Writer, Chinese translator and founder of Speaking of China, Jocelyn Eikenburg is one of the most prominent voices on the web for Chinese men and Western women in love. Married to John, a Chinese national from Hangzhou, Jocelyn has grown a following through her offbeat stories and advice about love, family and relationships in China. Her blog – which has been called “a delicious blend of a highly personal China travelogue and a juicy romance novel that will leave you wanting more” — is syndicated on the Global Post. Other writing credits include Matador, Asian Jewish Life, and the Global Times.
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard this from Chinese friends. As much as I love when people suggest my husband and I are a lucky match, a couple destined to stay together forever, fūqī xiàng leaves me puzzled. How could anyone think we look that much alike? I could imagine why such a saying came from China, a country dominated by the Han people, who share the same black hair and eyes, and similar skin tones. With that background, it wouldn’t take much for any couple to look alike. At a minimum, they’d need the same nose and the same shaped eyes; maybe the same shaped face, if you were a stickler. But even so, the odds are good you’d find many couples with their match reflected in their faces. Not with John and I. Maybe we have the same nose — maybe. But one nose in common does not a fūqī xiàng make
AK asks: I am a white 19YO university student living in America, and for one year now I have been in a serious relationship with a PRC national six years older than me. He is my first relationship because I wanted to wait until I was mature and focused enough to commit to love. I was already studying Mandarin before I met him and his English is commendable, so communication hasn’t been an issue, and therefore everything between us on a personal level has been ideal. We both feel completely comfortable talking about the future, already assuming we’re working toward marriage after graduation
However, my parents are none too pleased. They remained generally quiet for the first six months of dating, then all of a sudden began voicing protests. I do my best to ignore their complaints about his age and religion (we’re Christian, he was raised Buddhist), but there is one problem that really puts me between a rock and a hard place. My father’s job requires him to have a high-level security clearance. Because of this, my parents understandably fear that were I to marry my “Communist” Chinese boyfriend, my father would be forced to quit his job. Even though my boyfriend is not a CCP member, his nationality is all that matters in the clearance. Every time I go home or open an email, I am reminded that I am ruining my family with attacks like: “Some relationships shouldn’t be allowed to begin in the first place!”
Today, I’m taking a break from my usual Friday content. The same discrimination I wrote about back in November continues to rear its head in new and malevolent ways, threatening my husband’s future. I want to be the kind of yangxifu who can shove it all aside and find the strength to churn out another Ask the Yangxifu, Yangxifu Pride or even Mandarin Love. But I can’t right now. To be honest, I’ve spent most of this week oscillating between a kind of “don’t worry, everything will be okay” mindset to outright fear, terror and the tears that come along with it all. Most days I’ve cried, some more than others. And just when I find a small patch of hope — something that gives me a sense that maybe, just maybe, this will turn out all right — it gets stamped out by another goon. I wish I could tell you what was really going on. Suffice to say, it’s the stuff that I used to believe only happened in movies. In my worst moments, sometimes I even doubt we’ll ever get our happy ending, and I’m never like that. I still struggle to share this story, even with my friends in the US. Not everyone understands what’s going on, and some of them have even dared to side/understand the discriminators in this equation. So I keep to myself more than I should, and just try to “push through it” even when I feel like I’m dying as I watch my husband suffer. I just reached my crisis limit now and need to take a step back. I’m going to take some time out this weekend to relax and hopefully replenish my creative energies to soldier on in this “long march” of ours. We won’t give up, I promise. I’ll be back on Monday as usual, and thanks for reading.
My marriage to John has forever changed how I see America, sometimes in the worst possible ways. It’s an education that nobody asks for, but one that, perhaps, more of us really need. Maybe then people would understand what my husband and I face here. Maybe then it would be easier for me to share what’s really going on. As it is, I’ve fallen into a deep funk, fighting off depression to continue moving forward in my writing and my own life.