It is official! My sister has finally booked her plane ticket which means my whole family will be for my vow renewal in about five weeks. Granted ‘whole family’ means my mum and my sister. I come from a very small family where both my grandmothers died before I was born and grew up with not a single cousin. However if my dad was still alive you bet he would be here in a heart beat to support us. I could not feel more blessed or more excited to see my kin.
Unfortunately I found out a couple of days ago that my husband will only have his father here to celebrate our ten years of marriage. Despite years of rocky relationships with his side of the family we still have held out that change could happen. That they would accept us a family. The problems all boil down to not meeting expectations and misunderstandings in our cross cultural relationship. However you do not need a Third Culture Kid upbringing outside the US for this happen. This could be the same situation with couples from families in different parts of the US with how vast and different the culture is through out the country.
We, my husband and I, wanted this celebration to finally bring together the two families. We can see how most of all the problems have arisen while on my in law’s turf. My husband and I thought that having his family around my family and our friends and in our home country would help them assimilate to how our family works. As a third culture kid and an American raised abroad there are many aspects of our life that they have not understood nor accepted. From moving around a lot I know the easiest way to understand a new culture is to fully immerse yourself in it and get to know the people. That was our hope from this summer. I was finally excited to not have to ‘act’ a certain way or pretend to be someone we were not just when his parents were around because they live by different expectations.
It makes me sad for my husband. Especially because I know how close he and my dad became and how proud he would be to support us. I am also sad for our my kids. This is not the first time they have missed out on time with grandparents because of self imposed drama. Last summer after a confrontation with my mother in law she left the state for several weeks, only wanting to return after I was back in England. I wish I could say I am the root cause for it all, but it just happens over and over again. It is unfortunate. However not all families talk about the problems. They happen, no one addresses it and then they smile and act like nothing happens until it carries on into the next blow up. It is not healthy and though I cannot force my in laws to like me or to be here and support us I can share with you lessons I have learned from it all.
Be Assertive. I talk about things in my family. I use things that happen in life and in current events to teach my children life lessons and to open up conversation. I do not believe in covering up the truth with sugar coated stories. I really think the worst thing you can do is to not talk about something. If I am having a bad day I would rather my husband know about it, than hope that he has magically gotten a sixth sense between when he left for work and when he got home. You have to be assertive and act.
We have the power of choice. You can choose how you act or react to situations. I chose to Let Go when it came to things out of my control. I also choose to be honest to my blog. I love to take photographs and it is nice to be complimented on them, but I feel in turn I like to be open with my thoughts. I think the worst thing is to be alone, to feel alone, or to have no one to talk too. If you feel that way, feel free to talk with me as I have been there before. It is through talking and through letting go that we can live life as adults and enjoy each precious day we are blessed with in our life.
Q: Have you ever experienced trials with families when it comes to different expectations or cultural differences? How have you gotten through it?