Groom from Overseas: An American Bride's Perspective, Part 1
Most stories that have I been told or have heard are mostly about older men going over to Laos, getting married, and bringing their young wives back to the States. We rarely hear about a woman going overseas and doing the same thing. At least it's less common and I don't hear too much about it. What I have seen are Facebook videos of Hmong women going over to Laos and looking for their boyfriend, who don't "exist". They are cat-fished, have lost a lot of money, and have their hearts broken.
I was able to interview an Hmong American bride who actually went overseas, married someone over there, and was able to bring him to the US. Read her interview below. This will be part one of a two part interview. We are lucky and will also have her husband's perspective (coming soon).
First off, thank you so much for doing this interview. We appreciate it very much. To start off this interview, how old are you and your spouse? Have you been married before?
I am 48 years old and my husband is 33 years old. We have a 15 year age gap. Yes, I have been married before.
How long have you been married?
We have been Hmong married for 5 years and legally on paper for 2 years in America.
How did you guys meet?
We met on Facebook. Surprise, Surprise. We met on Facebook through a relative of mine. He was friends with her on there. My husband ended up friending me on Facebook. What caught his eyes was my smile.
Ha, ha, ha. So, he was snooping on Facebook and that’s how you guys met? When did you meet him in person? What did you think of him?
In December of 2015, we met in person. I went over there to Laos. My first impression was, “I’m not quite sure because of people talk a lot about men over there using older American women for money and stuff.” I was skeptical but when I met him, he was a different from the norm or what I thought. We have had a long-distance relationship for two years, so I felt like that made a difference. My husband never asked for money, even when I met him in person. He used his own money because he had a job.
How long were you in Laos? Did you spend the whole time with him?
I was there in Laos for a month and a half. We spent most of the time together. My husband had a job, so he to go to work, once he was able to take time off, we did spend most of the time together.
Did he meet you at the airport?
No. He did not meet me at the airport. I got there in early December and had to wait 5 days to see him. I went to pick him up instead because he had to take the bus to meet me.
That's funny because usually it's the other way around. Let's move on to the next question. How does Hmong American women marrying men overseas affect the men who live in Laos?
I don’t know how it affects the men who live in Laos, but a lot of them want to come over here to America because they want to experience what America is like. Some of them want to start a life with someone, start a real life and not play around. It’s heartbreaking to say, but majority of them are running off doing whatever they want, and they are not with the person that brought them to America. That’s kind of sad.
That is sad to know that it happens. Jumping from that question to this one, do a lot of older men pursue the younger women there?
Yes, I would say. A lot of women over there are young. The younger ones are not married. Most younger women there, 15/16 years old are already married.
Are there a lot of divorce people there?
The people I stayed with while I was there visiting are still together and are in a monogamous relationship. As for the other Hmong people in Laos, I’m not sure about the divorce rate.
What did a lot of people say when you went to Laos? How did the people react? Any negative comments? Thoughts on that.
Well, many people thought I went over there to date younger men. But a lot of people didn’t know I was already dating and talking to someone. I wasn’t interested in anyone else. I did tell people that I’m getting too old and I was there just here to visit family. Many people’s first reaction was “You’re there to find a boyfriend.”
Yes, people said that I was so nice to bring him over. When they find out that he's younger than me, they say, he's going to leave me after he gets all of his papers and his citizenship. They warned me to be extremely careful and if he does anything weird or hurt me in anyway then to send him back to Laos.
I guess they are honest and don't want to see you get hurt.
But I told them, we'll see. What happens will happen. What's he going to do? I can't force him to stay with me if he doesn't want to. You can't force someone to love you if they don't.
That is so true and I agree with you. There usually are some type of marriage ceremony. Did you have a ceremony there?
Yes, we did. We had a simple Hmoob ceremony at my Uncle's house. My husband's family came and to nqeg tsev has (meaning they came to ask for my hand in marriage). There were three witnesses from my side and my husband's side. We killed a pig and had a small Hmong wedding at my Uncle's house. He didn't have to pay my bride price because I didn't want them to collect so basically I was FREE.
I think you were priceless, that's why you didn't have them pay a bride price. Moving on, we all know that marriage takes a lot of work and is not easy. You guys met on Facebook, are married, and was probably looked down upon. What’s the hardest thing that you have had to overcome or are working on in your marriage?
Communication. It’s hard for me. I don’t speak a lot of Hmong. Not only that but financially. The people over there are poor and they don’t have bills like us in America. I feel like, they can save better for that reason. My husband and I have conflicts because of the way we are using the money. That’s something we are struggling with, but we are working on it. Hopefully he starts to understand, that here in America we have bills to pay and we must pay those bills to survive. It is not like over in Laos where you work and you’re able to save.
Now, that your husband is in America, what’s your relationship like?
I would say our relationship over all is good. We have a good understanding of each other. In our relationship, we plan things out together. We are building our relationship and I can tell it’s stronger than before.
Do you keep in contact with your in laws?
I do. We do. We call them. We help his family over there. He still has younger siblings. They are in school. They will have to find a job on their own. I believe the youngest one is finishing up college soon.
Are you happy?
Yes, I’m happy.
Does he have friends in America?
No, he does not have many friends, but he is getting to know all my nephews and nieces. He is hanging out. He wants to meet all my sister’s kids and brothers’ kids.
Before, we end this interview, do you have any advice to ladies going over there?
Just be careful. Many of the men over there are just out for your money. Stay away from students. Students who are in white top and black pants. Find someone who is working. My husband was working so I didn’t have to worry about supporting him.