Tim and Yan Jiang were married this weekend. A few weeks ago Yan Jiang took the time to write out the story of how they met, and I think it is a wonderful way to begin our look at inter-cultural marriages. I picked this story because too often people assume that these marriages are not based on true love, and I think this is a good reminder that this is not always the case. You can read more about them at TimCorbin.com
My soon-to-be husband, Tim, and I met in October, 2008 in the college that I attended and he taught at. Before that, I wasn’t sure I would ever have any foreign friends, so dating a foreigner was never even a thought. Tim is very easygoing and humorous and I’m a person who is not that easygoing. I met him at a time where I felt my life was very boring, but gradually, I felt my life becoming more interesting and it was soon filled with so many wonderful friends. College life became the happiest time in my life and
Tim became my best friend in college. Throughout all this, I didn’t know he had been hiding feelings for me until one day, as my graduation approached, he suddenly expressed his feelings to me, but his actions scared me. At first, I avoided hanging out with him because I didn’t know how to handle things. Despite this, I couldn’t avoid wondering if I liked him too, and I soon discovered that I did indeed have feelings for him.
Even though we liked each other, we didn’t date while I was still in college. I decided to work in Beijing and pursue different goals after graduation. Now in different cities, our relationship became more difficult to maintain, but it also became better. Of course, we experienced a lot of hard times. I could write a book about us, but I can’t do it here. We eventually decided to date on May 1st, 2010. He then proposed to me on December 25, 2010 and we decided to get married in May 2011.
Of course, some people think intercultural dating and marriage is strange. The things I see most from people are surprise and doubt. If we walk together on the road, stranger’s eyes will follow us until we’re out of their view. At first, I hated this so much because I felt so weird, but when I eventually got used to it I felt that it’s actually very funny. Sometimes we’ll stare at them the same way they’re staring at us until they look away. Last weekend, we were on the way to the seaside, a man kept looking back at us when he was driving a motorcycle, I wanted to tell him that driving safely is much more important than staring at us. Additionally, my family and friends wondered if Tim might not be serious about our
relationship and cheat on me. His family and friends questioned if I was taking advantaged of his foreign status. But when they got to know the other more, they started to understand us and support us. We’re both proud that we have wonderful family and friends. People always say most intercultural marriages are not happy, why don’t they think about if marriages in general are happy – not just intercultural ones? The happiness of a marriage is not only decided by where the couples are from, but how they love each other. Intercultural marriages do face more challenges, but if we work hard – focusing on
communication, humility, patience, and most importantly on our common faith, our life and marriage will be successful and wonderful.
Congratulations to Tim and Yan Jiang on their marriage.
Tomorrow we’ll be looking at a the other side of these relationships.
Congratulations to Tim & Yan Jiang! Communication is a big key and may it always be open.
Thanks Chopstik! Communication is one of the things that we know we really need to focus on. Even little things get lost in translation sometimes. Language plays such a big role in a communication (I know, obvious, right?), but it really becomes obvious in a relationship. I look forward to us learning how to communicate better and more effectively. I’ve learned a lot about myself already – and there are still years to go!
I am really interested in this new topic. Before making assumptions I will be following your posts. Of course, generalizations are bad, and there exists real love in intercultural marriages, I do not dare to doubt that. However, I would like to state that there has been some occasions where this intercultural marriages have been result of some interests and that is why a lot of people make assumptions too quickly and of course not taking into consideration feelings.
Thank you for your post.
And congratulations to tim and Yan Jiang, whose blog also follow 🙂
We’ll be getting into that stereotype in the next couple of days, with a story of a friend who tried to find a Chinese wife online.
Yan is a fantastic woman and a great wife (I do admit I’m biased). It’s been really interesting, as the wedding approached and has now passed, to see the family dynamics play out – to see how different cultures have different expectations of what a marriage should be and what the ceremony and surrounding events should look like. Thanks Tom for giving Yan a chance to express her view of things.
Tim, You‘ re a fantastic man. The wedding turned out to be much better that I thought it would be. All the friends gave us great help and they made the wedding amazing. We really had a very special wedding.
Tom, Congratulations on your brother’s marriage, you have a TWIN brother!!
Thank you for letting me tell our story.
Congratulations to both of you on your successful relationship and your recent marriage! Thanks for sharing your story Yan, it was lovely.
so proud of you guys, tim and yan. peter and I love being your neighbors 🙂
Thank Kara & Peter for letting me stay at your second-bedroom during my weekend visit, but I have to say goodbye to it now. You guys rocks, your marriage is a very good example for us to learn.
