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dealing w/ future in-laws

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JenStone

Shiny_Rock
Joined
Mar 13, 2006
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490
Hi Everyone,

I almost feel like I have no right writing in this forum since I''m not officially engaged yet but I figure that those who frequent this forum might be able to help the most.

So, as I mentioned above, I''m not officially engaged per se - but we already act and talk like we are and we''re planning on making it official with a ring within the next couple of months.

My boyfriend is from Hong Kong and his parents still live there. We''ve been dating for more than 3 years and I met them for the first time last spring. When they came to visit again this past month, we decided that since we''re so close to getting engaged, why not have both sets of parents meet?

Fortunately, the meeting went very well despite the language barrier (my family is Korean and my parents don''t speak English too well).....however, a larger problem arose afterwards.

At the dinner, his parents said that they would like us to have a traditional Chinese ceremony because he is the oldest male in his generation (so basically, the oldest to carry down the family name - this is a big deal in Asian cultures). My parents, my boyfriend, and I all assumed that they meant that they would like a Chinese ceremony on top of a western wedding, as most Chinese Americans do. So of course we were fine with it and the rest of dinner went smoothly.

But later on, we discovered that his parents want us to have a Chinese wedding in Hong Kong, and they want my family to pay for it!

My boyfriend''s parents do not have much money (they''re retired) so we all knew that the majority of the wedding would be paid by my family. However, when they mentioned that they want a Chinese wedding on the other side of the hemisphere, we had all assumed that they would be paying for it, since they would be planning EVERYTHING and it would be mostly their friends and family. They said that they''re fine with us having a western wedding and a Chinese wedding, as long as my family pays for both of them!

Naturally, I was very upset to hear about this. I understand that my boyfriend is the oldest male in his generation and I want to respect their culture and traditions. However, as all little girls do, I had dreamed about my wedding for a long time (my parents too) and we want to get married in a church in a white gown with a nice reception afterwards. There is no way that my family can afford two weddings.

When I told this to my boyfriend, who relayed the message, his parents just told him that we can deal with this after we''re engaged. They even said that it sounds like we cannot afford a wedding (or at least an additional wedding, as they want) so why don''t we hold off on getting engaged for another few years? Now THAT comment really stung.

I''m just so upset and have been losing sleep over this. My boyfriend told me that what will probably happen is that he will need to pay for a Chinese wedding himself to appease them and the rest of his family back in Hong Kong. Which means that he can''t help pay for our wedding here, as we had originally planned, and our first home fund will need be depleted.

Has anyone else dealt with anything similar? What do you suggest we do?
 

Bunnifer

Shiny_Rock
Joined
Sep 26, 2006
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227
Hi Jen,

I''m so sorry you have to deal with this.
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First off, since you guys are not yet engaged, the advice below should probably be saved until AFTER you have the sparkler on your finger.
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No need to burn any bridges before you''ve firmly committed to a destination.

Secondly, IMO, your BF needs to have a talk with his parents. He is probably a very good and obedient son who does not want to disappoint his parents so it will probably be hard for him. However, in this situation, he absolutely needs to be realistic with them. Expecting TWO weddings is UNREAL. One formal wedding and a traditional Chinese reception would be stretching it...but TWO FULL weddings is, well, expecting too much. Especially since the second wedding would be across the world! If they want a traditional Chinese wedding in Hong Kong, your BF should tell his parents that they need to pay for it. It doesn''t make sense for YOUR parents (who are KOREAN) to pay for a wedding across the world to satisfy traditions that are non-existent to them!

It''s very nice for your family to offer to pay for the majority of the wedding, especially considering that the groom''s family pays for the wedding in traditional Asian culture! I hate to say this, but I almost think your BF''s parents are taking advantage of the situation...perhaps they think your family has more money than they really do and therefore, the BF''s parents think it''s no problem for your family to swing an "extra" wedding.
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The future in-laws expectations are misplaced and unrealistic -- that much needs to be made clear although I don''t have any suggestions on how to do so. Sorry! It won''t be pleasant but (IMHO) if you don''t make a stand here, it will set a trend for the future. My parents went through something similar, and my mom never regretted taking a stand even though it was highly unpleasant during the situation.

