Overwhelmed by in-laws from China




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POSTED BY terryll (6 yrs ago)
I'm someone quite cynical and not very social by nature, however I try to be polite and do right by other people. I got married a couple years ago to a lady from Mainland China who somehow tolerates me. Her parents are good, decent people who treat me well. There are huge cultural differences, but it helps that I speak some Mandarin and have spent a lot of time in China. So it will probably seem very nasty of me to say that I can hardly stand to be around them anymore. It used to be that we would visit them for Chinese New Year and maybe once in the summer. Since my wife became pregnant 6 months ago, they have come to visit us every couple months for two weeks at a time, supposedly to help take care of her (as if I am not managing to do so). I fail to see how the Chinese food they buy and cook is any healthier than the mediterranean-style diet that I favor.


But what drives me really nuts is their constant presence and their constant loud talking. Their conversation is always at a very high volume about mundane topics like the price of daily items and the scheduling of things. I work very long hours and come home past 9pm to find them on the sofa watching CCTV and talking loudly about dull things, until they get ready for bed and make loud throat hacking noises in the bathroom. They come over and comment about how hard I work, when basically I am trying hard to tune them out during my two hours of free time to think about work and life matters that are resting entirely on my shoulders. They admire me as a successful high-earner, however I see myself as having zero job security in an office full of back-stabbers. Worst of all, they are talking about spending more time in Hong Kong to help take care of the baby. Something that really irritated me at a recent dinner is that one of their family friends asked whether I would ever consider moving overseas and my father-in-law immediately remarked "that's out of the question!" As a matter fact, between the work stress, air pollution and lack of personal space, I have been thinking a lot about eventually leaving Hong Kong. My wife has said that she would support my decision, but clearly her parents are not on the same wavelength. I feel like I have signed away my life to these people, but how am I to tell my wife that I want less of her parents in our lives? Lately, I find myself craving solitude and wishing that I owned a dog.

COMMENTS

Luigi666 (6 yrs ago)
First of all, cultural difference is the reason why you can't tolerate your wife's parents' loud talking. To foreigners, Chinese people talk loud. You can see how people talk in Chinese tea restaurants!? It's their way of talking and the language and intonation and culture.


Second, apparently they do not appreciate the pressure and real nature of your work environment. Maybe find a moment to tell your wife that you want some personal time when you get home from work? Ask her to hint her parents to resign to their room after 9pm? People need to make compromise. By doing this you will already feel a lot better.


After baby is born, I'm afraid that it would be inevitable for your inlaws to come (want to come) more often or stay for longer period. At first everyone would be stressed but soon you will get used to it. One way you may try is to hire helper plus some lady who company your wife when she is moon sitting. By doing this, then you can tell your wife that she doesn't need your inlaws to come "more often" to take care of baby or your wife. I mean at least won't worsen the situation.


Hope this helps.


cookie09 (6 yrs ago)
i have a similar situation at home including babies, assumed certainties on their part and behaviors that i find mildly annoying.


my basic solution has always been to sit down with my wife to establish the ground rules and then ask her to implement them. you are the married couple so you should agree on the rules together. it's her parents, so she should implement the rules.


of course one has to be flexible in establishing rules, give and take, etc. however i think you have been a push-over so far, so no harm in having a solid discussion with your wife.

lagrue (6 yrs ago)
terryll, I completely sympathise with you! I feel your pain. When marrying across cultures, although there are some wonderful things there are also the negatives and the invasive behaviour of the in-laws is one of them. I would suggest that you lay down the law firmly (as they tend to have very thick skin and are prone to bouts of pretending not to hear something or say yes-yes and then do the opposite) and early BEFORE the baby arrives otherwise you will find it intolerable.

I am married to a local Hong Konger and to get my in laws out of my face -loud talking, visiting all hours of the evening, eating VERY loudly, talking about completely inane things when I was trying to unwind was a unpleasant business as I left it too late and waited for the husband to do the talking -never happened or if it did it was so feeble that it slid off the thick skinned inlaws like water off a duck's back. It ended up being a nasty show down with very cross words from me (not recommended) and of course of me being accused in Chinese of being unfilial (which thank goodness I didn;t understand otherwise I would have had a few choice words about NOT respecting other's space/choices ect)

Don't let the third wheel ruin what sounds like a good relationship for you, because that is what will happen if you don't redress your issues. Chinese parents in general think they are right and have right of way in everything and seem to struggle with boundaries and the rights of their children to CHOOSE to have a highly emeshed in your face relationship versus a normal boundary defined one.


GOOD LUCk and GOD bless, it's going ot be a long slog for you my friend!

terryll (6 yrs ago)
Thanks for the sympathy. The reason I've been quite passive so far is that they are basically nice people who have treated me well. They are also Mainland Chinese, so my wife is their only chil. A at retirement age, they really have nothing to focus on in their own lives except for their daughter and expected grandchild. It seems brutal to suggest that they should keep their distance when they only mean well. Coming from a state-owned enterprise "iron rice bowl" culture, they don't seem to understand how much pressure I'm under, how much pain I have to deal with in the office and how two hours of personal time in the evening is all that I'm living for at the moment. If I did not have a wife and baby on the way, I could immediately quit my job and live very comfortably overseas. I wish they could appreciate that I have basically given up my freedom and happiness to provide for their daughter and the least they could do is give me my space.

Xerxes (6 yrs ago)
suck it up big boy....they mean no harm. Besides, imagined marrying a western / American woman. She would have your gonads in a vice clamp. Its all about trade off.

nigella (6 yrs ago)
let me ask you this: if you weren't a "successful high-earner", as you describe yourself (or as your wife and her family perceive you), do you think she would have "tolerated" you in the first place?

they focus on her because if she doesn't already, she will eventually gain control over your money.

wait till your child arrives.

