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Q: How do you deal with the Relationship between your Chinese wife and her Mother?

First, I'm not here to complain about my mother in law as she has helped my family enormously.  However, on the flip side of that her relationship with her daughter (my wife) is so close that it is unhealthy for marriage.  Currently she is living with us and until my mother in law goes to bed I can hardly get in more than 2 sentences with my wife before she takes over and dominates discussion. I've talked to some Chinese men and they say they have the same problem, they are invisible at home at least until the mother in law sleeps.  Other than ask the mother in law to leave, any solutions?  My wife is very very sensitive to anything related to her parents so I obviously have to tread carefully. 

8 years 26 weeks ago in  Culture - China

 
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Your screwed dude.  It sucks that your wife isnt a little bit more firm, but you have to understand her side to. How does she tell her mom to screw off? You could have a discussion with your wife.. I havent experienced this, but the conversation interupting is common in China, so I had a sweet the convo that pretty much said" Listen women, maybe you dont think interupting is rude but I sure do, so from now on when I speak, you pay attention to me, and when she interupts you, you ignore her, or answer quickly and come back to me, she doesnt even think its rude anyways, so ignore her ass not mine"  Problem solved! Your wife probably knows the sitution isnt ideal, but doesnt know how to deal with it, so give her some suggestions.

Robk:

Good comment, I find the same thing with Chinese. 

 

They don't know how to solve these problems and they can't come up with their own solutions most of the time. And if you are nice about it they won't listen. 

 

Be firm, present the problem, give them the solution and stay firm. If it becomes a major issue and they still don't listen... you need to think about if you can put up with it for the rest of your life. If not, then the answer is simple. Divorce. 

8 years 26 weeks ago
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8 years 26 weeks ago
 
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Family first.

Lifelong hometown friends and childhood classmates second.

Husband maybe third.

 

Probably not what you wanted to hear, but that's usually the way it is.

pbrown22:

So true.  My wife surely doesnt agree with those values but at the same time she is pressured into fulfilling her "duty" to those, often out of guilt.  Especially the family.  Do I as the husband just play the guilt card as well?  Wouldnt that just drive her insane though. 

8 years 26 weeks ago
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mike695ca:

maybe where you live..... but when your trolling for women in a rice field what do you expect? There are tens of millions of women in China who follow no such order.  And does anyone else find it totally hypocritical that we get all pissy at the Chinese for stereotyping, and generalizing " laowai" when a huge part of what goes on here is the exact same thing?

Chinese girls from my experience are just like anything else in the world, you get what you give.  If your not a priority for her, then perhaps your not as giving yourslelf.

But in all fairness, there plenty of just selfish girls and people as well.

8 years 26 weeks ago
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Iron_Monkey:

Actually I live surprising close.

 

...and you're the first person to ever disagree with my observation.  But every one is entitled to their opinions, most of the time.

 

8 years 26 weeks ago
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mike695ca:

And to that... I thank you.  Its just that ive been here a long time, an never encountered that. Most of my friends I think would agree. In fact I would guess that it was the opposite, that Chinese girls are maybe a little too clingy.

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There's a checklist to review before marriage, and this checklist includes "not living with the parents" "have priority over parents". If at least one of those didn't checkout, damage control is going to be tough.

mike695ca:

Totally agreed.  I went over the checklist before we even started getting serious.

 

Me: Ummm before we have sex.... i gotta talk to you about something...... Im never living with your parents, yeah living with old cantonese people just isnt for me.

 

Her: ummm you wanna talk about this now? Umm ok... Im totally fine with that, im pretty sure they dont wanna live with  you either.

 

Me: sooo agreed?

 

Her: wait! What if they are like 90 and old and we get married one day and its too dangerous for them to live alone, what about then?

 

Me:  I immediatly regret starting this conversation. Ok umm if i answer that, can we go back to what we were doing?

 

Her:  Yes of course

 

Me: Deal!!!!

8 years 26 weeks ago
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Scandinavian:

@mike. Later in life you will learn this was the most costly sex ever. 

8 years 26 weeks ago
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mike695ca:

hahaha she is now my wife. She has really kept up her end of the bargain. Her parents seem to love me and take an interest. Birthdays and xmas, prepare medicine when im sick. They live about an hours drive away and never been to our house. And I feel really lucky, they seem to be pretty Western, not the type , like ill help you buy house then live with you forever, They seem to be more like, my kids are idiots so were gonna have to take care of ourselves. Its a good situation for everyone involved.

8 years 26 weeks ago
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Hulk:

Oh wow, you're gonna pay for it later down the road. I'm in full agreement with Scandinavian.

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8 years 26 weeks ago
 
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  My wife has a far more volatile relationship with her mother than the one you describe, and I treat it like I would a fireworks display: stand well back and enjoy the show.

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Sounds like you're in a tight spot there.  Tell her that the situation isn't as it should be and suggest a way around it.  Getting the MIL out of there would definitely help.

Mate, am I lucky!  Before we married I was on very good terms with her Mum and I found her very friendly.  Since marrying mid year she hasn't spoken to her daughter at all.  We never see her.  Happy every day!

 

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8 years 26 weeks ago
 
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Living with the MIL is a bad idea, especially if you have the dominating version of the MIL. I have a somewhat similar MIL, but she doesn't live with us. As soon as she comes by it's a territory pissing battle. E.g. right now I don't know where a pair of my home shoes are. Why? The other day the MIL was here. She puts all our shoes out in the sun, then she takes them back in, and she has packed away the shoes she doesn't think we need. 