HTH! Good luck with whatever you do!
 

Kaleigh

Super_Ideal_Rock
Joined
Nov 18, 2004
Messages
29,570
JenStone,
I am sorry for all the heartache you guys are going through. I will not pretend to know your culture or his. But what I got from your post is that HIS parents are being unreasonable. I mean completely. I hope he can talk some sense into his parents, it''s 2007, time to adapt to the world today. I do understand that you want to honor their traditions, that''s great. And you want to honor your''s. But I don''t see why your parents have to pay the brunt of it. I hope I made sense, if not I apologize.
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Trelala

Shiny_Rock
Joined
Jul 12, 2006
Messages
138
Hey Jen,

Sorry to hear you''re dealing with this. I do agree that you need to be firm with his parents. Perhaps they''re unaware of how much a wedding costs and how much a house costs. I found that true of my own situation. I''d recommend giving his parents a specific list of how much it costs to rent a venue, the amount for food and drink, the flowers, the DJ, etc. Tell them how much a downpayment might be, the monthly morgage payments and hopefully they''ll see what a financial burden it is!
Also, as Bunnifer pointed out, in Chinese tradition, the groom''s family pays for the wedding... so why they''re insisting your parents fork the bill for TWO of them is beyond me.
 

JenStone

Shiny_Rock
Joined
Mar 13, 2006
Messages
490
Thank you, Bunnifer, Kaleigh, and Trelala for your kind words.

My boyfriend did talk to them several times while they were still here, and they gave him the following reasons:

1. He''s the oldest male in his generation so it would greatly displease his family members if he did not have a traditional Chinese wedding.
2. His younger brother is getting married this year, and they''re kinda in the same situation in that the bride''s family is paying for the wedding. Needless to say, they''re having a western ceremony and reception, and his family is very unhappy that they don''t have any input. So since his younger brother is doing it this way, he, as the older brother, has the responsibility to do it "the right way."
3. They''re retired and don''t have any money. Their philosophy is that once a child is out of school and starts working, they no longer need support whatsoever, that the child(ren) must support the parents instead.

Bunnifer, you''re right that in traditional Chinese culture, the groom''s family pays for the wedding. However, they keep telling us that since they''re retired, they have no money and because of that, it''s our (my boyfriend and I) responsibility to pay for it if my parents refuse to. I''ve been saving money for our wedding, but it was so alleviate the costs for my parents, not for a wedding on the other side of the world where I will have no input whatsoever (it''s true - they told us that traditionally, the groom''s parents would plan everything and the bride and groom would just show up).

My boyfriend has also told me that whenever he brings up the topic now, they just tell him, "We''ll discuss this after you''re engaged." He told me that they''re under the impression that they''ll be able to change my mind.

I''ve tried compromising a bit, saying we can always have a western-style wedding with Chinese elements woven into it, such as the tea ceremony, using a lot of red and gold in the decor, etc. To this they replied, "How about a Chinese wedding with western elements?"
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Then they told us that they''ll "settle" for having a Chinese wedding here in the states, if that''s what we really want.

I''m usually an obedient daughter and I want to please my future in-laws. However, I really need to put my foot down here, because it''s MY and my parents'' money. My boyfriend''s parents say that we shouldn''t use that "excuse" because as a woman, I would be joining his family so I should be obedient to their wishes.

I don''t know what to do with them! Even my boyfriend, who wants to have a Chinese ceremony, agrees they''re being unreasonable.

Sorry for the long vent.
 

Fancy605

Brilliant_Rock
Joined
Jul 3, 2006
Messages
1,446
Gosh it''s situations like this that make me appreciate my family and future in laws. They are like, "Whatever-stay under the budget" and that''s about it.

I think if I were ever in a situation like yours, I''d just elope. That''s what I told my fiance going into this wedding planning stuff, "If anything or anyone stresses me out, we''re eloping."

Anyway, eloping probably isn''t the best answer for you considering your parents are willing to support what you want. Maybe you could have your western wedding and then a very small Chinese ceremony in addition to it (or is that sort of thing even possible?)
 

