Chinese men also come with involved mothers. Their mothers are full of opinions and criticisms. The Chinese fathers I have known, on the other hand, are not involved and extremely difficult to have a relationship with. The best way to deal with the introduction of a new mother-figure into your life is to demonstrate to her that you are an adult who is open to and cares about her opinions, but is not obligated to follow them (I learned this the hard way from my step-mother). You don’t yet have water under the bridge with this woman, so there’s no need to get worked up when she does not agree with you. I am very pleased with my husband’s mother because she genuinely likes me, is generally not unreasonable, and is very caring (read: sacrificial). However, I will never have the close relationship with her I had hoped for in a mother-in-law. Her Nanjing accent is too strong for us to communicate fluidly, she is too serious and never jokes, she is very strong-willed and argumentative while I am relaxed and easy-going (she thinks I will change when I get older…), and apart from her son we have almost nothing in common to discuss.
Chinese mainland men born in the 1980’s are generally quite serious toward romantic relationships (unless you enjoy sticky situations and ripping apart hearts, don’t date him unless you would consider marrying him!). Most of them will only have 1-3 girlfriends before one of them turns into the Mrs. I personally think this is a huge plus over the average American male. I feel the same way and don’t want to be faced with 10 years of baggage from a string of past girlfriends. On the other hand, since Chinese fathers generally leave child rising and decision-making up to wives, he probably lacks a strong sense of what an ideal father means to an American woman.
Another thing I love about Chinese men is that their definition of “masculine” differs from the limiting American perspective. Most Chinese men have no problem riding a pink motor-bike, carrying their girlfriends’ sparkly purse (or their own leather one), wearing capris (not that I’m happy about that…), singing cheesy love songs, or sleeping on flower-covered sheets. I think the American male’s fear of being thought of as gay as gotten out of control. So I think a new outlook is refreshing. On the other hand, most Chinese guys have zero sense of style. Fortunately, my husband is not one of them.
Lastly, the biggest hurdle I have found in my inter-cultural marriage is a differing outlook caused by huge differences in China and America’s educational approach. Americans are taught to be idealistic and hope for the best. Even if we do nothing concrete to change the world, we still feel outraged at the injustice around us. Today’s Chinese people tend to focus on out-maneuvering the outrageous system. Since changing the system seems impossible, they frequently focus narrowly on finding ways to be personally successful despite it. My husband sees my outrage at corruption and highly unethical practices to be naïve. He cannot understand my criticisms of America’s neo-imperialist practices. As far as he’s concerned, any country with the advantages the U.S.A. has would naturally abuse them. Where I see America as hypocritical, he appears to think the country is a saint for upholding any moral standards at all. If the rest of China shares this “realist” position, I fear for this world’s future.