5 Things You Must Know Before Marrying A Chinese

Should I Marry A Chinese?


Introduction-Should I Marry A Chinese?

As a single person, you never can tell where the ‘love boat’ might take you to – within your western country or even farther than you ever imagined. What happens when this boat takes you straight to a Chinese? It really is not a bad idea to marry a Chinese, but then, being a culture that is different from yours, there are bound to be difficulties right from the onset. However, if you understand most of the basics of having a Chinese wife or husband, it would make things easier for you. With this guide, you can be sure of not stumbling upon more surprises than necessary in the course of your relationship.

Marrying A Chinese

A significant percentage of spouses to Chinese men or women usually regret one thing – not finding out as much as they should about marrying a Chinese before they married their spouses. If you don’t do the right thing, then you should know that you might end up being among the statistics and surely, I don’t think you want that. Here a few things you need to know about Chinese marriage to help you be better prepared. They are as follows:

  • You don’t marry only your spouse: In Chinese culture, when you marry their daughter or son, you are invariably getting married to your spouse’s entire family. This is where filial piety comes into the picture. The Chinese are known to have great respect for their parents, elders, and their ancestors. A spouse is expected to toe the same part, since the culture strongly recognizes the family as the building block of their immediate society.
  • The family’s approval is needed: Although in times past, the parents of the intending bride and groom basically make arrangement for the traditional marriage, things have changed with the prohibition marriage law of 1950. Even with this prohibition of arranged marriages, parents and other elders of the family still play a major role in modern day marriages. It is vital that their approval is sought before the marriage can commence.
  • You will play by their culture: This is especially if you are getting married to a Chinese woman. The marriage will be based on her own culture, so also are her expectations. This is one of the reasons why a good number of Chinese women are less likely to adapt to a different culture or country, especially if they never left the shores of their country.
  • It is not all about love: This might seem surprising but it is not every Chinese bride that sees love as an important element in marriage. It does not mean she does not love you, she does. It is just that they don’t attach as much importance to it as other countries do and as such, might not be on the same frequency as you when it comes to love.

1. Properly Dealing With Chinese In-laws

As already mentioned above, when you get married to a Chinese spouse, you are also agreeing to marry the entire family. In order to ensure that there are no issues along the line, it is important that you understand how to properly deal with your Chinese in-laws. Here are some tips to guide you:

  • Respect them: Yes, you are a foreigner who has traveled far and wide but the same might not be said about your Chinese in-laws. No matter their social status, you should learn to respect them. Some of them are not exposed to the western way of doing things and the earlier you understand and respect them just the way they are, the easier it would be for you to blend with them.
  • Politely set boundaries: It is true that you are from a different culture and there are certain things you really would not tolerate, marriage or not. In order not to clash with your Chinese in-laws, you can politely set boundaries that would work for both parties. For example, you and your spouse can politely let them know that you will get to decide how your child will be raised and educated. This is especially because in Chinese culture, it is normal for grandparents to have a say in their grand child’s upbringing.
  • There should be a middle way: Two families from two different worlds are coming together and in order to make things move smoothly, there should be a middle way that would benefit both sides. While you take on some of your spouse’s culture, he or she should also take on some of yours. This way, both your family and your spouse’s will not feel left out in the scheme of things.
  • Build your morals: When you lack values or morals, your Chinese in-laws will see it as their family line being degraded. In order to avoid falling out of favor with them, you should uphold these values, especially if you are a woman married to a Chinese man. Understand the gender roles and you are good to go.

2. The Role of Men In A Chinese Marriage

In every traditional Chinese family, the man and the woman have different roles to play as far as the family front is concerned. However, the man has major roles to play and they include but not limited to the following:

  • Making provisions for his family
  • Protecting his family
  • Maintaining his family
  • Taking care of his children’s needs until they become adults, including paying for their education
  • Makes major decision regarding his wife and other members of the family

One unique thing about traditional Chinese families is that the man of the house has the final say, especially when it concerns his children. However, in modern Chinese families, even though the elders can be consulted over important issues, the fathers no longer get to take the decision for their adult children.

3. The Role of Women in Chinese Marriage

Just as men have their roles to play, women also have significant roles to play in Chinese marriage but on a subordinate level. In traditional Chinese families, the women are expected to do three major things:

  • Take care of the home front
  • Take care of the children
  • Care for the rest of the family

However, in modern day China, the roles are gradually increasing as women are now allowed to build careers and as such, contribute financially towards the upkeep of the family. Even though that presently, there are fewer women in higher-paying jobs and positions, their opportunities are gradually but steadily increasing.