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This is a very heartwarming story, and I do believe that there can exist many foreigner/Chinese marriages that are successful.
However, there are a few simple things people can do before they make such an important decision in their lives.
First, when dating someone, even if you think you know them, give it at least 2 years of living with them before thinking about marriage. 2 years is around when you start to get sick of someone, so if you can make it through that period and beyond then you can know with relatively certainty it will be a successful relationship. There’s so much to discover and learn about someone in the steps between dating and marriage. Skipping over these things can cause problems later on that could be more easily avoided and communicated while dating or even engaged. This is not advice for foreigner/Chinese relationships, but for all relationships. Of course relationships that move fast can still be successful, but it’s always best to just take things slowly and methodically and know for certain that this is truly the person you will be spending the rest of your life with.
Second, spend a lot of time with each other’s families and in each other’s homes. Obviously this is easier the more time you have, but it allows for the bond to grow not only between you and your future wife, but between your family and their new family member (your wife, yourself). This also will allow the other person to understand who you are and where you come from. If they can accept that then they can better accept you. Also it will allow for more honest, open, and informed discussion on where you will live and raise a family in the future. Many people enter into relationships with expectations that are not so clearly defined and just assume things will be for the best. Especially among foreign/Chinese couples, deciding where you will live and raise your family is paramount.
That being said, I truly wish you two the best of luck in having a harmonious and happy marriage. At times things will not be easy, but always keep the best times in your head and know that even better times await you in the future.
Also I commend you waiting to date until after school! I think many foreigners get a bad reputation for dating their students, so it’s great to see a responsible relationship!
Also I commend you on waiting to date until after school!
I completely agree about spending time with each others family, this is something that Yan and I haven’t gotten to do a lot of, mostly due to geography. It’s been much easier for her to get to know my family, as her English is much, much better than my Chinese (and to make it a little more difficult her family speaks a local dialect that varies quite a bit from putonghua).
However, I’m on the other side of the aisle on the part about living together prior to marriage, although I will admit I did used to think this was necessary. I think a lot of people use this idea as an reason to not be fully dedicated to making a marriage work. They say “Now that we’ve been married for a few years, you’re so different!”. Well, what did they think happens to people throughout their lives – they change. From this comes the idea that it’s better to “try out” a long-term relationship by living together, which really just means a “marriage” with all of the benefits but none of the commitment.
I don’t believe it’s necessary to live with a person prior to marriage, in fact I think that part of the beauty of marriage is discovering a person and learning about their quirks and annoyances – within the covenant of a lifelong marriage, and then learning to deal with those quirks and annoyances. There is no “perfect person”, “the one” does not exist – because that person is a finished product, if anyone can find a finished product, then they are a rare, rare specimen. Unfortunately, marriage nowadays has become something that is just a matter of convenience for many people, and when the marriage is no longer convenient or easy, they just end it – many people are not dedicated to seeing out this binding agreement. Yan and I believe that marriage is designed to a model of sacrificial love in which we give ourselves away over and over again, never seeking to place ourselves first, but always seeking to place the other first. Of course we will fail and of course we will have days where we think “This is hard, really hard, the hardest thing I’ve ever done”, but we will never regret our decision and we will never say “This marriage should end”. Only death will do that.
This is certainly not a personal attack on you Senkay (I know I can sometimes come across as harsh or rude, I don’t want that to be the case – I just have strong opinions about certain issues). Like I said, I used to feel the same way, that living together was necessary – in fact I lived with multiple ex-girlfriends at different points – until my life was changed and I began to see things in a new way, and I began to see marriage as something that was designed to be special, beautiful, and pure. Yan and I are excited about our life together and believe that we have a firm foundation for a successful marriage (with lots of challenges along the way!). 🙂
Senkay…. you had some good ideas… but must disagree with you on the “live together for a couple of years…” bit. In the USA, couples who live together for “X” number of years and then marry have a higher divorce rate than those who just get married after dating and getting to know each other and families.
I do agree with Tim on his views on this topic.
In Yan’s article, she mentions she and Tim have a common faith. I believe with all my heart that this is one factor that will keep a marriage going in tough times…not depending on feelings or moods.
As a Christian, I am biased on this issue…but can’t encourage it more… This provides a foundation for the couple that those without common faiths don’t have. Even us
Christians fail in our marriages, sad to say. But, at least we can choose to allow the Lord to help us…or not.
Be that as it may all be…… Congrats Tim and Yan. You two sound like you have your heads on pretty straight. I admire your out-looks.
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Hi, I am doing some research for my dissertation about interracial marriages where one of the couple is Chinese. I would love to be able to use you two as an example in my study. Would that be possible?