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Dh and MIl speaking language in front of me in my own home - Page 2

post #21 of 56
You know...many years ago I dated a French Canadian..(I know I know...sorry )
We would often go out to dinner with a group of his friends, all of whom spoke both English and French. They would respectfully speak english at the start of the meal, but as the drinks flowed they would slowly lapse back into French. These dinners seemed to go on forever, just sitting there listening to everyone talk to each other.

Anyway it occured to me at one point that speaking in another language when all parties do not speak it is the exact same thing as two people whispering in each other's ear in front of a third person.
post #22 of 56
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by yokosmile View Post
I say this as gently as possible - it's not all about you. Your MIL loves her son just like you love your children. It's completely understandable that she wants to engage him in their mother tongue. If they wanted to include you in their conversations they would. Let them enjoy each other just as I am sure you'll want to enjoy your grown children one day sans their spouses.
I understand that you are saying this gently :-) I just need to say a few things and vent since it's a safe place to do so. It's not directed at you.


If it was all about me, I would not have spent months in India during our marriage and put up with a lot of very uncomfortable travel situations with a small baby. I love my dh and have given up so much for him, and he for me. We have agreed to raise our children in his faith (which is at the moment going about as well as teaching them the language, unfortunately), and every time we can scrape together the $ we go to visit his family in India or bring one of them here to visit dh. and they stay for months and months.

They accepted me into their family and it's been 14 years of marriage. They have been warm towards me and appreciated the way I am open to Hindu culture and religion.

I don't mind him spending all of his waking moments not at work with his mother because their time is precious. I don't mind them disappearing all day today for temple and then shopping while I watch the kids. I don't mind him staying up until the wee hours, going to bed alone with many things unsaid so he can spend time with his mom. Really I don't mind. I don't have my mom in my life and I know how precious that is to both of them.

However, as one who is living in the house, making allowances to give up my kitchen and part of our small house for MIL, looking the other way with the finances so he can make her comfortable and send gifts back to his family, all I ask is that in my own house when we are all together in the same room, we speak the same language.

I am not sure any inter-cultural marriage can be successful without compromise. He has compromised so much by moving here and becoming a US citizen, being away from his parents and sister and culture and having his children raised with different influences. I should just grin and bear this for another month until she goes home. I will be sorry when she leaves because I like her, but I really am getting tired of being a person whose is not included every single day and most conversations in my own home.
post #23 of 56
I can completely relate, and this is a bit of a sensitive issue for me. My DH and MIL spoke in Russian for five years in front of me. I was able to sit in on some classes and learned the basics, but of course couldn't follow their every word. In the beginning of our marriage, my FIL (American) sat me down and asked me why I was so upset about them speaking Russian in front of me - was I afraid they were talking about me?? Eventually I was able to follow enough that I was satisfied that they weren't speaking about me (wrong), and I got over it.

Then this last January, things exploded between DH and his mother. She was (is) a very manipulative person. I had come to the place where I just didn't engage or allow myself to get upset over anything regarding her anymore, and DH had never seen anyone interact with his mother that way. Anytime he would come and talk to me about some outrageous thing she said to him, I would ask him non-confrontational, non-blaming questions that would point out the unreasonableness of the situation ("Why would someone think it's ok to presume to find someone else a job in another city, if there was no other indication that that person wanted to move?"), and also direct him to appropriate responses ("Have you told your mother that you don't intend to move to XYZ city to be near her?"), etc. He slowly began to see her manipulations for what they were, and last January he had just had enough. She sort of snapped when she saw that he wasn't bowing to her and began going off on him, in Russian. She was throwing accusations around wildly about him, me, our DD, anyone in her path. She would twist words and meanings, and when DH confronted her about it, she would say things like, "Well, that is just a Russian expression. You obviously aren't a real Russian anymore." She was very clearly using language as a weapon, something that I hadn't been sure of before. Later DH told me that his mother had all along been talking about me in Russian, and that he was sorry he hadn't stood up for me before then.

I hope this is not your situation, where your MIL is intentionally leaving you out of conversation, and your DH doesn't bother to remind his mother (or believe) that you are his wife and deserve respect. I hope that it is just a situation like other PP have described, where this is just their special way of relating to each other.

