Sunday, November 14, 2010

The Lingering Dream

Things have pretty much settled down in my relationship, at least that's what I have been telling myself.

However I have recently had a very vivid dream which has kinda thrown things upside down for me, at least emotionally.

I am still baffled as to what it means, and why it has appeared now.

My dream has me separated from my wife, contemplating my future.

In reality I am 7 years younger than my wife, but in my dream I was 20 years younger than my wife, as irrational as that may sound, but it felt like an unquestionable truth.

In this dream I also felt a sense of comfort in knowing that my wife was probably too old to have another child.

This I felt freed me to consider my future, where I had decided that it was time for me to meet another woman.

Here's the crunch though, I got into a conflicting mind-set, trying to work out whether I should allow myself to enter a relationship with another Chinese woman, or a woman of any other race.

I kept going back and forth, convincing myself of one approach only to realise the problems it would evoke.

The conflict I was experiencing was quite palpable. At one point I felt that for my own well-being, I should try and avoid any woman who has the same cultural emphasis as my wife does.

But I kept getting pulled back to the very real needs of my child.

I kept fearing, maybe irrationally, that were I to have another child who looked 'caucasian', that my son would not see this chiild as his sibling, and in a way my son would see me as emotionally abandoning him for my other similar-looking child.

I felt the only chance of ensuring my son still felt part of my life was to have another euro-asian child, to look essentially like my son.

I know that this makes little sense and quite possibly my son, given these circumstances, would care less whether his half-sibling had blonde hair or black hair, but obviously this dream means something to me, but exactly what I don't know.

It is one of those dreams however that lingers on, troubling me evening when in the back of my mind.

Sunday, November 07, 2010

Struggles of a bi-lingual child

One of the advantages of having a euro-asian child, as I see it, is the opportunity for the child to learn two languages from a  very young age, and possibly optimising the child’s intellectual capacity at a time when the child has capacity to spare.

Because of my mother-in-law, my child learned to speak Mandarin in parallel with his English from the start.

This may or may not explain why my son experienced speech delay problems when he reached about 12 months old, but I suspect not.

These delay problems eventually required about 4 years of speech pathology treatment. I suspect however that maybe my son had an inherent weakness with language to begin with, rather than any complications arising out of his bi-lingual environment.

Despite my son making remarkable progress with his English speech once he entered speech pathology, he still struggles with learning Mandarin.

At this stage my son has a genuine appreciation of the English language. He is an excellent speller and he has developed a very broad and impressive vocabulary.

But his Mandarin, despite being given every opportunity to learn, is quite woeful.

He attends Chinese lessons once a week, and I am wondering whether more lessons will help him gain some traction in this language.

It would be a terrible shame if my son does not master this language, given the importance of this language to my son’s heritage, and the ever growing role this language will play on the world scene.

Monday, November 01, 2010

Talking & hearing Chinese

I was always quite good at school.

I excelled in maths and physics, biology and chemistry, but always did exceptionally well in English.

When I went to University I also studied French as an aside, foolishly believing at the stage that French was still an important language to learn.

To my credit I picked it up rather quickly, and can still speak it well today.

So you may think that I have an aptitude for languages, given that history, and I would have agreed with you before I was confronted with a language that I can hardly “hear”, and one that simply does not follow any of the language structures that I am familiar with.

I realised that my ability to learn French, as well as some self-taught conversational German, was less to do with my exceptional prowess at absorbing language, and more to do with paralleling similar language structures.

German for instance is effectively the mother tongue of English, and is very similar to English in its structures. French, although less so, is still a related language with similar sounds and language rules.

Chinese Mandarin however is a completely different beast. Although I have become very familiar with so many words, given that I hear them every single day, I am still at a loss when I try and repeat these words.

Even my son laughs at me when he hears my Chinese.

“No daddy” he laughs. “It doesn’t sound like that at all.”

The problem is not simply in the pronunciation of course. It starts off in the hearing, and there are so many nuances in the Chinese language, that once you get to a particular age, you will forever struggle to hear.

So I struggle, although I wish it wasn’t so.

If only I could learn Chinese, I sometimes think, it would open up an incredible new world for me, one where I would directly engage with so many people that I am surrounded by, people that otherwise are off limits to me because of the language barrier.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Taking off my shoes in the house

Like most Australians I have always worn my footwear in the house.

As a young boy the only time there was an issue with footwear in the house was when there was mud on my shoes.

When I initially met my future wife, as a matter of courtesy and respect I would always take my shoes off before entering her unit.

I did this as a show of respect for her property, her unit, her home. It did not occur to me at the time that if I was to marry this woman at some point, that I would be forgoing my home life sensibilities for hers.

But so it was.

No compromise, no meeting in the middle, no delicate mix between of east and west.

Basically I live my home life as if I was raised in a Chinese family.

This expectation laso extends to the TV set. In fact watching TV for anything other than the new is  big no-no. The house is almost always quiet, with some activity going on that requires silence, or so I am told.

Anytime I watch sport on TV, I am quickly reminded that I am being lazy. No ifs or buts.

What is not appreciated by my wife is that many Australians keep the TV on at all times, simply as background noise that will take our attention from time to time, but we still get all our work done.

Completely different approach to home life, and one that I simply didn’t expect when I entered into a cross-cultural relationship.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Racism or just Parental Anxiety

We recently went away for a long weekend.

It was me, my wife and our son. My mother-in-law went to stay with her son for a week.

We travelled up north and had a really great time. We drove up the coast casually, taking our time and seeing the sights.

We finally got to the Gold Coast in Queensland, and this part of the trip was our son's favourite.

He got to go to Movie World, Sea World and Wet and Wild Water World.

All was going remarkably well. My wife and I were in a great mood, and really attentive to each other. Our focus however was on our child, and we both marveled at the joy of simply being parents, and spending quality time with our one and only child.

Well, all was great but for one incident, that for some reason made a huge impact on me emotionally, but did not register at all with my wife.

Whilst we were at Wet and Wild Water World, there was a section where most of the young kids and parents would congregate, which involved a huge water feature with a large pirate bucket that would fill up with water, and periodically dump the water on all the young kids below.

It was quite contagious hearing the laughter and enjoyment of all the young kids running around and screaming everytime they would get wet.

It was especially wonderful watching my young boy, who is typically quite shy, run around with free abandon, completely enjoying himself and engaging with other children of his age.

Well at this point a large blow-up ball entered the scene, and along with the water features, the children started kicking this ball around.

At one point the ball landed near my son, and he prepared to kick it, jokingly going back and forth as if he were about to kick the ball, but pulling back at the last minute.

Everyone present found this quite amusing, especially my wife and I. We were also really proud of our son for showing the confidence to play-act as he was, in front of what was effectively a group of strangers.

Well, everyone was laughing at our boy's antics but for one other child, another boy roughly the same age as our boy, about 8 years old.

He impatiently began calling out to my son to kick the ball.

What stunned me was the language he used.

The boy, as if to taunt my son, began calling out:

"Hey China, kick the ball! Kick the ball Chopsticks!"

He repeated this taunt one more time, before my son finally kicked the ball.

My son completely ignored the comment. It simply didn't register with my son. I am not sure if this was because my son didn't hear what was said or how it was said, or if my boy simply selected to ignore it.

My wife on the other hand heard what was said, but did not even look at me to signal concern.

It left me wondering whether my reaction was an over-reaction.

But what I felt was remarkably strong and overwhelming. I even felt completely, as embarrassed as I am to say this now, to approach the boy, a young 8 year old boy, and abuse him for talking that way to my son.

Luckily I held my composure, but expressed my feelings to my wife soon after.

