Sunday, November 09, 2008

Why do almost all treat us the same?

Well.. the weekend is over and the new week has begun.... amazing how fast weeks pass by. It's also amazing how quickly I lose track of time. Sometimes I forget to return phone calls... only remembering weeks down the road.... makes me wonder if ppl think I'm trying to be rude, altho I do usually apologize.

I feel somewhat ho hum today... I guess sort of melancholy... not in a depressed sort of way, but in a heightened sense of thought sort of way.

Been thinking a lot about the girls/women I know that are married to Bahrainis... and wondering why it is that we all seem to have the same issues w/ in-laws. Of course, some having more extreme variations while others only get a kick in the knee every other Friday or so. One friend has issues w/ hers, but handles it well... instead of staying away all together, she goes to the family gatherings - staying for a good 8 hrs or longer - and enjoys it. She does it for her child. She gave me tips the other day on how to handle things and how to make the best out of the time you're there... like... instead of staying inside, go into the garden, walk around, be around the chickens, ducks, birds... and spend the time being w/ your child, instead of inside, miserable. Good advice, I think.

Others that I know hate their in-laws. I remember meeting this woman back some 2 yrs ago and her in-laws were so bad that they made up stories about how she was trying to kill the FIL. She works at a hospital here in Bahrain, her FIL had to have some tests, and since she was one of the ppl doing them, the MIL started saying that she hadn't done her job properly and was purposely keeping information from him so that he would die. This was only one of many things that she had to deal with.... thankfully I've never had anything like that to deal with... don't know that I would have the strength to persevere. I remember her telling me that they'd never make her leave... no matter how how they tried, she would not let them... and I can so understand this and relate to it... since I've had my share of ppl trying their best to break us up and make me leave... but that's another story for another day.

I know many that are fake around their in-laws... smiling, pretending, making believe that they like them.... I used to do this... did it for many, many years... but I don't any more. It's not me and I'm not the kind to kiss ass, just to kiss it. Now... I'm not saying it's a bad thing... I understand why one does it... but I think there are huge negatives and huge positives that one has to deal w/ when one chooses to take that road.

I guess, in thinking about all of it, I can't help but ask, "why"? Why do we (ok, probably not all of us... there must be some families out there that love or at least respect their expat daughter-in-laws) have to live w/ this? Why do they treat us like this? Why is there so much lying, manipulation, sneaking around causing problems, nosiness, rudeness, fakeness, unfriendliness.... why do these women hate us so much? Is it because we're not like them? We look different, dress different, behave differently??? Or is it because they couldn't control their son and he married for love and who he wanted, and they absolutely can not stand it? God only knows, that's fer sure!

Here we are, away from our families, making our lives in a foreign land (which isn't always easy) trying to get along, loving their sons, but it isn't good enough. Why do they insist on making life so miserable for us? Used to... I thought it was me, but I've realized over the last several months, that it isn't. Yeah... I may not make anything easy, but you know... I used to. Now, I stand up for what I believe in. I don't cower down, afraid to say the wrong thing, act the wrong way ... for if I do, they may not like me.

And thank God!

I've stopped going over to my in-laws as much as I used to. We go only some Fridays and only stay for about an hour, and I only go there on rare occasions. The reason why??? It makes me feel miserable to be around ppl that I don't get along with... who would want to sit in a room making small talk, answering question after question, or coerced into revealing things or saying things that I have no desire to tell.... it's not for me.

We went this past Friday since my FIL is traveling... thinking it might be less complicated, but it wasn't. I felt the same way when I got home... mad at myself for going, mad at myself for not stepping in when my SIL tried to make it look like Naief was about to hit her son - when he was nowhere near her son - altho Hashim did say something and she shut up (I think I've finally realized she's jealous of our son)... I just felt all cruddy inside... like I need to hole up, become a hermit when it comes to seeing them... and stay away for as long as possible... and did I say I don't want my son playing w/ her son... yeah, I know... it's his cousin, but crap, I had cousins that I didn't see all the time and am fine because of it... it wont kill Naief not to see that child all the time.... don't ya think?

anyway... I haven't had a good, groaning post in a while, and since my blog friend, One Wink at a Time, got me to thinking about why that is a few days ago, I figured that it might be a good thing to write about it. so... here ya go. :)


Angry In Oman said...

Good for you for being so strong! Maybe don't bring Naief over there. It's not good for him to be around people who don't respect you.