I guess the question is - do you feel that your MIL is respectful of you? Or do you feel that there is some sort of strange power struggle there for your DH's loyalties? If this is the case, have you brought this up to your DH?
post #24 of 56
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Pirogi View Post
I hope this is not your situation, where your MIL is intentionally leaving you out of conversation, and your DH doesn't bother to remind his mother (or believe) that you are his wife and deserve respect. I hope that it is just a situation like other PP have described, where this is just their special way of relating to each other.

I guess the question is - do you feel that your MIL is respectful of you? Or do you feel that there is some sort of strange power struggle there for your DH's loyalties? If this is the case, have you brought this up to your DH?

wow that is tough!! I'm so glad your dh finally saw the light! Luckily my MIL is not that manipulative. A little bit, yes, but aren't we all? She does not have control issues or anything. I do feel that dh resorts back to more traditional men's behavior with his parents and family-- like letting his mom do all the cooking and cleaning. I won't put up with that and he knows it and helps me with that stuff a lot more. I let him enjoy himself, and I let her enjoy taking care of her son and showing her love in that way. I just feel like I'm excluded from a secret club in my own house.

I am going to talk to him and bring up the deaf child example. I will ask him, if we had a deaf child and we both knew sign language and so did the child, how would that child feel if we used spoken word 90% of the time, laughed and joked and argued and this child was totally excluded? I hope that allows him to see my point of view.
post #25 of 56
You mentioned a temple and it sounded not-too-far away. Is there someone there who could tutor you in Tamil?
post #26 of 56
I am the foreign one in our multicultural relationship so I can relate to your DH in a way.
I grew up learning English about the same time I learned my native language that I can't even tell which is my first language. However, in my family and among my friends, I've always spoken in Tagalog.
I immigrated to the US 5 yrs ago through marriage to my American DH. Whenever my mom comes to visit, DH is faced pretty much with the same scenario as yours. Yes, I do realize that it is extremely rude to be talking to my mom in Tagalog while DH is unable to understand it. And yes, DH took issue with it initially.
But here's my side of the story which DH has thankfully understood:

(1) I dearly, dearly miss talking in my own language. Except for a couple of Filipino parties every year, I really don't get to interact much with other Filipinos and even then because of husbands being around or that we have different dialects, I don't get to speak in Tagalog much. English has become our common language.

(2) Because Tagalog is the language that we have always related to (between me and my family), it is our comfortable language. Even though we are fluent in English, it feels contrived to be addressing each other in such a manner. Yes, I am perfectly aware that I can address my mother in Tagalog when it is just the two of us, thereby not offending anybody, but with my husband around, addressing my mother in English almost feels stiff.

As a PP mentioned, it is the mother-tongue. I did not realize how big a part of me was the language I spoke until I was thrust into a situation where I am unable to speak it anymore. Any opportunity I can get to speak it, I try to take advantage of.

Another PP said that it's not about you and she's right (at least that's how it is in my case). For me it is just a need to reconnect with my childhood, my culture.
post #27 of 56
While I agree it is rude to speak in front of someone in a language, I also agree with this:
[QUOTE=yokosmile;15564982] Your MIL loves her son just like you love your children. It's completely understandable that she wants to engage him in their mother tongue. QUOTE]
Having lived a large percentage of my life in countries where my first language, English was not spoken, I can relate. I lived in Europe and the Middle East learned the languages of the countries. However speaking in a foreign language 100% of the time can be very tiring! There were times that I just wanted to speak in English. Your MIL and DH are just doing what comes natural to them. They have always communicated in their own language. Imagine having to speak to your kids in another language all the time!
Trust me, I can relate to how frustrating it is to be in the same room with when another language is being spoken and you don't understand anything! I have been there myself. At the same time if your MIL is otherwise nice to you, accepts you and you get along I would just let it go. You can always learn Tamil on your own. I learned Arabic on my own. Had I waited for my husband to teach me Arabic I would never have learned.
Good Luck to you!
post #28 of 56
You guys are SO much more patient than I am.

I'd be very passive agressive. I'd either put on my ipod, or turn on the tv while they were in the room.