She said she did not consider it racism, it was just a silly comment from a young child.

maybe she was right. Maybe the fact that I am a fair-skinned European has somehow mis-calibrated my sense of what constitutes racism, and what may simply be a simple reckless comment.

I guess as parent I am programmed to be over-protective of my son, but incidents like this leave me feeling anxious about the next time that this happens, and if it is a more serious incident.

I want to be there to always protect my son, but of course that is unrealistic.

It is one of the burdens of having a racially mixed child I guess.

Friday, October 08, 2010

Re-writing history

I have been very confused lately.

I don't know if somehow things have settled down and life goes on as normal, or whether I am simply fooling myself.

My state of mind is earily similar to a friend of mine who a few years ago separated from his wife.

His wife was Russian, and they did not go through the typical courtship process.

My friend had previously got an Australian woman pregnant, and only because of his persistance and use of very expensive lawyers did he finally manage to get a shared parenting arrangement, whereby his daughter lived with him for 5 days a fortnight.

So after a very distressing ordeal, which involved the full complement of anti-father agencies in this country, he managed against the odds to get a very positive arrangement for him and his young daughter.

So perhaps you could imagine the absolute shock of all his friends when we found out that without much thought as to the eventual consequences, he popped over the Russia and somehow managed to commit himself to a woman that he hardly knew.

Given what he had already gone through with an Australian woman, we all wondered what in heavens he was thinking doing it all over again, but this time with a foreigner from an ex-communist state.

Well, true to form, within three years of arriving to Australia, she kicked him out of his own house, she wouldn't let him see his two kids, and she launched legal proceedings against him.

He was shattered, but more than that he was very very angry.

For about 6 months I heard a man completely committed to getting full custody of his kids, kicking his wife (and her new boyfriend) out of his house, and then moving on with his life.

In his eyes she had betrayed him in the most malicious manner, and nothing could undo the damage that was done to this relationship. Absolutely nothing!

She had kicked him out of his own home.

She had made false allegations of domestic violence against him.

She had removed $240,000 from his bank account (not sure how she managed that one).

She had refused to let him see his kids;

and "a new man" moved into the house.

Pretty serious stuff, and quite unequivocal.

Well, 6 months later he called me up one day to tell me that he and his wife had reconciled.

There was a very long and strained pause on the phone at that moment, as this was the last thing I expected from him.

He then proceeded to rationalise, and in a way to re-write history.

He told me that his wife really didn't have a boyfriend, he was just a Russian friend that moved in for companionship.

He told me that his wife really didn't want to make allegations of domestic violence against him, but she was strong-armed into it by the women's legal service she was using.

He went on and on, revising everything that had occured, somehow making it all out to be a simple misunderstanding.

"And what happenned to the $240,000?" I asked.

He said that in anger his wife sent it to her family in Russia, and they spend it.

"It's only money" he then added, in a defeated tone.

At the end of the conversation, he realised that I simply wasn't buying it, and I guess at one level neither was he.

So he ended by saying:

"You know, I just don't have the balls for this. Separation is a lot harder than I thought. If it means that I simply will have to give her what she wants to avoid more problems, then I am preparaed to do this."

I was shocked and disappointed. I had previously looked up to this guy. He was a ball-beaking business man, he was ultra-competitive at everything he did, and he drew a line in the sand with his child custody matter, and stuck to it no matter how difficult it may have been.

Here he was now however, a broken man, essentially trying to deceive me, but more importantly himself, on the most crucial matter of his married life.

So here I am reflecting back on this friend of mine, who is incidently still married, but never calls me anymore.

I am wondering whether I too am somehow revising circumstances.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Paranoid delusions and fear of Abduction

In the past I have tolerated my wife's quirk's, and I viewed them as managable little issues that would resolve themselves with a dose of common sense.

Maybe I have been too tolerant however, and just maybe, these little quirk's were something more than that, maybe even something pathalogic like a paranoid disorder.

One example for instance hapenned not that long ago, but this is just one of many.

My wife had formed the belief that our electrician was trying to assasinate her. This was the word she used "assasinate".

She came to this conclusion when he hapenned to leave a cutting tool behind on our kitchen table after he was called to fix a faulty fuse.

My wife saw this as a symbolic gensture that he was jealous of her, and wanted her life to suffer.

The electrician was a small, timid Chinese man, who spoke in broken English, but who was called by my wife because he was cheap.

This little benign incident took a life of its on, when my wife started "seeing" the electrician following us when we were out.

My wife kept on demanding that I confront him about his assasination attemps (apparently my wife heard the sound of gunshots close to our home).

She kept on fretting that he will drive past our house and shoot her.

Anyway, that bizarre period died a slow death, and only so when I demanded that she not speak of it again lest I take her to a psychiatrist.

Now there are many more incidents like this, and I have always taken the approach that she is my wife, and I have an obligation to stick with her and manage whatever she has going on in her head together.

I also believed that my son would be infinitely better off with my constant watchful eye on his mother, rather than a likely outcome of my son being in his mother's sole custody.

I mention my son because a number of times my wife's delusion revolved completely around my son, and had it not been for my resistance she would have involved the child, I believe, in a harmful way.

Well I raise all this because I have been recently following story in the press about a father who had similar experiences with his wife, to the point where she finally accused him of sexually abusing their child.

The story (The father who never gave up)involved a mother who imagined one bizarre incident after another, and finally abducted the child internationally to protect the child from the father.

The psychiatric analysis of the mother showed a history of paranoid delusions that climaxed into her fixation on the father.

Now this story has really worried me. My wife has not yet made such comments to lead me to believe that she has developed such beliefs, but she does want to send the child to China for 4 years, and so I am left wondering.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Outsourcing children to be raised in China

Well, even though we have technically reconciled, it seems that every second day I have to put out a new spot fire.

I do not seem to be able to get any respite within this relationship.

My wife has now come to the conclusion that our son needs to be taken to China and left there for four years, so that he can learn Mandarin proper.

When my son was just born, we went through a similar episode where my wife insisted that we send the newborn to China with her mother, to be raised in China for the first eight years of his life. She argued that this would free us to make more money and not be tied down by having to raise a child.

I said "No" back then, despite it causing a lot of arguments, and I am saying "No" again.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Don't Ask, Don't Tell

My wife and I have come to an uncomfortable truce, one borne out of necessity rather than preference.

I guess it kind of operates like the Bill Clinton Military policy on gays, where it was a case of "Don't ask, don't tell".

For my part I have come to this point purely as a case of exhaustion, and my strong belief that if I push this issue any further I will simply be labelled a jealous and paranoid husband.

I have also reached the conclusion that I know as much as I will ever know about what has happened.

What I do know however with complete certainty is that there has definitely been no sex or physical contact involved, if that really make a difference.

There are a number of reasons why I know this.

(1) Firstly, my wife simply would not have had the opportunity to make the time for the required rendezvous'. Like many Chinese mothers, she is completely immersed in her career, in her out-of-work-hours book-keeping work, and taking our son to his almost daily extra-curricular activities.

An 'affair' would consume too much time, and would take her away from what she loves doing most.

(2) Secondly, as one of the readers suggested, I did in fact lodge a helpdesk request to recover the emails that were sent from my wifes email address.

What I got back was 6 emails only, and they only provided me the date, sender, subject title and receiver deatils. Apparently there are some kind of privacy provisions to prevent snooping and the like, and thus the body of the email is not stored in the firewall, or something like that anyway.

I got the feeling that Helpdesk were a little suspicious of my request, and I was told that if I cared to get the complete emails, I could simply ask the recipient (being of course James, the lawyer).

Well, at least I got something I thought, but unfortunately 4 of the emails had one non-descript subject title of "re: Hi"

However, two of the email subject titles were more descriptive.

They had the title of "Do you remember what I look like?", and "re: Do you remember what I look like?".

