Asian IL's disliking white DIL's - Mothering Forums

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Old 07-24-2008, 01:26 PM - Thread Starter
 
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It seems like every white woman I know who is married to an Asian man has in-laws that are rejecting of and not very nice to her.
Can someone explain why this always seems to be the case?
If the DIL were Asian, would it be different?

I have an Asian dh and his family is not nice to me but they're also very dysfunctional and probably wouldn't be nice to anyone he married.
My dh's sister married a white man who most of the family is pretty nice to.
so are there gender differences, too, i.e. an asian daughter can marry a white man but a white woman won't be accepted for an asian son?
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Old 07-24-2008, 07:34 PM
 
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Oh, this is a complicated issue. IME there is a big difference between how white SILs and white DILs are treated, but there is also a difference between how the DIL married to the first son and how the DIL married to second or third, etc sons is treated though those aren't as great as the differences for SILs. There are expectations for the first son and his wife that are not expected of the other children, so there is less preasure put on the SILs.

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Old 07-25-2008, 04:43 PM
 
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I agree with eepster that this is a complicated issue and it really depends on the family. Some families are open minded and forwarded thinking and some are still stuck in the old ways of thinking.

I've seen this in my own familiy, where I have some male cousins who were pressured to marry someone from the same ethnic background whereas the women didn't get any pressure at all and many of us married outside our race.

Asians are patriarchal and there is a lot of importance placed on sons. They not only carry on the family name and traditions, but if they happen to be the only son or the eldest son there is even more pressure that they will eventually lead the family and take care of the parents in their old age.

It's not as big of a deal who a daughter marries because it's traditonally seen as she is leaving her family and marrying (and becoming a part of) into her husband's family. There is even a Chinese phrase for a daughter marrying that translates literally into English as "Leaving Home". Now the woman is part of her husband's family she is to follow their ways/traditions and if she's married to the only or eldest son it's her responsibility to assist her husband in caring for his parents.

Of course this is a very old fashioned view and there are many forward thinking Asian families, but unfortunately there are still those who cling to these ideals. I would imagine the families that cling to old ways believes that a white DIL isn't going to do what an Asian DIL would do because she didn't grow up with those traditions/beliefs and so there is instant dislike or disapproval which is unfortunate because not all Asian DIL's believe in that stuff either.

My one male cousin's (he's the only son and child, which ups the ante) fiance never had a chance with my Aunt. Unfortunately I have one Aunt who chose to dislike her son's girlfriend before ever setting eyes on her just because she was white. The rest of my family and I adore my cousin's fiance and it's just sad that my Aunt has to be difficult and make it obvious that she doesn't like or approve of her. What's really silly is my Aunt's expectations that my cousin's fiance should follow Chinese customs regarding their wedding when her own son doesn't even do that.

I imagine for many families around the world it's the comfort that there will be less conflict due to differences and the reassurance that their family will have continuity with their ways/traditions/culture being carried on in future generations. Many parents want their child to not only marry the same ethnicity, but often religion, education level, social standing and income bracket.

I had one Greek friend whose family drove her batty because they not only wanted her to marry a Greek man, but they insisted that he be from the same village (and her family was from a small island) and if that wasn't a possibility (because it really wasn't and that leaves her with a very small selection) they actually had a list of other villages that they deemed to have "acceptable" future son-in-law's.
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Old 07-25-2008, 05:17 PM
 
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In my mother's family (Japanese), the white wives/SOs are generally treated better than the white husbands.

According to my mom, my late aunt and youngest uncle, their parents really expected them to marry other Japanese-Americans. None of them did.

My mother was actually disowned for about 18 months after she announced that she had eloped with my dad and was pregnant with my older brother. At that point the only family member that maintained contact with mom was my aunt. The only thing that got Mom "back into the family" was a visit from my grandmother's favorite sister.

My parents have been married for 34 years... for the first 20 years, my grandmother was pretty hostile to Dad, and would repeatedly bad mouth him in front of me. I'm still kind of bitter. Yeah, my dad has his faults, and he's not the professional type that my grandmother wanted Mom to marry, but he has always treated Mom with respect.