Or just leave the room. (complete with the rolley eyes as I walked out) I'd tell the kids.. "come on, let's let daddy and grandma have their privacy".

I think you are being very nice by trying to work on your own attitude about this. I hope I can learn that kind of kindness.
post #29 of 56
Asking the OP to understand that the time her DH and MIL have together is precious is asking her to respect them. How is it possible to respect people who are blatantly not respecting you, your feelings, your house, or verbalized wishes? This sounds to me as though the OP is constantly being left out of the relationship with her DH and MIL.

I do not think wanted to have some human adult contact with her DH and MIL is being self centered. I also do not think that you are completely left to accept any behavior from someone because they offered to help you (IE MIL coming to help during a hard time for OP).

Sorry OP, this sounds crappy and lonely. I really wish your DH would understand and respect your feelings.
post #30 of 56
I agree. I mean, I can understand the "time is precious for DH and MIL" but it is STILL disrespectful to exclude someone from the conversation or any type of interactions b/c of the language barrier.

This is also the OP's opportunity to get to know her MIL better and develop a strong relationship with her but she is not getting the opportunity b/c MIL and DH is always talking in another language excluding her. Its just wrong.

I once visited a friend of a friend's house whose had a grandparents visiting from another country (I can't remember where) but this friend told me that her grandparents knew nothing of English OR sign language but they always tried to include her by gesturing and would remind others to include her. I witnessed this first hand and I was very impressed/touched. Their time with their daughter was also precious too but they found the time and made sure that they included their deaf grand daughter and us (my friend and I) during this interaction.

Its about showing respect and courtesy of other people in your presence.
post #31 of 56
Quote:
Originally Posted by MommatoAandA View Post
Asking the OP to understand that the time her DH and MIL have together is precious is asking her to respect them. How is it possible to respect people who are blatantly not respecting you, your feelings, your house, or verbalized wishes? This sounds to me as though the OP is constantly being left out of the relationship with her DH and MIL.

I do not think wanted to have some human adult contact with her DH and MIL is being self centered. I also do not think that you are completely left to accept any behavior from someone because they offered to help you (IE MIL coming to help during a hard time for OP).

Sorry OP, this sounds crappy and lonely. I really wish your DH would understand and respect your feelings.
I agree with this totally! I have been in the same situation. My husband and his family speak Arabic - I only know enough words to figure out more-or-less whether they are talking about me or not. When you are talking about a visit for a few weeks, it is one thing - but her MIL is going to be here for the whole summer, and it sounds as though she is left out of the majority of conversations from the time her husband gets home from work until bedtime. How do you maintain a healthy relationship with your spouse if you don't converse at all basically for months on end?

Can you all work out a compromise? Can you set up "English only" times - like maybe during dinner, so you can all have a meal together? And then you can leave them be for the rest of the evening, or something, so they can talk Tamil.

Also, I hope you are taking advantage of grandma as a babysitter so you get some alone time with your husband. This is something we are very bad about doing when MIL comes for her (long ) visits, but can really help you feel less disconnected.
post #32 of 56
How well does your MIL know english? What does your husband say when you ask him to speak english privately?

I totally get how irritating it is when other's speak a language you do not know. My MIL will frequently whisper to my DH when I'm in the room (in the middle of a long list of complaints, so I don't make a big deal out of it). I know from your posts that you have made a incredible effort to honor your husbands culture of origin-- so no digs on you for that.

I definitely would not bring it up to your MIL, but I might bring it up to DH again.

What about this compromise (this is what happens in our households sometimes)-- When the 3 of you are in a conversation together, DH speaks in English, but his mom can speak whatever she likes. When the 2 of them are alone together or in a different room, just leave it. It's much easier to understand than to speak, and it's also easy to pick up on half a conversation. With a little help from DH, the conversation can be enjoyable for everyone.
post #33 of 56
I think you've been very nice about all of this. I know that I would not. I can tollerate a lot of things, but being excluded like that- by DH and MIL...in my own home??? nope, I don't think I could handle that. I think I would make a scene and point out that your Kids are also loosing out on hearing conversations between them as well. I clearly remember conversations between my dad and granny- and it brings back fond memories for me to remember the way they interacted with one another.