Amparo Kia (6 yrs ago)
terryll, i can see you are weary and tired and your frustration over your life even just from reading your post. Is your wife aware of your stress from work, as your wife, she should share your burden and doesn't need to be told that she should make your life easier at home considering your long working hour and etc… It has nothing to do with cultural difference, it is how the husband and wife’s role in a marriage. I am assuming she doesn’t need to work as you are a high earner… all the more she should focus her attention on you and her household….problem with a lot of marriages is once the ceremony is over, we all think it is settled and forget that the relationship would still be needing attention if not more.


Before the situation gets worse, you really need to sit your wife down and tell her your worries and burden and what you want in your own household, or what you are expecting in this relationship. Do not worry about offending them because they are nice to you, don’t want to be sarcastic, but if my son-in-law is a high earner and provide well for my daughter (her family too maybe), I will treat him real well too, nothing wrong there, it’s human nature… as long as your request is reasonable, I see no reason they will be mad at you.


Loyd Grossman is Miss Venezuela (6 yrs ago)
Agree with xerxes, suck it up. You could always start behaving strangely like wearing lip-stick and a bra or walking naked around the flat.

Amparo Kia (6 yrs ago)
Loyd, haha, I like the walking naked one...a good way to let the stress out and scare the in-laws away

housed (6 yrs ago)
I also have pretty difficult in-laws (well, mother in law now as the father-in-law is now passed away) and I find that it's best to let your spouse handle his/her own parents. He/she should be able to communicate the issues more easily and clearly than you would, and in the process, hopefully not piss them off too much with a carefully worded exchange.


But first, you and your spouse should sit down and talk it out first so that you are both on the same page. Agree between the two of you what you find acceptable vs what you are able to tolerate, and then based on that, she can go back to her parents and work it out somehow.


Personally, I would not attempt to talk to them myself. Given the cultural divide, it would most likely make matters worse.

housed (6 yrs ago)
In fact, given the choice between talking it out with them myself vs. walking around the apartment naked, I would choose walking around naked. Seriously.

Loyd Grossman is Miss Venezuela (6 yrs ago)
These parents went through the cultural revolution. Confrontation not a good idea. You need guile.

Loyd Grossman is Miss Venezuela (6 yrs ago)
You need something that you can innocently introduce. Something that you like but which they probably hate. Something like Stilton or Danish blue cheese. Start by insisting it is on the menu each day. Force them to eat it. Tell them it is a huge insult to turn away food in the UK because of rationing during the war. Tell them that Stilton actually has mites living in it - which is true. Make them eat Marmite on toast for breakfast. Become visibly downcast when they refuse. I give them 2 weeks max.

Loyd Grossman is Miss Venezuela (6 yrs ago)
And put some Stilton in the air-con for good measure.

Justin Credible (Part Deux) (6 yrs ago)
LOL! Damn...poor OP, I feel for him. But yeah, be a man, put your foot down, tell the wife what bothers you and then have her implement. You need to look like you have some rules and a pair to back them up!

bbrave (6 yrs ago)
sorry OP but sounds like you got suckered into marriage by the oldest trick in the book- knocked-up. you're the gravy train and the baby is insurance. haven't u noticed most mainland wives get pregnant the 1st year of marriage if they aren't already before marriage. IT's insurance baby! stop working and they'll all leave. no need for any passive aggressive sh*t.

TheNewMrsWong (6 yrs ago)
OMG, I am in the same situation!! I love my MIL and all my inlaws, I think they are fantastic people but I can't spend all day every day with them. I can't spend all day every day with my own parents, in fact they've only been invited to Hong Kong once since I moved here.


But now I'm pregnant my darling MIL has offered to move in with us when the baby is born to help us with child care costs. I earn the most and will have to go to back work when the baby is 3 or 4 months old, but I don't want her to move in!!


We did live with his family, the inlaws, for 18 months when I first moved over to Hong Kong. When I had saved enough money I told my hubby that we had to move out. I explained that while I do respect his culture, my culture has children moving out when they can afford it.


Now he's seriously considering having his mum moving in to help us out. He understands that I need my space from family members and while I would really appreciate any help, having someone move in with us while we're trying to find our feet with a new baby is not what I want.


I know this is difficult advice for a man but you could try talking to your wife about how you feel. It worked for me and my husband. He still wants his mum to live with us but he understands and values my feelings. And he knows his mum will still be involved in our baby's life.


Good luck though. I know the culture differences between east and west is difficult. It took me a long time to accept that he gave his money away to his parents even though they are fairly well off.


Best of luck.

Loyd Grossman is Miss Venezuela (6 yrs ago)
Don't do anything rash. In-laws are pretty useful to have around especially when you have been married a while.

woods99 (6 yrs ago)


Have a nice long talk with your wife, and explain that you, a mere westerner, need to have some boundaries. Agree on what those boundaries should be, and allow your wife some time and space to communicate this to her parents.


I agree that one major factor is the possibility that these interruptions to your daily life might impact on your job performance.


Be calm, be consistent, but be assertive. You might have to agree on some trade-offs.


At the end of the day, you are the bread-winner, so your wife and her family do have a responsibility to help you to win enough bread.



lagrue (6 yrs ago)
I would also give her a deadline for dealing with the problem, as too often I see men and women alike from the Chinese culture pussy foot around when disucssing tough issues of boundaries/money/other tricky topics with their parents. Either the oldies don't hear, don't care or it wasn't said explicitly enough.

