Post # 1
Fi and I come from very different places. I’m not going to go into specifics about his childhood because he would not appreciate that but I will say that it was not good. Actually, “not good” is being too kind. To be blunt, his childhood was shit. It wasn’t until his mother remarried that everything changed for him (and his older brother). She married a man who was definitely a hard-ass but because of FI’s step-father, FI and his brother are the men they are today (hard working, successful, respectful, etc…). FI has alot of resentment about his childhood and because of this, I feel uncomfortable talking about mine with him (he knows all there is to know but I don’t ever bring anything up anymore).
My childhood was completely different from his. FI considers my childhood “privileged” but I wouldn’t go that far. My parents weren’t loaded but I never wanted for anything. I admit, I was spoiled. Being the only child and only grandchild for the first half of my life (my oldest cousin was born when I was 11) meant that all of the attention was on me for many years. I grew up in NYC so we lived a very different lifestyle than FI’s family did in Podunk, NY (not really the name of the town but you get the idea).
FI’s been talking about his childhood alot more lately but I’m too uncomfortable to talk about mine because I know it makes him feel bad. A few months ago the topic of childhood Christmas presents came up. I told him that my favorite gift was the Barbie hot wheels convertible that I got when I was probably 5 or 6. It almost looked like the poor guy was going to cry. He said that all he ever wanted was a hot wheels but never got one (then when he got older that turned into a dirt bike but he never got one of those either). Naturally, I felt pretty crappy after that and the conversation ended.
I feel helpless. I know he’s deeply saddened by the fact that he didn’t really have a childhood (splitting wood for hours a day isn’t really what he considered fun) but theres nothing that he can do about it now. It’s in the past and we have to look towards the future. He wants to make sure that our future children have the childhood that he never had.
Has anyone experienced something similar? Was your childhood the polar opposite of your FI/DH/SO’s?
ETA: I’m seriously considering getting him a dirt bike as his wedding gift.
Post # 3
Our childhood was very different as well. He hasn’t talked a lot about his because he’s a quiet individual but I know he was an adventurous, happy, creative boy. His mom is pretty liberal about things and as long as you are happy she will try not to judge, his dad is a little more strict but he’s still friendly.
My childhood was a lot less than satisfactory. I’ve had to really really work to put this in the past so that I can move on and embrace who it has made me, but I’m doing a pretty good job. My family was (and still is) extremely conservative. I was homeschooled until high school and was given a purity ring (not my desire) on my 16th birthday. I could say a lot more but this post would be a mile long. I’ve tried so hard to get over the past and I’d say I’ve come a long way.
I feel the differences in our past has made it easy for me to lok to him as the protector and me as his princess, which is nice because that’s the way he’s always veiwed the way he’d like his relationships to be, ya know?
Post # 4
i think your FI should be applauded because he sounds like he grew into a wonderful man, embrace that he is a survivor and strong and try not to feel guilty about your differences. what a precious gift he is sharing with you when he talks about some of his most private and deepest past pains
for my husband and i we are the same that both our parents are hard working migrants but my family is messed up with alcohhol and verbal/emotional abuse and his was good but his folks never really gave him the support to be different and live his dreams (example his greek mother didnt want him to learn to swim because he might drown if he goes into water – go figure with that logic) so yeah, i get a thrill seeing my hubby thrive with the support he gets from me (in the last few years he completed a new degree, got a new job, is travelling the world, learnt to play guitar/in a band and yes swimming – hes a scuba instructor as well)
Post # 5
Yes! I can completely relate. Without going into all the details, I had a upper-middle class upbringing with two extremely stable, conservative parents. My husband thinks I was a little spoiled, but truly my parents waited until our birthday or Christmas to buy us gifts (although I did get a pony for Christmas one year). The rest of the year we didn’t really get new toys. I spent time on school and extracurricular activities and there was absolutely no question that I would go to a 4 year college, etc etc.
My husband comes from a completely different type of family. They worked really hard to just get by. He is the only one of three brothers who decided to go to college (one didn’t even finish HS or get his GED). The emotional environment was completely different. There didn’t seem to be much stability (physical environment or emotional). Overall, they just had different priorities, and to some extent, had to do what was necessary just to survive. Some of the things he has told me though have made me cry is private though… it’s just so sad.
We’ve been together for 5 Christmases now, but it can still be a challenge. Our first Christmas together (we had been dating for almost a year and were 19/20), my parents bought him a lot of more gifts than he ever got from his family. He was not used to that type of generosity at all, and was really surprised by it all. He also wants to do whatever he can to give his (future) children the childhood he never had.