And maybe the inlaws will learn that they will see their grandchild when they respect their son's wife.

Bobby said...

here was I thinking that IL problems were only in India! It seems worse outside!
MY mom and my granny had similar problems when I was a kid! the funniest b/w both is that they used to shout at each other blowing the roof in the morn and by evening I would see them chatting over tea in the garden!!!!! it used to amuse me! of course both had good understanding (in the evenings!)
when my granny died in 2005, my mom was most depressed! and my granny left my mom a set of sarees (clothes worn by Indian women) for her with the tag -- *WITH LUV FOR MY BITTERSWEET DAUGHTER*

Gardens of Sand said...

I am sorry that things aren't better with the inlaws and somewhat mortified that so many women are going through this in Bahrain!

Maybe they see the expat wife as a threat? As someone who could take their son and granchildren away from them, and as such cannot be fully trusted?

Maybe it's a generational thing that will go away in time. Like mixed racial relationships in the 50s to the 80s in the US. It is something that isn't easily understood, this desire to marry someone not from your own kind.

Maybe they bought the negative stereotypes of western countries and unconsiously or consciously associate it with the expat wife.

I don't think they ever think about wt it must be life for the woman, alone in a foreign country, leaving kin and friends behind. I know even here in the US that never comes up. There is always this surprise and resentment, even offense, that you miss your home, that you would actually rather be there than here.

Are your inlaws nasty to their other daughter-in-law?

Because families are much closer in Bahrain, there is more drama, and resistance to the daughter in law & nastiness to her, is something experiencied by many local women. I never understood why, but I know that is a fading trend.

Peceli and Wendy's Blog said...

I'm sorry you are having a rough time with your husband's relatives. Are there some things that you have in common with these people - some subjects that are non-threatening?
When I have to go to a home where I will be for four or five hours (because of my husband's need for contact with Fijians) I take something along, my sketch-book, my note-book, so that I don't have to talk all the time. If you don't like the adults, play with the kids perhaps.

Christopher said...

my dear...I wish you nothing but serenity...xoxo

Um Naief said...

angry in oman, you know, i feel the same... i think a good dose of not going there will hopefully snap them into shape... but i doubt it! this has been going on for over 5 yrs now, and i don't see it changing...

bobby, hey, thanks for stopping by. so... you guys get the same in india, eh? interesting. my mom and brother's wife used to hate each other when i was small... i'd laugh at it and make jokes about my mom making so many problems... so, it is everywhere. i like your story and especially that they'd be having tea in the afternoons, and how your granny left the clothes for her and wrote such a cute note! makes me smile. :)

gardens of sand, long time, no see, my dear! :) i think many or most of what you touched on here is the truth. i would bet that a lot of it has to do w/ the fear that we'll move away w/ their sons, and the stereotypical views of western society. i'll never forget, the first time i met his mother, we were sitting and she asked how many american friends my husband had... and i thought about it and said, "only a few" and she sighed a breath of relief and commented about how happy she was over it, that she didn't want him being influenced by such ppl. if i had been smart about it, that should have clued me in on her ways of thinking, but i dismissed it... but never forgot it. ;)

i always love your thoughts... and views. i do hope that things are changing for the better, but i don't see his family changing really. and yes, they are terrible to the other DIL as well, but act fake to her face, then as soon as she leaves, do nothing but make nasty comments. so i know they're doing the same to me. they blame her for everything that happens...if brother/son doesn't come to lunch, doesn't come over or whatever, it's all her fault. so, again, probably same about me.

wendy, the next time i go, i'll plan to stay outside as much as possible w/ naief, and probably take some reading material. playing w/ the kids is something i don't want to do - altho i have in the past - because it's always w/ the housemaids only, which i don't like, and the kids are total brats.... they have absolutely no discipline... and one gets tired of constantly trying to keep peace.

christopher, hello my friend... thank you for your support... gosh, i sound like a politician! ;O

Southern Gal said...

Hugs going out to you :) You have given up everything that made you safe and secure as you knew it before moving to Bahrain. I know you adore your sweet husband.Your nature is to please. It would be hard for anyone to adjust to such polar opposite families. I am sure they are very jealous and secretly wishing they could be you. Be yourself.

Bobby said...

thanks for stopping by my blog!
like your comments! i will be soon posting recipes !
you asked abt my ht -- 6ft 2 inches!!

