My family and my DH have a long history of conflict. I think it stems from the fact that DH's family is very...anglophone (we'd say they're "blokes"). The few family members of DH that I've met seemed very stiff and difficult to get to know; I felt like I was trying to warm up some ice cubes! Also, his family is blended and never really talks about anything beyond surface issues, while my family--on both the French and the Viet side, is very involved with each other (I'm still in touch with my 20 or so cousins). His family history reads like a soap opera and he barely speaks to his sibblings...in the past he's shut them out completely of his life for many years, so he's comfortable with the idea of telling off family. I, on the other hand, am not. Family is everything to me.
My family is very...different from DH's (I'm reluctant to say that it's very "French"...it's just very passionate and involved). I'm an only child and my parents spoiled me lots when I was younger. They were also very involved in my life until I left Montreal to go live in Toronto. After that, our relationship was long distance and rather touch and go.
My father is Viet and his notion of family is very different from DH's notion. He sees no problem dropping by our place unannounced and getting involved in things DH considers very private. He thinks that one should do things for one's family, even if it's uncomfortable, because it's one's duty. My mother, though she sometimes disagrees with my father, is very French and is quite emotional about a lot of things.
Since we moved back to Montreal so I could be closer to my family (my dad recently had a heart attack), DH and I have had numerous conflicts which I think could be attributed to culture. Here are just a few:
- Respect to the elders: this is totally an Asian thing and DH *really* disagrees with it. He thinks that respect shouldn't blindly be attributed to someone just because they are older than you.
- Disciplining someone else's child: in the Viet culture, if a child misbehaves, it isn't unheard of for an older sibbling or cousin (or aunt/uncle) to step in and discipline the child. DH, being very proud of having raised DSS on his own and having passed down his own values to him, finds this inacceptable. On one of our visits to Montreal, DSS (in jest) told his father to f*** off. My father immediately reprimanded him and said that it wasn't acceptable to speak that way to one's father. DH was very insulted and told my father never to discipline his child again...ugh. My father now gets DH's parenting style and holds his tongue whenever DSS steps out of line.
- Family involvement: DH used to get really frustrated whenever my family and I would organize activities and simply include him in them. He's quite a loner and wants to be able to opt out of activities which my family and I think everyone wants to partake in! I guess we were so used to doing everything as one big happy family and we didn't think about DH's likes and dislikes. Nowadays, I pass everything by him to prevent conflict.
- Talking about something you said wouldn't be talked about: I think this is either a French thing, or it's just my family. DH likes to be able to set limits on the topics of conversation, mostly because my folks just stick their noses in everything. They mean well but it causes a lot of drama. Once my folks promised not to broach a particular subject and then they turned around and just talked about it because they felt like "they couldn't hold it in any longer". Oi...that turned into quite a disaster.
Anyhow, I was wondering if anyone else has experienced these culturally-related conflicts with their partners?