No matter if the in laws have been good to you up to now, the key to a successful relationship on both sides is to sort it out EARLY especially when you feel so uncomfortable in your own home. Don't let it get too late and ugly as my case did.

On a brighter note, 2 years on things are pretty good actually. I have the space I need and they see their son and grandchildren very regularly and we each respect each others boundaries BUT I wished that we had set down the ground rules earlier so it didn't need ot result in a showdown and a HUGE loss of face for his parents (when I could take the intrusion no longer).

TheNewMrsWong (6 yrs ago)
I would suggest treading carefully though. As a pregnant woman myself, I wouldn't really fancy arguing with my husband about his family in my condition. Feeling sick CONSTANTLY and tired all the time really brings you down and an argument would just hit the bottom.


Softly softly is my suggestion. Gentle but firm.

unattendedbag (6 yrs ago)
terryll, I truly feel sorry for you. I can only imagine what it would be like to have a 'loud talking' mainlander in my house for an extended period of time. I can't stand the loud talking on the train for 20 minutes, let alone a weekend or more.


Someone eluded to it above. Remove all extra beds, couches etc. One advantage to living in Hong Kong's tiny flats, is that there isn't much room for guests. Use that to your advantage. Get the loud talking mainlanders in a hotel!!!

Lunatic (6 yrs ago)
talk to your wife and share your concern, let her handle the communication with her parents. after all she is your wife.


otherwise, you will tolerate, tolerate, until at some point you explode, and it will be very ugly.

terryll (6 yrs ago)
Thanks everyone. I will definitely have a talk with my wife after the in-laws go home in a couple days' time. This visit, the second in 3 months has really driven me to the edge, and what's worse is that they seem to think they will spend even more time here once the baby is born. What amazes me is how people can make themselves so at home in someone else's home. Whenever I happen to stay with friends or family, I always try to be quiet and courteous. I would never think to sit around in my underwear, have the TV constantly on the Chinese channel, talk loudly at people from different rooms in the house, make throat hacking noises, etc. The most ridiculous thing is that they say they need to take care of their pregnant daughter, but the stuff they cook is much less healthy than what we normally eat. The thing is that retired mainland Chinese parents have absolutely nothing to focus on but the lives of their 1 child. They do no work, no volunteer activities, have no hobbies and are so thrifty that they never do anything that costs money. There is a serious problem with the cultural legacy.

Justin Credible (Part Deux) (6 yrs ago)
Well, I think this works as a two way street though. When your wife married a gwailo, she probably didn't think too long and hard about the fact that she was not marrying his family, she was just marrying him...and so maybe, oh, you know, just maybe...it wasn't his deal-a-yo to have to marry her family as well as her.


Man has to sit the woman down and tell her how it is. She will get it. If she isn't happy its purely because most Asian kids don't have the balls to tell their parents to f-off, but lucky for her, she can blame it on the man.


I am with you terryll - you need your space, you need your sanity, and the thought of these wonderful old foggies encroaching on your personal space, hacking up a storm and talking loudly into the quiet night...it could scare you all the way into some dodgy wanchai bar just to get away from it all! But really, fear not, tell the wife and then have her implement.


Lose absolutely no sleep on how she will implement it, just know that you have made it crystal clear that this is affecting your level of stress and work life would come crumbling down like a house of cards if it continues. Tell her that you like them and all, but I am sure she would not appreciate your parents coming over and camping in her living room for weeks on end either.


(That said, there is a strong possibility that you would be able to stand your parents company for a lot shorter time than the wife...but hey...its all about perspective. Us Asians have a problem with this whole "your space/my space" thing, but once its spelled out, its pretty easy to grasp!) Good luck!

TheNewMrsWong (6 yrs ago)
Could you offer to put her parents up in a hotel? Not sure what your finances are like, but they would gain a lot of face staying at one of the more pricier ones... Penninsular anyone?

mike204 (6 yrs ago)
I wouldn't recomment a 5 star hotel...start with 3 or 4 star hotels. Special occasions do the pricier ones.


Once they get used to the pricier hotels, they will sulk when booked at 3/4 star hotels

unattendedbag (6 yrs ago)
"The thing is that retired mainland Chinese parents have absolutely nothing to focus on but the lives of their 1 child. They do no work, no volunteer activities, have no hobbies and are so thrifty that they never do anything that costs money. There is a serious problem with the cultural legacy."


Very insightful and well said. If you go to the nicer, more upscale shopping malls in Hong Kong, you will notice very few of them have benches. The reason is that they don't want their mall to turn into a retirement home. Walk into any McDonalds and its usually hard to find a seat....yet few people are currently eating. It would drive me mad if I owned a restaurant with the amount of elderly loitering that I see around here. But I don't blame the elderly, they simply don't have anything else to do.


harry758 (6 yrs ago)
I agree old people in HK generally fall into the vegetable bucket. I kick my mother in law out at the weekend - simple as that.


As for restaurants I frequently have HK people removed from Starbucks, Pacific Coffee etc. if they are not bonafidie customers - too much cheap rubbish in this city which needs disciplining.


Same goes for people who are not customers trying to hold seats in self service restaurant venues - I buy my food then sit doen in the seat they have saved for me - then remind them that I am a customer and they are not.

Loyd Grossman is Miss Venezuela (6 yrs ago)
You could always make a pass at your mother-in-law. That would shake things up a bit.

Topol (6 yrs ago)
.. or when the in-laws are gabbing away in the lounge stroll out of the bathroom in the buff pick up the newspaper from the coffee table tuck under your arm .. give the mother-in-law a wink then disppear to your bedroom.


Job done.

TheNewMrsWong (6 yrs ago)
The thing is, this kind of thing can make you very nasty.