My aunt (2 years younger than Mom) dated white men exclusively... there was a lot of friction between she and Grandma because of that and other things. She married a white man, one with a history of drug abuse and a criminal record... Grandma and Grandpa found out about that less than a month before she died. They didn't kick up as much of a fuss about it as they did with Mom.

On the other hand, my uncles are both with white women, who have been treated in a much more friendly manner than my dad ever was.

Of all the children and grandchildren, I'm the only one who has married a Japanese-American. My grandmother loves my husband, whereas my sister's white husband has gotten treatment similar to my dad's.

I'll admit right now that my grandmother is a bigot though.
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Old 07-26-2008, 12:43 AM
 
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I'm not white, but I had a pretty messed up experience with a Chinese/Cambodian ex-boyfriend a long time ago.

We met in college and he at first would never let his family know about us. We wouldn't even go close to where he lived to date because someone from the community may find out about us and tell the family. It was horrible. Then I started trying to be friendly with the family, but there were quite a few people who were not exactly nice about me. His mother kind of knew and told him that we had better just be friends because if it was more than that, he would be out of the family. She basically didn't want any of her children to marry anyone other than a Chinese (of the right region, "tribe", and language) or Cambodian. Heck even my friend who is from Laos had a hard time for many years. I know that they wanted to get married sooner, but my ex's brother was torn about being kicked out of the family. They finally just got pregnant ("oops", I think it was totally on purpose), and when the mother said that she would have to deal with it and for my friends now husband to just dump her, he packed his bags. The mother eventually conceded and supported the marriage. I've been broken up with my ex for I think 10 years, but I'm still good friends with his SIL my friend.

The moral of my story is that when the Asian parent(s) are really old fashioned, they won't accept pretty much anybody for their sons. Your IL's just don't like you. If my ex had insisted on marrying me, he would have been disowned. And I was nice to the family and nothing less then courteous, respectful, and cultured (African and Asian culture are similar in many respects).

I'm sorry you have to go through this. That's why after the ex I insisted on interviewing future boyfriends to see if they had any issues with me being African American and if they did, would they be strong enough to just let the family go. If not, I wouldn't even let it get past the first date and they would be put in the friend file. I hope that things get better between you and your IL's.

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Old 07-26-2008, 03:08 PM
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I'm white, and I adore my Asian ILs...they drive DH crazy, though. They did not want us to date at first, but eventually realized they were powerless in influencing DH's choice of wife. At our wedding, my FIL embraced me and said, "Welcome to our family." My ILs have been wonderfully kind to me...but I will say that I noticed their enthusiasm went up a notch after their grandsons were born. My ILs were honored when I took their last name after my marriage, and I make it a point to thank them for their many kindnesses. My MIL told me once with tears in her eyes that I am the best mother she's ever known.

My DH's sister, on the other hand, hates me and resents DH deeply. She works very hard to turn my ILs against us.

I will also say, I know plenty of folks who have bad relationships with their ILs. I'm not sure it has much to do with culture.

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Old 07-26-2008, 03:57 PM
 
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I think this is less an issue of culture and more an issue of individual beings.
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Old 07-27-2008, 12:23 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Thanks for the replies. I agree that the issue is definitely complicated.
I do understand the cultural component. It makes sense to want to have a DIL who can understand you and your cultural values.
The thing that I dont' understand is why the prejudice doesn't lessen over time. I would think that over time they would grow to see the positive aspects of the DIL. This doesn't seem to happen with the people I know.
And how can the "need" for an Asian DIL can cause a family to disown their son just because he marries outside his race? I have heard of this happening and even seen it with friends of dh's family. It's just an extreme reaction.
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Old 07-28-2008, 02:36 AM
 
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I agree with misswerewolf and don't think it's a culture thing, but a personality thing. I'm asian, and my white ILs hate me whereas my very traditional asian family embrace my DH wholeheartedly and try to include him in everything, even explaining cultural references. Sometimes they go overboard, like the time they invited their (white) neighbors to a small family wedding to make DH feel more comfortable so he wasn't the only non-asian person there. But they at least try.

My white ILs though don't try and have told DH time and time again they don't like they fact that he married a "non American" (to them American means white).

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Old 08-03-2008, 09:20 PM
 
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Although you may not be married to a Korean male you still might want to check out this blog. Kimchi Mamas are mostly Asian women married to Korean men but one mother who blogs there is a white female.

