(Closed) Have you ever had cultural misunderstandings with your SO or their family?

posted 5 years ago in Intercultural
Post # 3
Member
2497 posts
Buzzing bee

@StinaBremm:  Don’t feel bad. As someone who is Taiwanese-American, even I don’t know all of the faux pas. Things to avoid for weddings: white or blue (symbolizes mourning – tough to deal with, because now I can’t have a something blue!) and pears (a homonym in Chinese for “leave” or “go away” – Americans, on the other hand, like pears because it’s a homonym for “pair”).

Since your announcements included pictures of you two, they’ll see that you’re not Taiwanese and will likely give you a pass. Don’t sweat it! I saw your other post about how you put together these announcements and thought they were awesome. 

Post # 4
Member
1269 posts
Bumble bee
  • Wedding: September 2013

OMG, one thing ALL cultures need to learn is to chill the fuck out and stop being so freaking offended by small things. Unless you sent a swastika or burning cross, or something representing hatred, racism, genocide etc, then it should be something to laugh off and move on about.

My Fiance is mixed and he was adopted by “whitebread americans.” I was raised by “blackbread americans in a whitebread community.” We haven’t run into too many problems–yet, but I also haven’t spent a lot of time with his family. 

 

Post # 6
Member
587 posts
Busy bee
  • Wedding: October 2013

@StinaBremm:  If you guys generally get along then I doubt she’s looking for a reason, but likely had to comment.

I’m in a similar situation, my Fiance is Indian but was raised in America and doesnt’ know all the customs. My family is mostly just careful about what food to prepare but otherwise nothing has happened yet. We’re having two entirely separate weddings to avoid stepping on any toes. A lot of extra costs but for us its worth it to avoid conflict.

Post # 7
Member
1269 posts
Bumble bee
  • Wedding: September 2013

@StinaBremm:  I understand what you’re saying, but it even goes more toward my point, which is people need to get over things. Does she think of her dead father each time she showers or washes her hands? No! Did Towlie from southpark kill her father? No. So what’s the big deal.

I’m sorry that you have to deal with it. I know that we all would like to be politically correct as much as possible, so I feel your pain on that. 

What I’d do in the future is just ask the Mother-In-Law or look it up on google. But I gotta tell you, I get peeved when people are like, “Don’t do that. You’ll offend so-in-so…well, of course you can’t do that, because so-in-so will be offended.”

I mean, what if it was your culture to send towels out for a wedding annoucement? What then? Whose culture trumps? LOL It’s just really not that serious.

Cupcakes are cute, though. You went through a lot of effort and she just spit on it, basically. I mean, isn’t it American culture not to tell people you don’t like their gifts? LOL

The other side of it is maybe she is just trying to help. Maybe it’s embarrassing her. But I’m recalling our rose traditions, where red means love, white means funeral and yellow friendship, right? Will you be offended if your husband gave you white roses? I doubt it. Would it bring up painful memories of a funeral? doubt it.

People hold onto traditions and things too hard, and  you can’t take them with you when you go, so why must we take them so seriously?

Post # 8
Member
2497 posts
Buzzing bee

@honeybee1999:  I don’t see it as the Mother-In-Law “spitting on it.” It sounds like Mother-In-Law is just trying to make OP aware of cultural customs. This isn’t about being politically correct. It’s about showing respect for FI’s family.

Post # 10
Member
1813 posts
Buzzing bee
  • Wedding: February 2012

@StinaBremm:  Oh every other thing either of us do is a cultural misunderstanding. 

There’s a really long list, but I won’t bore you. I always ask Darling Husband and ILs if there is something I need to know about social situations and they always say “Oh noooo”, so when Mother-In-Law gets offended now, I straight-out ask her “Why didn’t you tell me when I asked” and have stopped apologising for every ‘gaffe’ I do, as I am always polite and go out of my way to be polite, I should not be made to feel like the evil DIL just because nobody told me that I should have kissed the hand of the Koumbaros (Greek version of best man) the first time he came to their house – I asked if there were specific things I should do, was told to just be myself, NO ONE mentioned this when I REPEATEDLY asked if they were certain, and was told nothing. 

