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Sarah Wang, a native Chinese, who could let you know more about Chinese culture and traditional custom and the way how Chinese female think and etc via the blogs. With these information, you might understand your Chinese spouse easier and reduce the clash between you and her. Certainly, I also would like to see more cultures from you through CLM platform. Everybody is my eyes.
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The Habits: Reserve, Abandon or Compromise?    

By Sarah Wang
3471 Views | 7 Comments | 5/14/2010 1:10:38 PM

“Atishoo, atishoo, atishoo…” Michael couldn’t help sneezing while he was searching the financial journal in the library with Ms. Li.

“Sorry, sorry, sorry…” he couldn’t stop apologizing to her.

“Never mind.” Li smiled. Sneeze couldn’t be controlled by human being, it is a natural thing. She deemed. Almost nobody feels sorry in that case in China.

It was the first time for Ms.Li to hang out with Michael who is Dutchman in his early forties to visit her in Changsha (the capital of Hunan province). They knew each other at the Canton Fair last year and became acquaintance via emails and calls lately. Ms. Li didn’t decline when Michael yearned for meeting her at her hometown Changsha. She couldn’t deny that Michael attracted her a lot for his nice personality and humor sense and optimistic life attitude. But she doubted whether they would have conflicts for habits or not due to background differences. That’s why she held back her feeling to him and stayed the connection as the friendship.

Next day, they went to a local Xiang Cai restaurant to have the dinner. Michael couldn’t stand any hot food which the locals couldn’t live without it. Anyway, Ms.Li required all the dished without peppers and chillis after they made the agreement of the orders.

When the fish, the shrimp, tomato and eggs were served to their table,
“Oh, it smells good! I love Chinese food, these look different with those at Chinese restaurant in Holland. ” Michael was excited.

But suddenly, he frowned and asked Ms. Li: “Is there any bones in the fish? Why the fired shrimps with shells on, the shit be still kept inside of each one?“

“Oh, you might have them by your mouths, then spit out the bones or the shells. And remove the top layer with the shit of the shrimps by your hands. ” Ms. Li explained.

“Really? It is very rude for spitting out when having the food in my country. ” Michael couldn’t believe what he heard.

“Oh, but it is quite normal in China, just like we use our chopsticks to pick up the same dishes, a traditional way.” Ms. Li felt a bit uncomfortable for his outspoken view.

“Oki, I have a try.” Michael started eating. But he was clumsy to take off the bones and shells by mouths and hands.

“Do you mind I help you to do that only by my hands?” Ms. Li didn’t want him to struggle with the starvation.

“I would like to.” Michael’s belly made the hungry signal before when they discussed the menus.

Ms. Li had few food and spent most time to fill up Michael’s stomach.

“Heng, heng, heng….” Michael blew his nose loudly with a tissue. He didn’t know why the food was still a bit spicy which kept his nose running, perhaps the chef never washed the pot before he cooked another course and remained the pepper favor. Only God knows!

“Excuse me, I need go to the restroom.” Michael murmured and left with the dirty tissue on the table.

Ms. Li astonished that Michael didn’t say sorry after he behaved ungainly. However, blowing nose is a thing which could be held. It is disgusting to blow one’s nose in public in China. So indubitably, everybody stared at Ms. Li with discontent instead of peek (People were curious that Chinese girl stayed with a western guy so they couldn’t stop peeking after Ms. Li and Michael entered the restaurant).

Ms. Li was still in the embarrassment when Michael was back. She hesitated whether she should mentioned about the situation to him. For polite, she didn’t. But she wanted to escape the place as soon as possible and brought forward to leave.

After Michael paid the bill, they went down by the elevator. There are about 8 persons in the lift, included the elder and the kids. “Bu, bu, bu...” One of the elder fart. Everybody laughed except Michael.

“Oh, what a nuisance! ” Michael complained and rushed out when the lift just stopped.

“It is a physical thing, especially for the elder, farting couldn’t under the control.” Ms. Li tried to let him understand it.

“I don’t fart unless I am in the toilet and sleeping. If you fart in front of me, you won’t be my Mrs. Right!.” Michael screamed.

Michael tied up Ms. Li into knots.


Ok, let’s stop by here. If you were Ms. Li, how to handle it? After all, it is concerned that they could turn the current friendship into the relationship or not. For the above or other habits, will you require the other party to reserve or abandon them, or will you make the compromises? If so, how?

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#2010-05-13 00:08:33 by spiderboenz @spiderboenz

Michael seems a bit close minded and culturally insensitive. It's one thing to be ignorant of the vagaries of another culture, but you have to acknoledge that it IS a different culture.

compromise is essential in any relationship, but only compromises between two people. This guy seems to have no real respect for Ms. Li, it's all about him.

#2010-05-13 10:25:55 by histguy @histguy

For people in the US:
1) Sneezing - ok, not an issue and no need for apology
2) Using coarse (4-letter) words to describe cleaning shrimp - bad on both person's parts
3) Spitting out bones - ok if you do it in a napkin, don't make a production out of it
4) Blowing nose in public - somewhat rude, he could have gone to the restroom
5) Leaving napkin on table - rude and disgusting
6) Staring and peeking - very rude, people need to mind their own business
7) Breaking wind in the elevator - funny and understandable, as long as it isn't a habit
8) Using coarse words like "fart" to describe the passing of gas - distasteful, especially for a woman
9) Saying you can't be Mr/Mrs. Right if they break wind in front of you - true during the initial dating period, get to know each other first.

#2010-05-13 20:17:13 by gracefan @gracefan

A guy has known the different culture when he/she and a foreigner fell into love.He/she should know
compromise,understand and respect each other is very important in the relationship.

#2010-05-18 20:09:38 by northernlights @northernlights

Thank you for the comments of spiderboenz, histguy and gracefan. For the habits compromise, it depends on the two individuals. More love, more compatibility.
Additionly, to histguy, I am happy that you pointed out the mentioned habits and appreciate your correction.

#2010-05-19 11:10:19 by histguy @histguy

Sarah, just to be clear, I was not correcting you personally. I was merely making observations on the theoretical scenario you posted. Keep up with the great blogs!

#2010-05-21 12:31:27 by northernlights @northernlights

To histguy: thanks. I leant some new things from your messages, it is helpful. Please feel free to comment on my blogs in the future:)

#2010-11-01 03:55:08 by rgk1048 @rgk1048

Reminds me of the times I had meals with my Chinese relatives on my Grandma's side. Using a toothpick to pick one's teeth at the table and burping out loud was common. It was not considered impolite. In fact someone explained that burping after a meal indicated satisfaction. I was just a kid but I laughed like crazy and they all looked at me, puzzled why I was laughing. When I had my friends over for dinner, I felt embarrassed but we all had a good laugh afterwards when nobody was around. We even began burping and farting, ourselves, just for fun. The louder the better.

Farting was also common..these were older folks who had just "gotten off the boat" so to speak, as the older generation never learned English and stuck with their own kind, so it was like being in China.

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