In continuation on a topic of interest discussed in an old blog, Vlogging about Personal (International) Relationships, I wanted to discuss a new topic of interest on age gaps in international couples. A few, but not all of my readers are in international relationships and are either dating, engaged, or married to a foreign individual. But, how many readers are dating, engaged, or married to a boyfriend, fiance, or husband who is 4,5, or 6+ years older in age?
Having studied academically in graduate school about the rise of multiculturalism and international families/residents in Korea I have always retained an interest in the growing diversity of international couples, particularly those between foreign Asian men and foreign women.
From my past thesis research on Korean foreign residents, I learned about the rise of international couples and the increasing ratio of more Korean males ages 25-35+ dating & marrying foreign women than Korean females dating & marrying foreign men. The wave of openness to date and marry foreigners in Korea is still viewed as a recent phenomenon, which began a few decades ago. This is not only taking place in Korea, but across many Asian nations ranging from China, Japan, Taiwan, India, etc.
While the rise of international couples is a positive step forward in multiculturalism I was a little surprised to discover a number of large age gaps within international couples. While age is just a number among international couples that include foreign Asian males the age gap between the men and women seemed to be quite large. Why the interest in age gap? Many foreign women whom are dating, engaged, or married to foreign Asian men(25-35+) tend to be young foreign women 20-24 years in age & come from highly-developed areas (i.e. Western/Central Europe, South Africa, or North America). At such young ages these women are marrying early, having children early, and in some cases not pursuing a defined career for themselves. Coming from developed nations were education and career pursuits among women is strongly supported led to some surprise that a number of these young foreign women settled into a traditional Asia family lifestyle – where in Asian societies the husband/eldest male in the household provides all of the support.
It was somewhat surprising in my research findings to see a growing rise in young Western women(20-24yr) marrying foreign Asian males(25-35+) when they had yet to decide what they ultimately wanted to do with their own lives. Speaking a little from my own personal experience, as well as, as a career-focused female by that age(20-24yr) I had so many dreams that I knew I wanted to pursue. Being open-minded that dreams, goals, and plans can change when one falls in love I wonder what were some of the major reasons for these women tying the knot before gaining experience in or pursuing a career.
In my continued research on the topic I have come to learn that international couples, specifically those with foreign Asian men are quite diverse. Some of these couples match in age, ambitions, and focuses and some do not. Some of these couples have stark age gaps(*of 5 or even 10 years), with only one partner employed & reside in a traditional male supported household. Some of these couples married a foreign partner for love and some married a foreign mail order bride(*primarily Asian men and Asian women from the countrysides).
It recent years the rise of international couples appears to be gaining ground across Asia. While this is something I view positively I wonder if the lifestyle many younger foreign Western women enter into with foreign Asian men is as idealistic as it seems. Compared to modern western countries where households are managed by both men and women in many parts of Asia the male:female ratio of equal status households still remains quite low. In addition there are cultural expectations for foreign women entering into Asian male households and communal Asian families. Since first beginning my research 3 years ago I have seen & come across so many international couples. Through my encounters I have personally wondered if the foreign women dating, engaged, or married to foreign Asian men would be successful in their own pursuits or become future (traditional) housewives.
As a foreign Western female dating a foreign Asian male, me and my boyfriend do not fall into the group of international couples with large age gaps. Truthfully, we are only one year apart in age. As millennials we match in age, ambitions, and focuses including supporting each others career pursuits. Our relationship I feel might turn out differently in respect to future ideas of household life. Being closer in age me and my boyfriend each hope to support each other rather than follow traditional practices in Asia. Just the same I do not want to become a future housewife and give up my career goals.
But, in my research findings as well as my own experiences I’ve come to understand that age gaps between international couples can affect and influence how the couple’s relationship going forward develops. For example, some international couples end up maintaining traditional norms & practices while other international couples choose to follow more open & modern practices.
Discussing more in depth how age gaps in international couples fundamentally plays a defining role in affecting and influencing how the relationship develops will be part of a future discussion later on.
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