Expat Marriage Issues

Of course she does. We only have a completely biased report to go on. We don’t know her side of the story and compromise seems to mean she needs to give up her current life. He wants to move. She doesn’t. Who is in the right?

Get a divorce, for the sake of the child. Don’t drag it through a lifetime of misery caused by the dysfunctionality that exists between you and your wife.


Taiwanese women should come with a warning label:

“Caution. Won’t take ‘no’ for an answer and will expect to be in control of everything including your money or it’s ‘my way or the highway.’”


Kinda dismissive mate the way you come about it what do you want hardcore evidence? This isn’t family court. I don’t know man, I know plenty of women that behave like his wife so I wouldn’t give too many of them the benefit of the doubt. Take it with a grain of salt choose to believe whoever and whatever you want to believe. It’s not that hard to up and leave Taiwan unless you’re seriously attached to something here. In his case, his wife probably has it too good and doesn’t want the table to turn on her. She isn’t up for moving to the states then she would need to struggle like him to learn the language and culture there. I’m not a marriage counselor I’m only stating my opinions in the case that what he said were true you don’t need to like it or agree with it.


We see these kinds of threads a lot around here. The vast majority are single source, ie, the spouse doesn’t show up and rebut. Superking and myself and some others, from time to time, remind everyone that that is the case. I don’t think Superking is coming out against you personally, just that given the source, we only know 1/2 the story. The complimentary anecdotes about Taiwanese women, which always follow and bring with them calls for immediate divorce and whatnot, seem to add weight to the OP’s predicament and perspective, but they really don’t. It may seem like other marriages, but it’s snot.

That said, @superking can speak for his super self.


Rich taiwanese family based in China. Daughter (OP’s wife) has no interest to leave her pampered home.

Get divorced as soon as possible to get out of this toxic enviroment.
In a few years it will be your child’s decision where to continue his/her life.


Very. :hugs:
I’ve been reading these threads for nigh on twenty years. Same old same old. “My Taiwanese partner doesn’t understand my culture. My Taiwanese partner isn’t who I want her to be.” I was that person. I stood in those shoes. I wanted people to massage my ego and provide anecdotal boo-boos of their own. So I called it as I see it. One sided. Seems harsh, but it’s better than bashing women/the Taiwanese/ both.

Correct on both fronts. Thanks jd. :blush:


These kind of stories serve as a cautionary tale for anyone thinking about engaging someone other than yourself for something that will not happen until long. I have put off marrying my now ex-girlfriend because I knew I was definitely going back to Taiwan next year, and even I could see that, while she initially agreed with us going together, I could see that she really thought of it more like “I have 2 years to convince him not to go there and stay with me”. Maybe that’s what happened to your wife OP. Maybe she never wanted to go the US, and she just humored you and thought that, by the time your kid would grow up, you would feel anchored to where you’re currently living enough that you wouldn’t feel the need to leave.

As time went by, she became embittered by the idea that whatever scheme she had was clearly not working as you don’t speak a lick of mandarin and you now have the added financial incentives of keeping your retirement money. I feel like this is at the core of the issues you have.

IMHO, it all depends on how much do you value this relationship you have with your wife. Kids won’t get screwed up because of this as long as you keep a healthy relationship and give em a good education. A lot of expat kids go through this very situation and while not ideal, it’s how life goes and it won’t destroy them.
On the other hand, you kinda have to realize that you’re not the only victim here. She may suck at English but so do you suck at Chinese after living there for 10 years, which is quite frankly absurd no matter how many coaches you’ve been taking. There’s something you’re clearly doing wrong and it’s really just up to you to figure out what, and were I your partner, I’d honestly be asking serious questions about how much you cared about Chinese culture to begin with; I don’t mean to judge you because i don’t really care about your love of said culture, but if she does, that could explain part of her loss of respect. Her hanging out with her friends is basically her mourning in advance the end your relationship.

I think you should just seriously consider the real reason why you want to leave. Is it really the money ? After all, your in-laws did foot in a serious amount of money for a house in China, meaning that retirement won’t be that much of an issue anyway. Maybe that amount of money they paid for surpasses your retirement sum. In which case, did you really lose money ? Or are you just investing in the future of a healthy family ?
Is it the Chinese education ? I mean, you’re here, and i’m guessing some complemental homeschooling could help your daughter when it comes to counterbalancing her chinese education. Also, she could always give American college a shot, in which case your daughter, being an adult by then, will probably pick what’s more reasonable for her and that would be a good pretext for you to get out of there.

I’m saying this because, as someone said above, we’re only getting your side of the story and judging from said side, the only option you’ve got is divorce and getting away from there but… Are you sure that’s all there is to it ?