Look, you are being very flexable and kind. They need to show some respect to YOU as well! Yes, she's helping you out- that doesn't mean that you don't get to be talked to the whole time she's here! And you and DH need to maintain YOUR relationship while she or other family members are visiting! It needs to becaome a priority for DH and MIL to speak english.
post #34 of 56
I can SO identify! DH's parents stayed with us for a few weeks last year (I first met them last year), and yeah, I didn't understand much of what was being discussed in my house during that time. I especially loved it when I'd become aware that I was the topic of conversation, look up from whatever I was doing, and all three would be looking at me and grinning, without any offers to translate. Gee, thanks. This also happens whenever we visit DH's sister's house here in the states. I feel very out of place at the parties they throw with all their friends. Oh, and movie nights with DVDs that lack subtitles are my favorite.

I felt very awkward at first when I didn't know his family well, but since getting to know them, my chosen method of coping with these situations is to just not care. I tend to be very laid-back about things, and I simply choose not to be offended by it. I know they love me and don't mean to exclude me, but this is their time to speak in their own language, something they don't get to do all that often in this country. I sit there and listen, trying to pick up what I can through language immersion and the English words scattered throughout their conversations. We're all sometimes surprised at how well I'm able to follow what's being said.

I honestly think in DH's case, since he was raised speaking both languages, when he really gets going he doesn't even realize what language is coming out. The first time I met his sister, DH was telling this apparently hilarious story that had them all howling with laughter. Later on, when we were alone, I asked him to tell the story again, and used some of the hand motions he had used while telling it to remind him. He seemed very confused by my request and said, "But I already told that story!" He had no idea he used his language the entire time!

I'm sure when we visit my family, even though he understands our spoken English very well, we still use sayings or little inside jokes that make no sense to him. I think when you're around people who truly speak your language, idiosyncrasies and all, it's hard to speak anything else.
post #35 of 56
Quote:
Originally Posted by yokosmile View Post
I say this as gently as possible - it's not all about you. Your MIL loves her son just like you love your children. It's completely understandable that she wants to engage him in their mother tongue. If they wanted to include you in their conversations they would. Let them enjoy each other just as I am sure you'll want to enjoy your grown children one day sans their spouses.
I certainly hope that the OP will equally love her children's spouse enough not to consistently exclude her from casual conversation at a constant when she is capable of speaking the spouse's language.


Quote:
Originally Posted by enigo View Post
Anyway it occured to me at one point that speaking in another language when all parties do not speak it is the exact same thing as two people whispering in each other's ear in front of a third person.



I have to say that this topic really burns my bottom because I had similar issues with my ILs. They were ABSOLUTELY 100% capable of speaking English and they DID speak it regularly. Inside the home, they ONLY spoke Italian. The "kids" (people of my generation) didn't all SPEAK Italian, but they at minimum understood Italian and the elders at least understood enough English that they could carry on conversations with the "kids" that were Italian on one side and English on the other. But hey--at least I understood half the conversation.

When there were guests in the house, they spoke English (except the grandparents). But I wasn't a guest: I was a relative.

The thing that got me was when they did it in my own home speaking about problems with my own house as they helped us renovate!!

It wasn't that they weren't capable. They were TOTALLY capable. They just had absolutely no desire to engage me and involve me in their conversations or share their stories with ME. The grandmother--who seriously can barely make an English sentence--was the only one who would occasionally stop to make the effort to speak English to me. She LIKED me. She WANTED to share with me. She WANTED to hand down advice or stories or just whatever to me. She wanted to draw me into the family.

So I have a hard time reading this. OP--I remember the days when you were first pg and your travels to India, etc. (we met on another board and you're the reason I'm here at MDC ). I completely understand that you value and respect their time together and their appreciation for what you've done to be part of the family. I "get" feeling like you don't mind all the time they spend together although I have to say that I'm not sure I could deal with it as long as you have to the extent that you have. I just think that given all of that, it's not unreasonable to expect them to speak English in front of you; or to feel that they don't really care to share with you when they only speak Tamil despite your requests. To me, that just doesn't add up. And if it were me, I would just outright tell them that it's hurtful to think that they wouldn't share their conversations with you--regardless of where you are (but especially in your own house). Of course, I'd likely be biting my tongue like you are about it and then suddenly snap.
post #36 of 56
Thread Starter 
Thanks again for the replies and the support.

