Category Archives: life

Marriage, Inlaws and Cross Cultural Issues

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.  

If you have been reading this blog for a bit you will know that I talk often about how life is not easy.  It is a valuable life lesson I work with my kids to understand.  We both come from families that did not talk and though there was lots of love lacked the intimacy.  It is something we have realised through our marriage and through what we want to change to be different for our kids. Marriage is not easy and ours took may pitfalls into a near divorce.  The silver lining is that life is also beautiful.  Through it all my husband and I are still married, are finally living in Europe, and are more happy now than ever.  To be celebrating ten years of marriage and to renew our vows in front of our family and friends is a big deal to us.

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.

Just because it is different, it does not make it wrong. This is a sweet and simple statement from Disney’s Merlin animated film that I have used over and over with my in laws.  It is pretty much my go to answer when we run into differences in understanding about something.  If you just think about how big the world is, how many countries and cultures are within it, and how many different ways people live life day to day.  Not every one believes the same thing and it is okay. Would you go into someone’s house in a country across the world from you and preach to them about why their way of doing something is incorrect? Perhaps looking at close relationships the same way can help to understand those with different views. 
People Grow and Evolve. Yes it is true you cannot change a person, only they can decide to make the change for themselves.  People however do experience personal growth.  You cannot say that someone is a certain way or is a certain person because of something they said or did a decade ago.  We are also learning lessons continually in our lives.  However we are all also in different stages of our learning.  Just because you have learned the lesson on how to deal with personal conflict with others, does not mean someone else has learned it yet.  I have learned that instead of letting the hurtful words of other affect you, to be patient as they work through those important life lessons. This was something brought up by my friend Patricia this week. 
Don’t play the blame game.  This is a daily lesson I am helping my sons learn.  When confronted with why they are not ready for school, they are both quick to throw each other under the bus.  As adults I have noticed how the weight of exhaustion or stress can easily aid in placing the blame elsewhere.  I have learned the easiest way to avoid placing blame is to listen to the other person.  You might realize that they are really trying to reach out to you and all that it takes is deep breath and to be the bigger person. 
Don’t talk bad about others.  Most often from my experience people say the most cruel things about others because they are either deflecting from their own persona anxieties, stress, and hardships or because the unknown of the situation has them scared.  If people are saying bad things about you, sometimes it is best to just block them out.  Soon enough people will realize that they are spending more time bad talking about you than working out their own issues in their life.  If someone is constantly that unhappy there is a root issue that needs to be addressed.  I read a really good book years ago called ‘How to Be an Adult‘ which talked about how unresolved issues as a child can greatly affect our relationships as an adult.  
Life is short. Don’t waste your life on earth.  I wish I could have had just one day left with my dad to tell him how much I loved him and to say goodbye properly.  I wish I could have him back in my life so that he could be here this summer for our vow renewal.  There is nothing but death that would stop my parents from being here with us this summer.  The worse thing in life is to live with regrets and time is something you can never get back. 
You have to confront life to get past obstacles in life. Otherwise you are just running away from the problem. Confrontations are not fun, simple, nor easy.  But like ripping off a bandage, they have to happen if you want to heal wounds.  If you do not talk about things it does not make them go away. It only makes them fester and grow a toxicity inside you ready to blow.  When that happens it usually just makes the wound larger, it does not solve the problem.  You cannot run away from things or expect other people to speak up for you on your behalf just because you do not like it. If we as humans liked confrontations I think the word would be called something with a much softer tone to it.  The point is as an adult we have to learn how to confront others and how to work through problems.  We are all different and we may not always get a long but we can work through issues as adults. 
Be a positive person or get professional help if you are not. This lesson is what has made me indifferent to my entire in laws family.  You cannot change a person and if they are constantly upset, negative, angry, or putting toxic energy towards you than it may be a red flag that they are harboring much deeper issues.  If you cannot find the positive in people or in situations, perhaps it is time to seek out help.

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?

A Day in the Life of Bonnie Rose

Day 15, Wednesday: A Day in the life (include photos from throughout your typical day – this could be “a photo an hour” if you’d like)
Do not let this photo fool you, I do not spend my day sitting on bed in front of my laptop. However my life in recent months is not really that more exciting. 😉  So here is the next installment of the #BlogEveryDayInMay challenge.

My Typical Morning
Lets be honest. I set a few alarms in the morning with the plan that I will hit snooze.  Then when that plan goes to fail my husband wakes me up.  I eventually stopped setting my snooze alarms and now jut wait for Ryan.  However he has snooze alarms on his mobile phone too. But who does not love the few extra minutes under the covers.

The morning begins with my husband waking up the household that consists of us and our two boys.  I make my way downstairs and start on making breakfast for Ronan and Maddox.  On school days I cook them porridge on the stove.  Not being quite awake enough for conversation, I cook while checking the tweets and Instagram feed that have happened while I was sleeping.  Being that I live in England and follow quite a number of people in the USA (not to mention that my friends in Hawaii are just now going to sleep) there is usually a good amount to look back through.

