China Elevator Stories

How I Turned My Husband’s Life Upside Down

My husband’s life changed greatly after meeting me.


Ruth Silbermayr
Ruth Silbermayr


In the fall of 2012, my husband is a single guy in his thirties. He has broken up with his girlfriend only a few months before and isn’t looking for a new one, so he says. He plans to further his career and to stay single for a while. Until 2015 to be exact. This is the year that he plans to look for a serious relationship.

In 2012, he is 31, an age at which many Chinese parents would like their kids to get married rather sooner than later (if they aren’t already married, that is). Friends suggest introducing him to girls, and although his mother asks once in a while if he has met someone special yet, and suggests that he should look for a woman born in the year of the ox, he doesn’t have any intentions of doing so. He wants to earn some money first and take off work later for a few months in 2014 to travel across China.

These are his plans. Until he meets a woman born in the year of the rabbit – me.

In August 2012 I often have to go to the company to deal with all the paperwork that is needed to apply for a work visa. One time I have to wait for F who is in charge of helping me with all the paperwork. While I sit in an empty room waiting for her to copy some forms, one employee comes by and starts chatting with me. He asks me if I can speak Chinese (a rhetorical question, he already knows I do) and when I say yes, he asks about my name and where I’m from and tells me that he has been working for a foreign company for 5 years. His boss? Austrian.

In the summer of that year, I am living in an apartment not far from the company. On a hot summer day, I go to a nearby supermarket to buy vegetables for lunch. I put the vegetables on the cash desk waiting to pay. When I look up, I look into the face of the very employee who has chatted with me a few days before. He has just paid and gets ready to go. At first, I don’t recognize him. I look away, only to look at him again, wondering why he’s still looking at me. He says my name using German pronunciation. Only then do I realize where I have seen his face before. My head turns red, not just because I haven’t recognized him but also because he can say my name in German while I don’t know anything about him yet. He shakes his head slightly, kind of telling me that I don’t need to be embarrassed. After exchanging a few words, he goes back to work and I go back home to prepare lunch. Little do I know at that time that I will be married to this very guy less than a year later.

I don’t start work at the company until December of the same year. December 2012 is when I turn my husband’s life upside down. We are still strangers in the summer of 2012. In the first week of December 2012, we’re coworkers. In the third week of December 2012, we become boyfriend and girlfriend. On the last day of December 2012, we become fiancé and fiancée. And half a year later, well, you all know how that story ends.

Has your life ever changed greatly after meeting someone?

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