Post # 1
Are there any girls out there that are marrying a guy whose first language is not English? My fiancé speaks perfect English, as does his family, but for some reason whenever there are family dinners or holidays they all switch to Danish/Swedish.
Fiance tries to tell me what is being talked about but it is difficult because we are never seated next to each other during meals (very formal family by the way!) and his sister’s husband, whose English is probably the worst, tries to include me sometimes, which I appreciate.
What hurts my feeling the most is his parents seem to make no effort to include me in the conversations. I know they will probably not change (they are just like that!) but I was wondering if anyone had any advice for coping with it and not letting it get to me…
Post # 3
Yep, I’m in a similar situation although FI’s family speaks minimal English (the exception being his 70 year old dad who is retired and thus studies in a grandfather class for fun). I know a large part of the problem in my situation is that I should be more competant in Korean by this point as we live here. However, my job requires me to constantly speak English, so I don’t get a lot of practice time. Probably in your case too, the more you learn, the easier your life will get. Perhaps if you try to show them that you are struggling through their language, they will slow down, show more compassion, and try to communicate with you more?
I don’t have a lot of advice, but it’s something Fiance and I continually work through. Whenever Fiance is with a group of Koreans, he tends to block out everything around him and get emersed in a conversation forgetting that I’m there. I guess I also feel like I have better strategies for including him and other Koreans when we are with a predominately English-speaking crowd because I am a language teacher. I’m constantly checking that he understands, giving alternative vocabulary words, explaining more complicated details of whatever story someone is telling etc. He’s having to learn how to be a bit more considerate of me, but when it comes to language, I think it’s a long slow battle! I also find that his friends with much less English ability than him are more inclusive. I think perhaps when people become very fluent in another language, they tend to forget just how difficult it is for people who are starting out? People have a lower ability know what alientaion feels like.
Post # 4
I’m 100% sure it is NOT intentional that they’re leaving you out. They’re reverting to their native (and thus most comfortable) language, which is a pretty natural thing to do.
Have you thought about studying up? Afterall, you’re marrying into this family and culture!
Post # 5
I have the same exact problem!!! My Fiance is Swedish and they always do this to me!!! I get so mad because it is not fun to spend a whole dinner not saying a word. At his sisters confirmation this summer he was like if you want to go take a nap or read thats ok because I was just sitting all alone with no one to talk to. OMG I am seriously so happy you posted this it makes me feel so much better.
Post # 6
my best friend has this issue with her Future In-Laws…even though her Fiance has asked them time after time to speak English when she’s around. she decided to take some language classes and just not tell them
Post # 7
I have thought about taking Swedish classes but have not been able to find any around me right now but for our trip this summer I am packing lots of books and crosswords etc to occupy my time when they are all socializing!!
Post # 8
I am in a similar situation. My fiance and his family are French and though most of his immediate and extend family can speak English (and do when addressing me directly) they have the same tendency to revert to French. Its just more natural for them and I don’t begrudge it. I’ve been working myself to learn the language and I’ve found the best way is just to have my Fiance speak it at home. We have designated days where he is only allowed to speak to me in French. I can still respond in English, otherwise things would get way too frustrating, but hopefully I’ll start responding more in French as time goes on. We both think its important for me to learn so that we can speak French to our children and have them learn as well since its part of their heritage.
Post # 9
I’ve been battling this for 4 years. His immediate family is very good about speaking english for the most part (though at this point, when they switch to dutch I can usually follow along as long as it’s not technical talk about computers or cars). However, the rest of the family acts like I should have stepped off the plane speaking fluent dutch.
To make it even better, one of his cousins or nephews got a romanian girlfriend who picked up dutch from the get go. So they can’t understand why after 4 years I still struggle with basic conversation. They don’t understand that not everyone is a natural linguist and language is my second worse subject. Plus at 30 learning a new language isn’t a cake walk!
I literally break out in hives when I have to go to a family function with anyone else other than his parents, oma and sister.
Post # 10
Thanks everyone! I feel a bit better knowing I’m not alone in this. When I wrote this I had just had an extremely frustrating evening with the family. Most of the time I can just let it roll off but this time it really got to me because I didn’t feel like part of the family and we’re 3 months away from the wedding. I think I’ll have to accept the fact that we will never have a warm & fuzzy relationship. Sadly, Fiance doesn’t have a warm & fuzzy relationship with them either, which bothers him a lot.
I started Swedish classes when we first moved here in September but had to stop in December because I started working. My company is very multi-national so the working language is English.
