Guest Post: I Got Divorced in China, and What Happened in My Marriage Is More Common Than You Realize

When you blog about love, family and relationships in China for as long as I do, you get to know lots of couples. But while there are love stories, there are also breakups and divorce in China.

Alex is someone I’ve known for years. She shared her love story here back in 2013. But her marriage with a Chinese man unraveled, ending in divorce. Her tale of divorce in China has become an everyday story she tells to the taxi drivers of Qingdao. It’s an act of courage to share stories like this and I’m grateful Alex wrote this piece.

Do you have a story, whether divorce in China or love or otherwise, that you’d like to share here on the blog? Have a look at the submit a post page and contact me today with your ideas.

The taxi driver says, “I’m here! Where are you?”

I reply, “I’m nearly there! Wait one moment, what color is your car?” Moments later, I say to him, “Hi! This is the car I ordered, correct?”

Since 2010 I’ve realized that getting from point A to point B in China has always been a fairly simple task. When the cost of a car sets you back a couple dollars, and they are in high supply, the only time I ever worry about getting around would be during those peak traffic times. And in that case I will rarely leave the house.

Chinese taxi drivers certainly have a reputation for being curious – if anything they should be merited for their ability to test all foreigners in China on their Chinese-speaking abilities. If you can pass the first few questions of the journey, well that merits you have a certain level of experience in China.

When it comes to getting a taxi, it is all about creating a conversation. To communicate is to be human, and to tell a story is to be someone willing to share a piece of your life with an overworked, and often bored, taxi driver. This always seems to be the best opportunity for these conversations., I will never see you again, and you probably won’t see me again, so time for that beautiful exchange.

Qingdao is a city I have called home since my early twenties — a city of 8 million, with sea, mountains and locals that are beyond welcoming. To reiterate a story that I often share with those stranger taxi drivers reveals another side of those international love stories. Because not all love stories, not all magical moments are real life. And not everything we see is as it is.

I met my now ex-husband in 2010, and funnily enough a Chinese fortune-teller actually reminded me about this over a business lunch just yesterday! He was spot on that I had indeed met a love. The story of how I met my ex-husband has nearly been erased from my mind, but I cherish and hold on to the beginning where it seemed to be about love — true love, love that crosses thousands of miles — and that is what brought on my destiny.

Today I have to be brutally honest when I tell those taxi drivers that within the beautiful city of Qingdao, out of all those friendly, smiling, helpful Shandong faces there are in fact a few bad eggs.

Adultery, divorce, rumors, gossip, cheating, lying and manipulation. This side of marriage in China is more prevalent than ever – but would you ever know the truth? Of course not. It is buried so deep in “keeping face” and maintaining a reputation that what goes on after the wedding ceremony is rarely discussed. My own experience as a 22-year-old university graduate, madly in love and naïve as hell, is a simple representation.

What I have seen in only the past three months goes to show that this exists in many, many relationships. The Chinese version of “undiscussed” open relationships, staying together for the money, the kids, the face.

I wouldn’t and couldn’t endure it.

It began by discovering images on iCloud – you sneaky bastard! From that point on I became a professional private investigator. Once that “小三” (xiaosan) mistress was discovered I was basically looking to find out everything. Looking back now it was really pointless. This mistress culture is a part of many marriages in China. Perhaps this is the reason why two people can stay together for so long. Perhaps long-term monogamy is unrealistic.

What I really want to say is not a sad sob story of how I had to escape a manipulative, power-hungry businessman or how I left the company we built, that cute poodle puppy, apartment and the mini cooper car lifestyle. The life we had together from the outside looked ideal. We were set to have some great looking kids, and be able to exchange country residencies. We were on our way to building a successful company, and overall I loved this man. It was stupid love but it was true. After this entire experience I feel that marriage is about so much more than love or lust. It should be viewed as a partnership, a collaboration, and built from a foundation of reason and logic.

How I went from a married, power-couple team of wedding planners and designer to a single, nomadic dating coach in London – well, that process and series of events still surprises me. So much of what has happened, I look back on it and think, Wow, where did the time go? How did all of this happen?

So, what do these kindhearted, slightly coarse, smile-wrinkle taxi drivers have to do with it? They hear my story of divorce in China every day, because how else can I say the reason why my Chinese is spoken with some local dialect tones? How can I answer what kept me in Qingdao for over five years? I like to be open and share my story as I think so much of the reality is behind closed doors.

You would not believe the number of businessmen who find it completely normal to not inform me until the second date that they have a family and wife, but would still like to pursue me. Even today I attend dinner meetings and drinking spells with men like this, offering up this kind of proposal. After what I went through with my ex-husband, it’s odd to be on the other side of things, so to speak.

And yet, I continue to date Chinese men. I would still marry a Chinese man, but with so much more caution, and with more high-level requests as to what he will provide. I would ask for what I deserve upfront and first. I would want a house in my name, a nice car, and a wedding paid for by him, just like many Chinese women. That is the lesson I learned.

Will I find love once again in China? I couldn’t tell you because I’m not a fortune-teller. But I remain cautiously optimistic about the future. And every day, as I hail another taxi, it gets a little easier to tell the story of my divorce in China and embrace the possibilities for my future.

You can follow Alex on Instagram.

Speaking of China is always on the lookout for outstanding guest posts! If you have something you’d like us to feature, visit the submit a post page for details — and then submit yours today.

