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Dear Wendy

Cultural Misgivings

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This topic contains 49 replies, has 10 voices, and was last updated by avatar Silvermoonlight 1 week ago.

Viewing 12 posts - 13 through 24 (of 50 total)
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  • #847389 Reply
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    Fyodor
    Member

    Keep in mind that your fiance’s family is also going to another country for a wedding, which is an enormous imposition* and cut them some slack. Most people in most countries don’t know much about other countries let alone the particularities of their food. I doubt that your out of country family knows which American cities are safe or dangerous.

    I wonder if there are other things at play than their travel questions. Are you having anxiety about marrying someone from another county? Are you worried about losing your culture or passing it along to your children and these questions are bringing it to the surface?

    *See “Blech” thread.

    #847390 Reply
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    keyblade
    Member

    You clearly value travelling and the experience you’ve gained from visiting many places. To me, you seem to associate it with respect for the places and people you’ve visited. Your fiance’s parents seem to have a fundamental lack of understanding about why you want to hold a wedding in your country of origin. You seem to have put in a lot of consideration into your decision and your in-laws lack thereof and the tone they used to communicate their concerns seems to have made you feel like they presume their own lives are somehow inherently better than your friends and family back home who they can’t be bothered to learn about.

    Weddings take on a lot of personal significance for the people involved. You resent being in the position of reassuring them about your personal decisions so I think you should ask your husband to tell them to bring their future questions or travel concerns to him.

    @fyodor, I agree that many parents feel they need to be present with their children at their weddings and may have feelings about supporting their kids while stepping outside of their experiential comfort zones. I think I should clarify that my last few comments didn’t come from any reactions to your comments. They were just coincidentally posted right after yours.

    • This reply was modified 1 week, 1 day ago by avatar keyblade.
    #847391 Reply
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    Fyodor
    Member

    “They have also asked if my citizenship status (I am not yet a US citizen) is something that “helped” me decide on whether or not to marry their son, which I had to confirm that it was not.”

    *This* is pretty offensive and your fiance should say something.

    #847394 Reply
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    Poppy
    Member

    What would be super beneficial for them would be for you to print off insightful information about the country they are going to. They need to beaware of their surroundings and educated on it before going to some place they’ve never been. They need to be aware of the laws ( the important ones for sure). They need to know if the water is clean and safe for drinking or showering. They need to beaware of any borne illnesses they could catch. They should know what their food options are. Some countries cook meat that most Americans would never dare eat. Example: DOG! My husbands grandpa went to Brazil and was robbed and LEA didnt do shit about it. I think having two seperate wedding options is nice so that you can incorporate all sides of family but I also think that having a destination wedding means you and fiance should be educationing your guest and not taking offense so easily to a different culture.

    #847395 Reply
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    LisforLeslie

    Assume that they mean well and are just culturally stupid. And we as Americans can be super stupid about other cultures.

    My recommendations:
    1. Create a basic “Shit you should know about my country” primer like
    A. the primary language
    B. The capital city is
    c. THe major airport is
    d. The indigenous folks are of the XXX descent(s) and are known as XXX (aka – Native Americans versus Indigenous Tribes versus First Nations).

    2. Helpful phrase list with phonetic spellings (there are apps for this)
    3. Pictures of typical foods with their names and what’s in them (there are apps for this too)
    4. General behaviors
    a. How to be polite in your country like greeting people when you walk in stores
    b. Things they should never do in your country (like how in some middle eastern countries showing the soles of your shoes is super insulting or spitting in Singapore).

    It’s the little things that make us look foolish – like when you go to France you say hello when you walk in a store and goodbye when you leave. It is so small but it immediately puts the shop keeper in the “OK, they can’t say the words, but they know to say them…we’re good” category.

    But yeah – you’ve been dating this guy for 5 years, if you were going for citizenship, you’d have pushed marriage a lot sooner so… they’re kinda jerks.

    #847396 Reply
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    ktfran
    Participant

    I’m with @fyodor in that yes, that is absolutely offensive and your fiance should definitely say something.

    #847397 Reply
    Skyblossom
    Skyblossom
    Participant

    My husband came to the US from England. Before he arrived he assumed that the US was so violent he wouldn’t be able to go out in the evening. He got that impression from the news he saw in England. He expected people to be out shooting people at night. I found the idea funny. He ended up in a quiet college town, going out a lot in the evening. Just remember that the news tends to be about the bad things that happen and it’s what people end up knowing about a place unless they have the opportunity to learn about it in a different way.

    I also had a roommate (this same roommate asked me if my husband would be interested in dating her) who went around telling people that my husband was only marrying me to get a green card. She worked with one of my aunts and the aunt was worried about me being taken advantage of until she met my husband. These things happen when you have an international marriage. Someone will be jealous or likes to gossip or makes wrong assumptions and passes them on. If you have a happy, healthy marriage people will quit worrying about those things.

    If you tell them about your country and answer their questions with kindness you will help to give them a positive impression about your country. When it comes to traditional food you can make some to take to their house to share or invite them to your place for a traditional dinner. They are asking you the questions because you are their only source of information and they want to know. It’s a good thing that they are interested enough to ask questions.

    #847401 Reply
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    Fyodor
    Member

    @keyblade, didn’t take it as such.

    #847402 Reply
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    ConfusedBride

    I like the suggestion of a print-out. They also got a book on my country, which lists places to visit and other information, so I appreciated that. For me it’s just this consciousness of filtering what is a harmless and understandable question versus what is one that borders on some racism or unfortunate stereotypes.

    I understand it may be difficult for them too and I have to remember that. They are coming into this completely blind and I want to make sure I am giving them a full picture they can be comfortable with. I guess the main tension comes from the balance of harmless questioning about legitimate concerns versus my country and culture being pigeon-holed into negative and broad-brush conceptions.

    #847404 Reply
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    ktfran
    Participant

    Just know LW that people within the U.S. pigeon-hole places here too.

    For instance, I grew up in a small, isolated Midwestern city. There ARE SO MANY people who refuse to go to big, bad Chicago, even for a relative’s wedding. Or to New York. Or to a lot of places really. Likewise, I have no desire to go to some places in the south, like Alabama or Mississippi (sorry to those of you who live there!). I would though if someone important to me is getting married there.

    #847405 Reply
    Copa
    Copa
    Participant

    Yeah, it’s rude and offensive to ask about your citizenship. I hope your fiance addressed that with them.

    But grandpa making comments about how he can’t wait to sip his coronarita or whatever, not really. I think a sit-down conversation with them to clear things up would be weird. When I hear comments about Mexico City, for instance, and want people to know there’s more to the city than what they’ve heard on the news, I respond with things like, “They do have crime, just like any major city. But there are great, safe areas to visit with museums and vibrant markets, and did you know it’s also a foodie paradise!?”

    #847407 Reply
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    Kate
    Keymaster

    The thing about your citizenship is offensive, and your fiancé had a responsibility to shut that one down as soon as it came up. Have you spoken with him about that?

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