And if no one has every heard Danish…omg…it is the hardest language in Europe I believe. They cut their words in half so they don’t even sound like they look on paper. I totally understand that it is their native language and that is what they feel most comfortable with. I guess I get so used to FI’s English which is perfect, without even an accent.
@ldyparadox99: I totally know how that feels. As soon as I stepped off the plane they were asking when I was going to learn Danish. One of the first things Future Mother-In-Law said was “The Danish princess that is originally from Australia learned Danish in 3 months” and then just about every time we see them she asks why I have not learned it….I want to say because its a freakin’ hard language that only about 5 million people speak. Don’t get me wrong…I’m not trying to be “snobby” American…I do love the country and living over here..this is just the first thought that jumps to mind.
Post # 11
My fiance’s family doesn’t do this – they’re actually all really good about speaking English instead of Dutch. His mom and his two brothers are quite fluent in English and his father understands English pretty well but has a hard time speaking it.
My FI’s friends on the other hand always spreken in nederlands and it sort of drives me insane!!!! My fiance doesn’t notice because he’s fluent in both English and Dutch so it really doesn’t make a difference to him so I’ve just stopped complaining about it and I always make a point of inviting non-Dutch speakers over for dinner as well as Dutch speakers in order to facilitate the conversation in English.
We had a few friends over a couple of weeks ago for dinner and they all speak English fluently but pretty much spoke Dutch the entire time which really got on my nerves but whatever. These friends are usually good when it comes to speaking English when I’m around but for whatever reason, that day they felt like speaking Dutch the majority of the time. I just spent most of my time in the kitchen cleaning and cooking and just fiddling around.
I’ve studied Dutch with a private tutor for 1.5 years (I stopped my lessons when wedding planning began to slowly take over my life but will resume my lessons post-wedding) and am actually pretty good at understanding Dutch (I’m a damn good eavesdropper) but I’m not the best when it comes to speaking it.
Post # 12
Has anyone thought to try Rosetta Stone? I hear great things about it, I know its expensive but if you can really pick it up as quickly as they say you can, I think it would be worth it not to have to deal with that kind of frustratin
Post # 13
I know how you feel 🙂 Like everyone else has stated I highly doubt that they are intentionally leaving you out. they are reverting back to what is normal and comfortable for themselves. But Im sure that if you nicely let them know you feel a little left out then im sure they will slow down or even stop to explain to you what is going on.
My in laws speak NO english at all. zip…natta. They cant even say “hello” in english. I have to constantly rely on my japanese to be able to communicate with them. but you know what? Even learning a LITTLE but of the language is so rewarding and Im sure your in laws and the family will be delighted! You should pick up a phrase book or something!! 🙂
Post # 14
@Miss Dane OMG…the dutch say the same thing about their Argentine princess. However, the difference between the royals and us is they have the money to send their princesses to the top of the line immersion programs. I know exactly where they sent the princess over here and I’ve looked into it. It’s 3,000 euro for a freakin WEEK.
When people start throwing her in my face these days I just sweetly reply, “Would you like my account infomation so you can make a donation towards the 3,000 euro it will take for me to take part of the same program your princess did?” That usually shuts them up pretty quickly.
Post # 15
Hi ladies! Im sooo glad to hear of other people with this issue. My dh’s family speaks sinhalese and its so frustrating!! My inlaws live with my SIL for a few months every summer, and when Im there they always speak in their native tongue. They are all fluent in English- but they still do it anyways. The other thing that drives me crazy is when my SIL doesnt want anyone to know what she’s talking about, she’ll say it in sinhalese to my husband. It is sooo incredibly rude!
They also have these weekly calls or video calls and never include me in it. It really hurts my feelings. I rarely see my inlaws and when I do I feel so secluded by the language barrier- I feel like I should be included in these calls so I can get to know them better, but Im never asked to be included.
Learning sinhalese is completely out of the question for me- not even my SIL or husband know how to read/write it, only speak it- so Im out of luck! I guess its just something Ill have to deal with- forever.
Post # 16
I am actually the opposite, my family speaks Mandrian when we are together and my Fiance doesn’t understand a word of it. I’ve had some experience in translating so every so often, I would whisper and translate the gist of the conversation to him or translate if someone cracked a joke, and my family is really good at occasionally (not often) stopping to explain what they are saying. But if you have the formal dinner where you are not allowed to sit next to him, ask him to brief the person next to you to act as your translator would be my suggestion.