Guest post: Contentment or the golden rule for making international relationships work

Today I’m featuring a guest post written by Celso Luiz Fernandes. Celso Luiz Fernandes is a 31-year old Brazilian who has been living in northern Germany for the last 6 years. In 2010 he accidentally ended up in Shanghai for 7 months and immediately fell in love with China. Ever since his return to Germany, he continues to delve deep into the Chinese world by studying Chine language, researching about Chinese economy and analysing changes in Chinese society. Celso has been to more than 12 Chinese cities and is currently sharing a life with his Chinese girlfriend. He writes articles at

Although the author writes about relationships between Chinese women and Western men, what he writes holds true for everyone being in a cross-cultural relationship. Here’s the article:

If you are starting to get acquainted with a Chinese woman or if you are already in a relationship with someone from abroad, then you might want to read this post through.  International relationships are never easy, but rather a continuous challenge which requires constant adaptation and mutual learning. In fact, being in a relationship with someone from another culture can be a real eye opening experience and often leads us to develop patience and understanding.

Most people would think that the hardest part about being with someone from a different culture would be culture itself. People spend so much time concentrating on overcoming their supposed cultural differences, that they often forget that there are much larger forces at work.  Every single international couple should be working in one major thing: contentment. In order to keep the relationship healthy, then both parts must be content with the life they are living.  If one part fails to reach contentment or to remain in a state of contentment, then the relationship will begin to feed on patience, passion, love and understanding. Unfortunately, patience, passion, love and understanding are expensive commodities that, if abused, will eventually run out.

It is useless to speak of contentment without focusing on the things that keep us happy. These things are as basic as the environment in which we live in, our opportunity to pursue dreams and our capacity to contribute to our society, thus making us feel useful.  One of the main reasons why international relationships fail is because there is often a lack of equity in contentment. Usually one part will find themselves having to relocate, leaving behind their dreams and their comfort zone only to be a co-player on someone else’s “stage”. Of course, they will do this in the name of love, but with time, the basic human necessities will begin to kick in and eventually claim a large toll of the very love which motivated the relationship on the first place.

When you introduce someone into your country, you are in a very comfortable zone, where as the other person is not. This really puts a burden on your back, because you have to work twice as hard to make the other person happy and make their sacrifice worthwhile. In the end, things just get very unbalanced and the relationship fails or burns out. This can be different for international couples that are already married and have children. Actually, its not different. Its just that because of the level of involvement, the couple will stick to the relationship even if there is no “relationship” anymore.

As a rule of thumb you should never lure someone to follow you anywhere, unless its something that you both want very much and can benefit from. This is also true for you. Relocating to a place as interesting as China can be a wonderful thing, but only if you have at least a perspective of leading an independent life there and handling the responsibilities that will be expected and entrusted to you. If this is not the case for you and your partner, then it might be best to just live somewhere else where both of you are foreigners and have equal opportunity of finding jobs, making friends and building a life … some kind of neutral ground.

Chinese women are usually very dedicated to their relationships and committed to make it work at almost all costs. This might lead them to make decisions which will put them on a less comfortable spot in the relationship. They might also find themselves tempted to go through this inconvenience in silence as not to disturb the harmony of the relationship. As a man, you should always give your Chinese woman room to express her ideas openly. As a Westerner, you might even have to teach her how to do so. Pay attention to the balance of your relationship and make sure that you both can always directly benefit from the course of your decisions.

What do you think? Is contentment the most important factor to making cross-cultural relationships work?

Would you also like to write a guest post that is somehow connected to the topic of this blog? Send me an e-mail at chinaelevatorstories{at} I reserve the right to refuse publishing guest posts for any reason.

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