Post # 1
I just needed a place to vent.
Since I started dating my FI 9 years ago, I made it very clear to him that my parents would expect a dowry from him one day when we get married as it is tradition for the husband’s family to give the bride’s family a monetary dowry of at least 5k in my culture. However, FH and I are footing most of the bill for our wedding and would therefore have to pay for my dowry as well. The budget for our wedding is 18,000 and we barely have enough for that. Even though I do not believe in this dowry tradition (I find it ridiculous and demeaning to women), I really want to honor and respect my parents’ wishes. I was hoping that we didn’t have to pay them this amount until next year after the wedding. But my mother insists that we have to pay them BEFORE our wedding.
We have waited this long to finally have the means to afford OUR dream wedding and now I’m torn between my happiness and my parents’ happiness. At the same time, it angers me that after everything I have helped them with financially (I pay for their utility bills and I financially support my younger siblings) that they can not let this slide for now. I can’t help but think sometimes that all they care about is the money.
When I said we didn’t have that money because everything we have is going to our American wedding, my mother had the nerve to say that if my future in laws loved me, they would help their son pay for me. My parents are convinced that just because his family is not Hmong (they’re Chinese), they will not know how to love me and will eventually discard me like trash. But I actually have a great relationship with my future in laws. When I wanted get a car loan but needed a co-signer, I didn’t ask my parents because I knew they wouldn’t be approved so I asked FH’s parents. Instead of cosigning for me, they offered me a personal loan because they wanted me to avoid paying interest. That brought me to tears and showed me how much they cared for me as their own. However, I didn’t want to tell my mom that because I knew it would make her and my father feel bad. But when she made that comment about “if they loved me, they’d pay up”, I felt so hurt.
I can almost see the drama that will ensue if we decide not to pay the dowry. :/
Post # 3
I’m not from a culture that does dowries, but IMO it IS demeaning to woman, and I can’t fathom why you HAVE to pay it? From what you said, it really seems like its just about the money.
What is the actual purpose?
Post # 4
I am very sorry to hear about your situation- I couldn’t imagine being put in that type of predicament. Since I don’t share these same cultural values, I really can’t speak to what you should do. However, I do think that you are going to have to follow your heart. Good luck!
Post # 5
@chewah: Fellow Hmong here. I am absolutely refusing to honor the bride price tradition. When it comes down to it, we no longer live in villages where everything can be settled with money. It is an archaic practice that is absolutely unnecessary. I am been completely independent from my parents since I got out of college. They do not own me and they cannot tell me what to do anymore. My parents are choosing to not come to my wedding but it is completely up to them. When it comes down to it, it is their choice if they want to lose any sort of relationship with me.
My fiance thought there could be some kind of middleground but my parents refuse to let up and I refuse to give in. In their eyes, I will not be married but I’ve lost any sort of respect for them years ago.
Btw, I am positive that if one of your brothers was going to marry outside of our culture, they wouldn’t give his bride price. I know mine wouldn’t. There is always a double standard in our culture.
Post # 6
@chewah: This is really hard. Coming from another country myself, many, many years ago, my father in particular had a very hard time adjusting to the new traditions of Australia. It was also, ‘well this is what we did back home, so it must be the same here’.
I am made of stronger stuff, and had considerable and many arguements with my father. My mother was so much more understanding. I took the hard line and didn’t speak to my father for many months because I really felt that… sorry we are not in the old country any more. And really if the old country was so much better, maybe he should have just gone back.
Now my father is very old, and I am also a grandmother and we have a very solid adult relationship and have had for many years. But I had to set my boundaries.
My father didn’t attend my wedding, but my mother did. He regrests it to this day. I am also the only child.
I know this dosen’t help your particular situation, but just wanted you to know that this sticking to tradition is not something that just belongs to 2013, but has being going on forever. You need to decide. Reduce some of the things you want for your wedding to meet the requirement, speak to your inlaws and see if they will help, or stand your ground. Good luck, and remember you have a wonderful man by your side, so once over this hurdle it will all be better. Then you start your own family and you can set your own traditions.
Post # 7
I don’t suppose you could add up all the things you have already paid for (utilities etc) and present them with the fact that you have already paid X amount and therefore you only need to pay 5k-X?
Yes it might be rude but at this point your parents have not respected you, your FI or your in-laws at all. So why give them respect? Alternatively, next time your mother says that your in-laws should help pay, I would say “They can’t help pay because they already paid for my car, which I am paying them back for. Make your parents see how little they are actually being parents right now. So what if it makes them feel bad, they have already made you feel awful.
I’m not usually a tic-for-tat person, but in this case when it’s over money and your parents are putting your happiness over money, you need them to see the light – and fast! The only way to do that may be to be rude. Do not reward their greediness by trying to find the money now. Stand your ground.
