a very good marriage of over 30 years . They married late because my father had to study so technically they have been together for 40 years. Not many people can achieve that with all the divorces lasting longer than marriages.

          Gullible hardly. If you think Western feminism is the superior than mine, then so be it. So assume away. Women do control things in my house and you can call it what you want but this is how it works. So far the women in my family are doing well with their husbands. No divorces for those who married within the culture except for that one who married a white guy who cheated her out of money. Equal my foot – when I look at her marriage. Calculative is what I see.

          If you cannot take the culture and instead wish to impose your culture on another, then that’s a tragedy waiting to happen. I was explaining things from my view and yes I tend to marry my own kind – easier with the culture flow and less risk of being cheated on.

    2. “I am an overseas born chinese woman who grew up in a western country. Fortunately my upbringing was traditional”


      “Fortunately”? Anyone reading your post will be thinking that was a typo. For someone who is an overseas born Chinese (like me), you seem not to have taken in any of the progressive features that another country affords. Your comments about being seen as trophies and “losing face” – sorry, but here in the west there is no such concept. Sure there is shame, but usually if one fails at something we don’t beat ourselves up over it. My family – all Chinese – certainly did nothing of the sort. In fact it has gotten to the point where every time I hear the phrase “face” in the news re: Chinese, I get pissed off – it’s as if western journalists only use it when they’re talking about us.

      And this thing you seem to have gotten in your head about how men are this and women are that – then say it isn’t sexist – do you even know what sexist means? It means to stereotype one based on gender. Which is precisely what you did.

      And you say you were fortunately brought up traditionally. Oh dear.

      As for raising up kids being a woman’s domain – no, it isn’t. Man and woman are both parents, they both have equal status as parents. Your scenario of the kid pulling a tantrum and the dad begging for mum to sort it out – are you kidding me? A lot of modern men would jump at the chance.

      In fact, your outdated views are further exacerbating sexism, giving men and women excuses to divide their roles in society – so what if men want to stay at home to look after the kids, and the woman wants to work? No wonder so many white men go for asian women. Because they subscribe to stereotypes – and actually LIKE them.

  81. “Loosing face” always makes me laugh. How spitting on the pavement, cheating on wives, lack of honour is OK, some Chinese just use the best unethical shortcut ways to win, stabb from behind, lie, cheat and especially find excuses for their poor skills and attitudes and it is OK, but “refusing to see my relatives for a month or tell my schoolmates my results after I fell from the top 10 ranking in the school” IS LOOSING A FACE ???

    Someone please explain.

    1. I don’t know where you got the Chinese from. But you seem keen to bash them about poor manners or cheating on their wives.

      There are cultured Chinese around. As they say, Birds of a feather flock together.

      As for ‘face’, failure is not exactly what I call an option in my family. Call anything you want.

      As for white men dating – with watching one relative who suffered under a white guy. Nah none of us believe in that love crap from white boys after her- sweet talks and honeys – no thank you , that’s dripping with poison. Best is always within my culture but of course in each culture , there’s always an asshole who thinks he knows better.

  82. Sorry, Felicia, but what you describe *is* sexist.

    Instead of saying “it’s not sexist to believe that a man is a breadwinner and a woman is a housekeeper”, which is just plain not true, you might try being honest and saying “I believe that the man should be the breadwinner and the woman should stay home. I know that’s sexist, but it’s what I believe”. I’d still disagree with you, but at least you would be being honest with yourself and others.

    The thing is, as a woman, I don’t want to be a housekeeper. I am a pretty good breadwinner, and a terrible housekeeper. I enjoy working and enjoy my career. I don’t want children. My husband also enjoys his work, but is a better housekeeper than me and isn’t as naturally able to find ways to make money as I am. So in our marriage I earn more, and that’s fine with both of us. He does more at home, too, and again, that’s fine.

    If we tried to revert to your gendered ideas about what men “should” do and what women “should” do, we’d be miserable. Not enough money – because the one good at earning it (me) would be stuck at home. A dirty house – because the one good at housekeeping (him) would be killing himself trying to earn more money while I grew ever more depressed, feeling trapped, like those 1950s housewives that Betty Friedan wrote about. If women were happy in that role, we wouldn’t have had the feminist movement at all, but we did. That says something.

