Love my Taiwanese GF, not sure I can stay here forever. What to do?

Hello all.

Here’s a big dilemma I’m stuck in for the past few days. Love to hear some opinions.
I met a great Taiwanese girl some time ago. That time she was visiting my home country, but we really connected well.
We had a long distance relationship for a long time, than I decided to give it a shot and move to Taiwan (I am of a European country, my background and culture are the totally opposite of Asian/Chinese, my parents only saw Asian people on TV).
Although I had a good stable job in my home country and pretty good life as well, I left it to try my luck here, and see how our relationship will grow. I had almost no Chinese abilities and off course no job here.
But my GF supported me a lot. I came on visitor visa and studied Mandarin and found a job in a local yet international company which provided me the work permit and ARC.
During that time I also bonded well with her family and our relationship only grew stronger. One thing that bothers me all the time is we rarely see each other on weekdays because her Taiwanese work ethics and the fact she works at her parents company, so her parents rely on her to run the business in the future, which is a lot of pressure for her to work late. Another thing that bothered me all this time is that she cannot live with me before marriage because of the tradition, all not her fault.
So it’s been like that for a year and a half.
Then a pressure for marriage pops out. We talked about future plans. I thought I’d love to marry her. She is one of kind for me.
I asked her parents about the marriage and they agreed! I also bought a ring and gave her out of true love.
But once the marriage preparation wheels starts turning, I realized what I’m getting into.
I was pressured to buy a house by her family (not even rent together after the engagement ceremony) in Taipei, and houses are very expensive. My salary is almost half of what I can earn in my home country, and there housing cost are about the same. But even more alarming for me, I realize I will always live in Taiwan because my GF cannot leave. She has a big family here, they are very bonded and not to mention a family business she runs. I think that one day go living in my country for a long period is not gonna happened, so I must accept living all my life here and basically detaching myself from my own culture. My future generations may also loose all touch with my culture, it bothers me.
So I know, it’s my mistake for not thinking a head so long when I came here for the first time, but now I really face that issue. To make matters more difficult, my family at home are pleading me to come back. We are a very small family. we love each other. They supported me at first, but now my father got very sick, and he is quite old. my only brother is left there to handle the pressure, and we all miss each other all the time. The feeling of leaving my family (in what could be our last years together) behind is killing me.
Having said all this, I still feel my GF is great. I love her very much. Frankly I don’t think anywhere I can find someone as loving and caring like her. I know there is a chance I will have to go back to my home country eventually, My family there is breaking apart, and in the very long term, I don’t know how much I can take it. But that means I give up on my GF. So I have this choice to make.
It makes my heart breaks all the time.
So love to hear opinions on this, maybe someone here had a similar situation.
sorry if my English is messed up, it’s not my first language.

No easy answer here. But if she’s from a big family, why is all the pressure on her to run the business later? Maybe you should communicate you have some family duties of your own you need to take care of and want to bring your wife with you. You can sell it as a short term arrangement out of necessity with the idea of returning to Taiwan. You can see how your wife likes living in your country without putting pressure on her to stay there forever. After she gets used to it she might not want to move back to Taiwan. Who knows? If her parents are dominating the decisions you both should be making for your own lives together, it might get harder to deal with in the future. If you don’t mind letting her family control both of you, maybe instead of renting gold to present to them at the engagement ceremony you should present your testicles in a glass jar

First off, be true to yourself. You do not have to give in to pressure from family or to “traditions” just because you are from a different country. In fact, Taiwanese traditions are in a state of flux and there is really no such thing any more; I know several Taiwanese couples who are living together, or did live together before marriage. As in the West, it’s becoming the rule rather than the exception. Although in some cases a few family members took a dim view (typically the prim, unmarried aunts), they’re adult enough to tell said family members where they can shove it. If you don’t yet have the confidence to do this, you’re probably not ready to live together.

Having said that, as I’ve got older, I’ve started to see the wisdom in NOT living together before marriage. It’s a good idea to determine - one way or another - if you can stand each other’s company for long periods of time, but setting up house together is a big decision. If you do it, you should treat it as a major commitment - make some definite plans for the future, for financial arrangements, and for shared goals, although I suggest without discussing marriage. IMO living together should be seen as, essentially, a form of marriage, not a staging post. If you do it, maybe have a little ceremony and make some promises to each other.

Do not commit to an actual marriage unless you are absolutely certain about it. That means: decide what you want to do with your life, and discuss with your gf whether marriage will enhance or destroy your prospects. This is a hard-headed, practical decision. It’s nothing to do with “love”, but it will profoundly affect how much you love your wife in 10, 20 year’s time. If you think you may wake up on your 40th birthday and think: what the fuck have I done with my life? - then do not get married.