Here is her latest blog re-introducing herself.

http://kimchimamas.typepad.com/kimch...tion.html#more
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Old 08-04-2008, 12:07 PM
 
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Originally Posted by misswerewolf View Post
I think this is less an issue of culture and more an issue of individual beings.
mmmm, yeah. my husband is asian and i am white, and i love my mother in law. she is one of the kindest people i know, and treats me as if i was her own daughter.
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Old 08-06-2008, 02:12 AM
 
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My husband is asian and I am white. My inlaws love me. They drive me nuts sometimes but we love each other. I have never felt anything but.

There are some interesting points brought up and I did, in fact, marry the second son. A lot less pressure is placed upon DH in general. BIL is expected to do so much more, he didn't leave home until he was married, still lives close by, is responsible for their retirement. My ILs are in ways traditional and in many ways very progressive. I do believe either son could have married anyone and so long as there was love, my ILs would have been OK. My SIL is also asian though, so I can't be completely positive that my BIL would have gotten the same blessing DH did.

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Old 08-08-2008, 04:36 PM
 
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My Dh is Japanese and I'm white. When we first started dating he warned me that his family/parents might not like the fact I am white. I guess they gave his last girlfriend (who he almost married) a hard time. They were never mean to me always nice. Although my stock did go way up once I had my DD. My Dh was the baby of the family and the only boy. Both of my SILs married white guys. It's really interesting when we all go out together. I like seeing the look on peoples faces trying to match us all up.
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Old 08-10-2008, 06:52 PM
 
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While I hesitate to generalize, I think I can contribute to the discussion:

My ex husband is from Japan. I never met his parents and frankly was terrified of his father even from thousands of miles away just by the stories ex told about him. I did however get a suspicious and judgmental vibe from his younger brother and a sense from ex's friends that there was no way in heck I could possibly fill the roll the wife of the oldest son of a Japanese artisan was supposed to take on. Plus there're so many cultural rules that are foreign to women born and raised in the US that I was constantly doing something unbelievably gauche as I tried to learn the language and just exist among them, and they took politeness very very seriously. Sigh. I can't say I'm surprised to hear that other white wives of Asian men are disliked by their in-laws.

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Old 08-14-2008, 04:58 AM
 
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\Sometimes they go overboard, like the time they invited their (white) neighbors to a small family wedding to make DH feel more comfortable so he wasn't the only non-asian person there. But they at least try.
that's kind of cute. at least they were trying to be thoughtful.

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Old 08-22-2008, 09:03 PM
 
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I'm white and my MIL is Korean. Hubby is half Korean, so you'd think MIL would have been more open to a white DIL, but no. Right before DH and I met, they were getting together the money to send him over to Korea to introduce him to a bunch of nice Korean women, since he was getting so old (28).

In our case, she isn't my biggest fan because I'm not a good Korean DIL. I don't call every day to just say hi and ask how she is. And that's really the biggest thing. Instead, I do things for her, I offer hubby up to her when she needs help. I spent 1 and a half hours on the phone with the IRS for her, after her husband died. Do you KNOW how hard that is? 90 minutes with the IRS?

And it wasn't good news, either (I thought it would be), instead I had to be the bearer of the news that her husband hadn't filed taxes for 6 years, and the estimated taxes plus interest and fees was going to be upwards of $50K. I found the best way to tell her, I used language I thought she would understand, I did my darndest to help her understand.

And that was after 2 months of giving up my life and dealing with DS running wild at MIL's, to help her get everything in order after FIL died. She didn't miss a pension check, didn't miss a SS check, got every last bill taken care of, notified everyone immediately, and did not buy the 12 certified copies of the death certificiate that the ARRP suggested, so I saved her 9 certified copies' worth (at $18 each that's a lot).

After 2 months of that and 90 minutes with the IRS, literally not 5 minutes after I finished explaining, she asked if I could promise her something. I had been done in by that before, and I refused to promise, had her just ask what she wanted from me. She said she wanted me to call every day, just for 5 minutes, so she could tell her sisters and brother that I treat her like I'm a good Korean DIL.

