I'm a newlywed. My DH and I are from different cultures. I grew up in a large but tight knit family where we just *love* hanging out with each other, not just my siblings but my cousins and 2nd cousins, etc. My DH on the other hand is an only child and doesn't really like his family all that much apart from his single mom.
We're living close to my family (by family I mean everyone not just my parents and siblings) and we would get invited to parties and such. We would go but I can tell he's uncomfortable. See, English is his first language and it's not mine or my family's. He says he likes my family fine but I can tell he's not really enjoying himself when we're spending time with them.
His reason is he doesn't feel like "investing" into getting to know my family because we will only be here for a few years then move back to the US. What should I do? I want him to enjoy spending time with my family. I feel like my family is trying even though it's hard for them to speak his language. And I can tell that to him, it's not enough. I don't wanna keep pushing him cause he already feels like he's outnumbered. I completely understand where he's coming from. He doesn't understand why our culture is like this. I tried to make him understand but I guess he just sees the negative in it (I do too, some relatives just using other relatives for their own motives, etc. It's the same everywhere, huh?) and not the positive that we stick together, very clan-nish.
I don't know. I'm torn. I love him so much and I just don't know what to do.
I'm sorry this is going on between you two .. but I am somewhat in the same boat ... my family LOVES spending time together, we seem to get together almost every weekend in the summer for cookouts, picnics, campfires, etc., it is just the way my family is ... my dh's family is not like that and it was a complete change for him when he came to live nearby my relatives ... luckily he is an easy going guy and we don't seem to have language barriers like your family and dh do ... as soon as he moved over to here (he was living in a different state then me and my family) he just seemed to accept that this is the way my family works ... eight years later I do get the occasional comment from him like, we ALWAYS get together, can't we skip this one weekend, and then we will and go off and do something on our own, but he knows how important family is to me, and he accepted that right from the beginning ...I know this wasn't much help, but I hope things work out for the best for you guys .... good luck!
Be sympathetic to him. Men are funny creatures when they're outside of their comfort zone. He's surrounded by a different culture, a different language, and has not yet found someone he can bond with.
What will probably happen is that he will find someone he can connect to with right before you move back here. And then, deep inside, he will kick himself in the butt for not noticing that person sooner.
And then, deep inside, you will laugh, shake your head, and sigh, "Men".
I am being understanding. At least I think I am. it's just difficult for me I guess. The man I love and people I love, why can't they like each other. hehe
The description of your husband fits my husband to a "T." Only child, distant from his parents, no other family. My family, OTOH, is loud, boisterous, and we get together for everything. We live about 2 miles from my parents and about 2 miles in the other direction from my sister, bro-in-law, and their three kids. LOL! We've been married for 19 years now and of course he is used to everything now, but in the beginning, it was very foreign and very uncomfortable for him! Give him time and drag him to the family functions but try to leave when he's ready. Hopefully, he will grow more used to the dynamics of a large family. And start having babies so you can have a large family WITH him!
Since you come from a close family, I can understand you wanting him to be a very big part of it.
But with my 30+ years of married life under my belt, let me assure you that it is perfectly ok not to have to do everything TO-GEEEEEEEEETHERRRRRRRRR.
My sister and I can sit at the ktichen table and talk for HOURS!!!! It's enhanced since we dont' see each other very often anymore, even tho' she's only an hour away. Hubby loves my sis and sis's husband, but doesnt' want to spend HOURS at their house. No big deal. I go visit my sis and he stays home. No one is offended. Everyone has a good time.
There are times he does things with his family and I can't make it or choose not to go. No big deal.
Now, if your hubby doesn't attend a function and your family DOES make a big deal out of it, then that's a problem and the problem is with your family thinking that it's MANDATORY for everyone to show up.
A good host/hostess does not make their guests uncomfortable. If he feels forced to attend, then he is being forced into feeling uncomfortable.
My FIL has this same problem with my MIL's family. They are French Canadian (my MIL was born there), and whenever her family comes to the US or they go to Canada, my FIL is miserable.
The reason....................even though the relatives from Canada speak perfect English, they refuse to speak it when they are together. My FIL is the only American in the family and doesn't speak a work of French.
In my opinion my MIL's family's behavior is ignorant to say the least and I don't blame my FIL for refusing to be around them.
My MIL thinks he's over reacting.
So my MIL goes to visit her family alone now (after almost 50 yrs of marriage, it never improved).
I wouldn't force your husband to be in a situation that he's uncomfortable with. I can see his side as well as yours. Hopefully you can come up with a compromise that works for both of you.
As indy said, it's really not fair if your family makes you choose between them and your DH by placing demands on you guys......after all he married you not the entire clan!
Thanks for the advice. We spoke last night and he said he just really felt bored because no one would talk to him or they're shy around him. I totally understand. I decided not to force things anymore and maybe just spend time with my family by myself. That way everybody has a good time. He said he could stay in our house and clean, which is always a good thing.
indydebi, yeah i think my family are just so used to spending time TOGETHER, ALWAYS. But I would let them know that he can't make it to a lot of family functions because it makes him uncomfy. I hope they'd understand and not take it against him.
dkelly, that's kind of the same situation. everyone here can speak English but not fluently and they get insecure.
why not order Rosetta Stone and see if he can learn a little bit of your language so that he can understand some of what is being said? I know he says he will only be there for a few years, but he should at least make an effort to learn some of your language so that in case you do have children and you teach them your language, he can also participate. I'm sure that you would want your children to communicate in your language to your family and not feel uncomfortable with them.
My DH and I are the opposite. My family only gets together on holidays and some birthdays. And it's never a "fun" occasion. It's more of a chore. I never cared to talk to any of my family until I moved to Europe. And now I only care to talk to my parents and one of my brothers.
My husband, on the other hand, grew up in a family similar to yours. He tried to get me excited to spend time with his family, but I just can't. It's not something I associate with fun. It's always awkward just because I'm not used to it. Now I usually just don't spend much time there. My husband will go and I'll go in the beginning, then after an hour I'll excuse myself and go somewhere else. He's understanding because he knows how weird it is for me.
Are you Filipina by any chance?
My DH is Puerto Rican, I'm half black, half Puerto Rican and boy, can I relate, in some ways, because my DH comes from a clan too. I keep telling them all they need is a grocery store and they can become a cult complete with their own compound.
I, on the other hand, come from a family of 5. We never hung out with extended family because we were always moving (both parents in the Air Force). So, when I get around my DH's family it can be overwhelming, but they try their hardest to include me in the conversations and spend time with me one on one. Language is no problem, but I can understand how it can be if your DH doesn't speak yours.
I think you may be under the impression that your trying to be sensitive, but if you could take a step outside of yourself (videotape), I'm sure you'd be able to see that while you're off with your auntie giggling about a long-running family joke and talking back and forth in your language; your DH is sitting off by himself with no one to keep him company or conversate with. I've seen it happen plenty of times.
So you're torn...what do you do? Remember who you sleep with at night and think about losing him because he feels neglected. That should help you get to a point where you, I don't have to attend every family function that we have. You are his companion and his confidant in your country. When you get back to the states, he may be your only friend here. It sure would suck if he was more focused on his family and spending time with them, than making sure you felt comfortable in a foreign land.
dldbrou, he actually has that already but didn't have time to learn enough. i teach him some words too but it's really different when you're not fluent in the language.
MrsMabe, we've come to a decision similar to that. i could spend time with my family and he doesn't need to be there all the time.
tita, yes i am filipina! and ITA with your last paragraph. thank you!
We've been there before in one way or another, things will get better. Just remember, it's you and your DH against the world!