    And so, how could anyone say that that’s what women or men “should” do or “are good at”, when there are so many examples to prove that’s simply not true? I’m not “good at” the thing you say I should be good at, and my husband isn’t good at the thing you say he should be able to do. So…hogwash. Most of your post is hogwash.

    Before anyone gets all “but you’re an exception”, no, actually, we’re not. Plenty of our friends and acquaintances are this way. My husband and I are hardly exceptions! If anything we’re the norm for our generation and social set! If we lived by “your” rules, we’d be miserable. I’d probably be dead – I think I’d rather kill myself than live like that. I’m not exaggerating.

    @Jeff – I agree with you, mostly. Right on! But we do have a concept of “face” in the West, we just don’t call it that. I do think the term is overused when talking about Asian cultures, on the other hand, Chinese has a specific word for it which the West does not and I do think it plays a greater role in Chinese culture. However, you are correct that not everything in Chinese culture can be reduced to “face”.

    1. Yeah I know, it’s called pride, status… it’s just the way western media ALWAYS mentions “face” when it comes to China. Especially when someone who is Chinese – or the Chinese government – have done something wrong or embarrassing, western journalists almost always say that they’ve lost face in the article somewhere. Whereas if America or another western country does something wrong…. no such mention there, just stating the facts.

      It’s like the writers have run out of ideas on how to express things, so they resort to the face thing.

  83. “The major reason being an easy way to a Chinese man’s heart is through his stomach or so my mother says. When she and my father argues – she has no way of winning so she goes on strike in the kitchen. Now ever seen an absolutely helpless chef? Yes that’s called my father and after 2 days, he begs for forgiveness in the privacy of their bedroom. Tried that on my few ex boyfriends – works beautifully and they are the ones always begging and grovelling. So a man might be the head of the house but the woman is the neck that turns the head (take it from my big fat greek wedding).”

    That sounds like a very dysfunctional relationship.

    It’s certainly not one that I would not want to be in. I would rather divorce than have to manipulate my way to getting fair treatment, and I’d rather be single than be married to someone around whom I had to “go on strike” and be passive aggressive around. I refuse to be the neck, and I refuse to be told I am the neck. Either we’re fair and equal partners, or I stay single, goodbye.

    And like it was in “My Big Fat Greek Wedding”, it’s hogwash. The whole point of that line in the movie was that that was how Tula’s *mother* dealt with her old-world husband, but the movie made it very clear that that was not the sort of relationship that would have been good for Tula, or for any woman who wants something better.

  84. Of course some white men cheat on their wives, and plenty of Chinese men are faithful and loving. Cheating in China seems more prevalent to me, but I have limited experience – I only stayed in China for a year, and eventually settled in Taiwan (I find it to be an easier country to live in – more freedom, less sexism, safer food supply [although there have been problems recently], less pollution, none of that “you can’t understand our 5,000 years of culture” nonsense – sorry).

    There’s also an issue in Asian business culture – not so much in Taiwan anymore but still prevalent in the rest of East Asia – where businessmen (they always seem to be men!) go out together to ‘special’ KTV or ‘special’ entertainment venues. In theory this is for titillation only, and you don’t bring the women back to your hotel, but more often than you might think ‘extra special services’ are available for the right clients at the right price. I have heard from some people uncomfortable with this that ‘taking a girl back to the hotel’ is so common in these types of networking/relationship-building business social outings that it’s hard for men who want to stay faithful to actually do so. I know a Taiwanese guy who told me about how in Korea on business his hosts basically put him in a private car back to his hotel and the ‘girl’ was already in the back seat. He insisted he didn’t do anything – that he couldn’t tell her to go home right there as it’d look rude to his hosts, so he took her back to his hotel, let the driver go, gave her money for a cab and paid her a tip (it’s expected) and sent her on her way. I don’t know whether he actually did that or he just said he did so I wouldn’t judge him (and in fact slept with the girl), and I don’t want to know.