Post # 8
@FortiesFlare: This is the analogy my mother provided. When you are given something for free, you don’t take great care of it because it has no value to you. But when you purchase something of great value, you treasure and care for it.
I totally get where she’s coming from because back then that’s what the Hmong men treated the women like, a piece of property.
@MRSsrm85: A fellow Hmong! Hi 🙂 I completely agree with you. I hate these stupid double standards in our culture. In fact, I asked my mom the other day how we would go about marrying the Hmong way and she said, “oh, he just has to show up with the money and then we’ll have a feast and it’ll be over. We don’t have to do all the Mekong stuff because he’s not Hmong” Wait…what? So they get to pick and choose which tradition they want to include and not include? I mean, since he’s not Hmong he shouldn’t have to pay the dowry, right? ugh.
Post # 9
Sorry for my ignorance on your culture’s traditions but if you and your FI are paying for the wedding why do you need to pay a bride price? I’m assuming a bride price is to pay off the debt for throwing an elaborate, expensive wedding in the first place. And I agree with PP, it sounds to me like you are already doing a lot to be supportive of your family and their traditions…what will happen if you don’t pay?
Post # 10
I don’t have any advice but I’m sorry you’re dealing with this. From what I’ve learned from history, the first generation to break tradition has it the hardest. If you do decide to break the tradition, it might help for you to realize that you’re setting a precedent. Idk if it’s reassuring though I guess.
Post # 11
@chewah: When my little sister got married to a non-hmong, she was completely stressed because they had to pay for their wedding and come up with the 5k. Like you mentioned, my parents just picked and chose what to do since her husband is not Hmong. That is so wrong. I think you do it all or none at all. I am not a people pleaser like her so I refused to do that.
They did give her $3k back though. It is more symbolic than anything. They said that the would have given her the entire $5k back if she had married a Hmong man instead.
Knowing me though and my more rebellious attitude, if I had agreed to the bride price, they would have kept the entire thing. They can’t stand it that I speak my mind, don’t live at home (I completely moved out five years ago at 22 years old after college and my mom still tells me that I ran away from home), I don’t clean well or cook, and I never go visit them because they drive me insane.
You have to do what is best for you. Just know that there is another Hmong woman across the country who is defying tradition and doing things her own way.
Post # 12
Tradition/culture or not if you don’t have the money than you can’t give it to them. As the old saying goes; you can’t squeeze blood from a turnip.
Follow your heart and worry about paying for your wedding and being happy with your so to be husband.
Post # 13
- Wedding: March 2016 - Mexico
@Everdeen: I agree!!! I second Tickles method of saying you only owe them $5k less x amount that you’ve already paid them via utility payments and financial support of your siblings.
I understand different cultures have their own traditions, but I think in this case it seems to be just about money if they don’t care whether you follow the cultural ceremony traditions, but do care about the money part. I find it disrespectful and unsupportive that they would ask this of you when they aren’t pitching in for your wedding and have had no problem accepting financial help from you already.
Post # 14
@chewah: I was just having a similar conversation with my husband. He’s from a culture where many people do dowries– but the bride’s family pays the groom’s family AND they usually pay for the wedding, or split costs with the groom’S family. He doesn’t have engagement rings in his culture, and when you think about it, engagement rings are a sexist tradition, too. And oftentimes, more expensive than 5k.
So it seems most cultures have some kind of sexist wedding tradition, whether its the groom paying a bride price, demonstrating his ability to care financially for the bride(supposedly) with a diamond ring, or whether its the bride’s family paying the groom to “take the burden of a woman off their hands”, we all seem to have it.
Is there a possibility they’d pay ssome of it back to you, or is Hmong culture a money-gifting culture, where you might recoup that 5k in wedding gifts? If so, then I think there’s no real harm in honoring this sexist tradition, if you have a good relationship with your parents and you want to make them happy.
Even now, in many dowry cultures, it’s more common for the groom’s family to gift the dowry to the newly married couple for a head start in the world, which takes a little of the sexist overtones away.
Post # 15
I’m a wife. Not cattle.
Tradition or not, disrespect is disrespect. Some traditions need to be broken — What about a “tradition” where slaves were given as a dowry? That tradition had to be broken.
I love my family, but if this was their tradition, I’d tell them promply where to shove it. I’m not 5,000 dollars worth of merchandise.
Post # 16
I think this is more about your parents happiness and your financial stability. $5,000 is a lot of money, they should have no say over how you spend your money. If they aren’t helping with the wedding and are not supporting you in any way financially. Say no and tell them that you cannot afford the $5,000 and if they are going to let this money come between you than that is not your problem.