(Closed) Help! Future Vietnamese Mother in Law causing problems

posted 6 years ago in Family
Post # 3
3689 posts
Sugar bee
  • Wedding: December 2011

I don’t think you’re being unreasonable at all.  His mom’s a bitch, and she’s not going to change.  She has no reason to.  Her son puts up with her BS.  I think you should avoid her like the plague, and not go out of your way to try to make her happy.  

Post # 4
1285 posts
Bumble bee
  • Wedding: October 2011

Your are definitely not being unreasonable. I married a Chinese man and his mom is…well…demanding, passive agressive and intentionally mean. The best advise I can give is:

1. Keep trying. Minimally it will be apparent to everyone else so when she complains, they can counter with “but I’ve seen her try to talk with you…” And you will keep your dignity of always being the best person/daughter in law you can be.

2. Read up on Vietnamese culture. Get a “pen pal” in Vietman, read some books and blogs and learn all you can about the culture, how mom’s are treated, how daughter in laws are treated. When we got engaged, my Mother-In-Law didn’t talk to us for 6 months and threw temper tantrums regularly, it turns out it was because she was hurt that my husband didn’t ask her first if he can marry me, which is custome. She also explained how she will be “purchasing” me with the gold jewelry I will get at the Tea Ceremony and is trying to dissaude me from taking his last name.

3. If that is how she treats everyone, don’t take it personally. You don’t have to accept it, but it may help to grow a thicker skin where she is concerned.

Good luck!

Post # 5
7609 posts
Bumble Beekeeper

You’re not being unreasonable – I would be infuriated if my Fiance didn’t stick up for me, to be honest.  It sounds like she’s not planning on changing any time soon so I agree with the PP – avoid interacting with her as much as you can (though you should continue to be polite when you do have to see and speak with her).

I would have a serious conversation with your Fiance to explain how his actions (or lack thereof) make you feel.  Communicate with him without accusing him – say “It makes me feel….” instead of “You never….” and maybe tell him what you told us about what you’d like him to say to her.  It sounds like he knows she’s difficult, but maybe he doesn’t realize that it’s up to him to say something or maybe he’s unsure of what to say.  Good luck!

Post # 6
1750 posts
Buzzing bee

@KH: She is “purchasing” you with gold? Dang, I knew the value of gold was up but saying she is buying you is kind of funny. lol

@silverclarababe: I would kill her with kindness, I would be overly nice. If she does not warm up to you after a year or so maybe she is just an unhappy person. She has the right to be unhappy but I would not allow her to be disrespectful. Good luck…I agree with showing effort to learn the culture may be a good way to break the ice. Do it for your Fiance.

Post # 7
1285 posts
Bumble bee
  • Wedding: October 2011

While it is very tempting to just avoid her, I still feel you should do your homework on the culture before choosing that route. What appears to be standing up for yourself to you, could forever damage your relationship with her (and not to scare you, but Asian children are expected to care for their parents as they age and have a decent role in the upbringing of their grandchildren). She may have underlying mental health issues, but there is a reason no one is asking her to change. It is completely against their culture to challenge their elders. I suspect that your future husband isn’t choosing not to stick up for you, it just wouldn’t occur to him to disagree with her.



Post # 8
3871 posts
Honey bee
  • Wedding: November 1999

I’m Vietnamese and yes, my mom is difficult sometimes. Ok, a lot of the time. I’ve spent most of my high school and college years trying to change my parents. It does not work. At this point, it is something we had to get used to. I know you may feel like you have to do all the work but if you really love your fi you have get on his mothers good side. She needs to feel respected. Have you thought about learning Vietnamese? That should make her see that you are trying. 

Oh, I don’t know how long you have known her for but she may eventually warm up to you. My mom is and still is quiet around my husband. She’s like that with all of my sister’s husband.

Anyway, feel free to PM me if you have any of questions.

Post # 9
1917 posts
Buzzing bee
  • Wedding: April 2012

I can totally relate, except it is my Chinese mother who is difficult.  I feel for the poor girls who will marry my brothers.  All I can say is just keep trying to be nice.  For some reason, it makes my mother irate that my fiance will just say hi without addressing her.  Everytime he answers the phone, I get a lecture about how he should have said Hi Mrs. Louisianablue.  I’m sure the formality may help, because Asian parents are really big on making sure you respect their elders.

This is also may seem silly, but it will probably go a long way if you bring her a small gift every time you see her.  I’m not sure with vietnamese people, but in my family it was always customary to bring something if I was visiting family or we went to see my parents friends.  Sometimes it is just a bag of oranges or a cake, but it might help.  I never visit my parents or my fiance’s home empty handed without some sort of hostess gift.