    But it does point to cheating being a problem not just because it happens around the world but because it is particularly endemic to business social events in Asia.

    Yet another women why “women’s job is raising children and staying home” is hurting women: it’s easier for this sort of culture to flourish when there are no female business counterparts. When the genders are mixed, the ‘business entertainment’ becomes a little less disgusting and doesn’t dip into infidelity, STDs and human trafficking (which is what a lot of prostitution really is).

    This is one of many reasons why Felicia’s ideas, if they were again widely adopted, would be deeply detrimental to women.

    But I agree on the overuse of “face” in journalism covering Asia. A lot of journalists who cover Asia don’t know the culture all that deeply, and some who do either have really wrong or strange impressions or just hate the place – I know at least one former Reuters guy who reported on Taiwan and has written several Taiwan articles for other publications, and he HATES it here. I honestly don’t know why he stays (although I know his wife is Taiwanese), he hates it so much. But he’s the major journalistic voice for Taiwan in Western media! No wonder reporting on Asia in the West is so full of cliches if this is who is doing the reporting!

  85. In America, men and women cook !!! so what is the F…….. deal????? Both men and women have to keep the marriage and family alive nowadays and I’m serious. We have no roles in America anymore period and accept it dude. I used to make 6 figures a yr and was the strong arm and power house for the family and still had time for hobbies , exercise etc… and I still cook until now.. You guys focus too much on nonsense and not focusing on keeping a family together.

  86. Divorce is not the measure of whether a marriage is successful – happiness and good cooperation is. There are plenty of failed or bad marriages that do not end in divorce. I don’t know if your parents are happy in that folie a deux, but I for one would not be, and nothing you can say about that situation makes it sound more appealing to me.

    If your idea of “women have control” means “women use passive aggressive immature techniques to get what they want because their husbands are not mature enough to treat them as equals”, then fine, but it still sounds dysfunctional to me.

    I’d really rather be single than deal with that crap.

    I married another American, so there’s no problem with imposing cultures on each other. We’re quite happy with me being a wife in the more traditionally ‘masculine’ role and my husband being in the more traditionally ‘feminine’ role, and we’d be miserable otherwise.

    Just as perhaps your parents would not be happy that way (if so, ok, whatever, not my marriage, whatever makes ’em happy), it doesn’t quite work to say that that way’s always best and everyone should follow it, as you did (you did say a lot of “a woman’s place” and “women should” and “men need” etc – telling others what should make them happy). It wouldn’t make me happy, nor my husband, nor Petya, perhaps. Nor a lot of people.

    I would not want to impose my values on another person, although I believe my values are not cultural or “Western” but universal in terms of egalitarianism and equality for women. But if a man felt I was imposing that on him, well, he’s not the man for me. It’s better that we break up than that I cater to his idea of a relationship.

    1. You are entitled to your opinion , Jenna.

      My opinions do not sit well with westerners or westernised overseas Chinese who act like westerners.

      Petya can hate my comments – that’s her right. I could play ‘nice’ and comfort her by saying what she wants to hear but as a fact of the matter, you can call it gullible of me. My opinion is expressed solely on honesty on how she expressed her situation.

      Partnerships are hardly equal in any western country, the man mows the lawn, does his own workshop …. Western feminism – oh please. Barbie dolls and plasty surgeries to resemble one are testaments to why western gender equality is a farce. Have friends whose husbands went to have affairs and then when it came to the divorce , their husbands took half of their properties – full whole 50% of what they didn’t even pay a penny for except lounging around being a house husband and flirting with the female neighbors while the wife is at work.

      My goal in my younger days was to be like equal or more capable than a man. In fact that was what my father encouraged. So when you can fix your own car, mow the lawn , do your renovations and make your furniture, then tell me that my notion of life is dangerous. Because I actually do fix my own car, mow my lawn , do my own renovations and make my own bookcases prior to marriage. That is in addition to cooking, ironing, cleaning, doing the book keeping of my household expenditure now.

