Section II: Living in China continued—Dating, Sex, and Relationships
Obviously, there are many foreign men married to Chinese women who do report a reasonable degree of marital satisfaction. The advantages to being in such a marriage, from the perspective of the foreign man, warrant some discussion.
Aside from the obvious advantage of having a live-in interpreter (and not enough can be said about that), another significant advantage includes the fact that the foreign husband would have access to and all the benefits of the wife's guanxi network (see unit Mianzi and Guanxi). Thus, if the wife comes from an affluent and powerful family, and the family is accepting of the husband, this most certainly would give him a distinct advantage over those foreigners who are not married to Chinese women or who are married to Chinese women of a lower social status.
In addition to being a language interpreter, a Chinese wife—especially if she is well-educated and sophisticated—will also serve as something of a cultural interpreter as well. She can often preempt cross-cultural "misunderstandings," by reaching out to members of both continents, as a welcomed mediator.
As a Chinese wife will necessarily have access to information that is only available in Chinese (particularly job announcements or job-related information on Chinese-only websites), she will have the ability to open all sorts of new doors for her foreign husband that would otherwise not be available to him. The Chinese wife of one particular friend of mine serves as his personal manager and negotiates all contracts on his behalf with key people (whose English might be quite poor)—often with excellent results. Certainly, a Chinese wife, who is much more attuned to cultural nuances and vicissitudes, will intuitively know how to read critical non-verbal cues during negotiations, as well as during other social occasions.
Of course, in terms of opportunity, a Chinese wife is a "door" that can potentially swing both ways. If the wife is particularly unsophisticated, poorly educated or arrogant (or a combination of the three), she can do far more harm on behalf of her foreign husband than good. I am personally aware of one foreign teacher who actually lost a good job opportunity (which had already been promised to him) once the private school owner had the chance to meet his new Chinese wife. So intense were the owner's negative reactions to her, the owner decided that she wanted absolutely nothing to do with "that woman" and withdrew the previous offer of employment.
As a general rule, it generally works to the foreign teacher's advantage—from the perspective of employment opportunities—to have a wife (Chinese or otherwise), as it suggests emotional maturity and stability (see warning in chapter on prostitution). However, only the foreign husband can determine, based on prior experience, whether his Chinese wife is ultimately an asset or a deficit in terms of managing his social and professional affairs.
Note: For at least one foreign man's perspective on the advantages and disadvantages of having a Chinese wife (in China), we recommend that you take a look at the reader submitted article "Pros and Cons of Being Married to a Chinese Woman" available on our companion blog. It contains several insightful points that many would agree with.