Ten plus years apart from my Taiwanese ex and I can say this is my realisation too. We are good friends now and I can see how she was stuck with my behaviour as much as I was stuck with hers. We both laugh now at the stubborn pig headedness of our behaviours. She’s finally dating a guy she likes (remember too the stigma your partner has to deal with from dating a foreigner - it’s really real) and I couldn’t be happier for her.

Try to see things from her side more and try to take a broader more honest view of your own behaviour.


From my distant point of view it seems like you are trying to kill five birds with one stone:

  1. your career and financial prospects
  2. relationship with wife
  3. ideal residence for each of you, wife and child

Now, if only we knew how to eat an elephant…


This doesn’t sound like a healthy relationship but it’s not as bad as some others, though there’s potential for things to get worse, especially if you return to Taiwan. This is her home-turf. The law will be on her side. It’s impossible to get no-fault divorce and judges tend to give custody of daughters to mothers.

With that being said I won’t make the assumption that she is cheating just because she no longer loves you. Guys who are unhappy in marriage go out drinking with their buddies too. Different people react differently. Perhaps you are both unhappy with each other.

Either way, if you don’t want to go through the whole spy thing, you can just get a divorce through mutual agreement. Just talk it out, and try to reach some settlement.

And it’s not wrong for you to think about your career and future as well. She might respect you even less if you can’t find a decent job in Taiwan, and it definitely isn’t easy to find a good job here.

Also, take in to consideration what your daughter wants.

In short, I’d say follow your gut! But do it in a way that prioritizes the well-being and future of your daughter.

PS. Don’t worry too much about not being able to speak Chinese. I have lived in China and Taiwan a decade too. Mine might be worse than yours. I may not speak the language but I have a pretty solid understanding of Chinese / Taiwanese culture. I don’t think language is the issue in your relationship. Becoming fluent in Chinese won’t fix your marriage.


I honestly disagree on that. If his mandarin is bad and her english isn’t stellar, there may be some serious lack of communication going on. She’s saying “she’s bored”, but God knows what emotion she’s actually feeling about going to the US but she just can’t explain what it is because she doesn’t have the vocabulary for it. He’s saying he doesn’t get 5% of the interaction she’s having with her daughter but what about her when he’s taking some time with her ? I really wouldn’t dismiss that so easily.

I mean it’s easy, from the comfort of our PC and our external point of view to tell him to just divorce her, but did we really consider all possibilities and outcomes ? If all it took was some mutual understanding (linguistically and mentally), is it really worth a divorce and the BS that goes with it ?

Those are issues you should talk about with your wife tbh OP.


I agree. There must be at minimum at least one common language, otherwise I can’t imagine how they’ll even discuss (or argue about) basic issues/feelings without creating additional misunderstandings.

I think I was trying to answer two different things and mixed them up :

  1. It’s entirely possible to live in China/Taiwan without ever speaking the language (not that it’s a good thing). This is an excuse but also a fact that I found it difficult to learn Chinese with a 9 to 5 job while raising a family and taking care of my parents.

  2. International marriages are common now and often English is used as the common language. E.g. My wife and I can’t speak Chinese nor each other’s native languages but both of us can speak English very well and that’s our default communication language. However, I don’t think either of us learning the other’s native language will have any significant impact on the issues in our relationship.

I don’t believe language fluency <=> effective communication, especially when it comes to marriages.

Most relationship issues (even among those who speak the same language) are caused by bad communication, misunderstandings which is often because either side is intentionally refusing to acknowledge the other person’s view or perspective. In this case, language isn’t the main issue.

For OP’s case, let me revise my advice:

Since neither side is good at the other’s language, and they don’t have any common / effective means of communication, the best thing to do would be to bring in an interpreter, have a sit-down and try to communicate issues/feelings/desires first before taking a big step. See if this is all just a big misunderstanding caused by language, though I doubt it is. But it is still worth a try.


Doubt this would be palatable as it breaches the invisible red line: That would necessitate dreaded airing-dirty-laundry-in-stranger’s-yard. Most problems are classified as private-family vs other-peoples problems, which shuts off possibilities for involvement of professional third parties.

Over the years I have watched a brother suffer (I think they are both just stubbon and incompatible) because he won’t countenance a counselor’s mediation as it is a ‘private matter’ The whole family also’s not equipped to advise, can only give oblique hints, not directly, as this would be encroaching.

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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.


ding ding ding

You must both be very patient and understanding. Wow. That’s something. :bowing:

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I can see how shitty the situation is for you and I wholeheartedly understand. We’ve probably all been in a similar spot, that frustrating state of being about to get the culture yet still miles away from understanding the language.