Bunnifer

Shiny_Rock
Joined
Sep 26, 2006
Messages
227
Date: 2/4/2007 7:54:20 AM
Author: JenStone
Thank you, Bunnifer, Kaleigh, and Trelala for your kind words.

My boyfriend did talk to them several times while they were still here, and they gave him the following reasons:

1. He''s the oldest male in his generation so it would greatly displease his family members if he did not have a traditional Chinese wedding.
2. His younger brother is getting married this year, and they''re kinda in the same situation in that the bride''s family is paying for the wedding. Needless to say, they''re having a western ceremony and reception, and his family is very unhappy that they don''t have any input. So since his younger brother is doing it this way, he, as the older brother, has the responsibility to do it ''the right way.''
3. They''re retired and don''t have any money. Their philosophy is that once a child is out of school and starts working, they no longer need support whatsoever, that the child(ren) must support the parents instead.

Bunnifer, you''re right that in traditional Chinese culture, the groom''s family pays for the wedding. However, they keep telling us that since they''re retired, they have no money and because of that, it''s our (my boyfriend and I) responsibility to pay for it if my parents refuse to. I''ve been saving money for our wedding, but it was so alleviate the costs for my parents, not for a wedding on the other side of the world where I will have no input whatsoever (it''s true - they told us that traditionally, the groom''s parents would plan everything and the bride and groom would just show up).

My boyfriend has also told me that whenever he brings up the topic now, they just tell him, ''We''ll discuss this after you''re engaged.'' He told me that they''re under the impression that they''ll be able to change my mind.

I''ve tried compromising a bit, saying we can always have a western-style wedding with Chinese elements woven into it, such as the tea ceremony, using a lot of red and gold in the decor, etc. To this they replied, ''How about a Chinese wedding with western elements?''
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Then they told us that they''ll ''settle'' for having a Chinese wedding here in the states, if that''s what we really want.

I''m usually an obedient daughter and I want to please my future in-laws. However, I really need to put my foot down here, because it''s MY and my parents'' money. My boyfriend''s parents say that we shouldn''t use that ''excuse'' because as a woman, I would be joining his family so I should be obedient to their wishes.

I don''t know what to do with them! Even my boyfriend, who wants to have a Chinese ceremony, agrees they''re being unreasonable.

Sorry for the long vent.
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I am SO INCENSED (for you.) You absolutely need to put your foot down here, or else they''ll expect you to "be obedient to their wishes" for the rest of your life. Fortunately for you, they are across the world so it will be harder for them to pressure you directly. However, I know how far the in-law tentacles can extend. Be strong, girl!!

From reading your post, I think the root of this whole problem is that they feel slighted b/c little bro didn''t let them have any input in planning the wedding. They are trying to assert more of a presence with you and BF because he is eldest and they know BF is an obedient son (and you are an obedient daughter). Perhaps you can weave the most important parts of a Chinese wedding into your western-style wedding, and have a Chinese reception too. This way, you''ll still be outdoing little bro, but won''t have to foot the expense for a whole another wedding. Maybe give them a list of reception sites, and let them plan the decorations, menu, etc. Throw them a bone -- LOL.
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Regardless, you need to do what is within YOUR budget, and if you can afford to appease the in-laws, then great. If not, then c''est la vie. You can''t prevent them from having ridiculously high expectations, but you CAN control how you react to it. Don''t let them guilt you into putting blinders on what YOU want. This is YOUR day. If they don''t want to foot the bill, then they shouldn''t be able to pressure you into doing something you don''t want to do.

Keep your chin up, JenStone!!
 

jaz464

Ideal_Rock
Joined
Jul 11, 2005
Messages
2,022
Seems kind of strange to me that they are so intent on following tradition when it comes to the oldest son having a traditional Chinese wedding but they are willing to overlook tradition when it comes to who has to pay.

Anyway, are you against having a Chinese wedding with western elements? They even said you could do it in the U.S. I think that sounds like a good compromise to me. You get the location and they get the style and tradition of their and your BF's culture. It does sound to me like they are trying to work with you two by offering this compromise.

