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?
We’re looking for a few good stories from Chinese men and Western women in love — or out of love — to share on Fridays. Submit your original story or a published blog post today.