It’s time again for “Dear Wendy Updates,” a feature where people I’ve given advice to in the past let us know whether they followed the advice and how they’re doing now. Today, we hear from “Cross Cultural Divide,” a woman from Belgium whose Croatian fiancé wanted her to spend her entire two-week vacation with his family in Croatia. She complained that his friends and family don’t try to speak English with her even though they can and that she works hard and would like to spend part of her vacation relaxing by herself or with her own friends. “But he’s really pushing the stay for two weeks together, even suggesting I stay home a few nights with his mom, as he goes out to party. Yeah, I’m not really feeling that one.” Keep reading to see what she decided to do and how it went.
The holiday was challenging but great. I stayed for 10 days, after which he stayed for another week (he’s still there as I write this). The first few days were exhausting, what with everyone wanting to meet up since no one had seen him for a year. I got that, but I also reminded him that he did have one more week after i left, and that we needed some alone time. On one occasion, he told me he didn’t know wether he would have friends left that way, which I felt that was a snarky remark. Especially since most of his friends there are also couples who took their alone time and understood our need for privacy.
So we got off to a bumpy start, arguing a few times. I asked him to at least show me some affection when we were in a group, which he found hard to do at first. I mean, he’s all I have over there, he should try and put me at ease. Right? I told him I wanted his friends and family to like me, and he said that if my friends wouldn’t like him (they do), he wouldn’t care. I told him that that was crazy and he kind of took it back. So yeah, lots of tension and stuff. But then an amazing thing happened.
There was traditional celebration in the whole town, and I met friends of his I hadn’t met before and we really hit it off. I was even cracking jokes in Croatian as his friends cheered me on. We danced like a couple of teenagers throughout the night, walking home in the light of the sunset. After that, we somehow found the right balance, though some of his single friends were still dissapointed that he spent more time with me than them. The same friends who ignored me last year continued to do so this year even now that we are engaged. I told him I didn’t care for them for this exact reason, and he understood and was dissapointed in those friends himself.
We stayed with his family, which was also challenging: no privacy at all, but despite that we got along just fine. I threw in some Croatian words occasionally and they liked me for it. They even talked about our kids to come and that they’d need to get the house ready for more people. My boyfriend and I have talked about maybe buying a boat or getting our own appartment there, if our budget permits it. We also talked about taking holidays in other countries, which he’d be willing to do.
Thank you Wendy, for giving me sound advice (as you always do) and I also want to thank everyone who took the time to comment and gave me more perspective on the situation! The comments mostly confirmed my feelings and made me question myself as well, which is always interesting. I must say though, my boyfriend is not a control freak or a jerk; he’s a really sweet guy who I think is just torn between two worlds. But I’m sure we’ll work it out, as we keep talking and reflecting on our lives and the future.
And to answer Addie Pray: no I don’t live in Bruges, but it is indeed a very cute and fun city. And yes I love french fries with mayo, as disgusting as that may sound haha. I guess it’s just how I was raised.
Thanks again. Kind greetings from Belgium!
Thanks for the update!
If you’re someone I’ve given advice to in the past, I’d love to hear from you, too. Email me at email@example.com with a link to the original post, and let me know whether you followed the advice and how you’re doing now.
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Anna August 27, 2012, 1:11 pm
That’s awesome! I’m glad you were able to find the acceptance and inclusion you were looking for while still striking the balance between your boyfriend time and your own time.
On a side note, it is going to make Addie Pray’s day to be named personally in an update. lol.
Addie Pray August 27, 2012, 1:16 pm
Meh, whatev, I’m over myself. …
… Kidding, geez, I’m so NOT over myself! LW, this was awesome!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! (As evidenced by all those exclamation marks.) You are hands down my favorite LW. (This is an open invitation to step it up, LWs.)
ktfran August 27, 2012, 1:30 pm
You are hilarious!
sarolabelle August 27, 2012, 1:18 pm
is he the fiance or the boyfriend? I’m confused by the pronouns….
llclarityll August 27, 2012, 4:34 pm
Caught that numerous times. I thought it was odd myself…I never forget to use “fiance” instead of “boyfriend” when I got engaged.
Red_Lady August 27, 2012, 9:00 pm
I had a hard time saying “fiance” when I was engaged, and would regularly refer to him as “boyfriend”, instead. It just felt weird to me to think I actually had a fiance. Even though I was completely excited and ready to marry him, and knew the feeling was mutual, it still seemed kind of crazy that we were actually getting married. I think it might have had to do with the idea that marriage is what grown-ups do, and it’s still strange to think of myself as a grown up, even though I’m in my late 20s.
Lydia August 28, 2012, 4:07 am
I also use both fiance and boyfriend. Saying fiance often sounds like I’m advertising that I’m getting married, whereas boyfriend is much less conspicuous.
heathacat August 29, 2012, 5:29 pm
HAHAHA. I have been engaged for going on four years now. For the most part, I think the word fiance sounds sort of pretentious and I tend to just say boyfriend. I know he paid for the upgrade and I should say fiance, but then I have to fend off multiple questions about weddings (no date set and not currently planning). It’s easier for me to use the incorrect pronoun in this case, despite the fact that I’m an editor! 😉
Lydia August 27, 2012, 1:28 pm
French fries with mayo are THE BEST THING. Especially with that slightly tart Belgian mayo. I’m totally craving them now.
