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Jjcouple

Overbearing Vietnamese Mother Straining our Marriage

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we're in Portland, Oregon. 

I am Vietnamese American and I sponsored my wife who is from Vietnam this past year, we've been happily married and enjoying our lives together for the past 7 months now. We've been together for about 2 years almost now. 

We are living at my parents house for the time being because we are doing the paperwork to borrow monies for a house. This experience has been hotter than dante's inferno.

 

To setup the context: 

My mother is northern vietnamese decent (nguoi Bac) and she has been a naturalized citizen since 1984. My wife is also northern vietnamese decent (nguoi Bac) but her family has assimilated into southern vietnamese culture and traditions since after the Vietnam war when her parents moved and she was born (94'). Therefore, my wife is somewhat of a hybrid of northern and southern person. The common stereotypes for northern Vietnamese such as : Saying things in a beat around the bush fashion without actually saying things straight, or addressing every single person at the table before you eat, etc- are not true when it comes to my Wife. 

 

My mother seems to think however that northern Vietnamese culture is superior/more classy/more correct/formal. 

She exploded the other day and called my wife's family communist. Her dad is in the party, but her mother, her and siblings are not - plus everyone knows  in this day and age this is basically for job stability/opportunity- their philosophy is not communist, far from it. It was a really strange outburst. 

She says that the only reason she puts up with my wife is because I married her and i'm her Son, and that my wife is not northern vietnamese, and that her mother did not know how to raise her properly. 

 

My mother than goes on to explain how my Wife is not a good daughter in law, i.e does not pay enough attention to the dishes, cleaning the house etc. I was in the middle of that, explaining to my mom that my wife immigrated from a totally new place, a new house and is learning the ropes here in the USA she needs some time to re-calibrate. She responds with no mercy whatsoever. 

 

She starts to go off on us about how us being frugal with our money makes her and my dad lose face. My wife just got her paperwork approval so we had a short trip to Vietnam for my wife.

We did a costco Run and got my uncle (her brother) and my grandpa (her dad) some sweets/treats. On our return she asks us why we are so pathetic in that all we could give them was some cookies (mua duoc co cai bao banh thoi ah) I don't understand where this deep rooted shame or fear of loosing face extends from. After that comment she tells at the top of her lungs that she forbids us to visit my uncle and my grandpa. i almost lost it in laughter. Meanwhile in Vietnam we were told that just us being there and showing up all the way from the USA is already a great surprise and gift (but of course we don't just come empty handed). She compares what we bought for my relatives (uncle & grandpa) versus what we bought for her family (her mom dad, preteen brother, aunt, grandma)

and says that she cares more about her family than mine (and that I let my wife become like that) (lol again) but in frankness my family in vietnam is better off than most while my wife's family is not so much. AND other relatives in my family travel throughout the year to the USA and back, so my family has more access to foods/resources from the states. While my wife's family only now has her and Me. (but that's besides the point) the point is, forbidding us to visit my own family in Vietnam because she sees our frugality as bad and us being cheap does not make sense to me. It's an action that we take out of our affection, and we are not going buying a $1200 iphone or laptop for someone every-time we visit because it paints a "better picture"

 

Life in america is expensive, life in america married is even more expensive. My wife just got the paperwork to work. She works for my parents. After calling us cheap, she asks my wife why she has to be so accurate in her time keeping (she clocks in  30 minute intervals) and that in the past daughter in laws if were working for her husbands family would be doing it for free. I don't agree with this because we are going to file the taxes etc so duh- we are going to be accurate as possible. 

 

I think that's all I have the heart to type out right now- let me know your experiences with this- especially for those of you in the Asian communities.

I'm trying hard to find a counselor who speaks Vietnamese in the portland metropolitan area. We are catholics at the vietnamese our lady of lavang church but that's been a sh*tshow too.  

 

 

 

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5 minutes ago, PolskaKielbasia said:

My wife is mainland Chinese. We are thousands of miles away from her mother, and hundreds of miles away from mine. And we both like it this way.

 

Get out of your parents' house Even if you need to rent and apartment for a short time. Don't accept "gift" money from your mom to buy the house. Encourage your wife to work for someone other than your parents. 

Glad someone also understands. Yes we are house hunting

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I'm not Vietnamese but I can relate to your experience, as several years ago I lived close to parents and in-laws and it did not work for similar reasons as you described.  Time to cut the apron strings sooner not later and get away from this bad environment now.  I feel very sorry for your wife being subjected to this emotional abuse.  Leave now for the sake of your marriage.  And find jobs where you and your wife are not working for your parents' business.