Post # 6
@eloping: He’s amazing and I give all of that credit to my FFIL. If it weren’t for him, I dont know where FI or his brother would be, though I assume two of the possibilities would be jail or dead. Its hard for him now because all of his bio fathers side has finally discovered FB and now wants to be “friends”. These are the people that ruined his childhood and caused him unbelievable amounts of pain and suffering but now they want to be “friends”? Ugh, it makes me sick!
Post # 7
@EvaBostonTerrier: Wow, I could have written your last paragraph. It is the EXACT same for us (and we’ve been together for more than 5 years, our first Christmas being when we were 19, lol). Anyways, FI was AMAZED at the amount of gifts he got from not only my parents but my grandmother and multiple sets of Aunts/Uncles. He had never had a Christmas like that before and I was so happy that my family could give that to him.
@eloping: Woohoo for your DH being a scuba instructor! What was his mothers reaction when that happened? Is she still worried he’ll drown? lol
Post # 8
@UpstateCait: I wish I could say that FI had an awesome Step-Father that changed things for him….but he didn’t. He had a very rough childhood and still won’t always talk about certain things that bother him. He is slowly getting there, and I am trying to learn to be more patient with that. It’s hard when I know he is upset, yet he can’t yet verbalize what it is.
He comes from a very “do as your told” kind of family, and a “children should be seen not heard” and you know, all of the cliches that could nicely say kids aren’t allowed to grow unless given permission. Without going into detail, we’ll just say it’s been a struggle for him to learn to grow up and not rely on his dad or his grandmother for direction on everything. It helped a lot for him to move away to college, and helped even more when we moved in together, but to say he is at a place where they don’t wield that “sword” of “duty” over him would be false.
One day though – I have hope! 🙂
Thanks for sharing and starting this post though, I’d been struggling with that lately. I had a pretty happy childhood. Yeah my parents divorced but honestly I think they are better off because of it. My step-parents are fab and I have never gone without, nor been supressed verbally or emotionally. It is a bit awkward when I want to talk about some things and he gets weird about them. He is learning though.
Post # 9
My childhood is very different from FI’s.
I won’t get into details, but I’m independent and he’s a momma’s boy… It causes problems sometimes.
EDIT: I have been trying to edit this post for a while now. I didn’t get to finish before it posted.
FI was raised very conservative, I was raised more along the liberal lines. FI grew up in church, I stopped going to church at age 8. FI was taught never to show any emption ever because he’s a man. I was told it was ok to be emotional, but be reasonable.
We are pretty different in almost every aspect of our childhood.
Post # 10
We had two COMPLETELY different childhoods! I grew up with a single mother. Both of my parents were extremely abusive to my brother, sister, and me. I grew up on Welfare and we were never taken care of. My FI grew up in Africa. His father commited suicide (he was the one to find him). His mother was in the USA trying to get Visas to bring him and his brothers over. They were raised by a babysitter and raised VERY conservative and strictly. Neither of us had “family contact” as in hugs, kisses, i love yous, etc. He grew up to be very quiet because of this. I grew up to be very outspoken but with some anxiety issues. I never had a curfew or anything where he had to be in bed at a certain time. Although we are complete opposite, we compliment eachother and have learned from our childhoods. I believe we will be excellent parents someday as well because of our childhoods. Sometimes our different pasts gets in the way of out relationship when it comes to certain things but in the end, it makes us a stronger couple because we learn to find a middle ground.
Post # 11
I was raised mostly by an aunt and my grandmother because my mother had uh, issues with alcohol (I’ll leave it at that). Fortunately, we’ve been able to reconnect recently and have a somewhat normal relationship, which is nice. But for all intents and purposes, I consider the aunt who took care of me for fourteen years to be my mom. I was picked on a lot in elementary school because of my mother (rumors spread like wildfire among parents, and kids are little assholes sometimes), so I was always kind of a shy kid; I spent a ton of time reading and writing, so it’s natural that I decided to study English in college and become a writer. I ended up with PTSD as a result of the immense amounts of shit I witnessed as a young child (and because of some abuse later in life), but I don’t really consider myself “damaged” or much worse for the wear–hey man, dust yourself off, haha.
DH’s parents divorced when he was young; both remarried. He had a pretty ordinary childhood, and because his family had sort of a “reputation,” he was never really picked on in school–he had cousins to look after him. He’s pretty outgoing as well (I’ve really pushed myself to be more extroverted over the past few years, even though by nature I’m an introvert).