Post # 10
61 posts
Worker bee
  • Wedding: September 2013

Not sure if this will help, but because of financial reasons 4 years ago my Fiance talked his family into  letting me stay with them and I’ve been with them while I’m going to school and working. Fiance is half Thai, he came from there when he was 5 with his Thai mother and military dad. His mom took alot of time to get used to, she speaks very broken, minimal English, and can be very pleasant to be around but she can also be extremely childish and prone to tantrums/sulky fits that would put a 3 year old to shame. When I first met Fiance parents her behavior appalled me because I grew up in a normal suburban household where mothers don’t act like that.  I asked Fiance why she acted like that and I got the same thing you did “That’s just the way mom is”.

When I first moved in with them I had a horrid time trying to communicate or get along with her and I lost my patience numerous times,  but then I tried learning basic Thai (please, thank you, ect.) to ease it up, and went food shopping with her and I just kind of hung around while she watched her shows and asked her about her family sometimes. Found out from Fiance (He acts as resident translator for things I can’t say >>) she thought I was angry and hated her because I was avoiding her, and I thought she hated me/wasn’t good enough.

We still argue sometimes (once or twice a week) over stupid little things, but ir blows over fast.  Maybe like some of the other commenters said, try bringing a small gift? And if she’s still nasty to you after all that and your Fiance still isn’t sticking up for you, then maybe you should ask him where his commitment really lies. To his mother or to you.

Post # 11
7 posts

Silver, I know exactly what you are talking about… I know this post was a while ago, but I just found it looking for help again =-) I posted on these boards about my future Vietnamese mother in law too. I know what it feels like… my guy says the same kinds of things to me, and makes it all my responsibility. I’m afraid I don’t have much advise for you, as I’m trying to figure out what to do too. I will tell you that recentlly, due to us trying to fix things, I have been more honest about just how bad it feels. I told him that it doesn’t make sense to complain about her behavior, and then make excuse after excuse for it, instead of telling it like it is. Example, when she steals from me, he told me (just recently) it’s because she thinks everything is community property…. so I told him that’s BS, because if I took anything of hers, it would not at all be okay. It’s a huge mind game…and I know i don’t want to play it, I don’t think you do either. No matter what happens, I just wanted to let you know that you are NOT alone, and I wish you the best of luck in this sticky situation. It’s not our fault, and we should not have to fix everything alone-it’s impossible.

Post # 12
22 posts
  • Wedding: March 2012

@silverclarababe:  I was in a somewhat paralleled situation.

My now husband is Mexican and I am Vietnamese, this combo doesn’t happen very often. haha

His mom refused to meet me or speak to me for more than a year, because I was Asian and he started dating me after a long term relationship with a Latina. They are Catholic, I’m not. She had depression issues at the time and apparently there was a Philipino co-worker who screwed her over, all Asians are the same, etc. I had met almost all of his extended family within a few months of dating and they loved me, sang my praises and she still refused to give me a chance.

Anyways, I think in your situation the issue is a partly cultural but not completely. Has he sat down with his mom and told her what his expectations are? He can not just accept that “this is the way she is.”

Is his father in the picture? How does he treat you? How about the rest of the family?

I recommend killing her with kindness like others have said. Do your research on Vietnamese customs. Perhaps ask her to teach you how to make his favorite Vietnamese meal, I did this with my hubby’s mom once she decided to meet me. Or SHOW her you can make a good Viet dish or appetizer, I made a killer guacamole for his family. I think that helped. I think that many older Vietnamese people are afraid that their children and grandchildren will lose touch with their Vietnamese heritage. Show her that you can embrace it… arrage a dinner at a Vietnamese restaurant (the more authentic and old school the better! This is not the time to try out “Asian fusion” haha)

Learning some basic Vietnamese conversation will help too. 

I know that not being accepted really hurts but just know that it will get better. Ask his family members who like you to rally around you and put in a good word with his mom for all it’s worth. 

When we were dating, he also made a point of spending a little extra time with his mom too… just to make sure she knew that she will always he his beloved mom. 

Lastly, I just want you to know that although she has warmed up to me, we are not as close has she is with my hubby’s brother’s SOs. They are Mexican and it seems like she will always talk to them more or maybe favor them. At the end of the day, at least I know that our relationship has improved… SLOWLY and painfully, but it did.

Feel free to PM me if you have more questions or need to vent.

