When West marries East

Updated: 2013-02-13 11:03

By He Na (China Daily)

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When West marries East

Doug Meehan and Tian Yixue (Esha Meehan) suggest the way to refresh a transnational marriage is to have a genuine interest and appreciation of their partner's culture.

Love marathon

Their relationship began in Beijing in 2003 when the capital was shrouded by the fear of SARS.

"At the time both of us were students in Beijing Foreign Studies University, and we met at a farewell party for French students. We did not fall in love at first sight, but contact never stopped since then," Bourdaud said.

He then moved to South Korea for work, but due to visa requirements he had to leave the country every three months. He often flew to Beijing for a short stay and Sun was the person he visited every time.

"We always had a lot to talk about and gradually I felt a great tug at parting and I realized that love is coming," Bourdaud said.

At first, Sun didn't want to be his girlfriend, but he insisted on pursuing her until she finally said yes on Sept 29, 2004.

"The decision also changed my life, as I moved to China," Bourdaud said.

"Many Chinese people think the French are the most romantic guys in the world, but to tell the truth, I am not romantic at all. I first proposed to her without flowers or a ring and was rejected."

Their relationship as lovers lasted another four years. "Though we didn't register, we lived as husband and wife. We gradually found that we couldn't live without each other," Sun said.

The first failure gave him a lesson, so Bourdaud made sure he planned the second proposal properly. He chose Sun's birthday in 2009 and used rose petals to mark a route that led to their bedroom, where a laptop on the desk was playing a video that recalled their story.

"The video ended with an instruction to turn around and I thought he must be holding a cake. But to my surprise I saw him holding a big bunch of roses and a ring. I tried to think of something to say but I drew a blank, and my heart rate sped up," Sun said.

"I succeeded," Bourdaud said with a smile. "We only had one wedding, in Beijing. It was really unforgettable and even I was moved to tears when the host recalled that we overcame so many difficulties."