Your gf, and the family, needs to understand that marriage with a foreigner involves an international lifestyle. You have parents and family too, and if they do not accept that you need to see them sometimes, then perhaps they don’t care as much about you as it appears.

Finally, bear in mind that marriage ceremonies in Taiwan are extremely lavish affairs. They can often get completely out of hand, with costs of US$20,000 not unusual. Sometimes the parents offer to pay, but that’s not the point (and besides, they will expect major favours in return). Any hong bao (money gifts) you receive end up being returned later when you are invited to your guests’ wedding parties. Do not start married life with unnecessary debt just because the parents want some ‘face’. This is about you and your gf. Not the parents.

Look, at some point you need to put your foot down, both to your gal and her family. It’s that simple. If they are pressuring you to buy a house, laugh it off, ignore it, or simply say, no, that is not my plan. They can’t force you to buy it and if in 2013 your gal won’t marry you over this then she is really not that good a person.

Family is important here but not THAT important. If they were so traditional then why are they even letting their daughter work and run things? See? Traditions change but everyone here likes to pretend that there is something sacred and unchanging. It’s bullshit.

Oh, I see Finley has written much the same.

I think the OP knows the likely answer to this one which is it’s probably not going to work out. I would hold off on all wedding plans and house buying plans for now. If neither side is happy living in a foreign country away from their family where can it go?

What does she think? Does she want to run her family’s business for the rest of her life?

It doesn’t usually work on the principle of what ‘she’ wants but what ‘they’ want , as soon as she mentions that she wants to leave with you they’ll load on the pressure and get all her friends and relatives to call her and talk to her and see reason, bullying, sweeteners, alternative boyfriends…everything they can think of.

You have to be really strong to stand up to that and most people aren’t that strong, especially in this culture.

Well. everyone makes a lot of sense.
Her family is big, but for some reason she was chosen to run the business. It looks like she really don’t like it there. Her mom is a dominant part of her life, as she is her boss and her, well, mom. I’m not sure if this is a Taiwanese thing, but almost every decision the girl makes heavily depends on her mom. It put a lot of pressure on her.
I am also very much aware her family will be very dominant in this marriage, since my family is so far away, and has no way to communicate with the other side.
She visited my home country a few times, she shows great interest of the culture, but it was made very clear she will not move there for a long period because of the business commitment.

I know “love” is only a feeling and once other considerations are involved it gets complicated.
For now I stopped the wedding plans, as I don’t want to give false hopes anymore. Maybe I’ve been to rush to set the stage for marriage, but no “marriage cookies” where involved nor lawyers yet, so worst case I guess I just look stupid to them.

I sincerely thought it’s a tradition here to move in together only after marriage, I asked some Taiwanese friends and they say they think so(?)

Very interesting points folks.

They will tell you about their traditions but lots of people don’t follow the traditions, it depends on the individuals and families.

While not as many people live together prior to marriage as the West it is still quite common here, but they just don’t do it openly.

There is also more leeway for foreigners because we fall outside these cultural norms, you have no family to get involved in any family to family wedding negotiations etc.

[quote=“ferb79”]Well. everyone makes a lot of sense.
Her family is big, but for some reason she was chosen to run the business. It looks like she really don’t like it there. Her mom is a dominant part of her life, as she is her boss and her, well, mom. I’m not sure if this is a Taiwanese thing, but almost every decision the girl makes heavily depends on her mom. It put a lot of pressure on her.
I am also very much aware her family will be very dominant in this marriage, since my family is so far away, and has no way to communicate with the other side.
She visited my home country a few times, she shows great interest of the culture, but it was made very clear she will not move there for a long period because of the business commitment.

I know “love” is only a feeling and once other considerations are involved it gets complicated.
For now I stopped the wedding plans, as I don’t want to give false hopes anymore. Maybe I’ve been to rush to set the stage for marriage, but no “marriage cookies” where involved nor lawyers yet, so worst case I guess I just look stupid to them.

I sincerely thought it’s a tradition here to move in together only after marriage, I asked some Taiwanese friends and they say they think so(?)

Very interesting points folks.[/quote]

Well done to you for canvassing some opinions here before making any big decisions. That’s definitely something I should have done. With the doubts that you’ve had, you’ve done the right thing to put the wedding on hold and have a good think about it. Things will become even more difficult after marriage and triply difficult when you’ve had children. Taiwan has become many a person’s prison in situations like this.