I burst into tears, told her I coudln't do that, that I prefer to HELP her with actual things not just be superficial, and I left with DS.

She wants a Korean DIL to do the things she can be proud to tell her family about. She *had* a good DIL, and now she doesn't. Sigh, she still does, I still call her insurance company (we share an agent) when she needs that, I make suggestions from afar and so on, but I won't visit her any more and I don't call her. She pushed me too far, after I had sacrificed myself for a woman in mourning and in shock.


I do have a bit of extra favor in her eyes, though, since I managed to produce the exalted grandSON. And even though he didn't get a "good nose" (she used to pinch hubby's nose as an infant to make it more "white"), he manages to look like her in face shape and cheeks, but he has paler skin (that tans!) and red hair, with amber eyes. So he is very favored, even though he's far naughtier than her granddaughters (who are older).


The situation is also complicated by the fact that hubby is the second son (middle child), BUT the oldest boy was from a different father AND the oldest boy is gay. (talk about being booted from the family...took 5 years for MIL to let him back in her life after he was outed by an immediately-became-ex boyfriend) And she refuses to tell her family in Seoul and Busan. So there are less pressures put on DH b/c he's not the oldest boy, but there are extra pressures put on him b/c he's the continuation of the line (BIL isn't interested in children) and he's the only bio-boy of FIL.

It's all very confusing.


It's interesting, b/c I do think that her family back in Korea is more open than she is. I think it's similar to, and forgive what sounds superficial and just read with an open mind, Irish pubs in the USA. Traditional Irish pubs in America are typically opened by people who came from Ireland decades ago. So they have hearty, non-veg, not-so-good, food. But a pub IN Ireland is quite different! I found tons of veggie food, really good food, in Ireland at your most typical pub. The Irish pub owners in the States have gotten stuck in the past.

So I think that in my case, MIL is stuck in the way it was when SHE left Korea. I don't think her siblings care if I call every day. I think they care that I help her when she needs help, that I care for my son in a very traditionally Korean way (nursing, carrying, wearing, family bed), and that I'm kind to them when they visit.

So I think with my MIL it's a combo of older Korean values that have gotten stuck in the individual known as MIL.
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Old 08-24-2008, 08:45 PM
 
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Taiwanese american here married to a korean american. Trust me, it's not that asian mil's have it out for non-asian dils. PITA mils seem to be an international issue, regardless of race. My kmil does not like me, she wanted my DH to marry a korean girl. Funny thing is that bil married a korean girl and well, mil and sil get along HORRIBLY. I think I can say with confidence that my mil would prefer me over my sil, the coveted korean dil that she wanted so badly, now she is eating it, b/c she thought a kdil would be so wonderful, but she didn't live up to mil's stds (I don't think it is humanly possible to live up to my mil's stds to be quite honest, she really expects to be treated like some sort of royal goddess). So, please do not make a generalization if you have a horrible mil, who just happens to be asian, and you are non-asian and feel like you are treated horribly d/t you not being asian. There is favortism (usually oldest son), BUT you can run into that issue with mil/dil of different race/ethnic combos of all sorts. It's not something just specific to asians. As with mils of all races, asian mils are not immune to acting crazy and being dysfunctional.

Oh, and to make an observation. If my DH would have married a white girl, I know my mil would have treated her a LOT better than she treats me. She has made comments before that at least if her son married a white girl, the children would have beautiful skin and big eyes. Koreans do not often look kindly upon other asian ethnicities (DH and I joke that it is the korean superiority complex), so my mil thinks that all other asian ethnicities are inferior to koreans. She seems really smitten with white ppl though, always admiring their looks, I think that if she had a white dil she would treat her very nicely and brag to her friends that she has a white dil who birthed her beautiful kids with perfect skin and eyes.
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Old 08-25-2008, 12:54 AM
 
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This is a strange issue. In the American culture, it is seen as OK to have a Caucasian male marry or date anyone of any ethnicity . . . but it is less OK for an Black/Asian/Hispanic/whatever man to marry a white woman.

Specifically with Asians, this is because of the feminization of the Asian race. Stereotypes and lore give certain "races" certain characteristics, such as the hyper-masculinization of the black "race" or the feminization of the Asian "races."

