Post # 1
My Fiancé and I have family all over the place. I’m American he’s Swedish/Spanish and we live in Sweden. I come from a family that when we vacation together we stay in separate hotel rooms and don’t usually even stay with other family members when we visit. We do our own thing and usually just meet up to do stuff a couple times on vacation such as dinners, golfing, etc. my fiancé hasn’t complained and seems to have a good time when we visit.
His is family on the other hand is all about being together every moment of “vacation” (it’s not even close to a vacation for me). As half his family lives in Spain we have to visit and typically stay 3 weeks at a time. I’m here now and I can tell you unless we’re in a hotel next visit, this is the last time I’ll be joining.
His dads house is filthy, covered in black mold and mildew. He hasn’t dusted or cleaned in probably 5+ years and I feel even dirtier when I take a shower because it’s so disgusting. My fiancé knows this but is less effected by it. It’s extremely unsanitary. I can’t even find a clean glass in the house when I’m there. He just rinses them and calls it good. The water for the house comes from the outdoor pool. I am grossed out the entire time to the point I can’t sleep or be comfortable.
Spanish culture is also very close. We have to eat every meal together, sit around for hours talking (I speak Spanish but not well enough to hold a deep conversation). His family just monopolizes our time. Even when we go to other cities they expect us to stay at thier house (in a mattress on the floor or uncomfortable cots in rooms with other people) and get offended when we book a hotel. Spanish culture is also very ok with everyone sleeping in the same room (at least his family is) so sometimes his cousin or an aunt will be in the room with us. Which I am extremely uncomfortable with. And then we can’t even have a dinner out to ourselves without 5 others joining in without taking no for an answer. Let’s not even talk about the fact we have to sleep in twin beds with no even hope of sexy time…
My fiance needs to see his family and I am not going to stop him from that but for me to waste my summer (I live in Sweden where summer is precious) on sitting around bored out my mind for hours is causing problems in our relationship. I have no problem meeting up with the family for lunches every other day or going to dinner. Of course we need to see them but I don’t think it’s fair to be expected to spent every moment with them on our vacation. My SO doesn’t see it that way and gets frustrated that I am bored and irritable. When we go to the US I see my family for dinner maybe 2 times a week and we generally do our own thing with my parents joining along every once in awhile. It’s gotten to the point where next summer I think I’ll be going to the US and he’ll be going to Spain on his own which makes me the witch in his families eyes. On both sides of his family.
Is anyone else dealing with a family dynamic that is completely foreign to you? How do you compromise with your SO? Obviously mine needs to see his family, but at what point does it become too much sacrificing on my end? Or do you think I am being too selfish and need to adapt and suck it up?
Post # 2
Yeah I would not be okay with any of that. Yes cultures are different, but that doesn’t mean you have to stay in a place that is disgusting or have zero privacy. A good compromise, in my opinion, would be to stay in a hotel but then do more with his family than you normally would with yours (preferably outside the gross house). Is FI against the idea of a hotel?
Post # 3
mrsyoung18 : yes I agree! The house I won’t compromise on anymore. This is the worst I’ve seen it but I’m not risking my health and dealing with asthma and allergies my whole trip. My fiancé is not completely against the idea of a hotel just the cost and he does worry a bit about offending his family. It’s expensive especially as we usually come for three weeks but for my it’s going to have to be a hotel and maybe a shorter trip (like a week) or he’ll have to come down solo. I like your compromise idea! I would definitely be ok with that as I know no matter what I’ll need to be ok spending more time with his family than we do mine on visits. The complete lack of privacy is what needs to change for me.
Post # 4
I think it’s normal to spend a good deal of time with family when visiting them (more than you are suggesting). But you guys should at least have a private room, preferably a hotel. I’d insist on that.
Post # 5
pebbletots : Why do you have to stay for 3 weeks? Could you guys shorten it and stay in a hotel for that amount of time?
You’re obviously compromising A LOT here. Your hubs needs to compromise as well.
Post # 6
I would see if you could rent an AirBNB or something for 3 weeks. It might be cheaper than a hotel.
Post # 7
I don’t think you’re being selfish, and that situation would drive me crazy too!
I’ve been on weekend trips with my SOs family and we spend all our time together too. However, on week trips or longer, we have separate hotel rooms and simply plan to do dinner every night together (rest of the time free to roam). My SO is also from Europe, so I also get a little bored sitting through a lot of conversations I can’t understand 😉 That’s something I just deal with honestly, as I feel it’s my responsibility to learn the language. My SO is a huge help in setting these trip boundaries (his mom would have the whole family together 24/7 all year long if she could)
Maybe you can suggest a compromise? He visits his family for a week in winter and you both visit a week in summer? You either need to (a) cut down how long you’re there, or (b) convince your SO that a hotel and personal time is necessary.