Plus, since you live here and his parent's don't, you would be doing the planning. You could decide what elements to add, take out, etc.
 

galeteia

Brilliant_Rock
Joined
May 9, 2006
Messages
1,794
Date: 2/4/2007 2:27:37 PM
Author: jazmine
Seems kind of strange to me that they are so intent on following tradition when it comes to the oldest son have a traditional Chinese wedding but they are willing to overlook tradition when it comes to who has to pay.

No kidding!

Ridiculous. They who pay have the say in the wedding. Either they plan and pay for it, or they do neither. Unacceptable to play the tradition card if it''s tradition that the GROOM''S family pays for it.

I think the idea of having a western wedding with a few Chinese touches (and Korean ones, to be fair, this YOUR wedding) with a Chinese reception is a generous offer to compromise.
 

fisherofmengirly

Ideal_Rock
Joined
Apr 14, 2006
Messages
3,929
Jenstone,

I know that a lot of times tension comes into play when money and who is accountable for what part of wedding expenses. We went through it, too. What we tried to focus on was that it was OUR wedding, and that although we wanted family members to be pleased with the outcome, too, it was most important that our voices be heard and RESPECTED. If you really want to have a Western wedding, and your husband does, too, then you both need to voice that. If financially you can''t, or don''t want to, do that, then talk with his family and yours about that.

Communication can really be pushed when planning a wedding. I had to be more forward about my feelings with my then future in-laws than I''d been before, and for the most part, they were really understanding and wanted to be sure that Paul and I were happy with the way things unfolded regarding our union. Of course, it was some give and take and we ended up having a rehearsal dinner MUCH fancier than I would have liked. Give and take.

I wish you luck in discussing this with all involved, and no matter what, don''t lose sight of what the wedding is: the day you become one. Make it how you BOTH want it to be, not just how others want it to be!
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JenStone

Shiny_Rock
Joined
Mar 13, 2006
Messages
490
Thank you again, everyone. Reading your comments really made me feel a whole lot better because I was starting to second-guess myself, wondering if I''m being unreasonable.

Jazmine, unfortunately I am against having a Chinese wedding with western elements, especially if the wedding is here in the states. Although I''m sure some of my boyfriend''s family and friends will fly over, the majority of the guests will be my family (and I have a HUGE family), my parents'' friends, and my boyfriend and my friends. I''m sure that if we have a Chinese wedding, even incorporating western traditions, many guests (especially my family) will question it. We weren''t even planning on having a Korean ceremony because most of the ceremony is designed for the groom''s family, and my parents are 100% fine with us not having it.

What I really want is a western wedding with some Chinese elements (but not overload). Although my boyfriend wants me to be happy and will go along with what I want, he has mentioned that he would like a Chinese ceremony.

At this point, it looks like my boyfriend will be putting aside some of his savings for a small Chinese wedding in Hong Kong (probably after our wedding here). We know his parents will not be 100% happy with it, but what can they do?

(As a side note, when my boyfriend suggested this to his parents, they asked if they can keep the money that the guests will bring in red envelopes (the Chinese give cash for wedding gifts). Fortunately, my boyfriend firmly said NO - if he''s paying for the wedding, he''s keeping the gifts. I still can''t believe they asked him that!
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I do, however agree with Trelala that his parents might not know how expensive western weddings can be, especially in the NYC area where my boyfriend and I live. I''ll try to bring this up in a future conversation with them - maybe they''ll be a bit more understanding afterwards.
 

psaddict

Shiny_Rock
Joined
Dec 9, 2006
Messages
105
ETA: Somehow I missed the last post here. ^ There was recently an entire thread on this.. parents insisting they wanted to keep the red envelope money even though they didn't plan to pay anything for the wedding.


I agree that they may have somehow gotten it into their heads that your family has a lot more money to burn than you do. Maybe they need to be told, flat out, that if they force you two to pay for an entire second wedding, they'll be cutting directly into the fund that will put a roof over your heads (and their future grandchildren's heads!)

I don't know how they can use "we're retired" as an excuse. If Chinese culture dictates that the groom's parents must pay for the wedding, and they have always wanted their sons to have traditional Chinese weddings, they should have set aside money for their sons weddings before they retired. What if their son gets engaged to a girl who's parents are also retired?? If a reasonable person retired without setting aside money for their child's wedding, they'll have to deal with the fact that they can't expect to have a huge say in the wedding, since they're not paying a cent for it. They can voice their preferences, but if you choose not to oblige them and have a wedding exactly the way they want it, they should just be happy that you are incorporating some elements from their culture into your ceremony or reception.
 