This can be seen in terrible stereotypes about size of penis; Black men are attributed with large penises, and Asian men are attributed with small penises. All of this is ridiculous, but unfortunately these categorizations and generalizations exist.

Asians are seen as mysterious, quiet, inscrutable, and obedient. Asian men are placed into a very small margin. Sure they can Kung-Fu fight, roll around in opium dens, wield katanas, lisp with buck-teeth and little round glasses, but they can't get the girl.

As a Chinese girl, I didn't intend on falling for the Euro-Mutt Iowan military brat . . . I wanted to marry a good Chinese man (or at least half-Chinese). My mother tried to tell me " . . . he doesn't fit in with the family" which meant, "He's WHITE! You can't date him!"

Now she's the proud grandmother to a little Hapa baby, and I don't think she could wish for anything to change. He's got her wrapped around his finger.

P.S. Mags, that's messed up. I'm Chinese-American, and when I traveled in Mainland China, our family was treated way worse than the white tourists in the same tour group. It's weird how the Chinese can be totally arrogant about Chinese being the absolute best everything, yet fawn over white foreigners (and I guess your Korean MIL has some of those same double standards) . . . I'm sorry your family situation isn't better.
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Old 08-25-2008, 03:06 PM
 
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P.S. Mags, that's messed up. I'm Chinese-American, and when I traveled in Mainland China, our family was treated way worse than the white tourists in the same tour group. It's weird how the Chinese can be totally arrogant about Chinese being the absolute best everything, yet fawn over white foreigners (and I guess your Korean MIL has some of those same double standards) . . . I'm sorry your family situation isn't better.
Yes, we've been to chinese restaurants where we were treated like dirt, but the server (older chinese man) would kiss the butts of the white customers. We left and left a penny on the table, which I hope that he understood what that meant. It was very obvious that he was treating us worse on purpose b/c we were asian. What is really stupid is my DH and I are good tippers, so oh well, he missed out. Maybe he thinks that the white customers will tip better, but from my exp (my mom worked at her friend's chinese restaurant when she needed help) most ppl tip REALLY poorly, below avg at asian restaurants, b/c they think they can get away with it. My mom was really upset that ppl usually left no tip of maybe a 5% tip, and this was not a buffet kind of restaurant.

My parents and their friends (taiwanese) have had bad experiences in china, being treated very meanly, and as you said, they noticed that the same ppl fawned over white foreigners. One of my mom's taiwanese friends said something about how this one chinese woman (in china) started berating her saying things like, "look, you must be from taiwan, the way you dress, the expensive purse you carry, etc." You know they would never say that to a white foreigner. My mom who is very passive got into an argument one time when a chinese telemarketer called her to get her to switch her long distance. When my mom told her she wasn't interested, the woman started to bitch out my mom and saying derogatory things about taiwanese ppl (my parents' last name is one of the top taiwanese sir names, so it's easy to figure out they are taiwanese), the telemarketer was mainland chinese and my mom finally had to hang up on her, b/c she would not back off. I mean, this was a freakin' telemarketer, who called my mom and then basically picked a fight with her! Once again, this kind of behavior would not even be an issue with white foreigners.

In college, I took mandarin (my mandarin is not very good, I can understand ok, but my speaking skills are really bad) and the prof was mainland chinese and berated the cantonese and taiwanese for speaking, "lousy" chinese (on the first day of class when he saw that there were some of us who were of cantonese and taiwanese descent) and that shanghai chinese was, "the std." He also felt it necessary to tell all of us who were of asian decent taking his class that he thought that we were taking his class to get an easy A. He treated the non-asian students in class very kindly and treated the asian students in class like we were scum and pretty much ignored us for the entire semester, only catering to the non-asian students. I don't think ppl realize how common pan-asian discrimination/hate is...
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Old 08-27-2008, 01:30 AM
 
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I just got (re)married a couple of months ago to the oldest male child of a Chinese family. Parents are immigrants and can be pretty traditional. They treat me ok. I think the worse thing they do is talk to him while I'm there but ignore me until I speak up. I don't think it's meant to be totally rude, they just consider dh to be more important, I guess.

