Tag Archives: marriage

marrying a Japanese woman

Advice from a white guy for living with a Japanese woman

I’ve been married to my Japanese wife for over 7 years now, and I’ll going to be flat out honest with you other white guys when I say that it hasn’t been what I expected it to be. Maybe it’s because I grew up deep in the heart of the Midwestern US about as far from Asian culture as one could possibly get, but for some reason or another I thought that living with a Japanese woman would be amazingly simple and calm experience. Almost zen-like. I couldn’t have been more wrong.

Don’t misunderstand me. I love my wife very much, and I would do nearly anything for her. But the idea that Japanese women (or any Asian woman for that matter) are more feminine and respectful of men is a flat out lie. In the 7 years I’ve been married to her, each passing year brings a deeper and much more asserted understanding that women are women – no matter where on earth they come from. They are all emotional, illogical, tempered, and confusing. There. I said it. Men have their bad traits too, and that’s not the point of this article (so I’m not going to get into it), but quite frankly, Asian women are no easier to live with than women from any other race.

As a matter of fact, I’d like to go down on record as saying that it can be even MORE difficult at times to live with an Asian woman. At least Japanese woman, which is where all of my experience is focused around.

Here is my advice for living with a Japanese woman:

1). Do what she tells you, or your life will be a living hell.

Since women are women no matter where they come from, you can expect a Japanese woman to carry (and sling) the same emotional baggage similar to most other women. Girls are just emotional creatures. BUT…the plot thickens with a Japanese woman, because she will be even more easily frustrated with you because of your crude western ways. Don’t kick things with your feet. Don’t say “no” too aggressively. She’ll tell you to fold your dirty clothes before putting them in the laundry basket. She’ll tell you all these things, and she’ll get emotional and combative about it when you tell her it’s hard to change because it goes against your western culture.

2). Learn to be neat and organized.

If you’re a naturally sloppy kind of guy, this one is gonna be tough, I know. Japanese culture is all about cleanliness and order. Your dirty feet, that pile of dirty clothes in the corner…these are the enemy to Japanese women, and she will nag you relentlessly to change your ways. Trust me – life becomes a lot simpler when you stop resisting and clean up after yourself.

3). Be prepared to defend western culture (and then realize how silly it is in the process).

As an American, I’m fully aware of how messed up our culture – and the government – can be at times. Unfortunately, as an outsider, my wife is even more baffled by it than I am and she loves to complain about the ways of the US and our view of the world. While I fully agree with her points most of the time, she lacks the perspective of being born and raised here and not seeing things from my point of view. This usually results in me inadvertently trying to justify the actions of the US government (which is silly) and this just adds fuel to her fire. More often than not these discussions end abruptly as I give up and walk out of the room in frustration.

Sometimes I wish I could go back in time with the knowledge and understanding I have now, before we got married. I probably had set my expectations too high for marrying a Japanese woman, and I wasn’t mature enough to realize that it wasn’t going to be any better or worse than marrying a woman from another culture.

I do love her greatly though, and the past 7 years have been more good than bad. I don’t regret my decision at all. It’s been a fun challenge to say the least!

Green card advice

3 things to keep in mind once you are married and have your green card

In my last post I talked about the three most important things my Japanese wife and I learned about the US green card application process. It was grueling at times, and I was totally sick and tired of filling paperwork by the time it was finished. Of course it was totally worth it though, as it allowed my wife to live with me legally here in the US.

It was such a great feeling for us both to get that green card in the mail, and it immediately erased our concerns about being able to live together here in the US. We assumed that once we had the card, there was nothing else to worry about and we could live happily ever after – but there are some things that we’ve encountered over the years that we weren’t expecting. For the record, my wife has had her green card for 6 years now.

Here’s what my Japanese wife and I learned about being a US green card holder:

1). You have to keep records of everything.

And by everything, I literally mean everything. When you are first issued a green card, you are basically being put on probation for two years. This means that once two years have passed, you will be required to submit proof to the US government that you are not a criminal and you are still married (and therefore legally able to be a green card holder). Since my wife’s green card is dependent on her marriage to me, a US citizen, we must remain married and living together for her to keep that card.