I have been training my wife in the fact that her mother is interrupting. It actually started with my wife complaining that I never talk when we are with her mother. Then after just about a year of saying "when do you want me to talk, you mother never stops and if I say something I am interrupted", I've now switched to just saying "she did it again" every time I am interrupted. This has made my wife very aware of how much her mother is actually preventing us from being able to communicate. 

 

But the mother daughter relationship is unhealthy for my wife and her mum too. My wife is programmed to run everything by her mum. Real life example. Wife and me are sitting on the sofa one evening. She begins to complain about abdominal pain. After a bit of standard home remedies the pain begins to get too much. She calls her mum and tells her we'll go to the hospital. This conversation instructs my wife to "wait at home until I come by". When she hangs up, I have gathered what is needed for going to the hospital, I say "let's go"

w "no let's wait for my mum"

me "she doesn't know where the hospital is or what?"

w "no she said it would be best if she came with us"

... I then call the MIL, tell her to meet us there, we do about 5 iterations of bullocks time wasting. Then I simply tell her "OK, you come here, we'll go to the hospital"

 

later... much much later, when my wife was diagnosed the doctor said she needed to be admitted. the MIL kicks in again and says it should be at a "better hospital" as what my wife needed was rest under observation I did tell that I thought a cross town taxi ride at 3AM was a bad idea. Yet we did so, each bump in the road caused unneeded pain to my wife. At 4AM we were back at the starting point, same hospital. They had indeed called ahead to check that the "better hospital" had a person who knew something about the ailment. That conversation had not included if the "better hospital" had empty beds. 5AM, two of my MILs friends and fellow biblenutters shows up to pray over my wife. The entire next day the hospital is teaming with friends of the MIL. A f***ing circus.

This was great because now I have this brilliant example of how things go down when she listens to her mum. 

 

Oh. I thought I was going to go see fireworks tonight. Turns out the MIL is coming for dinner. 

Nessquick:

Happy new year :-) ...

 

8 years 26 weeks ago
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Scandinavian:

Thanks mate. Same to you. 

8 years 26 weeks ago
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Hulk:

Chinese mother in laws seem to be the same across every province... WOW. Wait, you did marry a Hunannite, right? And the MIL is from Hunan? Oh my goody two-shoes I want to smash a duck's face on a speed bump after reading this post... it's so relatable.

8 years 26 weeks ago
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Scandinavian:

Yup. MIL is from Changsha. The best place in the world according to her. 

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Oohhh, I am soo lucky seems like. I have really forbid them living with us.

They are nice and friendly, when we come visit them, but that's the way the things are going on normal life. Can't imagine that. I can, but want keep only the imaginery, nothing more...

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My experience of life in Asia made me very worried of any melding of MIL with my couple's life. The few tales here are just re-enforcing this opinion. My MIL is a cute, funny, light-spirited woman, who seems to really like me, calling me an adoptive son. We are 4 hours apart, she never meddle with our life. My wife is doing a great job at that.

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My mother in law moved in a few months before the baby was born... almost 2 years ago.

 

I have 2 ways to deal with it.

 

Firstly, I go to the pub and leave them to it.

 

You see, My wife has told me herself  that her custom does not allow her to disobey her mother.  No matter if my wife disagrees with her, she still has to do what mum says.

 

The second way I deal with it is by giving her mother what she wants.... a lazy son in law.  I do nothing in the house. I leave all the washing and cleaning up to her. I never used to be like that but I am now because I got fed up with her trying to take over any chore I was doing.  So I leave her to it.  Especially after the time she re-washed some dishes after I had just washed them, saying I had not washed them well enough.

 

But seriously, my mother in law is spot on with most things. I think the Chinese have a good system when it comes to family. Just sometimes the filial piety goes a bit too far.

 

PS. If you have a baby and try to throw your mother in law out, don't be surprised in wife and baby go with her indecision.

 

 

royceH:

They don't have a clue how to wash dishes properly.  Just run em under the tap and stack em in the cupboard/draw while still wet.

Gives me the shits.

 

8 years 26 weeks ago
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dom87:

my was telling me that we should give our baby (note we dont have one) for like 2 month to her mother

 

i didnt know what to say else than "WTF"

8 years 26 weeks ago
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ScotsAlan:

Hi Dom

 

That's normal here for Grandparents to look after the baby.  I could not deal with the sending the baby away bit, but the grandparent moving in with you is actually not too bad. You get used to it. 

 

I would be a bit worried about your partner wanting to send the baby away though. I suspect there is a motive behind that. Is there an older son still at home with the parents?  Just a wild guess, but first son always comes first in the family.  If the baby goes back to the hometown, you have to support the family. That might include building a house for the son yes

 

 

Much cheaper to bus mother in law to your apartment and give her housekeeping .

 

Just make sure you wash the dishes again before you use them 

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It's good and bad.

My wife doesn't want her mother to ever live with us because she doesn't want to listen to the constant nagging. However, she definitely loves her mom a lot - in spite of the fact that she's overly domineering.

I'm glad we both agree. I'd honestly just disappear if I had to live with the in laws. Sorry, but I don't love anyone enough to deal with that constant drama and overly controlling maniac.

Hulk:

I'll update later when I have time

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Every man wants peace unless something is wrong with him. If you can't get that from your wife because of the MIL, then you should talk to her about it. Tell her how you feel, and that you want to spend more time with her, etc.  If she refuses to change in any way, shape or form, you could consider moving on.

 

I hate divorce, but I'd never stay with a woman who forced me to live like that.

 

For forks sake, I had to listen to the in-law interrupting everything constantly when we stayed with her. I had to listen to her inane input on everything, and every single time we wanted to do something, we ended up having a thirty minute argument about how we should just stay home and sit on our asses to save money. If I had to live with that, I would leave... forever.

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