The International Writers Magazine: Marriage Stories
Fred C. Wilson III
Times Are a Changin'
Tis’ the season for football, holiday parties, excessive spending, binge drinking, family fights, romance and all the good things that go to make the Season bright. Rudyard Kipling the celebrated 19th – 20th century British author-poet’s saga ‘The Ballad of East and West’ still rings true though its impact has diminished considerably.
When it comes to love matches between Orientals and Occidentals the great man was half right. With the advent of global communications, information technologies, and increased travel the twain has indeed met. The Internet is proliferated with love clubs for singles in search of Asian partners for casual dating, serious relationships or marriage. I didn’t include any listings because I doubt the credibility of some sites. Not trying to aggrandize myself from 1981 until 1991 I owned and operated a global singles club; high overhead costs prompted me to close down. 1/3 of my male clientele preferred Asian women. I know something about East-West marriages.
In 1959 I saw Nancy Kwan and William Holden in the film classic ‘The World of Suzie Wong.’ That movie really hooked me. As a young boy it aroused feelings I never knew existed. It was like lighting striking the tree I was under. Chinatown became my favorite hangout. I was an 8th grader in love with the Orient. My being a native San Franciscan a city with a large Asian minority probably influenced me.
A lot of things, some nasty, others nice, have been said about Asian-Western love matches. According to Wikipedia ‘Asian fetish is a slang term which usually refers to an interest, attraction or preference for people, culture, or things of Asian origin by those of non-Asian descent. The gay slang term used for a man, usually white, who exclusively dates Asian men is ‘rice queen.’
In the afterword to the 1988 play Madam Butterfly the writer David Henry Hwang used term ‘yellow fever,’ a pun on the disease of the same name discusses white men with a fetish for Asian women. Hwang argues that this phenomenon is caused by stereotyping of Asians in Western society.
When I taught junior high school I used to tell my students whenever the subject of interracial love came up never let the exoticism of dating people of different races your sole criteria for selecting them. When lovers focus only the supposed sexual/behavioral aspects of other races bad things happen. Sex based relationships regardless of race/ethnicity is doomed before they develop. Love a person for who they are, not solely how they look or appeal to your kinky desires.
||According to National Geographic Magazine (April 2011 mixed marriage statistical chart based on 2008 figures) 1 in 60 marriages in the United States are racially mixed and on the rise. Whites married to Hispanics at the top and Blacks married to Asians at the bottom in numerical terms of couples paired.
(see stats from, Asian-Nation).
For nearly 25 years I’ve been happily married to a wonderful Asian lady from Quezon City, Philippines. This article is about racially/culturally mixed relationships/marriages what better interview subject than my wife. I’ve asked her to share some of her thoughts on being married to me a non-Asian man. She requested me not to use her name.
FW: “What are some of the difficulties you’ve encountered from family and friends regarding your marriage?”
Wife: “My friends thought our marriage would not work. They thought I would be taken advantage especially that you’re not only non-Asian, but a mulatto. My closest friend gave us five years; as of July 5th we’ve be married 23 years!”
FW: “Did you find it hard adjusting culturally being married to a non-Asian; could you give some examples?”
Wife: “Culturally Filipinos and other Asians are very family oriented. They keep their children close to them even after they are married. Parents and grandparents help their married children raise their children. If their grown children can’t make it financially, emotionally, mentally, the parents will help shoulder their responsibilities though at the adult level it’s more of an obligation.”
FW: “What are some of the positive aspects of being married to a Westerner?”
Wife: “It all depends on who you marry. You are very independent. I never had to serve you like some of those stereotypical docile Asian women would. You do your own cooking, run your own errands and I never have to worry when I go back home. You’ve proved you can manage yourself very well without me but then you lived alone for 15 years before we married; I think you can handle things in my absence.”
FW: “What are some negative aspects of being married to me an American?”
Wife: “So far not many negatives in our marriage; people create their own negative situations in any relationship marriage or otherwise. But there are problems; as a person age they want is peace and quiet; you make too much noise!”
FW: “Would you marry me all over again if you had the chance? Why or why not?”
Wife: “I always think that God gives us just one chance to make it through life. God gives us choices. People can choose to do right or wrong but despite our choices we will not have the same opportunities again. If your marriage is good you are blessed; you can always make it better.”
She evaded my question; mixed race/cultural marriages can work. We are living proof of that. God willing my wife and I hope to have many more happy years together. Mixed couples with children may be the only hope of hammering shut the coffin of racism. The problem is far too many mixed race couples avoid having children. The excuse they use is: ‘how will society accept our children?’ Together my wife and I have five grown children; all are successful well salaried professionals; though we live apart we remain very close. Of our five children one is single, one married with children, three married non-Asians. Our two granddaughters are both honor students.