This subject title is in keeping with what my wife told me about James, that they met once, and more importantly she said to me that she doesn't "remember what he even looks like!"

It adds up that is she asked him if he remembered what she looked like, she would likely have also had problems remembering what he looked like.

(3) The third point is the most convincing for me personally.

You see, prior to my wife I had one other Chinese girlfriend, but she was from Hong Kong.

This girl, lets call her Elizabeth, was sexually liberal in bed, and contributed to the love making on an equal footing. She was also affectionate and physically intimate when circumstances called for it.

My wife however has been anything but, from when we first met.

When we first started dating, my wife would not hold hands. I can honestly not recall her ever holding my hand willingly.

What further surprised me was her complete distate for kissing. She in fact regularly rejected my efforts to kiss on the mouth by calling it an "unhigenic practice."

We actually had sex before we had ever kissed or even hugged, which I find remarkable to this day.

And our sex flows along these same lines. My wife lies back and her arms are strethed down along her legs. She doesn't move her arms, and she never touches during love making.

When I face her face, or when another part of my body is in the vicinity of her face, she turns her head to one side, and there it remains.

I remember on one ocassion without any prompting from me, my wife told me that she was to perform a sexual act on me, in order to show me how much she loved me.

Given her frigidity, this was a remarkable offer from my wife, one I still cherish with great fondness to this day. However it lasted barely 2 seconds, with her making strange throat noises and running to the bathroom to spit.

So, my point is, even though I have been content to accept these quirkes because I care for my wife, I simply can't see her having sex with another man as anything but a serious inconvenience for her, and as such, very unliklely.

...but of course, all those emails and all those phone point to something don't they?

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Response to some questions

I am grateful to the feedback I have been getting, both from males and females.

It gives me an opportunity to reconsider my own thinking, being fully aware how humans can get things so wrong sometimes.

I am also a very insular kind of guy, so I have no one to talk to about these things. In my world, men unfortunately just don't talk about these things.

(1) Regarding one suggestion to talk to NaiNai, well in some regards there is a lot of merit in this, as she yields enormous influence over her daughter. NaiNai is also very strict with her daughter and I believe would not approve of her daughter risking their current "status" over something as short lived as a fling, for instance.

Of course one problem is that they are mother and daughter, and NaiNai comes from a completely different world to me, so I really don't know how to approach it, were I to try and speak to her.

Secondly, I fear that she will also be dismissive of what I may say, which will mean that I will lose "face" in front of NaiNai, further diminishing any respect she may have for me.

Finally and most importantly, NaiNai only knows two words in English, "Sankiou", for Thank you, and Bye-Bye.

So any talk with NaiNai would need to involve a third party to interpret, and this just makes it too complicated and too risky.

(2) Regarding the suggestion of requesting relationship counselling, well this is of course a great idea, because bouncing your concerns through a neutral intermediary makes communication of sensitive issues all the more effective.

Now I actually suggested this to my wife when we spoke, and although she originally indicated an open mind on this, for some reason she quickly decided that it was "just silly!". I got no further explanation as to why it was silly, despite my repeated efforts.

(3) And finally, I am not sure if I mentioned this, but my wife spoke to James, the lawyer, because she claims she became afraid when she read an article in the newspaper about Australia's Shared Parenting laws.

These laws place an emphasis on separated parents having joint custody of a child, rather than the typical situation where the mother gets sole custody.

I asked my wife how these laws affect us given that we are not separated, but she did not explain herself well. She just kept on saying that as a mother she was concerned because of many newspaper articles claimed that mothers were forced to shared their children with the father, and she wanted to know more.

This was a digression from the issue, but I asked whether this meant that she believes we will be separating soon, and her response again was that I was just being silly.

So anyway, some truth from her but it just doesn't gel together.

It is actually quite draining when someone simply can't give a straight answer, and I have decided that rather than get into an argument, that if she resists answering then I should just leave it be for now, as I am sure more details will reveal themselves soon enough.

So I will try and answer some more questions soon, and I will try and explain why I don't think she was involved in a physical relationship with anyone. But this doesn't really lessen the issue for me, but it is a process of paling away the layers and seeing what's left.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Marriage in Distress

Well, a lot has happened since my last post.

For the longest time it seemed that I simply would not muster up the courage to raise these lingering issues with my wife.

However an opportunity arose by chance, when mother-in-law decided at the last minute to visit Brisbane for a week, in order see family. We decided that it would a great holiday for our son as well, who was on school holidays.

So as a result, we were alone for one week, without any disruptions or distractions.

So I finally spoke up when we were alone at home.

This was the beginning of a conversation that lasted a few hours. It was not frenetic nor was it aggressive in any sense. It was a calm discussion, mostly driven by me. I calmly addressed the issues, one by one, that I thought needed to be cleared up.

The responses from my wife were the most honest she has ever been to me, but not entirely honest.

I know for a fact that certain claims she has made were simply untrue.

I know this for two reasons.

Firstly and as they say in the poker industry, she has a "tell".

When she lies to me she tilts her head in a submissive type of display, she also touches my hand affectionately, but in all such cases she can never bring herself to look in my eyes. This has been a very consistent "tell" from her for many years.

But secondly and more importantly, I know that certain claims are untrue because I checked up on the details before-hand.

For instance, she claims to have only spoken to this lawyer two or three times on the phone. This is untrue. She has called (and/or texted) his number in the hundreds of times, on some days up to six times a day.

Secondly, she claims to have only emailed him two or three times.

Again, this is simply untrue.

Firstly, I witnessed her deleting emails in bulk from her sent folder recently, and this was from her private hotmail account. I knew that this was the email address that she would have used to correspond with him.

But more damning is the following.

A few months ago, she asked me a very strange question.

I did not think much of it back then, but I realised not that long ago that there was a connection between this lawyer, and that question.

She had previously asked me whether anyone at the university I teach at could intercept or recover any emails sent to the university.

I was perplexed by this question and simply answered by saying "I don't know"

But she asked again, with an element of tension in her voice, and to boot, she would not look me in the eyes while asking.

I thought little of it, until I realised that this new friend of hers teaches at the same university as I do.

So I followed this up with the IT section at the university.

Now my wife has never sent me an email from her hotmail account to my university email address.

However I mentioned to the IT person that I wished to recover an email my wife sent me with some important details, but was not sure if she had sent it to my university email address.

Now, although this was not strictly legal, I was told that 98 emails were sent from that email address, but not to me.

So, progress, and a little bit of relief because I was no longer completely in the dark, but also distress because this deception was growing bigger by the day.

Having said that, my wife told me certain things that I do in fact believe.

First is that she only met the lawyer once in person.

Second, she explained to me why she met the lawyer. I will go into this in a later post.

Thirdly, she implied that nothing went on sexually. We did not discuss this explicitly, but it was there between the lines. I also believe this, for good reason. I will explain this as well in a later post.

For now my thinking is all over the place and quite chaotic.

So, in an effort to help my thoughts settle and fall in place, I would ask for those reading this blog to ask me some specific questions, if you wish to, which will force me to think clearly about aspects of my circumstances that I have not given due consideration to yet.

This will help me be more rational in my thinking, as I am a complete emotional wreck right now and wish to ensure that I do nothing stupid while in this state of mind.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Last night while she was in the shower...

I have been struggling with this emotional distress now for quite some time, and what seems to be bothering me the most is the "not knowing" bit.

Its a terrible way to live ones life.

For the most part I just pretend everything is normal, but this uncertainty is just eating away at me.

Part of me oddly prefers the anguish of not-knowing, for fear of what I may find out if I look further. By living in the dark there is still hope that it is all in my head, right?

But last night my wife went into the shower and unually for her, she left her mobile phone on the bedside table.