Actually, I think other things about me bother them more than me being white. I'm older (33) than my dh (29) (so old, in fact, that my FIL expressed concern that I wouldn't be "fertile", as in, I may be menopausal LOL ), I've been married before, and I have a child- but, he's a boy, so they also see that as good luck. Go figure. Now, they are totally great w/my ds, and treat him wonderfully, and they are usually ok w/me. If not, I stand my ground politely. Hey, I've done the in-law rodeo before, I'm not scared!

They torture poor dh, though. Or, really his mom does. I guess he's never quite lived up to their expectation of the 1st son role, and his mom never lets him forget it.

Dh's younger brother also married a white woman.

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Old 08-27-2008, 03:01 AM
 
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Originally Posted by misswerewolf View Post
I think this is less an issue of culture and more an issue of individual beings.
I am white, "married" to a Korean man, and my mother in law could care less about my ethnicity. I think she was just happy her son actually found someone at the old age of 26.
The "issues" we have are normal mil issues and don't stem from race. I suppose there's some lack of effective communication stemming from coming from different backgrounds, but no real problems.

After reading pp, I feel like I should be calling her more- I wonder if she wishes I would? We really never talk and it would actually be nice to have some kind of genuine relationship.

It's funny, but I always "forget" I am in a multicultural family- it just never is too much of an issue.
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Old 08-27-2008, 07:26 PM
 
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So I think that in my case, MIL is stuck in the way it was when SHE left Korea. I don't think her siblings care if I call every day. I think they care that I help her when she needs help, that I care for my son in a very traditionally Korean way (nursing, carrying, wearing, family bed), and that I'm kind to them when they visit.

So I think with my MIL it's a combo of older Korean values that have gotten stuck in the individual known as MIL.
You said it, I totally think that many of the older generation (Korean or Chinese or whatever) who emigrate to another country sometimes are stuck in a time warp.

About 10 years ago my best friend (she's Korean) and I (I'm Chinese) took a trip to Seoul and we had such a blast. All of her cousins (and friends we made) were pretty amused at how conservative we were about many things. We on the other hand were really surprised and almost couldn't believe how cosmopolitan the younger generation was.
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Old 08-28-2008, 03:31 AM
 
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My Dh is Filipino and my ILs don't care for me either. They also don't like my caucasian SIL but they get along great with my Filipino SIL.

Part of it is a language barrier and part of it is their firmly held, and often spoken, belief that caucasians don't have strong family values. Seriously, they are the most racist people I have ever met. It's infuriating.
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Old 08-28-2008, 03:46 AM
 
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Interesting thread. How does one determine whether someone's experience is a result of individual personalities or cultural differences?
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Old 08-28-2008, 02:21 PM
 
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My MIL is Korean, and I'm white. I've been married to my KOrean dh for over 10 years. My MIL does NOT like me AT ALL. Neither does my Korean SIL (the only sibling of my dh, and she is older). I married an only son, and the youngest child of two. I had no idea what I was getting into at the time. Luckily I was in college at the time, and as soon as I started grad school, I delved into Korean American culture and intercultural marriages (reading, reasearch, ect.). This helped me get thru those first HARD 5 years. My MIL and SIL were horrible to me, in a manipulative, underhanded way. To my SHOCK, my dh didn't seem to notice. They treat him really well.

Unfortunately, as a result of my MIL and SIL's treatment of me during the first half of our marriage, they don't see us much now. We see MIL every 2 months or so (she lives a few hours away), if that, and we see SIL maybe once per year (she lives farther away). They are both upset about this, but they know they've made their bed with me and now they're lying in it.

About 5 years ago or so, I started standing up to them in a more direct manner. They didn't know how to handle this, and backed off somewhat. They didn't become "nice" or "loving", or treat me like "family", but they backed off somewhat. They don't like when I confront them, so they don't risk insulting me or criticizing me. But i know their dislike is still there, because whenever I let my guard down, it comes back. At that time, about 5 years ago, I stopped staying at their homes when we visit. So, I never stay at their homes -- they treat me worse for a longer period of time when I'm on their "turf".

