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She's made her bed, and she's gotta lie on it...
This piece reminds me of a Chinese lady I befriended while I was studying in the states. In her case, she chose to marry an American missionary person who went to China to spread the word of God - they met in Beijing. He married her there and eventually had to return to the states at one time but couldn't bring her back there (this was all in the late 80s). She waited for him patiently, suffered through the mocking of her family, relatives and friends that her new American hubby had left her, but not knowing that he's working hard on the other end to get all paperworks done to get her out of China to join him in the US of A. |
She eventually joined her husband in the early 90s, but her English hadn't improved when she got there - she stayed at home most of the time, and couldn't go out without her husband chaperoning her as no one could understand her heavily accented and limited English language skills. I do not know how they made things work with their compromised communication - she is not fluent in the language and they communicate in very simple English, sometimes to the point of expressing in sign language.
I met her husband at the international house at a university in the US, and he was really happy to see another 'Chinese face' in a majority-white-populated State university. Yes, he was then a matured student, and I remembered him asking whether I could speak Mandarin as he'd like to introduce me to his wife. I hesitated, but he seemed so eager and suggested me to tag along with him to the University cafe. So, we met up at the university cafe a couple of blocks away from the university's international house. There she was, eating alone, heavily pregnant... I remembered seeing her face, litted up like a christmas tree when she saw a 'familiar' Chinese face - obviously overjoyed to have someone from home... but I'm not from China.... However, I can still speak some Mandarin!!
Both husband and wife were excited, and I was like a Christmas present to them... as for myself, I felt a little awkward with the situation, especially when her husband seemed to be communicating via myself to her... and I didn't feel quite right in doing so... it's like 'getting in between someone else's marriage'. I was like a little miracle worker in their marriage... hanging out with them often, translating the English terminologies.to Chinese (even my Mandarin improved!! haha!).
However,.the American humour shared and so forth is all lost on her at most times... and sometimes I felt that she laughed for laughing's sake... and I saw the sadness in her eyes - she didn't get it! I even remembered the times when I was chuckling away with her husband about a joke or two, or we laughed till our sides ache from the sitcoms that we watched on the idiot box... I saw her from the corner of my eyes - totally lost... and blinking away - looking at both her husband and myself and the tv, not knowing what's going on. By the time I explained the joke to her, I've lost it's sense of humour in the translation... and his wife seemed to take every word literally instead of understanding 'a play of language' involved. Those were the moments that I could see the undercurrents there... the frustration emanating from both of them, the longing for connection... but I'm sure they could make it up by passion that needs no words...?
I continued to hang out with them for few more weeks, but eventually ebbed away, and before I knew it... I didn't visit the couple anymore, especially after the children were born. I felt it was for the best, and I didn't feel right about her husband wanting to talk to me more than talking to his wife? Likewise, she prefers to talk to me rather than talking to her husband!! So, this clearly shows how much people long to communicate...
Anyway, that's besides the point... the German-Chinese couple you were referring to seemed to be in the same boat with the American-Chinese couple I befriended. I'm sure over time, in months and years to come, both women will be able to embrace the 'foreign' language that their husbands are born and bred with.
At least for my case, and I can only speak for myself... I will not be able to withstand such a 'union' if I can't communicate verbally with someone I love. Some things are just lost in translation, don't you agree?
Like the saying goes, if you live in Rome, act like a Roman... but this saying doesn't mean that we should lose our culture and tradition and pretend to be someone else that we're not... , but we learn to adopt and assimilate ourselves to the new (or foreign culture) for the sake of survival and to avoid misunderstandings for social acceptance - but this still takes time! In the case of a cross-cultural marriage, there has to be a compromise... I believe there's more than love to a marriage, we need to be able to let each other know what are our daily needs in life... we can't live on air and love alone, it doesn't pay our bills and make the world go round... agree? Yes or No?
Anyway, it's already difficult enough to make a marriage work even in a same-race-marriage where couples can communicate freely with each other. Imagine all the gender issues involved, the misunderstandings... the need to trash out with each other about individualistic habits and idiosyncracies? I'm not a sceptic on love, I believe in love, and would like to believe that Love amends and connects all, but in reality, my mind refutes this, and the wheels of my mind clicks.... 'will the bubble burst one day?' Food for thoughts, aye?