JenStone

Shiny_Rock
Joined
Mar 13, 2006
Messages
490
Wow - I just read that other post. I''m keeping my fingers crossed that we won''t run into similar troubles in the near future!

From what my boyfriend told me, it''s mostly his mother who''s making the big fuss. From her point of view, I can kind of understand....she has no daughters, just two boys, so she will never have a chance to plan a wedding (and you know how most women LOVE planning weddings). And I''m sure she''s always wanted to help in the wedding-planning process of her two boys.

Then my boyfriend''s brother got engaged, and they''re having a western ceremony here in NY.

So she''s definitely irked, and constantly complains to my boyfriend about it. She''s constantly telling him things like "You better not do that when you get engaged..."

She really is very fussy, and I''m already starting to worry about how I''ll deal with her after we''re married. For example, while she was visiting (and staying with my BF''s brother) she complained to my boyfriend that his brother''s fiancee doesn''t clean enough. Which is ridiculous, because while the fiancee is at work, the mother was home cleaning all day! There was probably nothing to clean by the time she got home!

A friend once told me, when I first became serious with my boyfriend, that Chinese mother-in-laws are some of the worst in the world - I better watch out! I''m starting to see that this may be true...
 

roppongi

Shiny_Rock
Joined
May 13, 2003
Messages
290
Jen:

I FEEL FOR YOU WOMAN!

I am Taiwanese (first generation American) married to a German/Canadian French man. I have two sisters who married non-Asians and my parents proudly paid for all our weddings, without any strings attached. We were able to choose the wedding we wanted NOT the wedding my mother wanted or what our in-laws wanted.

My mother, is far, far from what your friends have told you about Chinese Mother-in-Laws, she is wonderful. My husband adores my parents and calls and visits them regularly without me all the time. My parents have made all of their son-in-laws part of the family. In my case, it is my Canadian French mother-in-law who is going to drive me to an early grave.

My husband is their only son and I can tell you, my mother-in-law is possibly the most evil woman on earth. She has done everything to sabatoge my relationship with my husband. Thank God my husband has a back bone and does not cave into her BS. He has seen who she is, and she really isn''t a very nice person at all. I feel so lucky to have all of his support and love.

It is a crazy situation that I do not wish on anyone. Please be strong, because if you give this woman an inch, she will mow you down for a foot.

Roppongi
 

AChiOAlumna

Brilliant_Rock
Joined
Mar 10, 2005
Messages
1,678
Date: 2/4/2007 2:27:37 PM
Author: jazmine
Seems kind of strange to me that they are so intent on following tradition when it comes to the oldest son having a traditional Chinese wedding but they are willing to overlook tradition when it comes to who has to pay.

jazmine...I thank you for beating me to this punch...I feel the same way!! They are being insistent that you follow their cultural norms and values, but they don''t hold to their own?! It''s not fair of them to pick and choose the values they want to hold to and expect you to do the same! That''s the beauty of marriage: it INTEGRATE cultures as it works for the couple! Not to tell a couple what values they have to adhere to.

I agree with the others. It''s time to hold firm and stand up for yourself. This sounds like it might be the first of many times and you need to set the precedence NOW!
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psaddict

Shiny_Rock
Joined
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Messages
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I can understand a mother wanting to be able to plan a wedding.. but it sounds like what they've said is that it's tradition for the groom's parents to plan & pay for the wedding. So, she should have been happy that she had boys instead of girls if what she wanted was to plan a wedding. And, if it was that important to her to have control over the wedding planning, she should have done what it took to save money to put towards her sons weddings before she retired.

It sounds to me that she isn't a woman with a dream of helping out with a wedding. She's a control freak, and wants to be in control of everything and everyone, as demonstrated with her critisizing her other son's fiancee and cleaning her house! I would be quite offended if my FMIL (who I barely knew) cleaned stuff while I wasn't in the house. I mean come on, she's not even officially the mother in law yet and she's already saying "your home is filthy"?

I agree you should put your foot down!
 
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