And well, after so much effort to simply ignore this issue or somehow convince myself that it is just my imagination, it just got too much for me, so I picked up her mobile phone and decided to look at some of her records.

I went straight to the SMS section, and found an unfamiliar number from someone who SMS'd her about a week earlier.

I jotted the number down, and then read the text message.

This is what it said:

"Called U back later in day. Sorry to miss UR call. Will not be at work tomorrow."

...and then I read the previous text message from my wife, prompting this response. The text read:

"Tried to call you 5 times. Are you avoiding me? Have a lot to tell you"

This is all I was willing to read. I put the phone right down. My heart was racing and I was in a cold sweat. It may or may not mean anything, but it is not the all-clear I was hoping for. In fact I imediately took it for something worse than it really is, at least so far. I think I imagined some words that I had to keep checking on the paper to ensure they won't there. It seems my mind is playing tricks on me.

Anyway, I in fact don't know whose number this is, and for all I know it could be one of her girlfriends.

I guess I will have to read more next chance I get.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

The new friend

My apologies for keeping everyone waiting.

It has been a very strange period for me lately. I am a neurologist and see patients daily who are suffering from terrible afflictions caused by injuries or illnesses like catastrophic head injuries, strokes, Parkinsons disease and Alzheimers.

I need to have constant attention to detail, as I am dealing with quality of life, and in some cases life itself.

Although it has not affected my work yet, I am doing my best to guarantee that IT NEVER does, so I write on this blog late at night in my desperate attempt to cleanse myself of the immense distress I have been going through.

Anyway, back to that strange weekend, and here we are at Sunday.

For most of the morning my wife was exceptionally nice to me. She would call me "honey" repeatedly, and on a few ocassions she called me by my baby name (the name my mother calls me to this day).

My wife would only act like this when she was extremely happy, or when she was preparing to persuade me about something.

Anyway, about mid-morning, although I didn't realise at the time, my wife started on what was probably a well thought out plan to introduce me to a new person she had apparently just met.

She started making references to a "James", a man she met through her work, but according to her had never met in person once.

She however did mention to me that she had spoken to James 4 or 5 times on the phone (although she mentioned nothing about emails).

Now I counted 7 separate references to James on that Sunday, all I believe designed to sound innocuous, but I could feel that there was more to this than that.

Now James is a lawyer. She met him through work, and because he also has a Chinese wife, she became friends with him. he is anglo by the way.

Sounds plausible right? Well its not. There's more to this than my wife has been letting on.

By the 7th mention of James, my wife said:

"Would you like to meet James? I told him about you."

I replied by saying:

"Why would I want to meet a stranger?"

My response was terse, but I had grown frustrated with this charade by my wife, and it was a desperate display as far as I was concerned, but she still persisted in trying to put an innocent spin on events.

Well, she stopped talking about James after that.

But later on that night, I remembered something that she asked me about 4 months ago. I didn't think anything of it back then, but it was a strange comment none the less.

The more I think about it, the more it all fits.

It seems that James and I are not actually strangers after all. In fact I think we teach at the same university.

Just lying in bed that night I knew a lot of things didn't make sense. The email episode, her claim of only 4 or 5 phone calls, and her strange comment about 4 months ago.

..its starting to make a bit more sense now...but maybe I need to check on a few facts first...but more on that later.

Tuesday, June 08, 2010

The Hotmail account

Well, I can at least say that my weekend was eventful.

Matters have been somewhat of a stalemate for a while now, but last weekend something changed.

I am yet however to work out whether things have changed for the better or worse.

It all began on the Saturday. We were all ill with cold, so we decided to take a nap in the afternoon.

My mother-in-law went to bed, I put our son to bed, and my wife and I went to bed as well.

However after about 20 minutes my wife got quietly out of bed. I expected her to return soon, thinking she went to the bathroom, but she did not return.

So I simply tried to get some sleep.

After another half hour, I wasn't getting any real rest because I had a conjected chest, so I decided to get up and go to the kitchen for a glass of water.

Given that my son and mother-in-law were asleep, I walked quietly to the living area on my way to the kitchen.

Our kitchen is closed-plan ajoins our living area. Our living area is large and contains a makeshift office, typically used by me when I am reviewing patient records, whilst also looking after my son.

My wife has her own home office, which is right next to our bedroom.

Well uncharacteristicly, I saw my wife at my desk in the living area, using my PC. She chose for her own reasons not to use her own office, which she almost always uses.

She did not hear me approaching. As I got closer, I tried not to look at what she was doing, partly because I felt it was an invasion of her privacy, and party because I was afraid of what I would see.

But I just couldn't resist!

As I approached I could see that she was using her hotmail email account. It was clear to me from where I was that she was reviewing and then deleting emails, one after the other, from the "sent" folder.

Now my wife and I both have home email accounts that we access mutually. I often ask my wife to access my email from home and she does likewise with me. But this email account, the Hotmail account, is my wife's "private" email account.

I know it exists, but it has always been clear to me that it is out-of-bounds to me.

Anyway, as I got closer, my wife finally heard me.

She was startled by my presence. She literally jumped out of her seat, and let out a slight scream..."ahhhhhhhhhh!".

Her immediate comment after that was, "You scared me!"

Almost as soon as she said that, she minimised the web browser on my computer and then proceeded to close the PC down, fumbling nervously as she proceeded.

My obvious inclination was to ask her why she was acting so suspiciously, but knowing her as I do, she would simply have dismissed my comment and she would have walked away, so I thought that nothing would be gained by speaking up.

So I said nothing. But for one short second though, our eyes met, and I deteceted a nervousness about her that I don't often see.

After this incident, I got a strong feeling that something had know become undeniably "unresolved" in this little charade that we were playing, and I half expected my wife to try and somehow explain things away asomehow, to try and bring back the semblence of harmony.

Although these things are hard to explain properly, I did "sense" that my self-restraint spoke much louder than any words I could have mustered, and it seemed to me that my wife felt very uncomfortable with the situation. I felt as clearly as day follows night, that my wife would somehow try to address this situation, I just didn't know how or when.

.......but I didn't need to wait long, as when Sunday came along, I could feel that my wife was preparing to tell me something, in one form or another.

More on this next time, as such events are exhausting and I do not wish to dwell on this for longer than I need to.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Nothing is clearer, it is just a stalemate for now

Well, since my episode of paranoia, nothing has happened to clarify matters.

I tried to talk to my wife once about my concerns, but she was completely dismissive. Before I had even had a chance to explain my concern, she responded with:

"Oh your just being silly!"

...and she walked away.

So I get the feeling that she does not want to discuss the matter, or that it simply does not register for her and she is not sensitive to how I feel at this point in time.

When I hear her mobile phone signal with a text message, my heart skips a beat, but I try hard to ignore it. She still behaves oddly, as if the message is so private that she cannot read it while in the same room as me.

A few days ago I walked past the bedroom and saw her busily typing a text message on her phone. When I asked her who she was texting, she said:

"Just a friend"

I then said" "Who?"

She responded in an agitated voice, "Just a friend, you don't know them"

Now I keep asking myself whether I am simply being paranoid, in a effort to talk myself out of this anxiety I am experiencing. At the end of the day, I know that all of this can be explained away in a perfectly reasonable manner. I recall not that long ago that my wife suspected something was going on in my life, and it wasn't, so I could just be going through the same thing.

And I can't get over how she would be willing to lose something that she seems to value more than anything else in her life. No, not me, but something far more valuable to her.

I remember when we were preparing to get married, she asked me if once we were married, whether she too could use the title of "doctor", given that her husband is a doctor. She reasoned that this is the case with Knighted men who marry.