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Posted (edited)
13 minutes ago, Jjcouple said:

Lol definitely not a momma's boy.

But thanks for the advice. Was looking for more shared experiences with this way of thinking

I read your post and on one hand, I feel that I am uniquely qualified to answer your questions (I’m also Vietnamese, I’m from the South and my wife is from the North, both our families are here in the US),  but on the other hand, I am not sure what your questions are? What are you trying to get out of this post? Advice on how to deal with Mom? With wife? Or you’re just venting?

 

Agreed with others, one thing to do is to get out and be on your own. Not necessarily means moving to the other side of the country. You can live in the same town, just different house.

 

 

Edited by USS_Voyager

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3 minutes ago, USS_Voyager said:

I read your post and on one hand, I feel that I am uniquely qualified to answer your questions (I’m also Vietnamese, I’m from the South and my wife is from the North, both our families are here in the US),  but on the other hand, I am not sure what your questions are? What are you trying to get out of this post? Advice on how to deal with Mom? With wife? Or you’re just venting?

 

Agreed with others, one thing to do is to get out and be on your own.

Hi! since it was a fresh arugment and really broke me yesterday I think I was venting but I do want to know if you experienced the same kind of things. I was born and raised here in the states and a but more Western in my philosophy so there's somethings I'm completely blind about.

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6 minutes ago, USS_Voyager said:

I read your post and on one hand, I feel that I am uniquely qualified to answer your questions (I’m also Vietnamese, I’m from the South and my wife is from the North, both our families are here in the US),  but on the other hand, I am not sure what your questions are? What are you trying to get out of this post? Advice on how to deal with Mom? With wife? Or you’re just venting?

 

Agreed with others, one thing to do is to get out and be on your own. Not necessarily means moving to the other side of the country. You can live in the same town, just different house.

 

 

My wife and I get along great, it's my mom I butt heads with. My own mother lol. Is there any world that vietnamese wives and mother in law's get along and are actually nice? How do you deal with your mom when she says the type of closed minded or negetivie comments?

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From the way you have told your story and the way you're responding to the comments, you seem like you have a pretty solid grip on what's happening and life in general. The important thing is the relationship with your wife is not suffering. You seem to be supporting her 100% even perhaps at the expense of the relationship with your mother. That's all good. I'll offer advice that's counter to what you've been offered so far, don't rush to buy a house just to get away from your mother. Make a good decision and build your savings if necessary by remaining with your parents. As long as your relationship doesn't suffer and you're cool with rolling your eyes at your mother's tantrums then I don't see it as a big deal. There are far, far bigger difficulties that some people experience in their immigration journeys than dealing with cranky parents.

 

Buying a house, on the other hand, is a big deal. Again, take your time and make a good decision.

 

Finding doctors and therapists who speak your wife's native language is also a good idea. Best of luck to both of you.


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Grit your teeth and just move out when you are able.

 

Never understood the north vs south debate. Both are generally lovely people in my experience. South think the North are low class, annoying and rude. The North think the same about the South. It is quite amusing really.

 

As for going back to Vietnam and giving gifts - well I have learned to accept it.  Luckily it’s not iPhone or electronics more soap, toothpaste, candy and other stuff. I shake my head and laugh when my wife says we will travel light. 🙄


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**Non-contributory post (and one reply quoting said post) removed. Please, either answer the OP's questions respectfully or do not post.**

 

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:ot2:

 

Currently stuck in Portland myself for the time being....the housing market here is I N S A N E right now. I know there is a big Vietnamese community here (and your family to boot) but are you absolutely sure this is the city you want to remain in? I honestly wouldn't recommend anyone dropping anchor here right now in terms of a house unless they were already independently wealthy and it wasn't their first house...or unless they absolutely loved Portland and were very, very confident about that decision...you need to think really hard about that because neither Portland nor Oregon are cheap, in fact, this is one of the most expensive places in the entire US to buy a house and pay property tax.


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3 hours ago, Russ&Caro said:

From the way you have told your story and the way you're responding to the comments, you seem like you have a pretty solid grip on what's happening and life in general. The important thing is the relationship with your wife is not suffering. You seem to be supporting her 100% even perhaps at the expense of the relationship with your mother. That's all good. I'll offer advice that's counter to what you've been offered so far, don't rush to buy a house just to get away from your mother. Make a good decision and build your savings if necessary by remaining with your parents. As long as your relationship doesn't suffer and you're cool with rolling your eyes at your mother's tantrums then I don't see it as a big deal. There are far, far bigger difficulties that some people experience in their immigration journeys than dealing with cranky parents.

