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Chinese Family Politics

I've been in tears most of the evening.

The bullshit began long ago, but I'm the new wife in the family so it's Open Season on me. The immediate in-laws, the ones I'm living with, are great people. It's the extended in-laws that feel the need to unload venom on me.

Husband Guy and I have already made arrangements with Grandma to pay for household expenses. Husband Guy and I have always erred on the side of generosity. We don't publish the fact that we've paid for a lot things. We don't do our fucking accounting at big family gatherings to get into minute detail about the things we paid and how many miles we put on our cars for which family errand (no word of a lie, we've had to sit through the mileage count!).

The extended in-laws don't know how much we spend towards the household and think we're freeloading (although we've watched some of them make off with some hefty toys). This, so goes their logic, gives them the right to spew abuse at us at every turn.

We had an agreement with the Grandparents that Husband Guy and I were paying the property tax on the house. I guess Grandma mentioned offhand that she felt kinda bad for asking us to pay so much - which is not true, she didn't ask us, we offered... but that's the way women with low self-esteem tend to talk when they're internalizing blame.

T comes up with a whole "payment plan" for us. She cornered me this morning and told me that we should write post dated cheques for every month written out to T. Her reasoning was that "then Grandma wouldn't feel bad that you're paying her"... if anyone out there in LJ Land - and beyond - figures that one out, please let me know because I still don't understand.

I told her that I thought we had already worked it out with Grandma a while ago and she said "it doesn't matter, your husband and I have agreed to do it this way instead, so you can write me 12 post dated cheques and give them to me now".

Now, I know Husband Guy doesn't make agreements that involve partially my money without at least letting me know, so I knew something was up. She was being extra pushy about it, so I definitely wanted to be careful. All I said to her was that Husband Guy probably hasn't had time to tell to me about it yet (he's been supersuper busy).

I saw Grandma later this afternoon and we got talking about it. I told her not to feel bad about us paying for stuff, we were happy to and if she feels bad about taking our money directly, we'll just pay the bill when it comes. That way, we're not paying her, but we're helping with the household expenses and the funds are not being pushed around. =) Grandma was okay with this, so I went on helping make stuff for the Thanksgiving Day big family dinner.

T blew the biggest gasket when she heard this. As soon as she got to the vicinity of the front door, she started screaming and kicked up the biggest stink. I've never seen the cousins so scared shitless. This Thanksgiving dinner was probably the record for the least food eaten.

She went on and on about Husband Guy and I not taking responsibility, not contributing and what the hell did we think we were doing, who the hell did we think we were, etc., etc., etc. Neither of us dignified what she said with an answer of any sort. Anyone who matters, knows she's full of shit.

Grandma was telling her to shut up, T's husband, K, was telling her to shut up before she went overboard. She just went all out overboard and back again, anyway. In the middle of it, she yelled, in front of everyone, "I know The Bride doesn't have a good opinion of me, don't think I can't see it. But, I'm family and I'm going to be hanging around here, so she better shut the hell up and fall in line behind me."

It makes me suspicious of her because she's so upset that we didn't go with her plan. No, I haven't been buddybuddy with her, but I haven't done anything to warrant that uncalled-for outburst either.


Comments

( 9 comments — Leave a comment )
ntang
Oct. 7th, 2001 11:50 pm (UTC)
Hey...
...you really are from a Chinese family!

Heh.

Gotta love it. Sigh. My family's very similar, but I will say that my generation (i.e., myself and my cousins) have shown a distinct lack of fondness for the same sort of backbiting and politics that runs rampant through the older generations. It's nice to see it can burn itself out after a while, but it's always painful to watch it.
bride
Oct. 8th, 2001 12:00 am (UTC)
Re: Hey...
Yup. It's painful to be caught in it, especially in times of economic hardship... y'know, when business sucks and people have more venom than ever.

Sometimes, I really admire the Western "small doses only" approach to family.
kiad
Oct. 8th, 2001 05:30 am (UTC)
This is amazing. I've never heard anything like this. wow. Hm. So, do you all argue in manderin? (I don't know too much about chinese culture, and this is fascinating!)

I hope things cool down.
bride
Oct. 8th, 2001 12:23 pm (UTC)
Yup, we talk in Mandarin. =)
bride
Oct. 8th, 2001 05:05 pm (UTC)
Heh...
BTW, this is actually fairly typical of the micro-communities that are Chinese families. The frightening thing is that A LOT of Chinese dramas centre around family bullshit _just_like_this_. I'll be watching and I'll get this really eerie feeling, like "oh my god, that's just like what happened to US" =}

My own family is relatively peaceful because my parents immigrated to Canada and left all the BS behind. They very literally came with not much more than the clothes on their backs and built a life out of nothing.
xinit
Oct. 8th, 2001 10:21 am (UTC)
Sounds like Aunt T was trying to help with her OWN bills and not with Grandma's. Your best bet is to pay the bills as they come in. Hell, pay them ALL and let's see Aunt T bitch about that.
bride
Oct. 8th, 2001 12:54 pm (UTC)
We're all back to Square One now, where Husband Guy/I pay the top half and the Grandparents pay the bottom half. Husband Guy and I would love to pay it all - that's what we originally offered, actually. But the Grandparents are too proud to allow that. It was a bit of a struggle to get them to allow us to pay even half.

All my life, I've had to fight to _give_ money to family - I fought my own parents, long and hard, just so that they wouldn't worry about my wedding expenses because I knew they weren't in the best of times. Many conversations with Father Man ended thusly: "Dad!! Why haven't you deposited my cheque for [the wedding thing] yet?!?! If you don't deposit it by the end of the week, I will PAY YOUR ENTIRE VISA BILL!!!".

[Re: T's own agenda]

I think it's more along the lines of wanting to be able to show the court that "past records show _I_ have been contributing and _they_ haven't" when it comes to contesting the will. Someone else pointed this out, not me.

The lashing out at me was totally unprompted. I expressed confusion at her "payment plan". I just didn't understand how they manage all of their personal and business accounts and I wanted to make sure I understood what was happening.

She blew up at me for not trusting her with the payments; not thinking of her as "family"; and taking advantage of the Grandparents.
badkarma_05
Oct. 8th, 2001 03:55 pm (UTC)
What a terrible situation to be in. Since you're dealing with family, I guess there's not way to really get away from it. Best of luck dealing with it all... and try not to let it upset you if possible. Good luck!
bride
Oct. 8th, 2001 04:24 pm (UTC)
=) Thanks... in a way, I asked for it. I married into a close-knit clan, so I knew there would be BS happening. There will be more.

*sigh* But I love my husband enough to deal with it and writing helps.
( 9 comments — Leave a comment )

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