I wasn't sure whether she was joking or serious, but I realised early on that my being a doctor meant everything to her, as it does to her mother. I am quite sure that everyone from her mother's village knows that my mother-in-laws daughter is married to a doctor, and not just any doctor but a specialist. I am subjected to some kind of awe from all my mother-in-laws friends every time I come into contact with them, and they all insist on calling me "doctor" instead of my name, and they touch my hand almost messiah like as if some of my good luck would rub off on them.

It seems to me beyond belief that my wife, and just as importantly her mother, would risk losing this title that they wear like a badge of honour, which has given them the right to hold their head up high amongst their community, in a display of superiority.

The chinese I have found to be aspirational to the extreme, and excessive displays of ones success, although being something which may be frowned upon in the west, is second nature to many chinese.

I keep asking myself, "how could they risk losing this?". It just doesn't make sense.

....or am I simply trying to convince myself too hard.

Sunday, May 02, 2010

The mobile phone and the private messages

Well, the rational part of me keeps telling me that I am just being silly.

I have always been someone who doesn't jump to conclusions, who always believes that there is a sensible explanation for most things, and who is not possessive or jealous.

And I have been married for ten years with no concerns about infidelity.

However my wife and I have been having some real issues of late.

Now all marriages have ups and downs, but this issue feels a little more serious than most.

My wife seems genuinely disinterested in me and how I feel, and her values, as I recently realised, seem to be polar opposites to mine.

When did these differences develop? I simply didn't see it coming.

What has really concerned me of late has been her frequent text messaging and mobile phone use.

She has never been big on text messaging, but all of a sudden she seems to be glued to her mobile phone. She also never leaves the phone unattended, even when she showers, almost as if she is afraid of someone reading the text messages.

She also seems to get many more phone calls these days. Most of them seem to be from her Chinese friends, as she speaks to them in Chinese. I get the feeling that she is talking to them about me, because of her facial expressions. I don't know Chinese but I can pick up some words which makes it sound as if she is telling them something in Chinese, because she doesn't want me to understand.

This language thing has really become a huge anchor around my neck, as I am disadvantaged in so many areas.

However when the phone call is from a non-Chinese English speaker, she leaves the room and talks to whoever it is in our bedroom.

On the occasion when I ask who it was on the phone, she would reply saying, "its no one, just a friend."

This is simply not an upfront response, and if it were me she would not have accepted it, but I said nothing in response.

I probably should not have, but last night I was alone at home for a few hours. So I decided to look at her most recent mobile phone bills.

Now she is really careful about her mobile phone usage, as she is sensitive about the costs involved.

She typically refuses to make calls on her mobile, and when possible she uses her work phone instead. So her mobile phone bills have always been inside the monthly cap.

Her most recent bill however, to my serious surprise, is $120 over the cap. This is a huge amount, especially for her.

Her usage for the month before last comprised primarily of phone calls (and text messages) to two phone numbers, one mobile number and one landline number. It looks like she has called those numbers up to 20 times on some days.

But should I be looking at her phone statement? I don't know what I am doing? Am I snooping? Am I stalking? I feel so terrible about this but I can't seem to control myself.

My mind tells me that she could not possibly sacrifice everything we have, but I just have a bad feeling.

I just don't know what to do. Even at work today I have been distracted. I can think of nothing else.

This not knowing is the worst part.

I get the feeling that everyone is in on it, except for me. If she has done something, I know that she would not have done it without her mother's agreement.

This is not good.

Either I am remarkably foolish and paranoid, or something simply isn't right.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Chinese people and Anglo names

Australia is a multi-cultural country. You come across people from many different cultural backgrounds here.

We of course have the Europeans, which comprised originally of peoples from Anglo backgrounds, followed later by Continental Europeans.

More recently we have had an influx of Asians, comprising primarily of Indians and Chinese, amongst others.

What I find suprising is that even though the Indians share a common history with the English, when it comes to first names, almost all the Indian Australians that I have come into contact with choose to keep their original Indian name, rather than use an English name, which is the more common practice amongst migrants.

In fact I don't think I have come across any Indians with an Anglo first name, not even Christian Indians, who tend to adopt Christian surnames.

Conversely, this is not the case with Chinese Australians. It is very rare indeed when I come across a Chinese person, whether they be an adult who emigrated to Australia or a child born in Australia, who are known by their Chinese first name.

I don't know what it is about the Chinese, but they place a lot of importance on selecting a novel Anglo first name for themselves and their children.

And these are not standard Anglo names like John or Sharon. They are names with a distinctly Victorian flair about them, almost as if the names were chosen directly from an English novel straight out of the 19th century.

In fact I can often pick out a Chinese child simply from a list of names, simply by looking at their first name only, because the Chinese Australians tend to out-British the British when it comes to choosing names with that certain Brittanic feel to it.

When it came to our child, my wife insisted on choosing his name alone.

She naturally gave the child a Chinese middle name, although she let her mother choose the middle name.

With regard to our child's first name, my wife laboured over this choice for many many years, long before she was even pregnant.

Even as close as a few days before she gave birth, she had still not settled on a name, even though she consulted with people far and wide, and read novel after novel, in order to find the name that she felt was just right.

Finally she chose a name after a previous English Prime Minister, because she felt the name represented strength and resilience, qualities that she wanted in our son.

Anyway, this is how our son was named, and both she and I expected this name to be a rarity today, but nonetheless a familiar name amongst English speakers.

To our suprise, when our son started school, we found out that 4 other boys in his year also had the same name, and, well you guessed it, they were all Chinese.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

We have been arguing lately

My wife and I have been having a number of arguments lately.

It all began when we started looking for a new house. We have outgrown our current residence, and with our boy getting to an age when he is always running around, we decided it was time to find a house with a big backyard.

Well all well and good, and given my income, we may not even need to sell the home we currently live in.

Well that's where our problems begin.

You see our current home was bought and paid off by me before I met my wife. She on the other hand had no real assets to speak of when we married.

This means that our house is technically owned by me, although this would make little difference if we were to get divorced. In that case of course the house will be divided between my wife and I, according to other factors, like the welfare of our child.

However this still bothers my wife. She is annoyed that our current house is only under my name, but as an accountant she is fully aware that to transfer the deed into both our names would be an exercise in wasting money, as the stamp duty incurred would run into the tens of thousands.

So my wife, in order to "balance the arangement", as she puts it, wants to purchase the new house in her name only.

I find this a remarkably bizarre request, and I have tried to ask her to explain how this will benefit us. She keeps saying its fair this way, but this really is not a reasonable explanation to me. It simply does not make any sense.

Anyway, while we were viewing a property last weekend, my wife starting complaining to the real estate agent that I was not willing to "buy" her a new house. This confused the real estate agent because he thought we were looking at the property precisely for that reason.

I tried to explain to the real estate agent what my wife actually meant, and he simply said "oh!", nodded his head, and continued showing us the property.

On the way home however, my wife kept on repeating that the real estate agent said "ohhhhhhhhhh!", indicating that he was embarassed that I was not buying her the property in her name.

It seems to me that she was convinced that the real estate agent sympathised with her complaint, where in truth he didn't care one way or the other, as long as he got a sale.

So he we are, locked in dispute, over a pointless little detail. Part of me says to simply give my wife what she wants, but something else in the back of my mind is nagging at me. I keep asking myself why she wants his and her property, when we are married.

I don't know. It simply doesn't make sense.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

DNA envy and the dinner conversation

We recently went to a friend's house for dinner. They were celebrating their 10 year wedding anniversary, although they lived together for a further 5 years.

Invited that evening were another 3 couples, all being doctors and doctors wives (2 of those wives were also doctors).

The couple celebrating their anniversary are a very loving couple, he being a surgeon and she being a stay at home mother. They are very compatible, although quite different in many respects. Their ongoing adoration of each other is quite palpable, and quite refreshing to experience.

