Co-written with Nga Vu – Second year candidate for Master of Science in Energy System Engineering program at University of Michigan.
Roughly 40,000 Vietnamese citizens married foreigners, including overseas Vietnamese or Viet Kieu, between 2005-2008 according to the statistics provided by the justice department of Ho Chi Minh City. Furthermore, about 92 percent of these marriages occurred between Vietnamese females and foreigner or Viet Kieu males, and of the husbands, 35.6 percent were Taiwanese. Because of this high percentage in Vietnamese women marrying the foreigner males, this article focuses on the reasons for Vietnamese women to marry a foreigner and leave the rest of the stuff for your own personal opinions.
- Seek for material comfort: From the delta in Vietnam’s south to small rural towns in the north, a growing number of young women are marrying foreigners, mostly from Taiwan and South Korea. They seek material comfort and more important, a way to save their parents from a life in extreme poverty, which many Vietnamese consider their greatest duty.
- Escape from the traditional culture: In the Vietnamese culture, women are educated to be nurturing, willing to sacrifice and wait for her husband even until they turn into stones. This expectation has shaped the Vietnamese women to be the most beautiful and respectful creatures on earth but at the same time it is a factor that somewhat contributes to the result of shaping the modern Vietnamese men into a lazy and macho type of man. Plus, the old conceptions of “Trong Nam Khinh Nu” and “Chong Chua, Vo Toi” have further put the weights onto the Vietnamese women’s shoulders to the point that some of them just wish for an escape.
- Less requirements from foreign husbands: The majority of Western men do not care much about the past of their partners. The brides are not required to get the approval from all of the husband’s family members. Western husbands usually don’t have restriction on the bride’s career, education level, family backgrounds, or virginity. For the Asian husbands other than Vietnamese, they don’t have many other choices from their own country due to “limited supply”.
- Life changing opportunity: A handful of young beautiful and smart Vietnamese girls who come from very much wealthy family also decided to choose a foreign husband over a local one. Their purpose is not to seek for a more wealthy life or to full fill their material/monetary needs. Rather, the opportunity to become famous and successful in a developed country is the most-driven force for them.
- Just to see what is out there: Some people are just tired of seeing the same things over and over again. They are curious about the outside world. Not everyone is capable to travel to even one part of the world and experience the differences. Marrying away is one way to do so with all of the life changing opportunities. It is common to see people who come back to their homeland after realizing what they see out there are not exactly what they want.
- To love and to be loved: This is the most obvious and simple reason of all. In fact, it is believed that all marriages ought be this way. Most women have gone through years of their life finding love, but in the end they happen to fall in love with a foreigner. Vietnamese or not Vietnamese, these women make decisions based on who and what they love.
Regardless of the reasons, most Vietnamese brides are highly dependent on her husband upon arriving to the foreign country. In many cases, the poor girls become the victims of some sort of human trafficking. We can discuss this topic in a separate article. For now, we have summed up almost every reason that we think a Vietnamese woman would marry a foreign husband. We may have missed a few, but would love to learn from you. Nonetheless, it is important not to judge but important to understand the circumstances of each situation that force a person to make such decision. Some people are lucky to be happy with their marriage, but bless to those who don’t. In the end, happiness comes with variety.
NOTE: The phrase “Vietnamese women marry foreigners” used in this article refers to Vietnamese women in Vietnam marry a non-Vietnamese or Viet Kieu husband.