China's rapid reforms and opening up drive has meant that more and more Chinese have married foreigners. Living in a foreign country and integrating with a foreign culture, some have found happiness and some have not. More and more people are accepting marriage to a foreigner as normal and worthwhile.
Xiao Yang: married on an auspicious day chosen by her grandmother
Xiao Yang's wish to marry Adams, an American man, came true at last when they collected their marriage certificate from the civil affairs department on June 6th of this year. That day was chosen by Xiao Yang's grandmother. The older woman hopes the lucky date will bring happiness to her granddaughter and grandson in-law.
Adams is a young American who came to Beijing to learn Chinese. They were introduced to each other by mutual friends and after two years of courtship, they decided to marry.
However, it was not always easy for the couple. Xiao Yang had to persuade her parents she was making the right decision. She then went to the US to meet with Adams' parents and two brothers. Adams' parents have also visited Xiao Yang in China. They plan to hold a wedding ceremony in both China and the US to accommodate family and friends.
For Xiao Yang, a Peking University graduate, marriage to a foreigner is nothing new, and many of her friends have been in relationships with foreigners. Xiao Yang attributes her decision to her openness to western culture. The young couple understands each other's lifestyles. They have western food one half of the week and Chinese food the other. When they are free, they go to a pub or watch a DVD. Adams has made good progress in Chinese, which often draws praise from Xiao Yang.
In her time with Adams, Xiao Yang has realized that a Chinese girl must be independent and assert herself in a relationship. It is pointless to act like a spoilt child before Adams. "Adams needs a wife, not an insensible woman who can do nothing but act like a spoilt brate," added Xiao Yang.
At her first meetings with Adams' parents, Xiao Yang was rather reserved and withdrawn. She felt ill at ease when she wanted to express her needs. For their part, Adams' parents did not know when Xiao Yang was simply being polite and when she really needed something. That often caused misunderstandings.
Now the young couple is working in Beijing. Xiao Yang plans to do further study in the US. "It depends where we settle later on, " Xiao Yang said gently.
"Foreign cloud" finds her Italian Mr. Right
This is the story of Jian, a white collar worker from Shanghai and her Italian boyfriend Maurizio.
Having lived in China for over three years, Maurizio can understand a little Chinese. When Jian talks to her friends on the phone, the Italian man does not know whether to laugh or cry. "Ah, I know, you are talking about me." He looked up Jian's name in the dictionary and translated it to "foreign cloud'.
Fate brought Jian and Maurizio together. In 2004, Jian got to know several Italian engineers, and learnt a little of their language.
In July 2004, Maurizio, who was posted in Hong Kong at the time, visited Shanghai. He lost his way and asked Jian for directions. When Jian realized he came from Italy, she spoke to him in Italian. Hearing his local language, Maurizio was very excited because few Chinese speak Italian. After that, they often chatted on MSN, and a friendship began to develop.
Maurizio moved to Shanghai for work at the end of 2005, and he has been in love with Jian ever since.
Having an Italian boyfriend made Jian's life rich and colorful.
In the beginning, Jian's mother worried that her daughter's boyfriend would cheat on her. Later, however, her mother changed her mind. "If you two are really in love with each other, then you should get married, for it is hard for a girl over 30 to find an appropriate boy friend," her mother advised.
Maurizio is very kind to Jian, but he knows his own mind, too. If he believes he is right, he will not make any compromises. If he does something wrong, however, he does not hesitate to apologize.
Maurizio is optimistic about life, and his attitude has changed Jian. The once introverted Chinese girl is now courageous and confident about future.
Xiao Qin: I can't forgive my unfaithful husband
The 29-year-old Xiao Qin wants to end her miserable marriage to an American peacefully. After three years of marriage, Xiao Qin was shocked to discover her husband had committed adultery with her good friend.
"I have known the third party for some 12 years and we were good friends. I could not accept the fact that they had had an affair. My only choice is to divorce him," she said.
When she was 26, Xiao Qin married an American businessman despite strong opposition from her family and friends. "He was tall, sturdy, handsome and gentlemanlike, and he caught my attention instantly. Although he had been married before, he was still full of life. We had many common interests, including traveling, swimming and sport. We were really happy together."
Xiao Qin often invited her friend of 12 years, Li Li, to her home. "I think foreigners are quite causal, and sometimes I thought it was nothing when they told lewd jokes. Furthermore, Li Li was one of my best friends �C it was impossible for me to believe she would seduce my husband. "
Although divorce means losing a large part of her income, Xiao Qin thinks she will be perfectly happy after the divorce.
Marriage to a foreigner: a life of both challenges and happiness
Chen Xinxin, an expert on marriage and family at the Women's Studies Institute of China noted that Chinese now place more importance on their feelings rather than the fact that the person they are marrying is 'foreign'.
Some new concepts of family have come to China with the increase of marriages to foreigners. The partner with the higher wage will continue to work and the other will take care of the family.
However, the divorce rate of Chinese-foreign marriages is high, the result of different values. For most Chinese, marriage is a lifetime affair, but foreigners place more importance on their feelings.
By People's Daily online