Well, I snapped finally. Oops. That was yesterday, and my MIL (who, like I said, is a genuinely nice lady) immediately apologized and took all the blame. She even said it was her fault for getting my dh started speaking in Tamil since he normally spoke English in the home. I felt bad for snapping after her apology, but at the same time I hope they finally take my feelings seriously.

So today they have spoken only English when I'm in the room, and when I leave or when dh is in his mom's room they speak Tamil and that's totally fine with me. I hope it lasts . . . I kinda doubt it but at least I have a few days' relief.

As far as my MIL speaking English-- because of British presence in India for so long, most people speak English very well there if they are educated at all. English is one of the two official languages of India, the other being Hindi. My MIL attended English speaking schools from an early age and is very fluent in English. She reads mostly English magazines and books (she likes Nora Roberts! LOL). So really there's no excuse for not speaking English in front of me.

Now if I could get a bit more quality time with dh . . . I think I may steal him for a couple of dates. We went to dinner already and that was nice.

The only one in the whole family who does not speak English is their 80 something year old grandmother. And she made an effort to learn little phrases just for me and the kids, which I thought was really sweet.

Heather nice to see you again!! Half of us are gluten free and half of us are dairy/soy/nut free. Crazy huh? Oh, and we are also meat-free.
post #37 of 56
Thread Starter 
double post
post #38 of 56
Is it horrible that I'm glad you snapped? Only because it got everyone on the same page and it's better now.

Quote:
Originally Posted by USAmma View Post
Heather nice to see you again!! Half of us are gluten free and half of us are dairy/soy/nut free. Crazy huh? Oh, and we are also meat-free.
HAHAAAAAAAAAAAA!!! Well, after your youngest's (is it Nitara?) dietary issues I am so NOT surprised! I'm so glad she's better; and that you are all healthy... and now happy. Hugs, hugs and more hugs to all of you.
post #39 of 56
Quote:
Originally Posted by USAmma View Post
As far as my MIL speaking English-- because of British presence in India for so long, most people speak English very well there if they are educated at all. English is one of the two official languages of India, the other being Hindi. My MIL attended English speaking schools from an early age and is very fluent in English. She reads mostly English magazines and books (she likes Nora Roberts! LOL). So really there's no excuse for not speaking English in front of me.
If I could speak for myself and it could be the same for your MIL, I am very fluent in English as well. I learned English the same time I learned Tagalog and save for a couple of subjects, our medium of instruction in school is in English. I don't believe I've ever read any other book in Tagalog except for 3 books in high school which was required reading (and even then, I had great difficulty with it because of certain terminology used). In fact, in terms of vocabulary and grammar, I am quite confident that I speak/write English better than my native language.

However, it is not a matter of the ability to speak it but rather the dynamic between two people having a conversation. Switching languages drastically changes the dynamic between me and the person I am talking to. It really just isn't about the language itself but rather what it represents between the two people communicating and relating to each other. At least that's how I perceive it.
post #40 of 56
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by grumpybear View Post
If I could speak for myself and it could be the same for your MIL, I am very fluent in English as well. I learned English the same time I learned Tagalog and save for a couple of subjects, our medium of instruction in school is in English. I don't believe I've ever read any other book in Tagalog except for 3 books in high school which was required reading (and even then, I had great difficulty with it because of certain terminology used). In fact, in terms of vocabulary and grammar, I am quite confident that I speak/write English better than my native language.

However, it is not a matter of the ability to speak it but rather the dynamic between two people having a conversation. Switching languages drastically changes the dynamic between me and the person I am talking to. It really just isn't about the language itself but rather what it represents between the two people communicating and relating to each other. At least that's how I perceive it.

I can see your point. I'm sure that Tamil is a much more casual and intimate language for them and English is more formal. It would make sense to speak it with family and close friends. As long as everyone in the room could be included.
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