When I lived with my inlaws, it was their home and I was their guest, but they only spoke Chinese and they always watched Chinese tv. I just wasn't picking up the language fast enough and I started to get lonely and acted really spiteful.


Moving out and getting some space was really the best thing I could do.


Not having your own space in your home, or not being comfortable in your home is horrible.


Let us know what happens when you speak to your wife, if she speaks to her parents.

rob_378 (6 yrs ago)
Terryll, i feel your pain!!


Within 30 minutes of our child being born, my in-laws were discussing what they were going to name our child (including using my in-laws family name ^^) ... i won't go into the rest...


Lay down the rules... quickly... and if they are unwilling to accept, they are not showing you any respect... at which point i would do whatever it takes to get them to leave!


Luckily for me, my wife also needed her privacy and space.. so the problems were addressed by us quickly. At first they insisted on turning up without calling... later the emotional blackmail started.. (you can expect all of these)... but in the end they will realize its better for them to have shorter amounts of quality time with their grandchild, rather than all the arguments.


Goodluck!!


narnia (6 yrs ago)
Poor you!


Talk to your wife...actually doesn't she feel that you're not happy with something? Then organise the rooms in your place. Assuming you have 3 rooms, one is the master br, another is the nursery with change table, drawers, etc. and make the other a study for yourself (to chill out while the out-laws visit). Put a feeding chair...one of those rocking ones in there so it takes up enough room to not allow for spare beds. With no place for them to sleep, the in-laws will have to stay out, thank you!

Mr Happy (6 yrs ago)
Basically, you're screwed.

GemmaW (6 yrs ago)
Don't speak too quickly. My sis told my parents and her inlaws that she didn't need help and she would prefer that none of them come over to help her. Basically she told them that she was very capable and she could handle it on her own. My parents said okay and left her alone. Her baby is now 5 months. She's asked my parents to go over a few times a week so she could rest. She's also asked them to stay over a few times so that she could sleep at night also.

You may not need the help, but what about your wife? She has to look after a baby 24 hours. It is tiring. Remember you only come home at 9pm. Lots of mothers have done it on their own but my mum has always said, "If you can get help, grab it". Every little bit counts, even if it's just for half an hour. They mean well. If it's too much, ask your wife to explain to them that you need your privacy. You could even buy them a tv so that they could watch tv in their bedroom every night.

I love having my parents around when I've just given birth. My parents take turns to do the night shifts (just so I can rest). Sometimes they don't wake me up when baby needs to breastfeed (which annoys me) but it's because they want me to have enough sleep. It's great and I'm ever so grateful.

huey205 (6 yrs ago)
my Chinese gf tried taking complete control not long after I met her , and mainly due pressure and suggestions from her friends and family.

I told her very clearly if she wasn't happy she was free to leave and they could buy her a LV handbag... that was 5 years ago...she's still with me and I just bought her a HKD 5M dollar apartment



Lunatic (6 yrs ago)
wow, huey, if your only means of taming a woman and making her stay with you is by buying expensive gifts to her... you could have saved yourself lots of money by hiring hookers

The Egg (6 yrs ago)
I am married to a Chinese for more than 10 years. I get it! I get it! I get it! When we first got married my mother-in-law lived with us and almost drove us to divorce. She didn't respect our space (no knocking on the bedroom door and barging in) and there were some serious culture differences that I may never get used to. She eventually moved out, but it took a while before things were civil.


It has been more than 10 years. The in-laws have moved back in and have been with us for the last 6 months. To some my advice may sound rude, but everyone is happier if you just tune out the noise. Because you're annoyed you focus on the throat clearing and loud talking.


If you think about the fact that these people probably only have one child and they spent most of their lives doing whatever they could to ensure that their daughter got a good education and could have a better life, it is easier to accept the differences.


CaptDave (6 yrs ago)
Another approach is to fix up one of the rooms for your use as a den. You need a comfy chair, tv, small bar fridge, and a door than can be bolted from the inside. When you need some time out from the inlaws, just retreat to the room, watch your TV shows, read a good book, or whatever. I know it’s hard in HK’s cramped spaces, but this is the best approach. If there is no spare room, maybe try to adapt the bedroom ?

AaliyahM (6 yrs ago)
"my Chinese gf tried taking complete control not long after I met her , and mainly due pressure and suggestions from her friends and family.

I told her very clearly if she wasn't happy she was free to leave and they could buy her a LV handbag... that was 5 years ago...she's still with me and I just bought her a HKD 5M dollar apartment "


My God, huey, who do you think you are? How could you even say something as disrespectful as that to your wife? If I were her, you can jolly well keep your HK$5m dollar apartment and find another wife. If you find her controlling due to family pressure, you tell her as it is. You do not treat her as if she's materialistic or threaten her with something as absurd as that.

rob_378 (6 yrs ago)
Bejeezus you must have a very close relationship with your inlaws or live in a very small space to think that farting under the blanket will be witnessed by them...


BTW, your posts are very funny otherwise lol...

unattendedbag (6 yrs ago)
alright terryl, can you give us all an update? I'm curious as to how things are going?

Ikseke (6 yrs ago)
do the same invite your parents for 2 weeks and see how she reacts.

I had the same problem before

mjrelje (6 yrs ago)
I would seriously change the locks. God, mainlanders in your house...sh*t, that's just down right unpleasant.

running (6 yrs ago)
I hate it when my mainlander mother in law come and do nothing and mess up the whole house. Wife pretty much let thec*ckroach infest unless I tell the maid to do something. I am pretty happy when wife go back to China. Maid cook my food in time and gives me peace and cleaness.

janniehk (6 yrs ago)
To anyone dealing with this issue in a cross cultural marriage then I would say its fair to confide with your wife and say that she chose to marry someone NOT CHINESE or even Asian and that there should be a compromise. She needs to tell her parents that you are not comfortable with having them around so much

You are not Chinese so they cant expect you to just be forced into this way of life. Perhaps offer them a seperate place to stay when they are in town. There are lots of flats out for let short term on sites like Airbnb that are reasonably priced.