This has (finally) led to them understanding that just because it’s something they have done all their lives, it doesn’t mean I know about it, and they are starting to tell me more things, and noticing things in cultural traditions which are probably completely new for me.  DH’s female cousin is a fantastic woman and always emails me things I need to know when I ask her, and is always neaby at public gatherings to whisper in my ear anything I need to know.

As she kindly pointed this out, I would invite her out to lunch with the intention of getting as much information as you can off her.  If there is something that is very important for you in tradition or cultural sense, but she considers it inapporpriate, or vice-versa, try to reach an agreement half-way.  It could be something as simple in the wedding of having an explination on your programs the cultural significance of certain things.

Post # 11
Member
1269 posts
Bumble bee
  • Wedding: September 2013

@somethingaquamarine: The “spit on” comment was rather minor in light of the other opinions in the post. The main point I was trying to make is I don’t think it was necessary for the Mother-In-Law to reject the entire gift and embarrass the bride by telling her not to send it anymore. To me, that’s spitting on a gift, and I’d be offended. Which goes to my greater point, get over it. No need to let yourself be offended or tromp on people’s gestures just because they are not “politically correct” for you or your culture. I thought I’d made this point very clear.

While you think she should show respect for the husband’s family, I think that the respect needs to go BOTH ways. 
 

Post # 12
Member
741 posts
Busy bee
  • Wedding: May 2012

@StinaBremm:  Oh, the stories I could tell you… 

– One time, I said loudly in the car that I was going to make soup with boobs in it. I confused the word in French with pumpkin cause they are similar….

– The first time I ate shrimp, it came out with the head still attached. I couldn’t figure out how to eat it properly, and she has to come over and cut my food for me. I was freaking 22 years old, someone cut my food…

There is more…but the thing is, people know you aren’t from their culture and most likely should think of that first when you do something bizaare. I’ve always appreciated my ILs understanding.

That seems like an easy mistake, towels are normal household items. What if you just need a towel for common day to day things? I wonder why towels…Anyways, you are certainly not alone on this one!

Post # 14
Member
2497 posts
Buzzing bee

@honeybee1999:  You’re taking this way too seriously. If I’m not mistaken, this post is about sharing experiences, not getting furious about them. Please take it down a notch and let this post return to what OP originally intended it to be.

Post # 15
Member
751 posts
Busy bee
  • Wedding: October 2014

I totally understand! my SO is american and I’m irish italian but raised in the UK, so although they’re all western cultures there are some misunderstandings although usually cute/funny things, for example this summer my SO mother told me that she was convinced that every time we had pasta (we live in rome) I made it from scratch! which no one does anymore in Italy unless its a very special occasion and anyway most young paople have no idea about how to make it.

Or she keept asking me loads of questions about what i thought of the states, and they’re houses, and cars and supermarkets and things like that, I don’t think she realised how similar the UK is to the US!

She also introduced me a few times as her son’s” souvenir” but she is always very nice to me and does the best to make sure I feel welcomed and at home with her and her family so i consider myself very lucky!

Post # 16
Member
196 posts
Blushing bee
  • Wedding: July 2013

Fiance is from Puerto Rico and I’m from the Southern United States. Most of our cultural differences come out over food and language. He finds sweet tea and grits disgusting. I’m not a fan of beans and I think eating potatoes, rice, and beans in one meal is just far too many starches. lol. Also, he has a tough time pronouncing certain words in English. Like when he askes for a “sheet” of paper, he sometimes says “shit” of paper. Or when he tries to say “boss” and says “bus”. Needless to say, those moments are just about always hilarious. My Spanish is terrible, so I end up saying some pretty funny things too.

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