The science of anthropology proved that we are all descended from one couple; call them Adam and Eve if you like. An on-line pastor-scientist said 150 years from now we’ll all be members of a single racial entity. When this happens hopefully the evil of race hate will be a relic of an unpleasant past; then human beings will undoubted think of other ways to make life miserable. All we can do is work and hope for better times.
Artist Toulouse Lautrec said “marriage is like a bad meal with the dessert at the beginning.” The man never married. Many Western men marry inter-culturally. I’ve interviewed a few American guys married to Filipinas. I asked them how their marriages were going. The first guy I spoke with was my buddy ‘Victor’ (real name withheld). He lives in Cebu City with his Filipina wife and her family.
FW: “Victor you married a Filipina, what would you say would be some critical differences between Western men and their Filipina partners?”
Victor: “First you have to identify the cultural differences between the two groups. Filipinas, and I suppose other Asian women, are taught that it is their jobs to keep their men happy in and out of the bedroom. Western women are a little…bit…different. I said that to say this, Asian (Philippine) women and their Western (American) counterparts set different priorities. They have different values. Filipinas are not as self-centered as their American sisters. Philippine ladies are more family oriented. Filipino families bond together for survival. Materially better off American families tend to be single parent homes with the very concept of marriage challenged by powerful gay and lesbian activists. Philippine families are mostly God centered. American families espouse secularism. In the Philippines traditional family values holds sway. Filipinas tend to be more open about sex much more so than women in the United States. I’m not saying anything stupid like U.S. woman are all frigid but ladies over here are more sexually accepting.
“What I’m saying is that Filipinas treat sex as an enjoyable fact of life. In the West (America) sex is still considered ‘dirty,’ always sinful, and like Western attitudes towards death, a forbidden subject that’s best kept quiet. Americans regard ‘macho’ activities like war and sports as wholesome activities with a little urban street violence thrown in for kicks.
“Over here when its guys night out they go to clubs and participate in the live action taking place. In the States it’s all see and no touch. If you touch the lap dancer you paid a small fortune to dance on your table top some ‘gorilla’ (bouncer) will yank you from your table and toss your ass into the streets. Western culture is voyeuristic. In the West sex and larger life are spectator sports. In Asia sex and life is a matter of general participation.”
FW: (Laughing) “You got that right. What about some of the spiritual and other differences between Western women and their Philippine counterparts?”
Victor: “Filipinas are more superstitious then American girls. My wife drives me bonkers when she talks about evil spirits and good luck charms. Yesterday she performed an exorcism if you will by literally kicking the crap out of evil spirits whom she believed were making a neighbor’s baby sick. After she exorcised her demons she took a long walk to the cemetery, lit a bunch of holy candles and prayed for help from her dead relatives. I advised her to buy some medicine for the sick kid. She didn’t. It was Sunday. She later told me that her parents took the kid to the cemetery to visit dead relatives.”
FW: “Interesting; my wife’s totally americanized. She lived in California (Los Angeles) when we met; back to food. I’m always ready for a good meal; can your wife cook?”
Victor: (He laughed.) “Like most Filipinas she’s a great cook.”
FW: “Tell me more.”
Victor: “Big families require smart food preparation. In the States people cook for one, maybe two or three, but over here folks live on meager incomes; you can easily end up cooking for a crowd. Nothing is wasted. I nearly choked on a chicken bone before I learned that folks here suck the meat off of the bones. The bad part is they hack the chicken up with a cleaver leaving sharp slivers of bone in the meal. You have to be careful when you eat here. I’m glad that we have enough food so my wife doesn't have to butcher the meat. We toss the bones to the dogs across the street.”
FW: “Does the mañana mentality pervade Philippine society?”
Victor: “Procrastination is a national pastime in the Philippines. I ordered a large bottle of mineral water delivered to our home last Wednesday. I told the delivery boy to bring change for a P500 note. He didn't. I asked him to return later with my change. It’s been a week; he hasn't been back since. I even called his home a few times but still no change, no water, and no answer.”
FW: “That totally sucks; little bastard didn’t bring your water then booked (took off) with your change; damn that hurts…getting back to topic how does your wife figure into this equation; does she tend to put things off until later?”
Victor: “Nope; she’s stubborn.”
FW: (I laughed.) “Yeah mine too.”
Victor: “She will spend weeks watching me try out something new before she would adapt it. Rarely will a Filipina admit to being wrong; they just don’t admit to mistakes but they are beautiful! They corner that market! (Laughing) Filipinas are arguably some of the most beautiful women in the world, but that is my personal feeling. I've also seen French-Vietnamese women that you couldn't breathe right standing next to, besides I’m tired of blondes.”