Just avoiding the issue and keeping quiet wont help. The parents just dont understand since living with grown kids is normal for them.

Actually anyone non Chinese thinking of marrying someone Chinese NEEDS to address these issues before getting married

Doesnt matter if you plan to marry someone overseas chinese or very westernized because often the parents are quite traditoinal. I"m Canadian chinese and my sisters are both married to Westerners. My parents needed some time to adjust to this and understand that they cannot just move in or go over to their homes any time they want. They are ok with that but its just took time for them to adapt.






Tyler69 (6 yrs ago)
Angelique your word have such meaning, can you write book?


I feel cultures not all the same today, many different but try. It is tough but me must move on.


Happiness to all.

cookie09 (6 yrs ago)
ed, can't you step in please? all discussions threads are seriously becoming annoying because of a certain angel...

Mr Bigglesworth (6 yrs ago)
Agree. Please - this is a forum for people to seek advice from others with relevant experience. So many threads have turned into farce. As a new arrival, I've found this forum invaluable - but recently, also a little annoying.

milktea917 (6 yrs ago)
OP wanted a femine asican wife and mix blood babies,there's some price you need to pay. anooying no doubt. but your wife probably need them to help.

chinese food maybe not so healthy, but parents usually like to cook broth and soups which is good for pregnant woman, and all vegs are stired flyed.just endure now,after u have the baby born, they are free baby sitter, why not.

you can always smile ask them lower the volumn in a funny way. taking loud is a bad habit caused by insecure sometimes, insecure people are very sensitive. they will get it.

you absolutle no need them but your wife needs them.that's how we say compromise.

moonshinenl (6 yrs ago)
I bet you wonder why your wife isn't like her parents =P

36th Chamber (6 yrs ago)
Two worrying aspects to this post. generic lumping all Chinese people into this local difficulty. The education, class of the family might be the issue and not Chinese culture. Can we get it right instaed of spewing crass generalisations.


Some of these folks marry these girls knowing this might happen. I date an Asian, her parents have more money than me and she is in a fine job. If anything, I am probably more of a liability than vice versa. The moral of the tale, choice and its exercise

auslass (6 yrs ago)
Do you really feel that they are visiting too much? My in-laws, who are from India, came and stayed with us for six months after our first child was born. Although that has been the longest stay,Whenever we stay or they stay at our place, the visits are usually pretty long. I appreciate their help a lot and the time my kids get to spend with them even though my FIL and I have the occasional spat . Everyone does with him though ( including my American SIL) , usually over something stupid which has been said,we get over it quickly. Your inlaws actually sound ideal to me. They admire you, they are thrifty and they want to help. Is this really about them? To me , from the original post which mentioned you wanting solitude and that your wife 'tolerates' you, it sounds like you are regretting the marriage itself.

NuinHK (6 yrs ago)
"If I did not have a wife and baby on the way, I could immediately quit my job and live very comfortably overseas. I wish they could appreciate that I have basically given up my freedom and happiness to provide for their daughter and the least they could do is give me my space."


Well, you chose to marry her. It was not a charity case. Sometimes you sound VERY reasonable and sometimes you sound like a jerk. It is certainly a cultural issue, which you should have anticipated/thought about BEFORE you popped the question.

rob_378 (6 yrs ago)
I think the op's wife could have anticipated herself before committing to marriage that she was forming a family together with her husband... Rather than her husband becoming the adopted child and being forced to share a small space with his in laws.


That said, it's certainly a difficult situation.it is odd to house visiting parents separately.. And on the other side it's difficult for husbands to be expected to live with their in laws. Amongst my friends in nearly every case where this has happened there has been friction. Unfortunately it's usually the wife's that find themselves in the middle and have to deal with the complaints from both sides as well as the difficulty of parenting in the early months.


The real problem here is communication. My wife and I addressed these issues before marriage, and the ones we couldn't foresee were addressed afterward through good communication and compromise. In the end one has to realize that a family where ther is arguments, friction and stress is not the ideal setting for raising children. Husbands, wife's, grandparents, and in-laws have to realize that they all must compromise in order for everyone to be happy enough and comfortable enough to maintain a "happy" household. Those unwilling are selfish, and are placing their own interests before their loved ones.

sdl0371 (6 yrs ago)
Get used to it buddy!! - once bub arrives you will more than likely have ma in law as a permanent fixture - same thing happened to me 5 yrs ago.

It'll drive you nuts at the best of times but just be sure and take charge when it comes to parenting - don't let the outlaws dominate - they'll get the message and that will make things easier between you and them

terryll (6 yrs ago)
Wow! I'm the OP... haven't been to this site in a few months and had no idea that there had been so much conversation about my situation. Well, here is an update. Our baby was born prematurely and caught us unprepared. We hadn't yet hired a helper and once the baby was discharged from hospital, the in-laws immediately came over from China and have been living at our place ever since (except for brief interludes when they need to return to China to renew their visas). Of course we have absolutely been in need of their help, but at the same time I find myself always irritated by their behavior. My mother in-law is a very dominant caregiver and what really bugs me is that the in-laws always take the baby into their room for his naps, so effectively my son is often behind a closed door in my own house. When I come home from work and spend a few precious moments with the baby, she hovers around and makes loud baby-talk over my shoulder. I've started sighing loudly and retreating to the bedroom. My wife is catching on, so she brings the baby inside and shuts the door. I'm in this strange situation of being dependent on them for the care of my child while wishing they would be gone. I can deal with it for now, but where is this all leading? How will I teach my son basic manners when grandma and grandpa are constantly around interrupting ongoing conversations (mother in-law drives me nuts always speaking to my wife while i'm mid-sentence in conversation with her), slurping their food, talking while eating? Even if they plan to hang around, what function do they expect to have once the baby starts going to pre-school?


