It takes two to tango as well as to build a happy marriage. In most western countries, couples are pretty much on their own to make decision about their love life. When it comes to a relationship in Chinese culture, there are more than just two people in the marriage.
There is a saying that ‘In China, marriage is not the business of two people, it’s actually the business of two families.’There are a lot of family member involvements in a marriage especially the parents.
Let me tell you a true story of my friend Jerry who is an American and use to work in China. When Jerry met his wife Ling he was about 50 and divorced. Ling was 32 at that time. They felt in love with each other and couldn’t be happier when they were together. However, Ling’s parents strongly against their relationship and tried everything they could do to break them up. They even locked Ling in house and didn’t allow her to go out.
Anyway, Jerry and Ling managed to get together and got married. They got a son after a year and then Ling’s parents finally accepted Jerry. When Jerry told me about this I was so happy for him and thought the drama was finally finished, but I was wrong.
Ling’s parents love their grandson very much like a lot of Chinese grandparents. They often came over Ling’s apartment without any notice because they want to see their grandson. In China, it’s very common that parents go to visit children without notice, because they think they have the right to go to their children’s place so they don’t need to give them a call or notice. Jerry was very annoyed with it and felt like he had no privacy at all. The last year before they moved back America, Jerry and Ling moved to an apartment which is out of town so Ling’s parents couldn’t come so easily to see their grandson.
Jerry’s story is somehow a special one, but the parents issue involved in marriage is very common in China. There is no line to separate what is right or wrong about this, it because of the culture. In China, most of parents consider their children as their properties so they always have a feeling that they should take care of their properties. No matter how old their children are they still feel like they have the responsibility to ‘take care’ of them. They tempt to decide which major their children should study, choose spouse for their children or making major decisions for their children.
In the past it was normal for parents to do so. Parents could arrange a marriage for their child and tell their child who they should marry. In nowadays, China has been developing so fast that young generations don’t agree with their parents.
I always suggest my foreign friends if they are committed to a relationship with a Chinese, they should be aware of the culture difference and especially the parents issue when they get married.