Double Happiness: How One Chinese American Woman Married a Chinese National

Alex and Michelle Guo visiting San Diego, California, USA (photo courtesy of Michelle Guo)

Chinese American Michelle Guo — a fellow blogger and personal friend — shares her story of how she went to China and ended up marrying Alex, a man from Henan Province.


Four years ago when I first came to Beijing, locals asked me what brought me back to China. The question always threw me off, since I was born in Portland, spent most of my life in California, and had never been to China before. I’m Chinese-American and was raised by my mom, who is anything BUT a traditional Chinese parent. My values, thinking, and culture are very Western, which is why I assumed that whoever I married, no matter what ethnicity, would also be American, or at the very least a Westerner.

Sometimes it’s really, really nice to make the wrong assumption. Continue reading “Double Happiness: How One Chinese American Woman Married a Chinese National”

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”

“Spoils of a Chinese Marriage?” More Like, Spoiled a Chinese Marriage.

Screenshot of Global Times Op-Ed on "Enjoying the Spoils of a Chinese Marriage"
File this one under “things that make you go, ‘WTF?!?'”(screenshot from

Enjoying the spoils of a Chinese marriage? With this Op-Ed in the Global Times, I think it should read as “Spoiled a Chinese marriage” instead.

The illustration said it all. There’s a white foreign man lounging emperor-like in a gigantic bowl of noodles, with a morning-after “I’m high on carbs” smirk on his face. Beside him is a Chinese woman who looks like every guy’s teenage wet dream, dressed in a qipao that leaves nothing to the imagination. She leans on the bowl and stares at him as if to say, “What else can I get you, honey? More noodles? Me?” Continue reading ““Spoils of a Chinese Marriage?” More Like, Spoiled a Chinese Marriage.”

From the Archives: Posts on My Chinese Inlaws’ Marriage

My Chinese mother-in-law in the kitchen
My Chinese mother-in-law in the kitchen.

I spent much of the past week in bed, and unfortunately, much of this weekend as well. So I’m sending you to the archives this Monday so I can catch my breath and rest up a little.

Those of you new to this blog may have missed my posts on Chinese marriage, through the eyes of my mother-in-law and father-in-law. I spent the summer of 2011 living with them, and one outcome of that summer was my newfound understanding of their own marriage. Enjoy!

My Chinese Inlaws’ Not-So-Free Marriage. My Chinese father-in-law insisted that the new China included free choice in marriages. But it seemed like an illusion when he admitted he didn’t freely choose his bride.

The Four Big Items For My Chinese In-laws’ Marriage. When my Chinese inlaws married in 1971, the marriage must-haves were a bicycle, sewing machine, radio and wristwatch.

For My Chinese In-laws, Scolding is Love. I didn’t understand why my Chinese mother-in-law always argued with my Chinese father-in-law. But, according to my husband, maybe that’s their way of showing love.

I’m a Feminist AND It’s Tradition in China? On Not Changing My Maiden Name

John and I holding a bouquet of flowers after our marriage registration“I am wondering why you have kept your maiden name?” wrote a reader. “When I married my Chinese husband [many] years ago, I was terribly proud to take his name, and still am.”

So I wrote back to her with my primary reasons. One that as a feminist, I’ve never felt comfortable with the idea that a woman must take on her husband’s name in marriage. And two, that in China, women traditionally keep their last names even after marrying.

When but I thought about my choices later on, I had to laugh. After all, isn’t it ironic that my feminist side finds refuge in China’s tradition? A tradition that, I’m certain, wasn’t created to accommodate feminists like me. Let’s just say I pretty much never expect “tradition” to agree with my feminist perspective on anything…and yet this time, it did. Sometimes, tradition — especially those of my husband’s country — will surprise me in unexpected ways.

But the best part of it all? No one in China ever raises an eyebrow at my surname, and then asks, “Why didn’t you change your name?”

Instead, the Chinese have other ways to put me on the spot, like, “So, do you have children?” But that’s another question for another day. 😉

P.S.: If you’re actually debating whether or not to change your name in marriage, see my post on this.

Are Yangxifu (The Western Wives of Chinese Men) More Difficult Wives?

A Godzilla figurine dressed in a white wedding gown
(photo by theresa21)

“It’s hard to have a yangxifu [洋媳妇, the foreign wife of a Chinese man].” I know it seems strange, but every time my husband says this, we both bust up in laughter.

I don’t know when the phrase turned into our running joke, but I know why it makes us laugh. After all, I’ve never been the sort of woman who demanded a brand-spanking-new condo, car, and lots of cash; we’ve always rented, driven secondhand cars, and felt grateful just to pay our bills at the end of the month. I’ve never dragged John to the Apple store and begged him for an iPhone or any other status-gadget; instead I bought us dumb phones at the grocery store for a few bucks, and later lost mine somewhere in my car. And while I want a wedding ring someday from my husband, I’m content to wait for it until John graduates and lands his dream job. In short, if you looked up “demanding wife” or even “bridezilla” in the dictionary, you sure as hell wouldn’t find my photo there.

So today, I happened to nudge John with this phrase, how hard it is to have a yangxifu, while walking through the park. We laughed, as usual. But then I went off script, and asked him, “Do you think there’s any truth in it?” Continue reading “Are Yangxifu (The Western Wives of Chinese Men) More Difficult Wives?”

Shall We Dance? Yes…But Not in Public

A poster for the Japanese movie, Shall We Dance?
(photo by elycefeliz)

In Japan, ballroom dancing is regarded with much suspicion. For a couple to embrace and dance in front of others is beyond embarrassing. A married couple would never think of going out arm in arm, let alone dancing together! A couple would hardly say, ‘I love you’, out loud. The Japanese rather think that intuitive understanding is everything.

So began “Shall We Dance,” a 1996 Japanese movie that John and I happened to watch a couple of weeks ago. But the moment I read those first few sentences in the subtitles, I realized it was more than just a movie. Continue reading “Shall We Dance? Yes…But Not in Public”

Double Happiness: Chinese Wedding Stories from Four Western Women

John and I kissing at our wedding
John and I, kissing at our wedding

I’m a sucker for Chinese weddings — especially when they involve my fellow yangxifu. Which is why I couldn’t help but put together a little compendium of wedding stories about Western women and Chinese men tying the knot, from getting the little red marriage books to slipping into those little red qipaos. I’ve included snippets of stories from Tianjin Shannon, Tales from Hebei’s Kelly Sandor-Yang, Ember Swift, and My Beijing Survival Diary’s Michelle Guo. Continue reading “Double Happiness: Chinese Wedding Stories from Four Western Women”

Ask the Yangxifu: Dealing With “How Come You Aren’t Married Yet?”

A blurred photo of a bride and groom on the grass with a bouquet in clear view.
(photo by Fernando Weberich)

Single Overseas Chinese Guy asks:

Although this may not affect you yourself. It affects a whole load of us overseas born Chinese types. Simply how on earth do we respond to the constant questions of how come you aren’t married yet?

Parents go to Chinese weddings, and fiery arguments ensue about getting married.

Fake BFs/GFs are old utilised tricks. But over time they cease to work and to be honest it feels bad tricking parents like this.

In our first generation barely anybody is married these days. But there seems an increasing desperation in the voices of parents wanting you to get married. As if it is a magic bullet or something. They just simply do not seem to realise that getting married isn’t the be all and end all of things. Yet their old fashioned values don’t seem to tie in with single independent people! Continue reading “Ask the Yangxifu: Dealing With “How Come You Aren’t Married Yet?””