A Possible Advantage to Marrying an Asian Wife

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A Possible Advantage to Marrying an Asian Wife

Post by MrMan »

This would apply not only to Asians, but also people from certain other cultures.

One of the big variables used by those who study culture is whether a culture is a collectivist culture or an individualist culture. This is a culture-level variable. On the individual level, it is independent self-construal versus interdependent self-construal.

Someone with interdependent self-construal thinks of himself or herself differently from those in the other category. Their identity is wrapped up in their group identity. For example, "I am my father's son. I am a member of this tribe. I am a part of this group." Collectivist cultures have more people who think of themselves like this.

Individualist cultures are made up of more people who have independent self-construal. They tend to think of themselves as individuals, and their thinking of individual identity is less defined by their relationship to others.

If you ask some Asians who went to university, for example, why did you study your major, they may say because their parents wanted them to. I ate lunch with a co-worker in Indonesia who wanted to study business or economics in college, but his father insisted on an accounting major. I think he went on to get an MBA with a major in finance. Big leap there.

Collectivist cultures tend to have more group identity in the family. I also see in my own in-law experience, they they might send word around the family, e.g. to married brothers and sisters, asking to raise funds for something like a pair of boots for a young person. Some families in a poorer area will send a nephew or niece to stay with an aunt or uncle to study.

If you marry someone from a collectivist culture, family just might be more important to her than it is to the average American girl. Here sense of self and identity just might be wrapped up a bit in being your wife, especially if you can get a bit of transfer of that identity and loyalty from being her father's daughter to being your wife. She will always be her father's daughter.

The idea that when you marry the wife you marry the whole family probably tends to be truer when you marry into a collectivist culture. In a lot of these Asian cultures, the idea of children supporting their parents in old age is still practiced, so your wife may want to send some money home. Indonesia is a poor country and one of her siblings helps, so the burden has not been outrageous financially. If you ever expect her to see her family again, marrying a foreign woman is not usually a cheap option, either. But if you have a decent career, it is a doable option.

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Re: A Possible Advantage to Marrying an Asian Wife

Post by CannedHam »

I know a guy who got absolutely drained supporting his Filipina wife's family. Every week it was something - her brother needed $200 to fix his motorcycle, aunt Rose needs $2000 for medical bills, her cousin was $500 short on her tuition bill... they were always behind on their mortgage in the US and heavily in debt. I haven't seen him in a few years but I wouldn't be shocked if he's now divorced, bankrupt, and paying half his income to support his now ex-wife and kids.

A collectivist family unit is good in that if something happens you've got a huge network to rely on for support. On the other hand, I've seen so many cases where families will abuse this when someone marries a foreigner. My wife is Chinese and did very well financially in her career (and still makes good money part-time in the US) and her parents are retired, their house is paid off, they have decent medical insurance, and she still occasionally feels the need to send them $200 every 4-6 months. If either of our parents were in a life-or-death situation, we'd send the money without second thought. But aunts, cousins, close friends, etc. would be a very different story.
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