Anyway.........my MIL came here when she was in her 40's. So, she's stuck in Korea Circa 1970's. She didn't return to Korea for a visit until FIL died here in the states. So she started going back to Korea for visits about 10 years ago. I'm sure she's surprised at how it's changed. I like when she visits Korea, because I hope she sees that things are not as traditional and conservative there as they were in 1976. I mean, culture is not static -- it is ever-changing. No matter what culture it is!
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Old 08-28-2008, 02:24 PM
 
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Interesting thread. How does one determine whether someone's experience is a result of individual personalities or cultural differences?
I think it's always a combination of both. But, people do work within their own cultural systems, whatever their personalities are. I know for me, it's been helpful to talk to a lot of other women who are in intercultural marriages with Korean men (online -- i can't find many around where i live). I find that the common threads in our experiences tend to turn out to be "cultural" issues, and the differences tend to be due to "individual personalities".

Good question, by the way. I think there's a lot of research being done about it.
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Old 08-28-2008, 03:46 PM
 
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Interesting thread. How does one determine whether someone's experience is a result of individual personalities or cultural differences?
Honestly I believe it's a combination of both. Cultural upbringing influences individual personalities and in turn the individual personality determines how the cultural differences are handled. Unfortunately some will just have the bunk luck of dealing with a terribly difficult individual person regardless of any cultural/ethnic differences.

When I starting dating DH (who is Polish/German/Irish) he told his grandparents (who were in their 90s) about me and they reacted so harshly when they found out I was Chinese that DH was stunned. They told DH that they absolutely would not approve of our relationship. DH was very upset and angry, because he had been telling me what wonderful people they were and then all of the sudden in his eyes they were secret racists. DH was very disappointed, but he resolved to defend and continue our relationship (one of the many reasons I fell in love with him ) and to tell them off.

I had to convince DH not to do anything and that I was not upset or offended by their reaction (which I believe was a result of cultural differences and their experiences) and that it didn't surprise me one bit. In fact I kind of expected it because I understood that it was their generation's cultural upbringing. I reassured DH that if they were truly wonderful people (a result of their individual personalities) that once they got to know me it would be fine. If not, then we'd figure out how to get over that hurdle.

It could've panned out differently had I been resentful and had a chip on my shoulder (which would be an individual personality issue) when I first met his grandparents. But instead I just pretended I had no idea how they felt and acted like myself when I first met them. The result was that they grew to love and adore me and I them and we enjoyed a very close relationship until they both passed away last year and I miss them still.

You have to think carefully before you write off something/someone as just being a difficult person no matter what. If they have relationships like that with many in the family, well you can pretty much figure it out. I have friends who had very difficult relationships with their IL's and what seemed like they were just dealing with an impossible personality. But later it turned out that it was really a result of cultural differences and the lack of truly understanding the cultural difference.

We might often think we're doing what we should and that we're accepting and understanding of someone else's culture. But maybe after some truly careful and honest reflection we find that we really could be doing more and that we're not really being as understanding because it's just so different from what we know.

Sometimes it doesn't take much to make a relationship turn around, it depends on how much you're both willing to give. I've seen relationships magically turn around when one decides to put themselves out there even when it went against their cultural grain of how things were/should be done.

But then again I've also seen it where there are those who try very hard to understand, give in and be the bigger person and it's gotten them nowhere.
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Old 08-28-2008, 04:07 PM
 
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Very thought provoking thread.

I believe that both culture and individual differences come into play.

My brother (Colombian descent) is married to a Chinese woman. I think she's the best thing that has ever happened to him. My mother has accepted her more than any other woman my brother has brought home.

My aunt is another story altogether. She basically told me that she disliked my dh because he does things the "America (translation =white way)" She's said it was going to be a shame that the my brother's child is going to have chinky eyes. I mean the racist crap goes on and on.

Sure there are definite cultural/individual differences that we all have to sort through but at the end of the day isn't there something to be said for just acting kind??
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Old 08-28-2008, 08:01 PM
 
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Originally Posted by pokeyrin View Post
It could've panned out differently had I been resentful and had a chip on my shoulder (which would be an individual personality issue) when I first met his grandparents. But instead I just pretended I had no idea how they felt and acted like myself when I first met them. The result was that they grew to love and adore me and I them and we enjoyed a very close relationship until they both passed away last year and I miss them still.