During dinner, the conversation naturally turned to the other relationships in the room, and eventually to mine.

I was asked what it was that attracted me to my wife originally, and I responded in what is probably a typical male fashion, stuck for words but then falling back on the typical qualities such as sense of humour, looks, emotional connection and a sense of compatibility.

Well, then it was my wife's turn, and I could hear the whole room quiten down as she was asked what she found most appealing about me when we first met, and what it was that made her consider marriage with me.

Naive me, I thought she would say that she thought we were compatible, that I was caring and loving to her needs, that I was a good provider and responsible, and maybe, just maybe that she felt that she loved me.

Instead, my wife responded by saying:

"I liked the fact that he was left-handed, and that he had blue eyes and blonde hair. We Chinese admire those physical traits"

When further prompted about the qualities in me that she liked, she continued:

"I liked the fact that he was a doctor. I knew that all my friends and extended family would be jealous of me if I married a doctor."

Everyone at the dinner table smiled, out of politeness I think, but I think my poor wife simply didn't realise that she she was being asked for human qualities, not pragmatic ones.

I tried to interrupt and hopefully change the topic, but I was gently brushed aside, in a helpful and supportive way, by one of the wives sitting beside me, who said to my wife:

"Love, what we mean is did you marry him because you thought he would support you through thick or thin, or did you maybe think he would make a great father to your child?"

My wife seemed like she understood, she took a deep breath, smiled and then said:

"I thought about what my child would look like if I had a child with him. I wanted my child to have light coloured hair and eyes, and to be a doctor too. I liked him for, how do you say, for his DNA?"

Everyone laughed, I guess because no other response was appropriate, and we simply moved on to other topics.

I felt somewhat embarrassed by my wife's response, truth be told, but there was a huge language and cultural barrier that made it difficult for her to talk in those terms, so I simply put it aside and tried to forget it.

At work however, I still get a jibe from my colleagues, who while diagnosing a condition for the ocassional chinese female patient, ask me whether I think they have DNA envy, and then they smile and wink.

Yes, its funny, and simply part and parcel of a cross-cultural relationship.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Some cross-cultural problems in our marriage

I have been having some ongoing issues with my wife that unfortunately aren't going away.

It involves children.

Firstly, I have been hoping to having a second child, but it seems my wife is not receptive to this. She is of the view that another child will get in the way of her career. Although this may be true, I just don't think one child is optimal, and it is actually not fair on our first born either.

I keep telling my wife that there is no one-child policy in Australia, but she simply won't budge.

At the end of the day I have to respect her wishes, but what she told me the other day really upset me.

By way of explaining why she didn't want another child, my wife told me that she asked her mother whether she should have one, and then her sister in China whether she should have one. They both told her that it is too expensive to have another child, and for her to refuse my requests.

I became very upset by this revelation, because my wife should be discussing these matters with me, not her mother and her sister.

It seems that important decisions about my family are being made by an elderly lady whose view of the world is of a by-gone era, and by a woman who lives in China and was only allowed to have one child.

Well, what about my views? What about our child who has often asked for baby brother?

And regarding it being too expensive, well I am a medical professional for heavens sake. Money is simply not an issue.

What really bothers me is that she would not have told me this if I didn't push her. She simply decided, between herself, her mothera nd her sister, and I would have not even been informed of this very important decision had I not been persistent.

In her defense, she claims that Chinese women do not involve men in these decisions. I told her that I find that quite remarkable, that this is a human right, and that no father would willingly take no interest in the size of his family.

She keeps trying to explain things by saying that as a Westerner, I do not understand.

I think that's true, I do not understand. But that does not excuse her behaviour.

Tuesday, March 09, 2010

Chinese and Homosexuality

A week after the Chinese New Year's parade, I was sitting in front of the TV late Sunday night and happened to come across another parade in Sydney, this time the Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras.

This is an annual event in Sydney which attracts tens if not hundreds of thousands of people from Australia and abroad, to either participate in the parade or to simply be a spectator.

Now in terms of comparison, the Margi Gras is all about pride, and interestingly I noticed the same sense of pride amongst the marchers in the Mardi Gras as in the week prior with the Chinese.

Apart from that, I also noticed that the Mardi Gras seemed to have an over-representation of Asian and Chinese marchers, presumably because they were gay.

Now I have often heard amongst Chinese women their belief that many Chinese men are "too feminine", but I have rarely experienced this myself. What I did notice at the Margi Gras however was that almost all the gay asians marching were feminine, as opposed to all other marchers. At least this is how it seemed to me.

I was also surprised at the number of asian lesbians, and how they were also almost all feminine in appearance as well. In contrast amongst other races, there was a visible proportian of butch lesbians as well.

At the end of the day however this was just an interesting little distraction for me that I came across while channel surfing on a Sunday night at home.

However as I was watching, my wife walked into the room.

She first seemed excited thinking it was a reply of the Chinese parade. When I explained what this march was about, her mood changed, and she then began a tirade of commentary, using many profanities that I cannot type on this blog, as an expression of her complete distaste and hatred for this lifestyle.

Knowing my wife as I do I did not enter into a debate with her, but it is a given that she and I have many diametrically opposed social views, and discussion or debate will not change this.

My wife did however make a comment which caught me by surprise, and lead me to ponder how we would both react in the event that our child turned out to be gay one day.

What I found so surprising was my wife's insistenance that if I son was ever gay, that she would never associate with him again, and that she would likely commit suicide.

I responded by saying that given that its her only child, whom she loves more than life itself, that she will probably learn to live with it, as most parents do, for the sake of her child.

Well, I should know better than to engage in these kind of discussions with my wife, and as expected my wife began directing her spitefullness towards me, suggesting that I could be sending sub-concious signals to our son that it is okay to be gay.

She ended the conversation by saying that if our son turned out to be gay, she would be blaming me because she thinks my views are a bad influence on him.

Hmm?!

Sunday, February 28, 2010

Chinese Pride

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Last week, as we do every year, we went into the city to watch the Chinese New Year Parade.

We typically catch a train and make an afternoon of it.

My son seems to enjoy it, but it seems to be more important to me and my wife. My mother-in-law has of course seen it all before, and I get the feeling that she simply tags along just to get out of the house, rather than having a special connection to the event.

For me and my wife however, we both feel a sense of pride in this event, for different reasons of course.

We get to see the normal characters and events one expects on such a day, including the lion, the dragon, the fireworks and of course the dragon boat races.

For me however I get most enjoyment in watching the parade, where I see a procession of Chinese in many glorious outfits, all representing some unique group or ocassion, and many of whom seem to have come directly from China,  who walk with their chest out and their head high, and an obvious sense of pride in their heritage.

This is really lovely to watch.

The pride is contagious, and I also feel proud on behalf of my son and my wife.

This is a really important distiction between the Chinese in this country, and possibly around the world, and other ethnic groupings.

The Chinese seem to have a genuine desire to intergrate and fully engage in the country and community that they are part of.You in fact see a real over-representation of Chinese when you visit the local swimming pools, RSL clubs, children's sporting events, some entertainment venues and educational facilities. This is not necessarly the case with some other ethnic identities, so it seems that the Chinese really try and embrace all the opportunities in life that comes their way.

But importantly, they do not abandon their own identity or heritage in the process.

So rather than remain isolated in their own identity on the one hand, or lose their identity completely on the other, they seem to manage a balance which is both of best worlds.

I hope very much that my son will also adopt this view of the world, which I believe is not only healthy to the individual, but also a blessing to the broader community as well.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Chinese Relations

I read a very interesting article in the newspaper today claiming that there is a growing number of Chinese men who believe that they have contracted HIV while visiting a prostitute.

