“What?!”

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“What?!”

This is the seemingly universal reaction to my marital status. It may be in Mandarin, Taiwanese, or English, but still consistently the same. The few times it’s differed have been due to language confusion.

A recurring (and possibly annoying, to some of you) theme you’ll probably read in my blog is my views about marriage. Marriage in Taiwan, marriage in the States, marital expectations, marital assumptions, yadda yadda yadda… This preoccupation with marriage culture shouldn’t be a surprise. Taiwanese and Americans alike have a thirst for weddings, be they big or small, expensive or bargain, lavish or quaint, traditional or modern – the list goes on and on. And the follow-up of the ceremony? There are so many aspects of marriage to be discussed, but one detail that always calls my attention is my newly-multicultural status.

Now I’m no longer just a white chick living in Taiwan. I’m a white chick married to a Taiwanese guy living in Taiwan for some approximation of forever. That’s special. Or maybe I’ve allowed the locals to convince me that’s something special. In either case, the fact is I haven’t met any other North American ladies married to locals here in Tainan. If you’re one, write to me!

Let’s try to figure out why. Here are my first thoughts based upon my own observations and experiences:

1) There aren’t as many foreign ladies here (at least there aren’t in Tainan).
2) Foreigners seem to stay here for 1-2 years and then leave. There are exceptions who stay much longer, but it seems that few of them are ladies.
3) Taiwanese men often (but not always) appear to be shy / avoidant / scared / mortified about speaking to foreign women.
4) Taiwanese men are often (but not always) embarrassed to use their English skills, even if they have some level of fluency, for fear of making mistakes and losing face. Especially if a foreign lady is present.
5) Foreign women cringe at traditional Taiwanese family dynamics and expectations regarding women. The gender roles give us nightmares. We prefer our modern ways, assume every Taiwanese man will adhere to the old traditions, and sprint for the door.

Of course, these are generalizations – not every foreign lady is the same and not every Taiwanese guy is the same. But one must admit that there’s a trend of “foreign man + Taiwanese woman.” I’m just trying to understand my minority status.

About the Author

Aside from my experiences as the wife of a Taiwanese guy in Tainan, I'm just a white chick from Iowa with a lot of opinions. Let me annoy you!

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