Ask the Yangxifu: Western Woman Wants Baby, But Maybe Not Marriage, in China

(photo by Christopher Lance via

Marie asks:

I am a foreign woman in my early 40s working here in China. I met this 30 year old Chinese guy online, we became friends coz’ he speaks good english and quite smart, we dated twice and we have constant communication for more than 3 months now. ( We live in nearby China provinces)

Honestly, I was not attracted when I first saw him but I still like him enough to be willing to know him better.

Problem #1: He seems in a rush to ask me to be his gf while I’m telling him, hey, I need time. ( When asked why he’s in a rush, aside from the standard because I love you, etc..there is pressure on his side to have his own family.) I asked him before, what if I can no longer bear him a child ( my biological clock is ticking away…), his answer was: as long as we were together.

Problem #2: He is not financially capable of having a family ( he honestly told me he is a poor man). This makes me think, is he after my money? please don’t get me wrong, I’m not judging, its just a natural reaction.

As far as I’m concerned, this guy is serious, he’s been asking me to visit his hometown as he’d already mentioned about me to his mom.

I am already in my early 40s and desperately wants to have a child BUT I cannot just “throw cautions to the wind” and be his girlfriend just for the sake of having a chance to have a baby? Now, the guy seems want to give up because I’ve been rejecting him quite a number of times.

Now, I’m thinking am I that desperate? really need of your advice. Continue reading “Ask the Yangxifu: Western Woman Wants Baby, But Maybe Not Marriage, in China”

Divorcing Your Chinese Spouse Doesn’t Mean You Must Divorce China

Susan Blumberg-Kason in Hong Kong (photo from Susan Blumberg-Kason)

Divorce is never easy for anyone. But when you married someone from a country you came to love — or have always loved — and decide to divorce them, you might wonder: what will happen to your connection to that country?

That’s a question Susan Blumberg-Kason had to grapple with some 13 years ago when she decided to divorce her Chinese husband, who grew up in rural Hubei Province. She loved China and Chinese culture for years, a love that moved her to learn Mandarin Chinese and study abroad twice in Hong Kong. For her, the answer was this: that a divorce from her husband never meant she had to divorce China as well, something she will detail in today’s guest post.

Before we get to that, I also wanted to share Susan’s exciting news. Her memoir Good Chinese Wife was just acquired by the publisher Sourcebooks! Here’s the scoop on the book deal from Publishers Marketplace: Continue reading “Divorcing Your Chinese Spouse Doesn’t Mean You Must Divorce China”

Another Friend, Another Divorce in China

Divorce in China is on the rise, and John and I felt that increase among our friends, including Huizhong (photo source:

“The feelings between my wife and I were not so harmonious. So [this past summer] we officially divorced,” wrote Huizhong, one of my husband’s xiongdi — male friends so close to him that he refers to them with the Chinese word for “brothers.” Just like that, Huizhong became a new statistic in the rise of divorce rates in China. Continue reading “Another Friend, Another Divorce in China”

Ask the Yangxifu: Chinese Parents Against Divorced Western Man

Divided house
What happens when you're from a divided family -- and your Chinese girlfriend's parents don't approve of you? A divorced man from the UK loves his Chinese girlfriend, but isn't getting any love from her parents.

DivorcedintheUK asks:

I am divorced from my uk wife and have 3 Children in the uk. A year ago i met a beautifully sincere Chinese woman, we became very close friends and now we are inseparable. Her parents are totally against our relationship and insisted we split,well my girlfriend told them that she loves me and that we are going to be together no matter what they insist,(she lives with them still ) I was accused of many untrue things and i was out to con her  and beat her.

I have a well paid job and financially we are sound,

They say that as i have 3 children i am not suitable or good enough for their daughter, and she is embarrassing the family.

I have tried to be patient and understanding, but i need help. Continue reading “Ask the Yangxifu: Chinese Parents Against Divorced Western Man”

Of China’s Countryside Bachelors, and One Chinese Man’s Divorce

Er Ge in Yaolin Cave in Zhejiang Province, less than a year after his wife abandoned him.
Er Ge in Yaolin Cave in Zhejiang Province, less than a year after his wife abandoned him.

Er Ge, my second-oldest brother-in-law, wanted to marry for life.

His bride in 2005 was a lovely, lithe girl of 18 from Guizhou who worked in a local sewing factory, often evenings. I never forgot her almost ubiquitous smile in my presence. It was inscrutable, a smile that remained far too long to be just about happiness.

Mysterious smile or not, she must have made Er Ge happy, or at least relieved.
For years, his mother had fretted over finding him a wife — not easy, given the distorted sex ratio, especially in the countryside. Er Ge’s own personality added challenges. He was always the wallflower of the family, parsimonious with his own words, as if they were a precious currency. It took years before I even held a bona-fide conversation with him. But Er Ge’s mother didn’t want him to take years before he understood romance. So, following in a long tradition of mothers who arranged marital affairs for their sons, she made inquiries in town, and eventually found him a bride. He would be the last of the three brothers to be matched.

Er Ge is a peasant, and still resides in his family home, so they held the celebration at home too. He donned a black polyester suit and tie; she dressed in a white Western-style tulle wedding gown with roses in her flowing black hair.

She may have looked like a fairytale bride, but there is no fairytale ending here. Continue reading “Of China’s Countryside Bachelors, and One Chinese Man’s Divorce”