So we hired a helper who recently started, and I figured that once we could deem her trustworthy, the in-laws should take their cue and leave. Well things aren't going well with the helper so far. I haven't been home much and my wife has returned to work, but the in-laws complain that she is lazy, lacks common sense (a funny criticism as I thought it was common sense not to speak while others are speaking, chew with your mouth closed, etc.) and eats as much as the rest of us combined. So lately my wife and I come home at night and listen to the latest account of how the helper (supposed to be my salvation) is a complete letdown. The saga continues...

cookie09 (6 yrs ago)
actually i would take the reports on the helper with a grain of salt. i have seen this many times when the inlaws talk the helper down since they realize that it's their cue to leave if she is good

runthemgates (6 yrs ago)
This sounds like a nightmare. If I were you, I would run...far, far away. You have made a big mistake but it's not life threatening. Tell your wife that there is a better world out there. Do you really want your baby breathing this air?

narnia (6 yrs ago)
Its only a matter of time before you explode. From what I hear, it's either the helper goes or the in-laws go and for you, it's the latter. Do something quick smart!

mosman (6 yrs ago)
mate, sorry to hear it's on going. One positive comment you made was that your wife is catching on. Will she support you? If not, then leave......life is too short for this kind of thing! I have lived in HK for 17 yrs, I will never understand Chinese people/culture. Don't get me wrong, I do love the culture/people but could never marry one. It just doesn't work. I have many friends married to Chinese, local and mainland, and it simply doesn't work.

They are so steeped in their own views, culture and they seem they are always right, thats Chinese for you. So you made a mistake, you married the wrong gal! Move on mate, move on.....good luck.

ps, I always say to my son, son you can marry anyone you want, but never, never, never marry a Chinese woman! But I'm sure there are some lovely Chinese women out there, just haven't met any yet!! LOL!

the goddess kali (6 yrs ago)
the man just wants the in-laws out of his hair. not his wife and child... maybe just tell your wife quite clearly that from now on you should be able to manage with a helper, and it's time they left.

mooncakebaby (6 yrs ago)
My God. So the Western female will "put your gonads in a clamp" while the Eastern will "control all your money'. Are there any men out there who can just see a woman as a human being? A companion, a lover, a friend?

CaptDave (6 yrs ago)
mooncakebaby - perhaps you should ask - are there any women out there who are not obsessed with control in a relationship ?


Obviosuly, the answer is Yes, not all women are control freaks. But you can see a lot of men carry scars from relationships with women who were.

hknzlifelover (5 yrs ago)
I am Chinese and married to a kiwi and have a two years old now. We lived together with my mom for over 5 years, and no problems at all. (My father lived with us for 6 months) I think the most important thing is understanding. I lived in overseas for years and so does my mom, so we understand the western culture. my husband hasn't lived in China before, but he has friends who married to Chinese ladies, and understand what Asian culture expects. some how It is true to say 'marriage is more like get married to the entire family". let them live overseas or read more infomration about culture and expectation of western culture. good luck

AaliyahM (5 yrs ago)
I've just read the last few comments and I am shocked. For all of you who say that you would never marry a chinese...... tell me, why are you here in HK/China? Are you telling me that you will never marry them because you feel that they are inferior to you and in order to gain your approval, they must pass YOUR level of expectation? Yes, I'm not doubting that they have their flaws, but so do western men and women. No two are alike either. I myself have seen an old "western" lady in Australia spitting on her hands and then wiping them on her black pants as if that would clean her pants. I have seen "western" people in Australia yell out obscenities to Asians when they pass by. I have seen "western" children yell back at the teachers and retaliate when spoken to. So you all come here, all high and mighty, condemning the Chinese people and telling this man that he should divorce his Chinese wife? If none of you have ever got to know the Chinese people at such personal level, how can you claim that they are after your money? And what makes you think that a helper will give your child the kind of love grandparents can? What the OP complains about, well, this is very normal. You take the good (going to work in peace) and the bad (you have to put up with them). Not all their habits are bad and not all of your habits are good either. The OP finds them annoying, in the same way they probably feel taking their grandson inside the room and shutting the door is disrespectful because they are only there to help. The grandparents are there to help their daughter. They are not being appreciated by their son in law. Think both sides.........

And please, the majority of women of any race INCLUDING Chinese will NOT marry for money. This is a sure recipe for failure! I agree with mooncakebaby.... just see a woman as a human being. "A companion, a love, a friend".

My only advice for the OP is to come down from your pedestal. Your inlaws may have their bad habits but I daresay and with confidence, so do you. Instead, see their good intentions - the help they are offering your wife and you so you can comfortably go to work, the love they offer your son, the sacrifice they've made in coming to your house living by YOUR rules when they could be in their own, the love they give in preparing nourishing food for the family, in training your helper etc etc etc. Embrace the difference in culture. You are here in HK/China now and married to a Chinese. They need to accept your culture just as you also owe them to accept theirs. You love your wife.. they must have brought her up right then. If you learn to see the good in others, your life will be happier.

CaptDave (5 yrs ago)
I have a buddy who is Italian. His comment to me was "We'll do business with French & Germans happily, but would never dream of marrying one".

