Cross-cultural Marriage is Tricky?

A mixed marriage can offer greater opportunities to have a better life or go abroad, but cross-cultural marriage also can be tricky. The number of marriages between Chinese people and foreigners is on the increase, but so too is the rate at which they are getting divorced.
Divorces with Foreigners Up

According to recent statistics from the Shanghai Civil Affairs Bureau, the number of intercultural marriages is rising steadily. In 2006, 2,960 marriages involving Chinese nationals and foreigners were registered in Shanghai, up 22.97 percent on the previous year.

However, the number of mixed couples getting divorced in 2006 also increased to 355. The figures showed that marriages had taken place between Chinese people and foreigners from 55 nations and regions. Chinese-Japanese and Chinese-Canadian pairings were found to be the most likely to end in divorce.

Jocelyn and Jun have been married for nine years.

“From the first time I started to love a Chinese man, hiding became part of my life,” says American Jocelyn Eikenburg.

Within her small expat community, the social isolation was almost immediate. She felt alienated by her girlfriends, who would openly express their distaste for Chinese men.

“I felt alone in being married to a Chinese man and I wanted to find other people to connect with,” says Ms Eikenburg about her decision in 2009 to share her experiences on her blog, Speaking of China.

A web-based survey conducted by the Weiqing Divorcees Club found that many of its members had been in unhappy cross-cultural marriages.

“Loneliness, cultural differences and adapting to a new lifestyle were quoted as the main reasons for not being happy,” the club’s Shu Xin said.

The club provides a range of services, such as helping with the divorce process and advising on the process of getting remarried. On a more positive note, it also gives lectures on how to make a success of cross-cultural marriages.

Who is Easier to Divorce?

Most studies conducted on interracial marriages conclude those same race marriages tend to last longer. However, the results of some studies led to the opinion that factors like the age of marriage and educational qualifications had a greater bearing on the stability and longevity of such marriages than the racial identities of the individuals.

Image source: thoughtcatalog.com

It was found that the higher the educational level, the lesser the rate of divorce was while marriages between interracial individuals which took place earlier in life had increased chances of ending in divorce. The members of the interracial pairings were more than likely to possess traits which correlated with a higher possibility of divorce.

Help the Marriages

Annemieke Esmeijer, a psychologist and family therapist with the Shanghai Community Center where experts provide family therapy and advice on extramarital affairs, said that cross-cultural marriages fail for many reasons, including language difficulties, cultural changes, work pressures, a loss of identity for the spouse moving abroad and a lack of support systems from home.

Esmeijer said that it was crucial for couples from different cultures to get to know each other personally, socially, and culturally. They should also discuss key cultural differences regarding such things as attitudes toward the extended family, religion and values, how to spend money, raising children, and even what sort of food they will eat.

Source: GuideinChina BBC, China daily

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