W A I T I N G  F O R  T H E  T A X I 
Though close in age my sons go to different schools in opposite parts of town due to the class sizes when we applied for schools.  There are not buses here like in the US and since we do not own a car, the school system has supplied taxis to take my boys to school.  Depending on when one boy leave and when the next taxi arrives it can be a good 30 to 45 minutes of waiting on the next taxi.  Add 15 if we are outside early before the first taxi arrives.  
L A S T   M I N U T E   K I S S E S 
If I am lucky that gives me a few minutes with my husband before he has to leave for work.  My husband orders coffee online from Has Bean Coffee ( and if we have time he will make me a cup to enjoy with him.  I really like the Brazil Fazenda Passeio Natural Rubi.  The description on the package says, “In the cup you get sweet milk chocolate and biscuit.  Think a Kit Kat chocolate bar with a hint of dried apricots and sultanas.”  You had me at ‘chocolate’.  
B L O  G  G I N G
If I have been a good blogger than all this means is I look over my prewritten post that is already scheduled to ‘go live’ and then maybe start looking at what I will be writing tomorrow.  But lets be honest.  My finished blog posts are really notes in a notebook or on my phone that I still need to type up into a structured post online.  I like to do this first thing in the morning.
E M A I L S & C O R R E S P O N D A N C E
Though I may have checked the emails earlier, now I sit down and reply back to everyone. That trickles down to replying back to people on my numerous social networks.  

My Typical Afternoon
I am currently not working outside of the home right now and so I do not have a typical schedule.  I could be out photographing or working inside on edits for Bonnie Rose Photography.  I am currently the one taking care of the majority of the work to make sure the household runs smoothly.  While my husband does 85% – 90% of the cooking I do 95% – 100% of the dishes. There is also the laundry that is more time consuming if its cold, wet, rainy, or any of the combination of those words outside. You can read more about this here in Laundry in the UK VS US
This week I am working to get ready for my son’s birthday party.  I have a thing about inviting every one in a class for birthday parties, because of someone feeling left out if you do not.  My son experienced this when we first moved here to Bath at his current school. So the party size is one of the biggest we have ever held and theres quite a bit more prep and stress to have the house ready to accomodate that many children at once. I do love to try to get outside be it to visit a friend for tea, go into the town of Bath, or a hike on my own up to Solsbury Hill
T W O  H O U R  W I N D O W 
Without fail from 2 – 4 every day I am the most exhausted. This is about the time I would like to sit and read but that only makes me more tired. I have started making sure I have a pot of tea ready for this time. Which is why I really enjoyed the warm sun we had a week ago.  I got to sit outside and just soak up the Vitamin D since in England we can have a deficiency of it with all the clouds and rainy skies. 
A F T E R S C H O O L 
My favourite time is when my boys get home from school.  Sometimes it is about the same time and other times I have a little one on one with one son before first.  I love hearing about their day especially from my youngest since he is just now volunteering information about what he does at school.  I have them change out of their school uniforms before after school snack and then we read together on the couch.  
A F T E R N O O N  T E A
When you live with boys you learn that the whole ‘eat you out of house and home’ does not start as teenagers but at birth and intensifies with each growth spurt.  I have recently started making these flat bread snacks with honey that the boys love because (well honey!) and they are cut with star wars cookie cutter shapes. 
D I N N E R T I M E 
My husband usually cooks dinner because he loves to cook.  I will help him and we have started getting the boys involved in the process as well. The photo below is actually the dinner that I made.  We now have one night a week where I get to cook since he plays football with the guys. 
B E D T I M E   S T O R I E S 
 If time allows we read through which ever book series we are currently reading at that time after the boys have gotten on their pyjamas and are ready for bed.  We love reading the Harry Potter series and books by J. R. R. Tolkien with my boys. 
After the boys go to bed we typically make an evening pot of tea or if its been a long day, we like to break out a glass of wine.   We like to work through a season of television that is already out watching an episode or two a night together.  The second thing I dislike more than adverts (commercials) is being ‘all caught up’ on a programme and having to wait until the next week to find out what happens.  So we are always looking for a good show to start next if you have suggestions. We are all caught up on Game of Thrones, so my solution has been to begin reading the books.  So far I am in book one. 
In Summary
So there you have it…not very exciting. But it is my typical day here in my expat life in England.  I was a lot more busy with a lot less free time last year when I was working in the salon.  So despite me feeling like I do not have a very fun to read post today, I am more than grateful to be able to be at home with my three guys on the weekend to enjoy our country walks and family time.  Last year I worked on Saturdays and my husband worked on Sundays and we basically had small increments of time together as a family.  After everything we have been through in the last several years, there is nothing more importnat to me than the time we have together as a family and as a couple. So I take the mundane daily grind with a stride and look forward to our next weekend plans.  


*photographs found here either belong to Bonnie Rose of Bonnie Rose Photography © 2013 All Rights Reserved |