Man­ag­ing life with Chi­nese in-laws

Global Times – Metro Beijing - - TWO CENTS - By Kathy De Leye

The story of the wo­man who com­mit­ted sui­cide be­cause she was de­nied a C-sec­tion is a hot topic among women in China. It is un­be­liev­able that a wo­man can’t make de­ci­sions about her own body. It is very sad. Some women I know believe that she made the best choice in a tough sit­u­a­tion.

A lot of for­eign­ers think that most Chi­nese men are not in­de­pen­dent. They can’t make de­ci­sions with­out their par­ents. So, I guess, many Chi­nese women feel very iso­lated. They have to move to their hus­band’s fam­ily home, and they have no sup­port, not from their hus­band, not from his fam­ily.

When I moved to Shen­zhen (Guang­dong Prov­ince) af­ter I met my hus­band, I didn’t know what awaited me. I had to live with his par­ents in a tiny apart­ment. I thought it would be tem­po­rary. We be­came a cou­ple quite fast, so I thought we would find our own place soon.

I stayed in that apart­ment for three months, and it was hell!

His par­ents were nice, but I had no free­dom. I couldn’t cook for my­self and had to eat what­ever they pre­pared. They talked to each other in Sichuan di­alect, so I had no one to talk to, even my hus­band was not in­ter­ested in talk­ing to me.

I broke down while we were trav­el­ing in Sichuan af­ter more than three months of liv­ing with his par­ents. I re­al­ized that my hus­band didn’t want to move out of his par­ents’ apart­ment and that af­ter the hol­i­day, I would have to go back to this tiny place with peo­ple I don’t know, can’t com­mu­ni­cate with, and who were not in­ter­ested in my cul­ture. When my hus­band heard how I felt, we got our own apart­ment. At first, we got one not far from his par­ents and went there quite often to eat in the evenings. But, for­tu­nately, we got busier and moved to another part of Shen­zhen be­cause of work. We have moved a cou­ple of times now, and each new place is not close to his par­ents. We also don’t visit them that often any­more. It took me about two years to get over that three-month pe­riod. I feel the trauma from it even to­day. I think a part of it is be­cause I never knew I could be the kind of wo­man who would give up her en­tire life for a man. It is bet­ter now. I am glad I have a hus­band who re­spects me and wants to make me happy; I would not have mar­ried him oth­er­wise. But I think about the mil­lions of Chi­nese women who are not so for­tu­nate. Most of the time they are not able to change their hus­band’s mind. I am a for­eigner, so his par­ents un­der­stand that I will have dif­fer­ent ideas.

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