Managing life with Chinese in-laws
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.