There was a time when having a relationship with or marriage to a person from a certain background/race was forbidden. Indeed, even in today’s modern and supposedly more civilized times, there are still certain cultures that prohibit cross-cultural marriages; on a more “primitive” level, there are even tribes within the same culture that do not allow marriages between feuding tribes. Of course, there is still the ongoing issue of same-sex marriages. In China, such prohibitive attitudes with regards to cross-cultural, and even same-sex, relationships are slowly, but surely, being shed.

China may have been in seclusion for many decades, and it has resisted outside influence for even longer, but it has undoubtedly made its presence known to the whole world as a super power in the last several years and, since it opened its gates to outside influence, the Middle Kingdom has been swift to catch up on a lot of significant advancements, particularly when it comes to technology. Millennia-old traditions and beliefs, on the other hand, are harder to change. In fact, there are numerous instances wherein traditional practices and attitudes clash with western influences which usually involve the younger versus the older generations. One of these clashes involves marriage traditions.

There was also a time in China when a relationship/marriage between a Chinese and a foreigner was (prohibited/so strongly disfavored as to be almost prohibited); nowadays, there are still parents who would not allow their daughter to date, much less marry a foreign man; there are those who would protest and be unhappy about such a relationship; and then, increasingly, there are those who approve of it. Depending on the lack or the level of approval of the parents, the degree to which a foreign man is made a part of the China lady’s family also varies; it is not uncommon, however, for a foreign man to feel totally isolated and excluded by his Chinese wife’s family even if her parents were 100% agreeable to their marriage.

It is often said that a foreign man who chooses a China woman for a wife does not only marry her, he also marries her family, society, and culture. Of course, this can be said of most cross-cultural marriages. With most Chinese families, a foreign man who technically becomes part of the family by marriage will always remain an outsider. There are exceptions to this generalization, and as time goes by, this kind of situation would most likely change; but for the most part, the Chinese can be stubborn about letting outsiders inside the family circle.

When a foreign man decides to live in China with his wife, this often means that his wife’s parents would be living in the same house with them; when this is the case, being excluded, especially when it comes to family decisions, when he’s the one providing for everyone can seem disrespectful. One can also feel very alone when he is left out of traditional family time, family games, excursions, and other family activities, even day-to-day conversations during dinner.

One can avoid finding himself in such a trying situation by being willing to adapt to, and maybe even assimilate, Chinese culture and his wife’s family’s traditional ways. After all, a cross-cultural marriage would already have its unique complications; a man can either make the cultural differences and other marital troubles become easier to deal with or he can aggravate them. If a man decides to marry a China woman and settle in the country, it must be because he has a sincere appreciation and respect for China’s history, culture, and people; this also means he must be ready to change some of his culturally-influenced attitudes and behaviors to accommodate Chinese norms, please his wife and her family, and make the situation easier on himself. And something that will make it even easier to be accepted, and even become a “favorite son”, is to learn to converse in the Chinese language. Suddenly he will become someone her parents and family are proud to be associated with and can’t wait to be in his company.

One can begin learning more about Chinese society, its women, and cross-cultural relationships from insightful and informative websites like