FW: “Yeah I hear ya.’ (Laughing) I met this Japanese girl at a convention here in Chicago who made me forget my friggin’ name she was that fine (Beautiful)! Any other differences and or similarities between Western and Asian wives you care to mention?”
Victor: “Yes; women of both groups set different priorities. While there are a few good paying jobs here if ever a Filipina lands a job that pays well in many instances her husband will quit his and stop working. Go figure; I got things to do so could we take this up another time?”
FW: “You’re the ‘doctor;’ say ‘when.’”
Not one to procrastinate, ‘Victor’ left to attend a family function. The International Date Line separated us by 24 hours we stopped chatting shortly after 11 AM Manila Time. I went to bed since it was around the same hour Chicago time11 PM. Two days later we resumed our phone interview; we concluded our interview a day later.
FW: “Victor…there’s a lot of B.S. out there about Oriental ladies. A lot of American guys still think that Asian women are all bows and smiles meaning submissive and hold their husbands high up on some imaginary pedestal. Now we both know that’s horse shit but you know how we guys are. As an American ex-pat any comments you want to share with our readers on this?”
Victor: “I have a few…a lot of Filipina wives are very straightforward but sad to say some seem to be meek and mild all ‘bows and smiles.’ Some Filipina wives appear to let their men dominate them but most Filipina wives are as tough as nails and only play-act for their men to boost their sagging male egos. Most Philippine women of all classes work hard while their men are lazy and selfish when it comes to dealing with them. A lot of these guys have extra wives or girl friends on the side.”
FW: “I’m not saying its’ right but considering the beautiful women of the Philippines I could find monogamy challenging if I lived there.” (Laughing) “Maybe this is why American guys hit it off so easily with Philippine ladies; our guys treat women like ladies and don’t mind spending wads of cash on them to prove it.”
Victor: You got that right and don’t forget most foreign women think our guys are made of money.” (Laughing)
FW: “I guess they do.” Victor concluded by telling me other items of interest regarding American-Philippine marriages, relationships, tips on how guys on the make could score easily with Philippine women married or otherwise and where the hot spots are. “Victor thanks again for lending us some of your time and knowledge.
Victor: “As always my pleasure and thanks for asking me.”
Romanticism is the biggest blight to the concept of life long marriage. Point: ‘love’ is based on whether or not I feel if I am in love. True love is an act of the will and not the emotions the latter which are subject to seismic changes. To will is a conscious act; emotions are unstable and tend to fluctuate; this is true for any marriage cross cultural no exception.
Anybody, anywhere, at anytime could be anyone’s soul mate. Point: my first wife and I were totally compatible. We shared similar cultures, were related, Catholics, active in our parish, highly sexed and enjoyed good times. Our pastor told me that at Christmas he modeled his homilies after us. We were considered a holy family. In 1979 we were selected to represent our parish to meet now Saint John Paul when he visited Chicago! Our pastor was shocked when we divorced. We were married five years. The wonderful woman I am blessed with now, she and I are totally incompatible. We agree on nothing, disagree about everything and quarrel constantly. According to a marriage compatibility test we should have never married. We’ve came pretty close to calling it quits a number of times. We’ve been together over 23 years and have no intentions of ever throwing in the towel.
I’m a student of the old West. I guess being a native of the West Coast (California) says something. In the course of my Western research I read that many pioneer marriage ceremonies were 5 second affairs:
Justice of the Peace: (to bride) “Want him?
Bride: (to groom) “Yep.”
Justice of the Peace: (to groom) “Want her?”
Groom: (to bride) “Yep.”
Justice of the Peace: (to couple) “Done-two dollars.”
Those marriages lasted a lifetime, contrary to today’s budget busting unions which generally fizzle out after a mere 2-3 years. Watch the 1956 TCM classic ‘A Catered Affair’ staring Bettie Davis, Ernest Borgnine, Debbie Reynolds with other period stars. This movie is about a poor working class New York City family footing the bill for a fancy wedding nobody could afford; you’ll like it. Let me reiterate anybody could be married to anybody providing they have the will to make a successful go of it. Love is an act of the will and not the emotio, though the latter may influence our choices.
The theme of the old Crosby, Stills, Nash tune ‘Love the one you’re with’ still holds true. There are far more compatible women/men who would make better spouses than your significant other, but your wife/husband was the one you chose to spend your life with. If you left your spouse for a better person, that person will have a different set of problems, faults, failings. They don’t make you a saint until after you’re dead. Only the Divine Architect is perfect.
© Fred C Wilson 111 December 2014
Tagaytay - Paradise Found
Fred C. Wilson III
Philippine resort city of Tagaytay is as close as you can get to paradise..