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.


Anonymous said...

I don't understand how you and your wife are even together as you clearly do not understand her culture and why she does what she does and how she thinks. It shows your closed mindedness and ignorance of other cultures and their way of thinking. I'm Chinese and feel offended from reading your "musings". Good luck to you and your family for the future.

dr_luv said...


Its your wife root character. She is simply chinese with a different background.

You have adjust to her. I have a feeling your wife a bit too much on materials compare to passion.

Anyhow, just be urself as there are something you can't just change someone's inner character.

SF Kid said...

The first comment here is a little tough on you. You ARE together and have a child so you must learn to accommodate to each other, obviously.

That said, it is too bad some of the areas of conflict weren't discussed or agreed before marriage - like how many kids, home ownership, finances. These are hard differences to overcome later.

I, too, am a white guy married to an Asian woman but we both grew up in US so have less differences than you two, but still a cultural difference. Her mother was a little too involved w/ us early on but we agreed to do it our way and made that clear to Mom and she backed off. We all got along great ever since (we've been married many years and have grown kids). Mostly that is because my wife and I had similar goals and expectations going into it. It was never "perfect" but we learned how to work together.

Enough preaching. I hope you can find a way to make it all work smoothly. It is so much fun when it clicks (and so difficult if you are in constant conflict).

Average Joe said...

For me, if your spouse wants so bad to be the legal "owner" of the house, even though she didn't pay it just does makes sense : it'll give her the possibility to throw you away from there as soon as she wants. She doesn't seem to actually love and respect you that much and to her eyes and her mother's, you're just the home provider. Mrs. B. will stay as long as she get the social status the always craved for. I've read elsewhere the story of an englishman in HK who intended to marry a Chinese girl but threw the idea out the window when he started to realise that his fiancee and her family would constantly making a fool of him.
It's clear to me your wife has already begun and it'd be no surprise for me if you'd discover she has a (Chinese, of course) lover somewhere else nearby.

Anonymous said...

You are a coward and a pussy. You are a DNA whore. How the fuck could you not know what this cunt was after before you married her?

HuShiwei said...

Thanks for sharing your personal life with those who appreciate it. I'm married to a Chinese women myself (mainland born, never left the country) I've had a failed relationship with a Chinese girl in the past as well, but that relationship was nothing like this one.

There are some universal Chinese cultural traits that if not fully understood will cause the relationship to constantly be in rough waters.

Forget what Anonymous has to say, obviously whoever posted the first comment doesn't have a clue what it's like to try (and sometimes fail) to understand a culture that's not their own, otherwise they would have realized that no matter what you understand, that culture is not your own and you will sometimes naturally feel upset because of the differences. That doesn't make you wrong or right.

But it's not going to help if you don't talk about it with her, don't be closed off like us men usually are, that definitely wont do in this type of relationship. Explain to her that you felt uneasy or even hurt, but also let her know it wasn't her fault (that last part being the most important).

Good luck to you.

Anonymous said...

I truly hope your wife said that because of language barrier, otherwise I feel really sorry for her and your marriage.

Anonymous said...

Yes, some Chinese women may tend to look more at status and physical traits as criteria for relationship and marriage. So do some women in any other country in the world, while other women may view such concerns as ridiculous and even provocative.

Also, some Chinese admire both western physical traits and culture, but some do not. People who admire other cultures exist in other countries as well. More than a few of them admire asian physical traits and culture.

It is hardly surprising that western men tend to meet more Chinese women who are (1) concerned with status and desirable physical traits and (2) view western men as having a significant advantage in both areas.

Based on your description, I understand that your wife is very concerned with status and desirable physical traits, and that she view you as having both. Good for you, I guess. I do not think, however, that this has much to do with her nationality or culture at all. To some people status and looks are secondary concerns. You seem to fall in this group. But to some people, regardless of nationality and cultural background, these are legitimate primary concerns. Your wife seems to fall in this group. You need to understand that status matters in a very real way for some people, especially people who do not expect to get anything in life for free.

ebuckbuck said...

your blog has been a hilarious with refreshing cheeky sense of humour for a advice(wink ;) ) ......always keep her on her toes ....

Anonymous said...

This was SO sad.... as anonymous of april3 wrote, i too hope its just a misunderstending due to a language barrier, otherwise this is very troublesome.

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What do you like/dislike most about Chinese women?