4. Marrying A Chinese Does Not Guarantee Green Card

Have you been toying with the idea of marrying a Chinese in order to make it easier for you to stay in China longer and also get a temporary job? Just get off from that high horse because you will be terribly disappointed. Even though you are married to a Chinese, the country still regards you as a foreigner and as such, you can only get a spouse visa which expires after 180 days in China. At most, you can get a residency permit, depending on certain internal factors.

When you have a spouse visa, you are viewed as a tourist and as such, you are not allowed to work or earn money, even on the short term. What then happens if you or your spouse does not have a huge pile of money to sustain you till you are ready to go back to your home country? It is really difficult to imagine. In order to avoid this mess, it is advisable that you stick around with your work visa, even after you are married to your Chinese heartthrob.

5. Pregnancy and Having Babies In China

Have you always been enthusiastic about having babies right after your wedding? If yes, getting married to a Chinese might just put a damper on things, especially if you plan on living there for a while. The reason being planning a baby in China is more complicated than you can think of. With the country’s hukou and family-planning policies, you really have a lot to contend with as far as pregnancy and having babies is concerned.

For example, in the Chinese Sheep year, citizens avoid making babies or even getting married as it is believed not to be a good year for childbearing or marriages. Meanwhile, in the year that follows, the Monkey year, children are born in abundance. Personally, I think it removes from the fun of having babies when you have to wait for a certain year to get pregnant, I don’t know about you.

Another issue to contend with when it comes to getting pregnant and child bearing in Chinese marriages is the country’s one-child policy. If you have always wanted a large immediate family, then getting married and residing in China might not just be for you. With the one-child policy, if your Chinese spouse has a brother or sister, then both of you can only have just one child. If you will be resident in your home country, then this policy has little or nothing to do with you and your spouse.

Other Important Things You Should Know Before You Get That Chinese Partner

When it comes to Chinese culture and marriage, there are lots of dos and don’ts that potential in-laws should know about. Some of these facts also apply to dating and relationship with a Chinese. They include but not limited to the following:

  • Belief in Patrillineal Descent: In traditional Chinese families, a lot of importance is attached to the patrillineal descent system. In such system, the children’s lineage and descent is only calculated from their father’s side only. When there is opportunity for inheritance of family property or membership, it only goes to the male members of the family.
  • Chinese women love differently: Unlike the western way of doing things, in which a woman or girl can simply profess her love to you, a Chinese woman is just the opposite. Instead of directly showing they are attracted to you, a Chinese woman would show her attraction by urging you to take better care of your health, get warmer clothes for a cold weather, etc. If you allow these signs to pass you by, then you might have as well lost her.
  • Stability attracts them: If you wish to build a solid relationship with a Chinese woman, then you should exhibit traits of stability. Should you have a previous history of short term relationships, please it is better not to mention them to your potential better half. To them, it portrays instability and the likelihood of you being considered a dependable partner starts diminishing there and then. Keep your past unstable relationship history a secret if you are to make it work.
  • A first date is always a serious affair: Unlike the western world where first dates are not attached much importance, a first date with a Chinese is viewed as a very important issue. This is especially if her family is fully aware and involved in organizing the first date. Issues bordering on families, marriage, and even children are freely discussed on first dates with a Chinese.
  • Parental pressures are rampant: Before you go on that date, you should know that Chinese parents always have a say in their children’s relationships. It is so deep that grandparents, neighbors, siblings, and friends can even influence the parents’ decisions regarding their child’s relationship. You should expect family pressures, even right from the beginning of the relationship or first date.


If you are in a relationship with a Chinese and have intensions of making it work, it is important that you understand that you are getting yourself into a cross-cultural highway and as such, you should expect things to go both ways. Always remember to respect your potential spouse’s cultural background and influences while at the same time, keeping yours intact and urging them to indulge in some it too. When you maintain the mindset of give and take, you can always make your marriage to a Chinese work for both of you, cross-cultural differences or not.

*About the author: Nerissa Bouterse, Food Service Manager, from Belgium. Lived in Shen Zhen for 7 years, Shang Hai for 2 years.

*Editor Note: This article represents only the author’s personal opinions.

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