Riefer August 28, 2012, 8:03 am
In Canada it’s fairly common. I think it’s because of the French Canadians. And I agree, it’s delicious. Way better than ketchup. I only eat them with ketchup when I’m trying to watch a few calories. 🙂
Lindsay August 27, 2012, 1:37 pm
You sound like you have a good head on your shoulders and are able to assert yourself, which will go a long way in any relationship. I’m sure that catching up with faraway friends and trying to blend your girlfriend from another country into your group is stressful, and it sounds like you guys weathered it pretty well. I’d guess that maybe he’s new to long-term relationships or something along those lines? Because it seems like he hasn’t fully grasped what we all eventually learn, which is that once people start pairing off, friendships change. Hopefully, if he’s young, he’ll get more used to the concept.
Emma August 27, 2012, 1:47 pm
Hey, it’s okay! I’m from Oklahoma, but I hate ketchup… so I always eat mayo on my fries. Mmm… delicious. So it’s not just a Belgian thing!
rachel August 27, 2012, 1:57 pm
Are you still in Oklahoma? You should come to our meetup!
SweetPeaG August 27, 2012, 3:03 pm
French fries and mayo?
I don’t love any food combination more than that one. I know it is horrible, gross, and unhealthy. But, I love it. I could write poetry about my adoration of it.
MissDre August 27, 2012, 4:03 pm
French fries and mayo is a majorly French thing here in Canada. I this it’s gross, but the moment you enter Quebec, everybody does it.
lemongrass August 27, 2012, 4:06 pm
I can one-up all you french fry and mayo lovers. Mix your mayo with hamburger relish (the red stuff) and dip your fries in it. I dare you.
Red_Lady August 27, 2012, 9:02 pm
That actually sounds good. Plain mayo – gross!
Fabelle August 27, 2012, 4:15 pm
The mayo-and-french fries thing is pretty common here, too (NJ) although I personally don’t like anything on my fries except salt. I know a few people who make an unholy mixture of ketchup & mayo before dipping their french fries in, as well.
Um, & yeah, in regard to the update– good news! I basically share the same feelings Lindsay expressed a few posts above.
Riefer August 28, 2012, 8:04 am
My MIL uses that mix of ketchup and mayo as a seafood sauce, for shrimp or scallops. Tastes pretty good, actually.
Lili August 27, 2012, 4:37 pm
I like fry sauce, which is basically ketchup, mayo and some secret amazing blend of stuff. Its the bees knees with crinkle cut fries!
bethany August 27, 2012, 4:56 pm
I love dipping fried in ranch dressing… So good! I also like the mayo based sauces, too. In fact, I think I’m having some on Wednesday! YUM!
Budj August 27, 2012, 5:01 pm
Ranch, BBQ sauce, hot sauce, milk shakes, mayo, ketchup, mustard sometimes, 1000 islands dressing…I’ve dipped them all!
JK August 27, 2012, 5:14 pm
Fries in chocolate milkshake is soooooooooo good.
Budj August 27, 2012, 5:21 pm
For whatever reason…Burger King fries taste the best in chocolate shakes. They usually rank lowest in my “fast food fry” preferences though.
Addie Pray August 27, 2012, 6:44 pm
Honestly, I can’t think of one thing I wouldn’t enjoy dipping a french fry into — fries go with everything I think!
kf August 27, 2012, 6:32 pm
Geez, I hope “at least show me some affection when we [we’re] in a group” means “include me in converstaions, introduce me around, etc.”, and not “shove your tongue in my ear every fifteen minutes” or “let me sit on your lap and play with your hair” or whatever.
LW August 28, 2012, 6:40 am
No 🙂 I’m not a psycho. Maybe “showing me some attention” would have been a better description, though I very much appreciated him standing next to me or holding my hand. Or maybe giving me a peck on my cheek now and then. You know, small acts of reassuring me that we’re a team.
SpaceySteph August 28, 2012, 10:42 am
Mayo is hands down the most disgusting substance on the planet. I can’t even believe people eat that stuff. I don’t even like to touch it while making something for other people that includes mayonnaise. Revolting.
JenniferW August 28, 2012, 1:10 pm
Spacey Steph, you are so wrong. Mayo is a gift from the gods.
Red_Lady August 28, 2012, 6:44 pm
I’ve always disliked mayo, until I tried Japanese mayo. For some reason, it isn’t as gross.
MarkD August 29, 2012, 9:53 am
+1 on Japanese Mayo – Kewpie. I saw a TV show where some J-actress put it on everything, including ice cream. Japan is different. You just have to suspend everything you have experienced, learned, and believe and roll with it.
No love for salt and vinegar on fries? Probably a local thing.