Btw, no need to cancel the wedding at this point. Just don’t set a date. I had friends who didn’t actually marry until 5 years after their wedding photos were taken. :laughing:

I put the wedding on hold, in a heart-braking talk with her about this last week. I told her my family condition and that I fear I have to go back to help.
Then everyone gives me the: “Everyone eventually dies, and you have to think about the future” theory, which I don’t really agree to (sure. let’s just wait 'till my dad dies, throw him to the grave and go out for a hot pot)
I think not to proceed with wedding stuff, the more hopes I give the harder the crash will be if I’ll go away.

For now we are back to dating status, but I know I cannot put her on hold for a long time. She don’t deserve that.

[quote=“ferb79”]I put the wedding on hold, in a heart-braking talk with her about this last week. I told her my family condition and that I fear I have to go back to help.
Then everyone gives me the: “Everyone eventually dies, and you have to think about the future” theory…[/quote]

I hate to say this but they are serious racist assholes. That is something a Taiwanese would never say to a friend or relative. In other words, your family and any suffering you might experience over the loss of a parent, is just not important to them. Complete utter racist cretins.

That is some seriously twisted thinking. It sounds like you dodged a bullet. Run…

Indeed. Frankly, it sounds like they’re so far up their own assholes they’ve forgotten what the sunshine looks like. Sadly, I’ve heard quite a few similar stories in Taiwan. I don’t think it’s racism as such though. Just the terminal stages of of “me me me” syndrome.

It’s really up to your gf to decide what she wants from life. Is she there simply to serve every whim of her (apparently) self-centred parents, or does she has some ideas of her own and some consideration for her fiance and his family?

Indeed. Frankly, it sounds like they’re so far up their own assholes they’ve forgotten what the sunshine looks like. Sadly, I’ve heard quite a few similar stories in Taiwan. I don’t think it’s racism as such though. [/quote]

I think it is, because they would never say this to a Taiwanese no matter how self-absorbed they are. It’s because he is a westerner and so can’t possibly have the same love and devotion to kin.

But in any case, wow, OP you are lucky this sort of thinking has been revealed to you early.

people like this deserve to have stinky tofu as their national dish… but that’s a different rant.

Thank you all folks!

AFAIK either beef noodle soup or lu rou fan is the national dish, depending on who you ask. And I’m craving a bowl of 麻辣臭豆腐 right now, but that probably has something to do with the Oranjeboom 14% that’s brightening my otherwise tedious sunday evening.

Whatever you decide, hope it works out for you, OP.

Lots of things to note about relationships of this nature.

  1. Usually one or the other has to become an expat and leave their home country to go and live in the partner’s country. It’s not easy for the one having to do this. Either the girl or the man.

  2. Families usually are not in favor of one of their own going to live so far away. If the family is close.

  3. Parents get in the way. Either by actively getting in the way or by getting old and requiring care. Plus you may be attached to them and don’t want to be too far. There are two sets of parents here though. And one person will have to live far from his/her parents. This is a potential problem.

  4. Being far from a home that you are used to and far from people you love is not an easy thing for the one having to go away.

My ex GF who just got her fiancee visa to the USA, turned around and broke up her relationship with her fiance due to him not being able to accomodate her wishes. She was the one having to leave Taiwan. She decided that all her friends were in TAiwan, her parents are in Taiwan. And although her parents are supportive of her marrying and living in the east coast of the USA, it was her that decided she didn’t want to be that far away.

She wanted assurances she could go and visit “home” once a year and stay for a month or two. He was adamant against this. This created tension between them and she dumped him.

On a side note. I will allow my soon to be, indonesian bride to visit her home once a year and stay a month or two or three if she wants.

What happens often is that a Taiwanese girl is sent abroad for studies and falls in love with a foreigner . But eventually reality sets in and hard choices have to be made. Most Taiwanese families are quite tight (many are not though) and instead of their daughter marrying OUT of the family, they basically marry her husband IN to the family. Especially if they are more wealthy then the husband’s family. They threaten the daughter with her inheritance if she doesn’t play ball.

I got “fired” by one such Taiwanese girl when her mom put her foot down and told her "lose the dude or you lose your apartment in tienmou " .

So she told me, she will give me as much time as i need but shes over me :slight_smile:

Money doesn’t talk…it SHOUTS…

Pathetic. Absolutely f’ing pathetic. I would dump a girl before she could blink if she thought a concrete shoebox in Tianmu was more important than me; quicker than that if her parents were so obsessed with money and property that they thought it was more important than human happiness. Especially since I could afford said shoebox and choose not to waste my resources on it.

Money is important. I get that. But I will never, as long as I live, understand people who think nothing else matters. That’s how slaves and paupers think.