I’m a male, 28, who’s fallen in love with a woman, 27, who’s beautiful, and very smart. She’s also from a very different culture which I admit I also found attractive.
She still lives with her parents and the whole immediate family from grandparents down to babies, is very close.
As soon as she recognized the threat of the coronavirus, my girlfriend insisted that I move into the large family home with her, or she wouldn’t be able to see me.
I explained this to my parents and they accepted it, though hesitantly. We stayed in touch online and I’d drive to their house and drop off groceries or treats at their door.
After living together for over six months, my girlfriend and her relatives are asking questions about our plans to marry.
When I told her and her parents that I can’t yet afford our own place, they all laughed and said it’d never be necessary.
I thought they meant that they’d help us financially with a down payment for an apartment, but then I realized that they expected us, like their older daughter, her husband and young kids, to always live with them. (They have a suite of rooms on the third floor).
The grandparents have their own large bedroom, bathroom, den, and mini-kitchen, in an attached wing off the main house.
When I told my girlfriend that I want us to have our own home, but that we’d still be close with her family, visit often, celebrate special occasions with them, etc., she cried and said that I don’t understand her or her background.
She said that I’d be insulting her family, and that I’m being racist if I can’t accept that theirs is a happier, healthier way to raise children and support each other.
She says she won’t compromise on this, and is very angry at me.
I don’t want to lose her. But I also don’t want to lose my sense of who I am and how I want to live, either.
Can people with very mixed backgrounds, live happily married ever after?
I have great faith in the positive ability of so-called “mixed marriages” to create the interesting, culturally-enriching experience that we know as diversity.
In communities, it can bring greater understanding and empathy for the “other.”
But in marriage, it requires a willingness to compromise from both partners, and respect for each other’s differences.
If only one side has the all the back-up (i.e. power), with little consideration for the other partner’s wants/needs, it breeds resentment.
Your wanting a marriage that considers both your backgrounds - living in your own home but maintaining a close relationship with her family, visiting often, acknowledging specific holidays important to them, etc. - is neither racist nor an insult.
Her anger moved her to express herself in extremes. Give her some cooling off time - then, go for a walk together.
Tell her how much you appreciate her family’s closeness but that you also believe in important values: Such as respecting others’ needs as much as their own, and trusting that your partner wants a bond together beyond family ties… of deep love as a unit of your own, with willingness to compromise towards that.
If she still insists that you must accept the entire family lifestyle that’s being offered to you, without any accommodation to your personal preferences/needs, then you should take a break to re-examine this unbalanced relationship.
FEEDBACK Regarding the just-married bride who’s upset to find her groom “ogling” bikini-clad young women at the pool of a honeymoon resort, and worried about what it may mean to their marriage (July 30):
Reader – “I'm a man who’s been faithfully married over 33 years. I'd never think of cheating on my wife: I married her for a reason.
“I can appreciate the attractiveness of other women without devaluing my partner and I’ve found the old saying about beauty being skin deep to be true.
“Beyond the hurt it’d cause my family and myself, getting to know the people inside a jazzy book jacket has yet to translate into a book I'd want to take home.
“In fact, my wife is the one often pointing out the cornucopia of flavors and knows I'll choose my old standby, even regarding ice cream.
“Perhaps “Hurt Bride” got married too hastily if she’s worrying about this revelation now.”
Tip of the day:
Mixed marriages can thrive if both partners show that they equally respect their different backgrounds, customs and values.