Career or Love?

I guess I have run into my first real hurdle of marrying a Chinese person. A hurdle that for the first time has made me question my choices. I finally achieved my dream job after blood sweat and tears to have it taken away from me because of my husband’s citizenship. Even when he does eventually apply for American citizenship, his background and connections in China will always be a red flag.

I was on a clear path before graduating from college with great jobs lined up for me. I gave them up to go back to China to be with my now husband, thinking if I was able to get those jobs once I could get them again. A great love story, right? A girl puts caution to wind and flies across the world chasing love. Now, years later I’m starting to doubt that decision. Should I have put love before career? Had I first started my career and then married, I wouldn’t have this issue. Now that I am married to a Chinese national, I have a red flag in my file that may forever keep from getting the security clearance I need to start the career that I want.

I wonder if I will have forever sacrificed my career dreams by chasing my fairytale love story.






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20 responses to “Career or Love?

  1. Erika, I am so sorry to hear that this happened. Wow.

    I guess our choices in life and love can have consequences we never expected. I know that I’m also learning some of the challenges of marrying a Chinese national this year in particular, and I’ve heard the same from some other yangxifu.

    I will keep you in my thoughts and hope that you find another way to a career that you can love — one that will be a little more forgiving towards your marriage.

    • I guess there are always surprises and challenges when you sign up for this kind of marriage. If only the relationship between china and America could be as loving as our marriages.

  2. Someone (some people) need a diversity training!! Do not be discouraged, your talents will benefit the company that needs your service. Like a marriage, it needs to be a good fit. There are hundreds and thousands of companies out there, don’t let a couple of close-minded people determine how talented you are.

  3. I kind of know what you’re going through. It sounds like you were in line to be a foreign service officer or in a job that requires the highest level of security clearance. I interviewed with the NSA and CIA when I was 22 and also took the foreign service exam them. I even passed the Mandarin exam at the NSA. Then I married a guy from Hubei a couple years later. There are other jobs where you can use Mandarin and be the best in your field. Many multi-national companies, NGOs, the UN, etc. could use people with your background and international understanding, even in Shandong. So while some doors might close, look for others that are open. Who knows? Something completely out of the blue could present itself and you could really shine in that area. (My marriage to the Hubei husband didn’t work out, but now I have written a memoir about it and hope to publish it someday. So you never know!). Good luck!

    • Your experiences do sound pretty similar. It’s amazing how different the world looks at 22. We’ll overcome this hurdle and find a new path. Good luck on your book! Any excerpts you want share?

  4. You are honest with yourself and that’s already a good sign.
    I am sure that there are many ways in which you can develop your career and be successful.
    Good luck to you!

  5. Married to a Taiwan guy, I went through detailed security checks before I got my public service job and even after that some colleagues looked at me with suspicion. I could have gone on about the four generations of public service in my family, but somehow I don’t think that would have changed people’s attitudes. Good news is that I eventually did move to a job where my skills and background were valued. There is a demand for bilingual and bicultural people, and I am sure you have a valuable contribution to give. Good luck.

    • @ Taiwanxifu
      Where is your husband from? I came from Taoyuan..

      It’s really interesting for me to read through all these postings to see the other side of western girls’ delimma in interracial marraige. Being married to an American (Irish), it has taken me more than 20 years to share my own core conservative value with my husband’s family, and still, the bias sometimes oozes out – so is western society is just as close-minded as some old-fashioned Chinese society? One must wonder what is behind all these mistreatments of people who are married to different nationalities? Is it because of economic or political perception of our current time? It’s all based on unfounded misperception of how media portaying China, Taiwan, or anything Asian. I still remember one of the family members said to me (20 some years ago) in one of our holiday dinners that..” those foreigners (Chinese, in this case) come here and take our jobs beause they work more than 40 hours a week and sacked our regulation system for overtime pay…..” – well, you see, I was pretty sure of this person could not defend such pinheaded opion about hardworking Asian immigrants or her own laziness. As I went through corporate America in the last 20 years, my encounter with my American colleagues sometimes makes me wonder if they saw past the chimney on their own streets. With that being said, there are more friendly and curious people come in my path whom I have cherished their friendship until today. You just got to take what’s good in a bad situation and stand firm on your core value.