It's not that he's racist - just the cultural expectation gap is too big. Their habits, obsessions, beliefs about what to spend money on & what not to, etc. makes it hard for them to get along.


I suspect that's what's going on here.... a huge gap in beliefs about how a marriage / family should operate.


Some people need to stop the race angle.

tieniefraser (5 yrs ago)
Aahliyahm.. agree with you 100 %...i've been married 14 years to my Chinese wife , best woman (women )in the world ....Her parents can be loud as they want i will live with it , it's a small price to pay , anyway doesn't bother me ..

Steffanie (4 yrs ago)
Hi terryll, so much time has passed and I wonder if you ever visit this site anymore, your posts really struck a cord with me we are in different situations but I too am burdened with unbearable literally unbearable chinese in laws. I live in the uk, am female and married to a man originally from shanghai, again my in laws have never been intentionally unkind to me but they are absolute pests. They're not poor peasants they're middle class modern city people but the way they behave is not tolerable.
I first visited shanghai 8 years ago and we took gifts, a lot of gifts, so many gifts we were only ably to pack a couple of outfits beside the gifts in our hand luggage and 2 pairs of underwear each,it was awful lugging our heaving suitcases and hand luggage to check in and I hoped it would be a one off taking so much stuff as a first visit. 3 months later we decided to return as my husband's grandma took a turn for the worse, father in law was on the phone every day, "how much did those 1kg tins of chocolate cost?" "£5" "great bring ten" !!! "How much is this that and the other in England?" Of course everything is cheaper in England! We again ended up with no space for clothes his father just instructed us to take anything out that belonged to us when we arrived, I had a toothbrush, he then wheeled away the suitcases with all the goods he had ordered! It seemed he was more interested in his precious chocolates and stuff to hand out than anything else. my husbands grandma died shortly after we arrived and I had not much direct contact with the in laws until they arrived five years ago for my wedding. And that's where the story of how unbearable I realised they were began!!!
They arrived later than expected due a flight delay, my husband was working so I drove down to London with my father who I am not close to to pick then up, they speak 0 English and wanted to venture into London and try to catch a train instead of us collecting them, why? They were worried my mother in law would need the toilet and we wouldn't be able to understand them even though I do speak basic chinese, which I thought very odd as I didn't know she had any bladder problems, I mention this as it will later become so significant, anyway we picked them up and I asked my dad to stop three times to use the services on a journey that took around 1.5 hours at the most. We arrived home to my waiting husband and I said the journey was uneventful to my husband and that we stopped every half an hour and his mother was fine "no she wasn't, she needed the toilet when I saw her, the first thing she said to me was " I need the toilet"" he angrily snapped at me which I found very odd as she had never said anything. After they had been here just one night it suddenly struck me how annoying and destructive they were, I woke up to a loud and repeated slamming, my perfume bottles fell off my dressing table, furniture moved and I yelled down asking what was going on, my husband said that the front door was broken and wouldn't close properly or lock so they were slamming it to fix it! I rang the locksmith and he told me that someone must have repeatedly slammed the double glazing door with handle up moving the components inside the frame and no amount of slamming would fix that. That was within the first ten hours of them being there, I then went out and and came home to the TV blasting away on almost full volume and his mother stood of a chair emptying out all the cupboards in the kitchen handing the stuff to father in law, they were "seeing what they had", then came the breaking stuff every day, literally every day I would come down to something broken, everything in the kitchen "malfunctioned" the oven, the microwave, the rice cooker, the washing machine, the vacuum also malfunctioned and the second toilet blocked itself with blue roll everyday, of course the in laws never owned up to any of this, then came the decorating, at that time I earned more than my husband, I had put down all the deposit on our rented house, I paid all the rent and all the bills, I repeatedly begged his father not to dig up the garden or decorate as I would loose the £1000 deposit, he would agree not to then carry on anyway, he drilled through a water pipe "building a shoe cupboard", he would drag in old furniture off the street and filled their room with an old sofa, four TV stands, an old radio, an old chair another old plastic chair, of course this was just a "cultural difference", in china that would be highly valuable and taken away to be resold, I should let his parents do what they want as they are "old". Then there was all the mess and clutter , raw meat would be splashed over watermelon in the fridge and toilet seats would get covered in wee, I would go to have a bath to find old shaving water in the sink, pubes smeared every where and water all over the floor. Mother in laws mental problems regarding the toilet made her housebound, she would sit on our second toilet for hours and hours a day trying to "completely empty herself" getting her out of the house was an ordeal, shape would be fine and say she didn't need the toilet when we said we were approaching one on a motorway but as soon as we passed it she would scream she DID need the toilet now! We took her to London where there are toilets everywhere and we just went from toilet to toilet not even five minuets in between visits, if she said she needed the toilet husband and father in law would panic thinking her problems weren't mental even though when eating a meal or watching TV , talking to friend or shopping for clothes she would forget about her "bladder problem" often for hours if shopping!
Then there the not being able to relax at home, the slumping and belching which they never do in public or when my family was around, squaking at the top of their voices with their mouths full and yes the talking of mundane things, interrupting me mid word to ask a stupid question once in the car his dad interrupted me mid word to ask why there weren't many street lights on a country road! Another time I rang my husband to make arrangement to meet him after I finished work I couldn't hear a word he was saying because mother in law was with him and continued talking to him whilst I was in the phone to him! Eventually they went home but I didn't want them to ever return!