Um Naief said...

southern gal, first, thanks for stopping by. hope you enjoy my blog... and thanks for the hug! :) and yes, you're right, my nature is to please, so i have done that for years, even w/ the in-laws, but now, i'm not. i'm tired of being walked on... and it's time to be respected.

bobby, you're the height of my husband, but you're thinner. can't wait for your recipes. :)

The Moody Minstrel said...

I've heard about - and personally dealt with - similar in-law problems with expats here in Japan. I wouldn't be surprised if it were for similar reasons, too.

This is an extremely patronizing culture; Japanese parents are expected to take responsibility for their offspring for as long as they live. Traditionally, that also means selecting the spouse. If a son winds up not deferring to his parents and instead chooses his own marriage partner, it's a good bet that his parents will view his wife as an intruder and treat her as such, even if unconsciously. The other extreme is the in-laws who feel they can hammer the spouse into their own mold (as was the case with my in-laws), and if the spouse resists their "correcting" (as I have), they're liable to label her as "hopeless" (as mine did with me). That's not conducive to a cordial relationship.

I'm sure your own in-laws probably worried from the start that you wouldn't understand your proper place and behavior. Maybe they thought they could fix you in the beginning. Maybe they've decided that you're a "lost cause". Maybe they're still wondering why their dear little boy didn't marry a nice, cooperative Bahraini girl who would happily kowtow before them and wait on them hand and foot. (Do Bahraini women have a tradition of doing that like Japanese women do...or at least are supposed to?) You don't because you're an uncouth, uncivilized, barbarian American. That makes you unworthy of respect.

Yes, I deal with that.

Um Naief said...

moody, Boy, ain't that the truth!!!! I'm a Barbarian!!! I knew it... :))) Yes, indeed, the women do, in many homes, kowtow to the men.. they do it in hashim's family. Not sure that his mother ever resists anything that his father says, as his sister w/ her husband and SIL w/ her husband. and, yes, I'd bet anything they see me as a lost cause... and, for sure, not who they would have chosen for their son, especially seeing that I'm older than him! Which doesn't happen here... if anything, you see 60 yr old men marring women half their age, if not younger!!

Oh Moody, the things we expats put up w/ in the name of love! :)

Olivia said...

Um Naief and Moody - I do not know how you do it, and in your case Moody, for so long. I would have blown my top ages ago!

But then again, I don't know what it's like to be in love so I have no idea what sacrifices I could make in such a scenario. However, I do know what it's like for a MIL to hate her DIL, like my dad's mother never liked my mother. On the other hand, my mum's mum adored my father. So I've seen both sides.

It really is annoying how westerners are so looked down upon in some societies. And yet, the ILs should respect you because you have not taken their son away from them, and you don't deprive them of their grandchild either. You are willing to adapt to their society and leave your family behind in teh US, they ought to respect you for that, for being an outsider willing to adopt THEIR culture. It's not like you are pushing YOURS on THEM.

Sorry...I got a bit angry there :)


Um Naief said...

olivia, i like it when you get a bit angry!! ;)

you're right... i agree... and i don't understand why we're not respected for just the things that you mention, but it doesn't happen. honestly, i don't think they even think about it.

i had coffee w/ a woman yesterday and another woman joined later, at some point, the older, 2nd woman who joined asked why in the world did i marry a bahraini - weren't there any other men around.

i laughed and said that i married for love.

Olivia said...

Hehe :)

Peceli and Wendy's Blog said...

An Oz woman married to an Indian man in Suva writes hilarious,humorous stories about her in-laws and extended Indian famliy. Maybe you could get into fiction writing and let the steam out! Okay, I think taking it lightly and laughing doesn't solve it. Just look for one or two of the women in his family who do have some common sense.
I think this topic is wrothy of a whole textbook!

Um Naief said...

wendy, i've seriously thought about writing a book... many times. i think it would be interesting reading. i know it's a daily drama. i've been away from it for about a week now and feel happier because of it.

there aren't any rational women in his immediate family. he does have some mature, older cousins that are very open-minded, love to converse, and like-minded... but... don't think i could ever let off steam w/ them.. for it would come right back to the family.

One Wink at a Time said...

Holy cow, I remember writing a lengthy comment here about in-laws. It must have gotten lost! I wish I could remember what I'd said!

Anonymous said...

Stand your ground lady. It must be difficult having problems with your in-laws. But, regardless of what the culture is or the custom, there is a universal law that applies to all: The Golden Rule.

Never stand for disrespect, because you are as much a part of that family, as the next now.