According to the medical authorities, this is a psychological issue rather than a medical one, as none of the men tested had HIV or any other related illness.

An interesting reference was made that the symptoms experienced may be the result of the guilt associated with visiting a prostitute.

Its an interesting hypothesis which I don't necesserily buy, but the news article did trigger off memories for me of an association between Chinese women and Prostitution that I had been subjected to, unfortunately on too many ocassions, when I first started dating my wife.

Many years ago when I first started dating my wife, I have been on the wrong end of sarcastic and sometimes jokular wisecracks about the nature of my relationship.

These comments, which were at first a nuisance but later became a real irritation, included things like:

  • Did you pick her up from the brothel?
  • How much does it cost you for a happy ending? (aparently a term for paid sex)
  • How much does she cost per hour?


.............well, you get the picture.

These comments came exclusively from male colleagues, including doctors, nurses and other medical professionals.

What I was not aware of at the time, but I learned the hard way, was that the Chinese had earned a reputation for monopolising prostitution, at least in Sydney.

After I became quite annoyned by one comment, my colleague, by way of explanation, showed me the personal ads section of the local community newspaper, and it seemed that up to 90% of all the ads for prostitutes were for "Asians" or "Chinese".

Not quite the reputation one would be proud of.

Now given my line of work, I have come into contact with prostitutes from time to time, due to their addictions. I have never however knowingly come into contact with a Chinese prostitute, and certainly not in my line of work.

So I suspect that unlike Australian-born prostitutes who live that life primarily because of their drug addiction, Chinese born prostitutes see it merely as a business, just another way of making money.

Now given my conservative Protestant upbringing, I don't know which is worse, but my heart tells me that at least a drug addict has no real control over their life.

Monday, February 08, 2010

Chinese New Year & the story of the Lion

Well, its that time of the year again, Chinese New Year.

We typically catch a train into the city and watch the procession through China town and into the main city street.

Tens of thousands of people gather to watch what I believe is a festival that is celebrated in more places and by more people than even Christmas. This says a lot about the influence of the Chinese globally.  

I always enjoy the sounds of the drums, the processions of the fabled dragons, and the myths behind the fearsome Lion.

Typically, the Lion is sent to visit all the Chinese restaurants in China town, to bring them good luck. This at first sounds quite strange given the fear that the Lion is supposed to instill in all who see him.

I think however the Lion represents a deep cultural pillar within the Chinese psyche, probably as a remnant of Confusionism, which places a lot of emphasis in the Yin and Yang of life.

In fact and as it was once explained to me, the Lion represents the very nature of life, which includes accepting the bad as well as the good.

The story goes something like this:

"Long long ago, a fearsome Lion used to terrorise a small village in China, a village that otherwise had plenty of rainfall and very healthy crops every year.

One day however the villagers got tired of the threats that the Lion imposed on their lives, and so they decided to get together and scare the Lion away with the sound of loud drums.

They did just this, and the Lion left from the proximity of the village.

However from the moment the Lion left, the village ceased getting any rainfall, and their crops failed every year.

In desperation, the villagers decided to do what they could to bring the Lion back, and offered gifts of food and meat in order to entice him back. Once the Lion came back, the rains began to fall again.

As a result, the villagers came to accept that for the good to come, some bad had to be accepted, and in many ways this goes to the heart of Chinese values."

I would like to think that my inter-cultural, inter racial marriage, in many regards, follows the same pattern of thinking. Although some issues are undoubtedly there, in order for us to enjoy the good, we have to also accept the not so good. It is as much a theme for marriage as it is for life.

Friday, January 29, 2010

Strange Chinese Habits 1 - Spitting in Public

One of the first things I noticed about my wife's behaviour when we first started to date was her constant spitting.

We would be walking in a shopping centre and she would frequently walk up to a bin and spit.

When walking on a public street, she would at times spit on the street.

This is not something particular to her alone, it is in fact quite common amongst the Chinese. This need to spit repeatedly is so common in China that the Chinese government had gone to great lengths prior to the Beijing Olympics to re-educate the Chinese against spitting in public.

So why do they do it?

I can't be certain.

It could be argued that its a reaction to the extreme air pollution in some Chinese cities, however my wife left China before it really began to industrialise with a vigour, and she herself has never experienced high levels of air pollution.

I would add that the spitting continues day and night, inside the house and out.

Although as a Westerner I find this practice quite distasteful, I have simply learned to ignore it when it comes to my wife. I have even learned to get used to the two or three times during our love making that she will stop, run to the bathroom, spit, and then come back.

But what I find disturbing is that now my son is starting this habit as well. There are times when I am simply having a conversation with him, and while talking I can hear him making a strange noise in his throat.

This strange shrilling noise is a common pre-cursor to the spit, and not long after, my son runs to the bathroom to spit in the toilet.

When I ask him why he does it, he explains that he doesn't know.

My wife did make a comment once that she considered mucous to be unhygenic and bad for the body, and so she prefers to spit it out rather than swallow it. Maybe its something as simple as that. We as Westerners simply clear our throat by swallowing, whereas the Chinese clear their throats by spitting.

Hmmm?

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Bi-Racial Children


I found this interesting blog post on the particular complications a family is confronted with when having bi-racial children., from one of Australia's most popular online News sites.
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People are often shocked to learn that CJ is in fact one quarter Filipino.

Yes, he looks like my clone - but unlike me, he does get a tan as evidenced by his thong marks acquired this summer.

For me, CJ’s looks have never been an issue. But for his father there has always been a concern that people look at him and wonder how he fits into the picture. Is he my second husband? Have I moved on rather fast? Is he the babysitter, the nanny?

He told me the other day that he has thought about what he would do if CJ was having a tantrum and refusing to walk with him (which being 19, almost 20-months old he does a LOT). He assumes that someone will think he is taking a stranger’s child. He plans to show them the photos in his wallet and tell them mater of factly that he is CJ’s dad.

I cringe when people look at the three of us and say “Geez mate, your genes really didn’t get a look in with that one”.

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A friend of mine has a similar situation. While I think her daughter looks like her, she is often stopped in the street and asked about “her heritage”. It drives her nuts. Almost every day she has to explain why her daughter has blond curls while she has dark hair and dark skin. She told me “She’s my daughter, her looks shouldn’t matter, I shouldn’t have to explain everyday.”

As more and more people have inter-racial marriages, more and more couples will come up against this issue. It is also possible that I could have another child that has dark skin, dark eyes and black hair. CJ could look nothing like his sibling. I do wonder what the kids at school will say to them if they look like polar opposites.

But what do you think? Do looks really matter? Have you ever asked a mum or dad why their child looks so different to them? Has it happened to you? Does it drive you crazy?

Lastly, Merry Christmas everyone. I’m going on holidays with my boys for a few weeks. Naughty Corner will be back in the new year with a big surprise.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Inter Racial Divorce part 3

Well, this news item below is quite timely as it relates to my previous post on false allegations of child sexual abuse made disproportionately by separating Chinese born mothers. On the surface at least this is becoming all too common and very distressing for all Anglo fathers in inter racial marriages.

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Sex abuse accused father fights back

LAURIE NOWELL | From: Sunday Herald Sun | January 24, 2010

A DAD cleared of claims he sexually abused his kids is now hitting back at his ex wife.

The man is accusing his ex-wife of perjury, assault and threatening to kill.


The legal action, believed to be a first for Victoria, will set a controversial precedent and could open the floodgates to similar cases.

"Bill", whose identity cannot be revealed for legal reasons, is alleging his wife deliberately lied when she made allegations that he had sexually abused their children.

His affidavit was accepted by the Melbourne Magistrates' Court last week, a hearing date has been set for next month and a summons was due to be served on Friday.