The government wants proof of that. Pictures, documents, letters from friends and family – they want as much info as you can provide to show proof. We didn’t submit enough proof the first time, and our renewal application was rejected (which I’ll admit was a bit scary to get that letter). Once we submitted more pics and letters from friends and neighbors, our application was accepted and the probation period of my wife’s green card was lifted.

We will be required to provide the same proof at the 10 year mark, so you can bet that we are documenting as much as we can to make that next review period to go that much smoother.

2). Green card holders must carry it with them at all times.

We learned this one the hard way, while coming back from a vacation from Paris in 2011. My wife realized that she forgot to bring her green card while we were at the airport in Paris ready to hop a flight back to the US, and it took a lot of begging from the US consulate there at the airport to let her on that airplane. Once we arrived in the US, the immigration officials weren’t so nice with her. She was detained for about an hour, given a stern talking to, and was fined nearly $500. Ouch. Lesson learned.

3). The name on the green card does not need to match what is on the passport.

My wife decided to use her married name on the green card, while leaving her passport in her maiden name. This has caused zero problems for her traveling abroad and then re-entering the US. At first she always brought the marriage certificate with her just in case as proof of the name change, but US immigration officials have never once asked to see it. They already have the information in their database obviously.

Marriage and green card difficulties is one of the biggest hurdles western men face when dating in Asia. Yes, it can be a bit complicated at times, and you have to be organized, but the benefits far outweigh the negatives IMHO. Don’t worry so much – pursue that Asian woman who likes you so much and make her your wife. I’m living proof that it’s one of the best decisions you’ll ever make!

US Green Card

The 3 most important things we learned while applying for my wife’s green card

Ok. So you’ve been successful with the online dating thing and you met the woman (or man) of your dreams. The next step (if you’re brave enough) is marriage, which is undoubtedly an exciting and amazing situation to be in. I remember the feeling when my wife and I decided to get married, and there really isn’t any other feeling like it. We were scared shitless, but also felt like we were on top of the world and that our lives were now “complete”. I met her on JapanCupid by the way – a dating website I’ve already talked a lot about and highly recommend.

So now that you’ve decided to take the plunge and get married, the real challenge begins. Marriage between a citizen of the US and a citizen of another country is a very complicated thing, and I highly suggest you look into the current requirements before proceeding. The act of getting married isn’t any more difficult than it would be if it were two persons of the same nationality, but being able to actually live together is where things get tricky.

Most western men who meet women online in Asia (or anywhere else) start the application for the green card before getting married. This is a long process, often taking years to complete. But you don’t actually have to do it this way. My wife and I decided to get married before we actually had the green card, since she was already in the US on the visa waiver program. We were thrilled to find out that we could do it that way, but it wasn’t the most interesting nugget of info we learned during our application process.

Here are 3 really important things we learned while applying for a green card:

1. You will need an immigration lawyer to guide you through the process.

I’m the kind of guy who likes to do everything himself, and I was determined to do all the research and paperwork for the green card on my own. It didn’t take more than a day to realize that applying for a US green card is a complicated process and any mistakes could delay or even cancel the application. We didn’t want to run the risk of screwing something up, so we hired an immigration lawyer to guide us through the process and do all the paperwork for us. It was money well spent.

2. The amount of paperwork required is frustrating.

All I can say to you is this: be prepared to fill out stacks of paperwork spanning months at a time. Also, this paperwork will require a lot of research and documentation on your part to fill in things like work history, places you’ve lived (with addresses, phone numbers, and references), bank account history, etc. The background checks are thorough – for both the husband and wife.

3. You can screw the application process up really bad and things will still be ok.

We made one huge mistake during our application process that I thought for sure would immediately cancel our application: we MISSED our final in-person interview with the immigration officer. This interview is the last step of the green card application process, requiring you both to meet with an US immigration officer who will review your application and ask a lot of questions. My wife and I accidentally wrote down the wrong date for our appointment, and we missed it completely. We were a no-show, and once I realized what happened I thought for sure we were screwed. Long story short (and a lot of phone calls and apologizing later), we were granted a second interview slot. But they warned us if we missed it again the application would be cancelled.

The process of applying for a US green card was a very tiring and stressful experience (all that paperwork!), but it was completely worth it in the end. Our application took eight months to complete, but that was back in 2009 so I’m not really sure what the timeline is now. But we powered through it, and my Japanese wife is now a certified permanent resident of the US with the green card to prove it.