Post # 8
I think y’all need to find a happy medium. Dinner twice a week when visiting your fam that you see only once a year would not cut it for me….but neither would nonstop interaction, staying in a filthy home on cots with other relatives…horrific!!
When we visit my husband’s family in his home country, we also go for three weeks and stay with them in their 2 br apt. It is a bit cramped for sure, but at least we have our own room and it is clean! We go out and do our own thing every day, and we take short overnight trips to other areas in the country so it’s not constant interaction with his fam. It’s a nice balance.
Your fiance just needs to stand up to his parents and calmly but firmly state that you will be staying in a hotel/airbnb on your next visit. They may flip out and villainize you, but they’ll get over it. At the same time, I think you should be open to seeing them a lot more often than you would with your family, because it’s important to your fiance. Maybe not every moment of every day, but def more than twice a week for a meal.
Good luck bee, I am still shivering from the description of your FI’s dad’s house!
Post # 9
Hmmm I used to stay with my family in Europe for a long time. But it was like we were part of the household. I would vacuum and stuff. So you could (not that you want to on vacation) clean the room you’re staying in. But I too have asthma and this would make it difficult for me too. I’d need extra treatments and even then…
I get that it’s culture but can your FI say that it’s part of Swedish culture to have your own personal space? I mean it goes both ways. I’m sure they will get over it eventually of you stay in a hotel, right?
Post # 10
I agree that you need to find a compromise.
It sounds like the biggest issue is sleeping arrangements, so stick up for that – either a hotel, or an airbnb, or whatever you can find.
For the rest, it sounds like your family don’t spend much time together but I completely understand his wanting to spend more time together when they don’t see each other the rest of the year. Maybe you can agree to have one meal each day with them? Or else to have 3 days with them, one day without?
I’m in a cross-cultural relationship, currently when I go to visit my FI’s family I have a bedroom to myself or with his female cousins and he has one to himself or with his male cousins. However, once we get married and are sharing a bedroom, there’s no way we’ll be sharing that room with others until we have children.
Post # 11
You are a saint because I couldn’t deal. Why don’t you compromise to just stay for a couple of days?Surely your man should understand.
Post # 12
I agree with a PP that you should look into an AirBNB or similar for next time; renting for a few weeks at a time should be cheaper than paying a nightly hotel rate.
But I also think it would be fine for you to visit for a shorter time than your fiancé. You two could go together for one week and stay in a hotel, and he could stay two extra weeks staying in the house with his family. If you split it up so that the one week when you visited was in the middle of his three weeks, then you wouldn’t have to go very long without seeing each other.
Post # 13
My husband’s family is a bit like this. Not unclean, just when we visit we all sit around for hours and hours. It’s maddening and we all speak the same language so I can’t imagine how it is for you dealing with a second (or third) language. When we visit DH’s family this is how it goes:
-Wake up, breakfast together
-Sit around in living room talking until lunch
-Sit around in living room talking until dinner
-Sit around in living room watching tv until people go to sleep
For my own sanity I’ve started finding ways to dismiss myself from parts of the sitting around. I act like I have a really strict workout regieme, so I have to be out of the house for about 1.5 hours per day, and of course after that I must shower and wash my hair, so another 30 minutes. That gets me 2 hours of peace a day. I also offer to cook a few dinners when I’m there, which means I have to go to the grocery store, shop, come back and cook. Maybe you can do that? Find ways to get out of the house alone.
Post # 14
Oh gosh, I would not be able to handle that. Even if the issue with the filthy has wasn’t a factor, I cannot stand that much time around other people! I’m extremely introverted and need a lot of down-time.
When we visit my family, it’s much like visits with your family – stay in a hotel, share occasional meals or do occasional activities. Last time my dad/stepmom came out to visit us, we had dinner with them most nights, had brunch on the weekend, but mostly they wanted to do their own thing (touristy things we had little interest in, visiting friends who live nearby, etc). We did wind up going to one museum with them because there was a special exhibit we all wanted to see.
With his family, I think you need to start setting boundaries now, before you have kids (assuming you want them?). What if you have a baby and his entire family expects to show up and spend 3 weeks in your house???
Get a hotel or an Air BnB – look into options lilke hotel loyalty progreams to earn points and get free nights. If he’s concerned his family will be offended, he can tell them that while this much togetherness may be the norm in his culture and family, it’s not the norm for you. (It may be that having your own space will help you tolerate spending a bit more time with them, knowing you can escape to your clean hotel room later?) Maybe a white lie and say something about you’ve developed some sleep issues and your doctor wants you to ensure you don’t deviate from specific sleep patterns, you don’t sleep well when room-sharing?
Post # 15
I was in similar situation…i will say this…it got to the point that I told hubby me or them! (Stay in hotel)
Your husband needs to remember when he married you, that you come first, health & happiness….his family 2nd….you can not please everyone…
Be firm….they will get over it! & your marriage will bloom 🙂
Best of luck