Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Book Recommendation

Ann lent me One couple two cultures and it has been the best book i've read on cross cultural relationships, or rather the most relevant. Considering the amount of search terms this blog gets for topics such as 'white female Asian male' 'dating a Chinese man' etc I figured I should probably share with you my thoughts on it.

The book is focused on Western-Chinese couples many of which seem to be based around Hong Kong. The author interviews 81 Western-Chinese couples about love and marriage. Yes most (82%) of the couple were the reverse (White male, Chinese female) but still I found most of the book to be relevant.

I knew straight away I would love it when I read the following blurb on the back:

I have been in social gatherings where people have criticised the Chinese quite rudely and then half-heartedly apologised when they remembered my husband was Chinese. I tell myself I wouldn't want to be friends with people who are so narrow-minded. Having said that, I confess there are traits of Asian culture that I find 'unusual' and I joke about them with friends and family.

The book discusses many of the issues that couple may face including: language, food, culture and in-laws. I also learned about a few culture differences I wasn't aware of from the book including the fact that some Chinese like to hold their drinking liquid in their mouth for a little while before they swallow. Also that there was a group called 'M Club' in Hong Kong back in the 70's made of Western women married to Chinese men. Plus I also picked up a few more Chinese sayings and a few more Cantonese terms.

I love the fact though that the book ends on a positive note and actually discusses the good aspects of intercultural relationships. I've had a few people say to me 'oh that must be hard' about our relationship, but the truth in terms of culture differences there are many more pleasant surprises and education than what there is negative differences. I always feel like I am learning about our culture differences and I like that fact. I also feel as if I have this insight into another word that I never would have if I was dating another Australian man. For example, Mr T often translates for me what others are discussing around us in public. Yes very bad I know, but I'm nosey and I also know what people are discussing about us too. The other day as well I was discussing something about Hong Kong with a Shanghainese woman who I had just met and she said to me 'wow, I never expected an Aussie to understand and describe almost exactly how I feel'. Plus Mr T keeps introducing me to new Chinese vegan food, some of which I looveeeee.

One of my fav quotes sums it up quite well:

many of the wives and husbands I have talked with feel blessed to have shared their love and their lives with someone from another culture. They sense an expansion in their minds, souls and hearts.

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