I can also understand the issue of having everyone speak mandarin at supersonic speeds while you’re still barely starting to learn. I honestly feel like the only option that would conserve a semblance of status quo while actually improving your situation would to really tough it out and get to learning chinese on a more intense level. I’m thinking complementing your chinese classes with some online teaching. Several platforms offer chinese classes online dispensed by private individuals with their own hourly rates, going as low as 4 bucks an hour. This in turn would allow you to have discussions in chinese with people who are aware of your level and thus speak in a simpler, more articulate, and understandable way. This is probably what you need to bridge the gap.

As for your kid, well… I have grown in a very practicing and strict religious household from an originally different region of the world, and I had to clash with this duality of realities as well. So long as you tell her your viewpoint of the world and get her to keep her mouth shut about it, she’s your daughter- she will value it. If anything, she’ll find her critical thinking abilities to develop better than if she only had one viewpoint about it all, no matter how moral it may sound. Especially if your own contribution to her education is complemented by some, say after school english lessons.

Anything else i’m not sure i can advise on. You could possibly consider moving to Taiwan, too. But in all cases communicating with your wife in a more efficient way will certainly help things, if not convince her to move to the US.


It’s time for you to enjoy your life more. You should move out of there as soon as possible, fifteen years is more than enough. I also have been the only foreigner in companies here for years and it was too isolating looking back at it. Life is for living.

Learning better Chinese won’t change anything fundamentally there. It’s really not the issue , nothing much will change in your environment . You are living in a mono ethnic society and also a place that is becoming more hostile and turning in on itself. You are very aware of the issues already and the brainwashing of the children.

The coach’s advice is very on point.
Do everything possible to convince the wife to go along with the move, financial or whatever it take to get the daughter over. Many mothers will be motivated by the success of their children, maybe that could be a key lever ? Be prepared for the divorce but with that comes a chance for happiness again.


Thank you for the response. I have actually had an online Chinese teacher for over a year. I have improved, but still not to a fluent level. I will continue to learn to try to keep my mind sharp and be prepared for anything.

With regard to my daughter, this is the major issue. They have given us notification that it will soon officially change to a public school. I just don’t want her to have to be in this environment if it is not necessary. It is more important for her to have more American culture, which I know she embraces and will embrace. Even if we are living in the US, I really encourage my wife and daughter (and me) to fly back to Taiwan to visit relatives. She will always have a connection with Taiwanese culture and will be well ahead of the curve.

Thank you for that perspective. This is exactly how I feel. I don’t have to live here anymore and has become ever more apparent…

I will continue to work on the best location for moving to the US along with my wife. Better to have us all together and feet firmly in the ground first. A mentioned, I will definitely continue to support traveling back to Taiwan for my wife and daughter’s sake to keep that part of the culture as well.


Again, it all really hinges on what is your main priority and how you see your timeline going forward with any of the plans discussed above.

I absolutely disagree. We’re not talking learning better Chinese, but trying to get at a level that will allow for meaningful conversations, mono-ethnic society or not, your “social neighborhood” at the very least will acknowledge that you’re someone you can have meaningful conversations with. People will just appreciate discussing stuff with you more. And that’ll be true with your entire surrounding environment, be it at work or outdoors, but more importantly with your relatives (e.g OP’s wife). Hell, maybe he would also have the in-laws angle should he convince them that staying in China isn’t that much of a viable circumstance given the current situation. Also, moving to Taiwan may also become a viable option, but that also hinges on that retirement thing OP has to deal with.

I personally would rather offer that than the counterpoint to just simply “divorcing”, because that is what litterally most dating advice on the internet sounds like. Situation is crappy ? Get a divorce, you’ll be free. You have a major disagreement on something and the resolution implies giving some leeway to each other on some issues ? Well, no, you should die on whatever hill you’re on, and divorce is the only alternative to your revendications. Except OP has been with his wife for around a decade (I assume ?), they have a kid, and we’re talking possibly having to discuss guardianship of the kid, whether or not she stays, i.e whether or not she’ll only be able to see one of her parent for a couple of weeks per year. Quite honestly, unless the situation is absolutely toxic with hints of codependency, most people seeking advice are doing it because they would rather consider all the other options before the nuclear one.

I completely understand that, but there’s the main issue of having your wife going to the US in the first place (which at this point is clearly not a given), or, failing that, convincing her to basically give you custody of her kid for the better part of a year as she goes to school. She also could litterally mirror your argument back at you and tell you that your daughter will always have a connection with your American culture by staying a few months for the holidays. Maybe there’s a middle ground somewhere ? Such as doing a temporary stint in Taiwan or something ?