Matthew Lee is a British chef who is married to a Khmer woman in Cambodia. He has been living with his wife for over six years now. They have two kids and live a good life. Their marriage is an example of a cross-cultural marriage and is something that is becoming increasingly common in the world. However, it is a controversial topic in history as well as the present.
Cross-cultural marriage is an unpopular discussion amongst the older generation throughout Cambodia. It refers to a marriage that involves two people from different races and cultures.
In some parts of the world, including Cambodia, people who marry someone of a different race often face judgment. This judgment often falls on women, “One time when we were at the market, a woman just come up to my wife’s sister and started to ask did she see Nou and me holding hands walking in the market? She asked are we married?” said Matt.
Women who are married to a foreigner in Cambodia are often considered to be a person who only thinks about money and wealth. This idea has been rooted in many people’s minds through many generations.
In 2011, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Cambodia set a law which states that foreign men who are married to a Khmer woman needed to be younger than 50 years old or at least have a monthly income of $2,550. The ministry’s reasoning was that “people who are getting married should look like proper couples”, based on The Phnom Penh Post. This law was established a few years ago, but it is not completely clear whether people are adhering to this law.
Even though there are people who criticize interracial relationships, there are still others who support a person’s right to marry someone with a different race without judgment or criticism.
“I told my parents I had got engaged by phone. They were so happy when they found out.” said Matt.
Through the engagement and marriage process, both families offered a lot of support to the couple, despite the fact that their relationship may be looked down upon by others. “I think I was so lucky to marry Nou. We weren’t being forced to do things that we don’t want to do. We could think of when we want to get married and have children and were be able to raise our children with two different cultures without any worry,” Matt responded