Edit: One more thing! Would you consider a Tea ceremony at your wedding reception? A lot of Vietnamese and Chinese like to do this. Google it. Basically you and your hubby pour tea and present it to your parents as a thank you for everything they have done for you, they drink the tea and give you well wishes and marriage advice. Try to get the mother in law’s input. This is a good non-denominational thing that is still very traditional.

Post # 13
1 posts
  • Wedding: August 2003

Strawberries is not VN then.

It doesn’t matter if you East or West. Behaviour like the mother in law is just that, regardless of your cultural background.

My advice would be try to get on with her as you’re going to be (if not already family) and there’s only a few ways out of marriage. Difficult family members are something we all have to live with. If you can find the nice side of her, then work on that.

But if that gets too exhausting, then give up, just don’t “avoid her like a plague” coz that just won’t work. Problems are to be resolved and in most cases it’s not a problem just a misunderstanding.

It’s quite simple, you like your man, he’s gets his upbringing from his parents, so there are similarities. Work on those.

Mother in law is defensive, but what mother in law isn’t? Esp if he is the only son in his family.


Anyway, good luck.

Post # 14
6124 posts
Bee Keeper
  • Wedding: August 2012

KH has some great advice.  I bet your Future Mother-In-Law says you aren’t greeting her when you show up because it’s not in Vietnamese!  Anything else is nothing to her!


If everyone else in the family knows you as a sweetheart then they will all confirm that she’s a biotch.

Post # 15
2321 posts
Buzzing bee
  • Wedding: July 2011

I was in the EXACT situation that you are in right now. I mean to the TEE. Only a different Asian culture. But what you said, I felt like it came out of my own heart.

Anyway, what concerns me MOST is how your Fiance is handling it and not so much how your Mother-In-Law is acting.

In simple words, lots of MILS are f**kin’ id!ots. There is absolutely NOTHING you can do to change that. I mean trying as hard as you want will likely  not help. Definitely won’t help with the Asian culture (and religious) differences. 

Take a few mins to accept what I wrote above and get past that.

Ok now moving on…

You REALLY need to speak with your Fiance. I can’t stress that enough! My MILs (and in my case my SILs too) attitude was hurting me very much and then indirectly hurting Fiance and my relationship. We both didn’t know this. But it was happening in the bkgd in my subnconsious mind and taking form in reality. And that’s what I am afraid will happen to you. You will slowwwwwwly start resenting your FI’s ‘expertise’ and ability to handle difficult situations. You won’t even realize this is happening. It is that sinister.

My Fiance also kept making excuses for MILs (and in my case, his own b!tchy sister, SILs) behaviour. “That’s just how they are.” “Just ignore them”. “What they say/do won’t make me love you any less.” etc.

But their had PROFOUND negative affect on my mind. Because Fiance wasn’t handling it in a better way, the insults kept getting worse gradually. We didn’t even realize how badly she was treating me because the transition was so gradual. She kept pushing her limits cuz of FI’s lax attitude abt this.

And I wery much wanted to be accepted by my new family and doing everything I can. (No, I wasn’t over bearing.)

Eventually Fiance saw me hit rock bottom in the self-esteem dept after going through this. (<– I don’t want you to go through that!) He told his mom off. (It was slightly easier for him to do this than for your Fiance cuz my Mother-In-Law deserted her family when my Fiance was very young so he has no real attachment to her. She also wasn’t really there for her kids to begin with.)

And that was THE BIGGEST relief. She was shocked that her son stood up to her for his wife and she stopped saying shit to me/us. (Definitely still bad mouths us to relatives but who cares? I don’t hear abt it and she isn’t directly hurting me anymore.)

I also felt better knowing that Fiance will back me up as circumstances dictate. He won’t tell me to just ‘ignore’ things that are causing me grief, but he will be there to help put an end to my grief. That feeling made my relationship stronger with him. <– THIS is what i want for you.

Post # 16
2321 posts
Buzzing bee
  • Wedding: July 2011


I am just gonna write another post to state that my mom also is from a different country/culture, but she is like a second mother to my bro’s Girlfriend and my own Darling Husband. (Both my bro’s Girlfriend and my own Darling Husband are of completely different cultures and religions.) My parents haven’t had the best marriage. So it’s not like my mom is ‘super happy’ lady so your FI’s mom cant be ‘unhappy’ and projecting that on you.

We moved here when mom was 40+. Yet she did not bring any bigotry with her. PLUS she adjusted very well to the new cultural norms of North America. If your FI’s mom came in her early 20s, she should be VERY THOROUGHLY and WELL ADJUSTED with the cultural shift. There is NO EXCUSE for her behaviour. Period.

Get him to TALK (see my post above.)

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