Thank you all very much for the responses – they are a very interesting insight. Here are my thoughts…
From my wife’s side, I can understand where some of the frustration is because she does have to do admin things for me and our house and I know she is frustrated. I do cover the bills, though. But I have also mentioned that moving to the US that she wouldn’t have to do this for me, but hasn’t responded at all to anything.
The communication has been a major factor in that even if I want to discuss something, she often shuts me off and just stays busy with what she is working on. This always takes a higher priority than me.
With regard to the language/culture, this has been an extremely difficult situation for me. The area of China I live, I am literally the only foreigner in the town. And in my company in another small town, I have always been the only foreigner.
On a day-to-day basis, I have almost no one to converse with to share my views with. Therefore, it has always been a challenge, but especially the last 3 years of COVID without being able to travel outside the country and the government’s position in China, it has become extremely isolating.
There are approx. 85% of foreigners recently polled that are considering moving away from Shanghai due to COVID restrictions. I believe this is a wave that is happening to foreigners in China that we are not welcome here. I have certainly felt it and continue to feel it on a daily basis. The first ~10-12 years living here, I was able to live here because it didn’t impede on me personally. I don’t agree with the politics, but it was now forced on me. At my daughter’s school at 7 years old, her Chinese classmates recently asked her if she was on the side of Russia or the side of Ukraine during this war. They all said Russia!
I do speak some mandarin. I’m around the intermediate level, but my biggest problem is listening/comprehension. Everyone around me is 100% fluent and speaks extremely fast, which I am never able to follow and get lost and it becomes noise. I haven’t given up on Mandarin, I still take classes 3 days a week. I do understand the culture a big amount after living here for 15 years, but not everyone accepts or adapts to that indefinitely.
I’m not making excuses, I’m just explaining my situation and how I feel. My wife is 100% comfortable in this situation and I am 0.0001% comfortable.
As I mentioned previously, this was a big reason we got married, in that we agreed to eventually move back to the US together. And now that I feel this way, for me but even more so for my daughter, moving has become paramount in my plans.
I definitely want to do what’s best for us. I know I can’t kill 3 birds with one stone, but I do want to make sure my daughter is exposed to US culture and opportunities.
My wife’s English level is at least intermediate. She could get better if immersed in it.
With regard to the 3rd party counselor, I have been open to a bilingual couples coach, but my wife has never wanted to due to not wanting to talk about our problems to a stranger.
I do want to be methodical in this. I was speaking to a coach that I have worked with for the last 6 years that has coached expat divorces, and he is suggesting to find a way for the three of us to move to the US first, and then if my wife is unhappy or I am unhappy, we can look to divorce there. Then my daughter will probably start to have more of a say in where she wants to live, and will be more influenced in the US. I will probably have a better claim for custody in that case.
I still want to keep the options open.