My whole family speaks English fluently. I usually speak in a mix of Chinese and English with my parents and just English with a bit of Chinese vocabulary with my siblings and brother-in-law.
My boyfriend met my family after about eight months, partly because we are a more conservative family so I wanted to be a bit more sure. At our first lunch, we all spoke English and around 1% Chinese. Now, when my family goes out with my boyfriend, we will all speak English out of politeness with maybe 5% Chinese. I try mostly to translate it back to my boyfriend. I have asked my boyfriend if he minds this, and he said as long as we aren’t talking about him (which we aren’t), he doesn’t mind.
The other night my boyfriend, my dad, and I went to a concert. This was the first time in this “combination,” so I was a little nervous. I was sitting in the middle. I wanted to talk to my dad just about some family stuff as an aside and I just wanted to speak in Chinese with him, but since my boyfriend was there I spoke in English. It just felt weird.
It kind of brought forward uneasy thoughts about being an interracial and bi-lingual couple. Am I losing my culture? I hate to change the way my family speaks because my boyfriend is there.
I never ruled anyone out based on race when I was dating. Obviously, I knew there were things to discuss about race when we first started dating. It’s just now though, a year and a half in, and as we continue to date, that I am really realizing the implications. I don’t think it’s a deal-breaker, but do you have any advice on dealing with language? — Language Barrier
I’m not sure I understand what the problem is? You’ve asked your boyfriend if he minds when you speak Chinese with your family and he says he doesn’t (as long as you aren’t speaking about him). You don’t mention him complaining or asking you to stop. Your worry seems 100% projection on your part, which isn’t to say there isn’t reason to be concerned or that your fears are totally unfounded, but nothing you’ve said indicates that your fears are the result of your boyfriend’s behavior or attitude towards you, your relationship, how you interact with your family, or your cultural differences. Instead, it seems to me that your fears stem from your own attitude.
You say that a year and a half into dating you and your boyfriend are starting to realize the implications of dating someone of a different race/culture, but the only example you give of such implications is feeling weird speaking Chinese in front of your boyfriend. You need to think about WHY you feel weird about this — maybe you think it’s rude. (well, it kind of is. And, more pointedly, if you’re out with two people, why discuss topics with one that you know don’t interest and will exclude another? Honestly, the language barrier isn’t secondary to this.) Do you feel like your boyfriend doesn’t show enough interest in your culture or family? Would you like him to learn some Chinese as a way of showing his commitment to you and your relationship? These are all things to think about, modify in your own behavior, and discuss with your boyfriend moving forward.
This could very well simply be a case that your relationship has reached a point where it’s either going to get more serious or… it’s going to run its course. Maybe you are looking for signs about which direction it’s heading, or where you think your boyfriend wants it to head. Instead of reading signs where there aren’t any or misinterpreting messages, you should communicate with your boyfriend. Does he see a future with you? If so, what are your mutual concerns about combining your cultures? Obviously, the language barrier seems like one for you. So, express that to your boyfriend, and frame it around what YOUR needs are rather than projecting those needs onto him and then feeling resentment or concern that you’re “losing your culture.” Don’t lose your culture. Embrace it and celebrate it! And let your boyfriend know what he can do to also embrace and celebrate your culture, because in doing so, he will be expressing love for you. And, hopefully, that is exactly what he wants to do.
I’m open and accept his watching p0rn, but the the titles and topics he searches concern me. Please help me understand his sick mind. — Concerned About His Google Searches
It’s important to remember that the kind of porn someone might watch doesn’t necessarily reflect their real-life sexual interests. Just because your husband is Googling certain topics doesn’t mean he has even the slightest desire to engage in such fetishes in reality. That said, he might. And since it’s clear you don’t trust him and he’s been bizarre towards your teenage daughter, and you have another teenage girl who lives with you, you need to protect them. The fact that he has stopped talking to your daughter because she’s having sex with her boyfriend is a red flag, for sure. It’s time to take this to marriage counseling to address the way he’s treating your daughter and the concerns you have about his sexual interests and whether they cross a line that endangers the safety and security of others, including the teenage girls in your care. If he cannot earn your confidence and trust, you should consider leaving him.
If you have a relationship/dating question I can help answer, you can send me your letters at wendy(AT)dearwendy.com.