As Chairman of the National Network of Foreign Spouses, founded in July 1995, I have had some contact with foreign females married to Taiwanese men.
Often-times what I noted were two extremes: (A) the foreign wife is a career person, and is fully respected for that. The household employs one or more maids, and the foreign wife does not get heavily involved in domestic chores, she and the husband entertain together, etc. (B) the foreign wife was totally in the “traditional Taiwanese/Chinese mold”, did all the housework, looked after the in-laws, appeared totally integrated into the family, did not go out much, etc.
When I did come in contact with foreign (western) wives who did not fit either of these descriptions, in other words perhaps more of a “middle class” orientation and/or “husband and wife are equal” orientation, etc. it often seemed to me that the wife was being pulled in direction B. Moreover, the wife’s failure to conform was gradually causing friction in the marriage.
How independent is your fiance? Does he listen closely to what his parents say? Does he follow their advice exclusively? Will he expect you to do the same? These are all factors to consider.
In my own situation (being married to a Taiwanese lady), she was not on speaking terms with her parents when we started going together, and that simplified things quite a bit. When asked if her father would approve of her marrying an American, and particularly me, her answer was an unequivocal “No, he will not approve.” Later I found out that this was not a racial thing however . . . . . her father didn’t approve of any of the selections of marriage partners that her brothers and sisters had made over the years.
After we got married, we pretty much ran our own show . . . . . . no interference from her parents, brothers, sisters, uncles, aunts, grandparents, etc. to speak of. My wife formerly studied and worked in Japan for about ten years however, so she is quite independent and has her own ways of doing things. Currently she is teaching in a university in Taipei and also consulting for the Council of Agriculture. We had an English language bushiban together in Taipei for about 18 years, and closed down in mid-1997.
My wife is quite different from me in many ways however, and I should make a note of that. For example, she can pack her bags and leave on fairly short notice . . . . . and on long trips of course she generally arranges to take me, the son, or both of us along. A few years back we all went to see the cartoon movie “The Prince”, and the next week (during winter vacation) she and the son booked on a tour to Egypt and were gone . . . . . . After we closed our bushiban and were feeling somewhat depressed she decided we should all spend the summer in London, England, so we bought tickets and spent about five weeks in London. That was really marvelous. Then in 1998 she decided to go to Berlin, and we all went to Germany for the summer . . . . . . . we went to Prague in the Czech Republic and lived there for about ten days, then back to Germany, visiting the farms and small villages down south, with just our backpacks. The next summer we went to Phuket, Thailand . . . . . I would never run off on such unplanned excursions, but she is often eager to do so. I am just pointing this out because that is one facet of my wife’s personality which is totally different from me and yet which I find rather exciting. So, you might want to look for some similar trait in your fiance . . . . . .
One thing which I think is possibly bad is a tendency for the male to have various times when he associates with other males exclusively, even to the extent of taking vacations with other males . . . . . . I think that bodes poorly for a future happy marriage. To me, this clearly means that he has no desire to settle down. What do males do when they get together in some exotic city? Of course, they find some prostitutes . . . . I certainly never do such activities, although the most my wife ever said about it was “Don’t bring any strange women into our house.” You can interpret that remark in various ways . . . . but at the basic level there has to be a great deal of trust between the husband and wife. If my wife calls me from Kaohsiung and says she is not coming home for a few days, is busy with her consulting, etc, etc, I don’t question it. And the same applies to me if I am out for a few days. If you have one party becoming suspicious and jealous because of suspected “affairs” that is definitely going to cause long term problems.