The case stems from a criminal trial during which Bill spent two years fighting charges based on his wife's allegations.

He was eventually acquitted, but the ordeal cost him his job, his home and about $450,000 in lost income and legal costs. The case is also based on similar accusations of sexual abuse of their children made by the ex-wife during a bitter Family Court battle.

The Family Court judge found Bill's ex-wife to be violent, untruthful, lacking moral values and responsible for the psychological and emotional abuse of her children - but still gave her custody of the two girls, now aged 9 and 11, because they had become estranged from their father.

By contrast, Bill was found to have shown "laudable forbearance in the face of the most challenging circumstances".

Australian Bureau of Statistics figures show about 2.5 million Australians are denied access to family because of family law proceedings, and about 680,000 fathers see their children as little as once a year.

ABS figures also show 700,000 children have no meaningful contact with one of their non-custodial parents - mostly fathers.

Bill said yesterday he was bringing the case because he felt betrayed by the justice system.

"The Family Court have cut me off from my children effectively because of false evidence brought by my wife," Bill said.

"In 2005, she went to the police and made the allegations and then prepared the children on what they should say. The result was my kids were taken away from me.

"I proved my own innocence and that she had lied on both occasions - in the criminal trial and in the Family Court matter.

"My life with my kids was destroyed. If people can lie in court and hurt others by their utterances and statements, what is the point of the law?"

The case will intensify the current national debate over the operation of the Family Court and the principle of shared parenting, which is under attack by women's groups and is being reviewed by the Rudd Government.

Bill's ex-wife is facing charges of perjury, assault and making a threat to kill.

The charges allege that she knowingly and wilfully made 10 pages of false statements to police in September 2005 and perjured herself by repeating the allegations in a sworn affidavit during a Family Court hearing in 2008.

She is also accused of threatening to kill Bill in 2004 and of assaulting him with chopsticks and fingernails in 2000.

Law Institute of Victoria chief executive Michael Brett Young said private criminal prosecutions were rare, but not unheard of.

"This man will have to prove his case, like anyone else, in the criminal courts," Mr Young said.

Monday, January 18, 2010

The Chinese and democracy

I do not often have the opportunity to debate China and its politics with other Chinese in Australia.

This may sound surprising given that I am married to a Chinese woman, am aquainted with many Chinese, and often have dinner with various Chinese born Australians.

Oddly, I have reluctantly concluded that I have a greater interest in China's history and its current politics than most Chinese that I come in contact with. This is a shame given the richness of the cultural and political landscape that is China.

I find that even my very own wife lacks any genuine interest in discussing the increasing prominence of China's actions on the world stage, and what its internal struggle for democracy means for those living in China. She is more interested in events that may impact her directly, such as the value of the yuan or the performance of the Chinese stock market.

There are however a few people I know who do have very interesting views on China, and who are not afraid to express themselves. These people have grown up in China, and so their views are of paticular interest to me.

Having said that I should state from the outset that not only am I an unabashed Sinophile, but that I also appreciate the difficulties that the Chinese government must deal with in order to keep such a large and diverse nation together.

Unlike many of my highly educated colleagues at my work, I do not take the view that democracy above all is the most important goal of a nation. Quality of life must come first, and it is here that I think the cautious but ultimately benelovent approach of the Chinese government shines through.

Make no mistake, I realise that the government has made many serious mistakes and that poverty and corruption is rampant in China, but I am speaking in relative and pragmatic terms, not in ideal terms.

What has really caught me by surprise however has been the general agreement on this point from those least expected.

Why is this so surpising you ask?

Well, these very same Chinese that I refer to were the same Chinese who as students in Australia in the late 1980s effectively defected from China after the Tianemen Square protests. These people had a rabid resentment for the oppressive Chinese government at the time, so much so that they permanently left China as a result.

These same people now praise the current Chinese government and defend its actions.

Surprising yes, but not remarkable given the changes in China over the last 20 years.

Overall, I think that the general political apathy of most Chinese Australians, and the otherwise supportive attitude towards the Chinese government's iron hold of the vestiges of political power, says a lot about the Chinese, their aspirations, values and their hopes.

It seems that at least for Chinese Australians, health, wealth and happiness is the ultimate goal of life, and although political freedom is a nice to have for most people, it plays little role in the thinking of most Chinese.

Wednesday, January 06, 2010

Inter Racial Divorce part 2

We have another friend who is going through a divorce.

He too is anglo, and his wife is Chinese.

What makes their circumstances so exceptional to me is that having known them for about 7 years, I have always considered them to both be responsible, decent and  level headed.

They have a 6 year old son, which they seem to dote over, and they were both clearly very good parents.

Now in the past Ms B made some incidental but ominous comments about the wife, which I disregarded at the time. Ms B told me that the wife would bitterly complain in private about her husband, but there was no substance to the complaints. Ms B described the complaints as being "child-like" and repetitious in nature.

Had my wife not told me this, I would never have thought this woman was child-like, nor someone who complained about her husband behind his back. She just seemed too nice and empathetic in public. In fact, she really won me over as a great mother and a great wife.

But clearly I was wrong!

Well, this couple separated about a year ago. Since then the husband has wanted to see the child 3 days per fortnight, but the wife refused. She would only agree to 8 hours per fortnight.

So after failing to get anywhere in mediation, the husband filed for greater access to his son via the Family Court.

In response his wife filed allegations of child sexual abuse.

Now I won't go into detail about these allegations, but to say that they are completely preposterous and bizarre.

I read the wife's statement and the allegations in full, as did Ms B. We both agreed that the wife was either lying or she is so disturbed by the divorce that she is deluding herself. In fact I had to pinch myself a number of times as there was no logic in the ramblings, apart from references to women's intuitition and references from the internet about bed wetting being linked to child abuse. She also supplied some selective snippets from the internet suggesting that any form of shared care was disruptive to children.

My final take was that this was all about child support, given that in Australia child support reduces if the child sees the other parent on overnight stays. Its the only way I can understand what has happened.


But now to my point, and this is eerily similar to one of the comments by a poster to a previous post.

The husband has hired a solicitor and barrister to represent him in Court.

He told me recently that while in a briefing with his barrister, the barrister said that in his experience, Chinese born wives are particularly malicious during divorce. In fact he mentioned that of the 5 most spiteful wives that he comes across per year in his work as a barrister, about 3 tend to be Chinese born.

Now make of this what you will, but if true, it is a worrying statistic for many fathers out there.

Tuesday, January 05, 2010

Why Asian Girls go for White Guys

A found this very interesting video that gives an insight into the thinking of many Chinese women.

Check it out.


Saturday, January 02, 2010

Christmas & Religion

Well, Christmas has once again come and gone.

Just like most Australian families we put up Xmas lights and decorations, including a Xmas tree, and exchanged gifts. This celebration is pretty much universal and has little to do any more with religion.

However in keeping with my Protestant heritage, I also attended church, along with my son.

Ms B has historically resisted attending church except in the case of weddings and funerals.

She has a firm belief that there is no evidence that God exists, so she sees no point in performing strange rituals when there is no basis in them.

I have to say that if that is her belief, then its a fair point.

But like all human beings, she is just as selective with this rational as I am, I guess.

Ms B may not believe in God because of a lack of proof, but this does not stop her believing in Luck, or in Feng Shui, or in Numerology, or in any other number of cultish beliefs that seem to have widespread basis within the Chinese community.

I sometimes notice Ms B performing strange rituals at home to ward off Bad Luck, and she has even cost us a lot of money in re-positioning our front and back doors, in order to capture Good Luck in our home through good Feng Shui.

Now I too see no basis in these beliefs, but I tolerate them for Ms B's sake.

I guess this is what she too does for me with my religion.

Sociable

What do you like/dislike most about Chinese women?