  6. I sure can relate to what you wrote here. The kind of marriage I chose also comes with a price tag and some days I really wonder if it’s all worth it. We’re in the middle of repatriating and far apart at the moment, who knows when we’ll succeed in our project.
    I’m sorry your life choices put a red flag in your file in your home country.
    Is there anything else you would like to pursue as a career?
    For the record, I now (sporadically) blog at

  7. Cy

    I think you should choose love over career any day. Though a career is important by providing a sense of satisfaction, I think modern work is unnatural from a Daoist’s point of view. After learning about the history of the modern world, including Europe and China, I have found that our modern idea of a career is propagating a mechanization process, and this includes working for governments. The modern idea of work is a fairly recent process, about 100 years ago. The idea of getting up at a predetermined time, have lunch within 3-4 hours, work for another 4 hours and come home. You routinely do the same task throughout the day, while another person would routinely perform another task and so on to maintain the current system. It makes people into robots and unnatural. Watch the silent movie Metropolis (1927) and you will see what I mean. I’m sure the job you were eyeing was a great job, but once you perform a job repeatedly, all jobs get old at some point. Since you mentioned that you were applying for a government job, (I think?) with respect to translation, here is a parable from Zhuang Zi (庄子) that I really love:

    The prince of Chu sent two vice-chancellors
    with a formal document:

    We hereby appoint you prime minister

    Chuang Tzu held his bamboo pole still.
    Watching the Pu river, he said:
    “I am told there is a sacred tortoise offered
    and canonized three thousand years ago,
    venerated by the prince, wrapped in silk,
    in a precious shrine on an altar
    in the temple.
    What do you think?
    Is it better to give up one’s life
    and leave a sacred shell
    as an object of cult
    in a cloud of incense
    for three thousand years,
    or to live as a plain turtle
    dragging its tail in the mud?”

    “For the turtle”, said the vice-chancellor,
    “better to live and drag its tail in the mud!”

    “Go home!”, said Chuang Tzu.
    “Leave me here
    to drag my tail in the mud.”

    In other words, a career maybe too confining and you should be freer. Love, on the other hand, is not mechanized, at least, not as mechanized as a career. I have worked at many jobs, and they are all, to a degree, the same. A salesperson is no different from a factory worker, or a professor or an office worker. I apologize for this long post. As you can see, I think through a Daoist’s eyes. A Daoist, is half of the Chinese mind, whereas the other half is Confucianism. Where Confucianists are more familial with many rules, Daoists are not bound by rules. I think Confucianism is more prevalent amongst the other posters. Anyways, that is just my take on choosing between career or love. The answer is of course, love!

  8. al

    Sorry to hear such unfortunate situation. Your touching love story has been published in many Chinese magazines or websites. Your wedding video with taylor swift song is so beautiful. I hate to see this fail.

    Well, if it is inevitable, email me. I might find a better solution for you.

  9. al


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  12. hi, i can fully relate to you because right now i am choosing between love or career. my family is traditional chinese and i am a staff nurse at a hospital in my country , earning a 2-3 year certificate of experience can help me get job opportunities abroad so i can earn more. landing into my job now was difficult in which i have poured so muchsweat and blood just to be in this job. earning few money when i can apply for other jobs with higher pay. and now, my bf’s family is pressuring me on getting tinghun and marriage and i have to give up this career of mine. i really dont know what to choose best. i fear i might regret …

    • I say don’t give it up until you have to. What I learned from my experience was the advantage of getting married later and pursuing a career first. Is it a logistical reason where you would have to give up your job upon marriage? Talk to you boyfriend and see how he feels too, just because your inlaws are pressuring doesn’t mean you have to jump into something you aren’t ready for.

      • yes my contract for my staff nurse job is until next year aug. we have talked about it recently and thats why im stressed out. he told me he didnt want me to work overseas because he said he is ready for marriage, ready to settle down, he insist i can find a higher pay job here in the philippines than going overseas. if i applied for a job to work abroad, it would usually have a 2 year contract. honestly i really like to pursue career but he told me he cant wait for another 2 years from next year. sigh. its been giving me a headache and stress lately. there is a big fulfillment in career but he doesnt want to wait for another 2 years from next year because he told me he’d be old already. 😦

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  14. luvmuffins43

    I read this post maybe three months ago, this post was that the back for my mind since then, constantly nibbling at my brain. The post got be back to the real world, I researched what I would be returning to after three years in China. I found out my experience in China, for more then a year, is counted as a doss. England would refuse my funding because I had been out the country for too long. Plus courses in china would fail to cross over, plus cost a hella lot of money for being international, in my sector. I love my bf but I want to have choices beyond the tefl sector.

  15. shan dong


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