 

Buying a house, on the other hand, is a big deal. Again, take your time and make a good decision.

 

Finding doctors and therapists who speak your wife's native language is also a good idea. Best of luck to both of you.

Russ and Caro, that was probably one of the best and feel good advices, thank you so much. 

Yeah- we don't want to leave especially if we are leaving on bad terms. When we leave, we want it to be because we are on good terms or at least not in a tension bind. We can't seem to find the perfect house for us just yet, but we are looking, but you are right, it is a big huge scary decision, it feels so permanent. And we are big planning type of people so we want the choice to be right. 

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1 hour ago, cyclone27 said:

Grit your teeth and just move out when you are able.

 

Never understood the north vs south debate. Both are generally lovely people in my experience. South think the North are low class, annoying and rude. The North think the same about the South. It is quite amusing really.

 

As for going back to Vietnam and giving gifts - well I have learned to accept it.  Luckily it’s not iPhone or electronics more soap, toothpaste, candy and other stuff. I shake my head and laugh when my wife says we will travel light. 🙄

I think that everyone from vietnam are lovely, and anyone from anywhere are lovely. I don't get the big fuss about keeping Northern traditions versus southern traditions. My mom said she accepted my wife at the beginning because she was of northern decent. But then in her argument she said that my wife is actually in fact only northern blood but she does not act like a northern person. It's basically terrible emotional abuse and unjust discrimination  

 

This is funny to me because then, what do other people think of me? Im northern but i say things how I see it, and most times not "classy" 

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1 hour ago, millefleur said:

**Non-contributory post (and one reply quoting said post) removed. Please, either answer the OP's questions respectfully or do not post.**

 

VJ Moderation

 

:ot2:

 

Currently stuck in Portland myself for the time being....the housing market here is I N S A N E right now. I know there is a big Vietnamese community here (and your family to boot) but are you absolutely sure this is the city you want to remain in? I honestly wouldn't recommend anyone dropping anchor here right now in terms of a house unless they were already independently wealthy and it wasn't their first house...or unless they absolutely loved Portland and were very, very confident about that decision...you need to think really hard about that because neither Portland nor Oregon are cheap, in fact, this is one of the most expensive places in the entire US to buy a house and pay property tax.

Actually, we like it here because the vietnamese community is much smaller compared to a lot of other cities. We don't live or hangout in the vietnamese community. We are in the middle of house shopping, but haven't seen the perfect house for us. Right now we can afford to live here and it's nice to be close to family, it's just a drag to deal with the extreme emotional strain. 

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I am Vietnamese American. Born and raised here. My husband is British. We lived with my parents for the first year he moved here--we've only just recently moved as of last week actually because of my overbearing parents!

 

It was hard. Although my parents are caring and can be sweet, they can be really difficult because of their way of life. Like your mom (my mom was born and raised in the south, Saigon), my mom was very specific with a certain way and frugal. When we moved out, I got shouted about how much we were spending on our own apartment with our own money. Every time we bought groceries, when we lived there--we were scolded about how much we were spending and wasting.

 

My advice? Move out. It is a struggle financially but you don't have to put up with the strain anymore. It got toxic in the house. The last week we were there, my parents blew up at us because my parents didn't like that we cooked in the house (it made it stink) and my dad threatened to throw us out. Never did he dream that we'd actually move out. Since we've moved out, it's been a blessing. 


 

 

 

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Posted (edited)

The best solution is to move out as soon as possible. It's not your mother or your wife's fault. It is just not easy to live with others. If you and your wife live with your parents for free, you should help with housework such as cleaning and dishes. You are the middle man, you probably have to learn to be very thoughtful and "act fair" to two most important women in your life. Please do not let your mother feels like you are taking side with your wife and vice versa.  When your mother criticizes your wife with you, you can just tell her "Ok, I will let my wife know" and move on to a different topic, do not try to explain or argue with your mother. You cannot change your mother but you can change the way you react to the situation. 

 

My mother in law is my best friend. I could spend many hours on the phone with her until my husband took the phone away to ask both of us to go to sleep  or the phone ran out of battery.  I just know parents are not going to live forever, one day they will not be here to love you, to criticize you or to get mad at you. Everything will pass, just take everything easy and enjoy it while they are alive. Good luck!

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