Alcoholism runs in both our families, so we’re incredibly careful when we drink–we cap it at 1-2 drinks and don’t drink more than perhaps once a month, though we’ve been known to go months on end without touching a drop of the stuff. Can’t be too careful. My grandfather was an alcoholic, and my mother is one; I probably have the gene for that addiction, too, so I’m super cautious.
Our backgrounds aren’t exactly similar, but somehow we ended up with similar personalities and life philosophies. He’s less of a worrier than I am, but we can both laugh at ourselves, which is a good trait, I think (especially because I tend to be super jumpy, which is actually kind of lulzy–I have learned to laugh about that as well). He encourages me to push myself out of my comfort zone and in return, I look out for him. 🙂
ETA: Whoa, I wrote a damn novel.
Post # 12
@AmeliaBedelia: My parents divorced too. I had a very happy childhood with my biological father (even though he was an alcoholic but my parents did a VERY good job of hiding that from me) and an even better last 10+ years with my step-dad who is one of the most amazing people I know. I dont have any contact with my bio-dad anymore but my step dad has done a great job of making me his own.
Post # 13
@UpstateCait: Agree with eloping that your FI deserves all sorts of congratulations for becoming the person he is today.
My husband and I come from similar economic backgrounds, but the emotional circumstances of our childhoods couldn’tve been more different. My family had its problems, but were generally a happy, stable unit. His – as I’ve posted elsewhere – is a raging mess of abuse, mental illness and flat out dysfunction. It doesn’t cause problems, but he definitely has trouble expressing emotions sometimes, and has said similar things about how important it is to raise kids in X, Y or Z way (and not, say, the way his parents did).
I don’t think you should feel badly about the disparities in your backgrounds. That is, there’s no reason to feel guilty that you enjoyed safety and comfort far greater more than he was able to as a child. When my husband starts to feel sad or angry about things in his past I try to do something to remind him that we, together, are a family now and that I will take care of him in the ways his parents never did or could. In your case, the dirt bike thing sounds like the equivalent.
Post # 14
Fi and I have a lot of similarities in our childhoods, but both of us had some real crappy times regarding totally different people/events, so I understand what you mean…A lot of stories from his childhood make me cry just to think about because he deserved so much better.
I think it will get easier as the two of you start to create your own holiday traditions/festivities.
It is hard when the people from the past try to re-connect with you (and awkward!) Speaking from my own experience, it is really hard when those people try to forge a relationship with you. Even if you want a relationship with them, there is a lot of anger/hate to deal with/let go of (Thanks Dad – only about 20 years too late, but kinda nice that you’re trying!)
I can’t imagine that your Fi would want you to keep quiet about your childhood (he certainly wouldn’t want you to have endured the same upbringing!) Have you asked him how he feels about that?
If nothing else, having such different backgrounds should help you both be great parents (if you plan to have kids!) You’ve experienced what TO do and he’s experienced what NOT to do 🙂 Also, I really believe that overcoming such hard times, strengthens a person and can make a person more sensitive to the way they treat others (not wanting to be like_____ or not wanting to make anyone feel the way he felt growing up.)
I LOVE your plan to get him the dirt bike as a gift – I’m sure he’ll be ecstatic about that! You seem very loving and considerate of him and I’m sure he appreciates that (especially in contrast with his past.)
Post # 15
Kind of off topic (Sorry!)
Oh – Is shopping for the dirt bike something you would want to involve him in? I know Fi wouldn’t want just any motorcycle, so I wouldn’t have a clue what make/model to pick out! Maybe a card or model dirt bike with a note about the real gift being a dirt bike you can pick out together~
Post # 16
@Pwitty: I know he doesn’t want me to not talk about my childhood, I just feel bad bringing it up when mine was all sunshine and rainbows and his was all dark clouds and whatever the opposite of rainbows would be, lol. When he tells the stories, I try to be strong but its tearing me up inside. The horrible things that he endured are unfathomable. It still amazes me that he somehow managed to become this man than I’m going to marry. Not to get all mushy but he’s absolutely amazing. Most people that would have grown up under the circumstances that he did, would not have been so lucky. Again, I give all of the credit to his step-dad.
As for the dirt bike, if he knew I was going to buy it he probably wouldn’t let me. I came into some unexpected money a few months ago that I havent touched yet and I would like to give him back even a fraction of what he has given me over the years. His dad (stepdad but for all intents and purposes, he IS his dad) is the go-to guy for these types of things so I would enlist him to choose the perfect bike for FI. FI would consult with him if he were going to choose it himself so I’m not too worried about choosing the wrong one.