You have to think carefully before you write off something/someone as just being a difficult person no matter what. If they have relationships like that with many in the family, well you can pretty much figure it out. I have friends who had very difficult relationships with their IL's and what seemed like they were just dealing with an impossible personality. But later it turned out that it was really a result of cultural differences and the lack of truly understanding the cultural difference.

We might often think we're doing what we should and that we're accepting and understanding of someone else's culture. But maybe after some truly careful and honest reflection we find that we really could be doing more and that we're not really being as understanding because it's just so different from what we know. .
I'm glad that in your case your husband's grandparents came to accept you and love you. As you said, they probably are great people. Just curious -- Were they ever rude to you in person in the beginning? Your husbands parents -- how did they accept you? Did they accept you right away, or did it take awhile? How did they react to the engagement?

As I said, for the first half of our marriage, my MIL and SIL were horrible to me. I came to them with an open mind and an open heart. I wanted us to have a great relationship. However, years of insults, criticism, obnoxiousness, and treating me like I'm stupid and have no class, WILL wear a person down. It wore me down, anyway. Actually, it was after I had my first child, and they started to be manipulative with my child and try to get to me thru him that I started fighting back. When my husband and I got married, I didn't come to them with a "chip on my shoulder". They came into the relationship with a chip on their shoulders, actually. I was looking forward to having another sister and another set of parents when I met them. I opened my heart to them.

They have hurt me so badly and deeply over the years, that I won't risk opening my heart to them now.

You mentioned that sometimes we think we think we understand and accept another person's culture but actually we're not doing enough to understand it. There is a difference between understanding/accepting, and acting like you're Korean. My in-laws want me to act like a Korean daughter-in-law would act -- and a traditional one at that. Anything short of that is not enough for them. I undertand and accept their culture, and I think it's beautiful. I try to celebrate it with my children (my husband isn't as interested as one might think he would be in teaching them about Korean culture and Korean American culture -- so I actually try to take on the role of teaching both cultures and appreciating both sides of themselves).

I'm a white daughter-in-law in a Korean family. I think it's hard to understand what that role is like unless you experience it. My MIL and SIL are difficult people on top of the cultural difference and cultural issues. So that ads another dimension. We haven't "written them off". As I said, we do see them. However, because of their treatment of me and their attitude toward me and the fact that they will, in the drop of a hat, try to rope my children into their games, we don't see them often. To me, they are lucky we see them at all. I also do encourage my husband to take the children to see them anytime, without me, and stay overnight. He has done this a couple of times, but rarely. I wish he would do it more, so the children could have more of a relationship with them.
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Old 08-28-2008, 09:52 PM
 
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I'm white, and I adore my Asian ILs...they drive DH crazy, though. They did not want us to date at first, but eventually realized they were powerless in influencing DH's choice of wife. At our wedding, my FIL embraced me and said, "Welcome to our family." My ILs have been wonderfully kind to me...but I will say that I noticed their enthusiasm went up a notch after their grandsons were born. My ILs were honored when I took their last name after my marriage, and I make it a point to thank them for their many kindnesses. My MIL told me once with tears in her eyes that I am the best mother she's ever known.
I'm white, my husband is from a chinese/taiwanese family, born and raised in Kaohsiung, Taiwan. He is ALSO the oldest child, and only son. I think his parents had issues with me at first but they were in Taiwan and us in the USA and I dont speak chinese so DH was able to hide alot of their concern from me. They wondered if I was like american girls in the movies, just playing him to leave him later. But they must be modern thinkers, because they allowed themselves to get to know me and very quickly fell inlove with me. HIs whole family likes me alot.
HOWEVER its my white family that felt concerned that he was chinese. They did not accept him until recently. And some of them to this day refuse to meet him, or associate with me. They . . . have problems. So Dh after 2 years and a baby on the way hasnt met the majority of my siblings, nor my father, nor any extended family of mine.
SOOOO basicly my advice to you is cling to the loving parts of your familys. Dont pay much mind to those that refuse to love or like you. And make the best of it! :-)

OH!! And Just so that you know, one of the things that I did that made Dh's family start appreciating me, was I started to learn chinese and have made it #1 goal to learn it fluently. I speak to them on the phone often in their own language. I think that this will prove to them that you are willing to adjust for them.
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