      My half pays for the entire maintenance of his property (I have mine by my own right) and bills – he wants to play a man , I let him be a man and support me. That’s not to say I do not have a job – my salary is more than his and cannot be touched by him ever – he knows that. Not to say I would not help him in times of being down – he knows that and whatever money in the past I gave him to pass the bad economic downturn – he actually willingly paid it back without so much of a hint from me. He does buy me things which sometimes is not needed. It is nice being in a relationship where the man have some notion of being the head of the family and he enjoys that right being the man who is complimented by all his friends on a lovely wife. So his money is partly mine but my money is mine. Yes, he is Chinese and we are happy. I have a bigger say in a lot of things. Not exactly manipulative , passive aggression. He backs down when I glare.

      Marrying westerners – oh 50% this 50% that, let’s share because we both ‘contribute’ to a family blah blah. Forget that. In an event of a divorce and they discover that you have more cash than them – that same equality is going to rip a woman out of what she rightfully earned. Happened to a few friends of mine – one got it worse – husband fought for full custody and she lost – have to pay child support which goes into supporting the excesses of his new wife and not to her kid. The other has to pay alimony – what hog wash . That’s the pain of western gender equality. Never mind that some women are not marketable in the marriage markets after they wasted their whole youths on a loser.

      My husband signed a prenuptial agreement without much thought. In my younger days, I did date a ‘nice’ white boy but when my father asked him if he was willing to sign a prenuptial agreement – he told me that ‘love should not be calculated in terms of value, I give you my word that I would not take anything of yours’ . Right . Then sign the damn piece of paper that guarantees that word. Wait no. He refused and my parents refused to accept him. So he went to marry my friend – who now pays him alimony . Funny right? Western equality can take a shit right there.

  87. Here’s my 2 cents! You don’t marry a woman/man for his/her money. Your life will be miserable later on. I don’t need to drive a $500k car or live in $1M home. If everything is based on money, you better marry yourself and be an old woman/man. That’s why no women can use wealth to change my mind. You can have expensive clothes to wear but your body looks horrible so no matter how expensive the clothes… you still look nasty. I can wear a $2 shirt and look better than a person with $500 shirt. That’s why it’s sooooo damn hard to find a down to earth woman/man even if he/she has tons of money. Why? society where he/she lives in will ruin the good in that person. #1 goal is… be happy and make yourself happy. No need to worry about what others think of you. Time still flies even though they dislike you. Everybody has to die. This is why people are attracted to my personality. I told people in the past that I don’t want a penny from them.

  88. some people’s comments just makes me wanna sink down to their level, and write really bad comments, but those would be eventually moderated out anyway. so I’m just gonna laugh, and be happy, to be myself, and not being her

  89. Hi, Petya!
    I am also bulgarian and i had a chinese boyfriend, so i perfect understand your feelings! Its a very good idea that you are sharing your story, cuz i am pretty sure many people can give you an advice and you will feel better!

    Главата горе! Всичко ще бъде наред 🙂

    1. О, толкова се радвам да се запозная със сънародничка в подобна връзка!
      Благодаря, Мария!!!!
      Къде живеете вие двамата?
      Извинявай, че отговарям с такова закъснение, но след януари коментарите по статията почти спряха и не очкавах да видя нови. Сега намерих време и влязох в блога и … каква приятна изненада!
      Надявам се някой ден да се срещнем.
      И … Христос Возкресе!

  90. Hi Petya

    After reading your story, I was thinking why don’t you and your husband try move to other city in China! Such as Guangzhou city! Its the economic center of South China and its just 2 hrs away from HongKong by bus. There are many job offers in Guangzhou. You mention you know French, there is a demand for French teachers and translator. And with your husband’s working experiences and language skill, I am sure he can find an OK job in Guangzhou.

    And the good thing is Guangzhou’s living expenses is lower than Shanghai.

    I hope my suggestion is helpful to you!

  91. All I can recommend is: go to China, learn Chinese and find a job in Shanghai because in my opinion, is much more easier than to find a job in Europe (I am from Slovakia, so a bit similar to your country)

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