Then the real problems began when I had my beautiful son 5 years after that awful visit, he is such an amazing good baby, just beautiful and my whole world, but the problems began when I was around 3 moths pregnant, I knew I couldn't avoid them visiting! They wanted to arrive when I was five months pregnant! I refused! My husband now owned his own business and said he needed them, he wanted home cooked meals, and far from being destructive and messy, now we had a baby they would be looking after him, after all of us cooking and cleaning, they would have no time to break stuff of drill into walls, far from making a mess they would be cleaning up our mess, we would have easy lives, of course when his mum had him she had all the help In the world and when I had our son she would pass on the favour, I had never had a baby before and I needed their experience!! I said I wanted them to arrive in February around now when he would be four months old, they said July when was 5 months pregnant , I eventually haggled them down to a moth after he was due, with him being born two weeks late, that turned into him being three weeks old, I worked at my husbands business until I was 8.5 months pregnant which seems ridiculous now but it was hard to find a chinese speaking replacement in our area, if I ever mentioned I was tired I got, "if my mum was here, she would be doing everything so you wouldn't be tired" which is ridiculous, for one i would still be going to work and for another point his mother wouldn't be carrying around and 9lb baby plus all the other weight all day but even more ridiculous as you will later read of his mothers "help".
So they turned up, his father had promised he had stopped smoking but had lied, he had brought with him .20 cartons of fags, his mother proceeded to sit on our now only toilet several hours solid in a row. I had an awful forceps delivery which eventually required further surgery, I was told to take two baths a day but even getting in to use the toilet was near impossible, I had to drive out to the local supermarket with a 3 week old baby, if I ran a bath it would be two minuets before mother in law got worked up demanding she needed to use the toilet before going on there and straining for an hour because she didn't actually need to go! She is always viewed as this desperately ill old lady despite being in her 50s with nothing physically wrong with her, but in chinese culture where elders should be respected questioning that would be unacceptable! His dad immediately started drilling into walls within one day of being here and the mess, loudness and inconsideration immediately began. Far from helping with our son it turned out that because his mother never looked after my husband she had no experience and didn't even know how to pick up a baby! I'll never forget the first time she saw our son laying in his Moses basket, she went to pick him up, bear in mid he was only three weeks old and fast asleep, she grabbed hold of his arms, my husband and I both screamed as our son was wrenched forward and his head jolted back, he woke, a shocked expression on his face and started to cry, we immediately agreed she should never be allowed to pick up out son and could only hold him when supervised, the main reason for her visit as experienced grandma was a farce! She didn't help in other ways either, my husband was forced to take off his rose tinted spectacles and it made him angry and irritable, he went through phases, the first few weeks he said he was disappointed, they only cooked for themselves after he refused to cook their meals for them , they demanded their clothes be washed daily because they had mainly packed ciggies and only had two outfits each for a three month stay when his mother wasn't sat on the toilet she was laid in bed, she had meals and drinks ferried to her, my husband bought a TV box and chinese channels were set up using a TV box, both the TV box and TV got broken of course, he bought them an ipad each and new phones, I knew all this was an attempt to keep them occupied so they wouldn't be destructive and I wouldn't complain, I had already said any mess or destruction created by them would not be cleaned by me, I had a newborn and I wouldn't spend months getting our house back in order like after their last visit! There was no help with cleaning, his precious hardworking mother who would "be doing everything" didn't so much as dust a windowsill or wipe down a table top, the "she's old" excuse came out and I pointed out late 50s wasn't old it wasn't even retirement age and was a lot younger than some of his staff who work full time in active roles, then was the "ill" which he was to face wasn't real when he took her to meadowhall and she was so busy trying on clothes she didn't need the toilet for 4 hours and had no trouble walking around trying on clothes for hours on end, in two months she did nothing in the way of helping me, all food was bought and brought for them, all clothes washed for them, will their dirty plates washed for them, far from helping they were extra work and as mentioned chinese elders rarely do anything that costs money like eating out, they love taking stuff back to show off I found, but even trying to get them to go to restaurant a three minuet walk from my house that served proper chinese food to give me a break was out of the question as they refused to even consider spending money on something so unnecessary! My husband had to also face how greedy they were when we returned home after visiting friends on Xmas day to a list of stuff his dad wanted from the Boxing Day sales it covered 2 a4 pages it started out #1 boys outfits age 9X4 #2 girls outfits age 5 X 4 and carried on there was also diabetic chocolate X10 costing £250! And a note to ask about buying a iPhone 6 on pay as you go! Of course everything is cheaper in England and the whole arguement of them just wanting a couple of gifts for friends went flying out the window!
Luckily my husband did have to face what pests they were with me being so busy with our baba, (I even went back to work with him when he was two months old he used to sleep in his pram in the office), a lot dealing with them was left to my husband unlike last time when 95% of it fell to me because I was there more, there were times when he wouldn't want to go home and we would end up hanging round in Starbucks rather than going home to face his squaking, rude inconsiderate, lazy and greedy parents, always after something , coming in and shouting at our baby and making stupid noises! Listening to them slurping and belching constantly! They had to go home early after I needed surgery to repair my forceps wound, it got infected and I said that I couldn't have surgery with his mother in the house because I needed access to a bathroom, I would be unable to drive out to public toilets and couldn't risk another infection due to not being able to shower or bath twice a day! Of course his father left behind mess and clutter, I just went round with a bin bag and threw away any items remaining. There was no arguing that they should come back to help so I have no problems there, they were so useless and so unbelievable lazy it would be impossible to justify, they now ring my husband and nag him about going back to visit in china, he tells them it would be too hard to visit with a four month old and that they have only been away one month but as with retired chinese elders, they have no hobbies, no interests and are so tight with money their only son and now grandson is their sole interest and entertainment but we are unable to cope or deal with them at our house! If they had behaved considerately and done one thing to help, say vacuuming or cleaning the bathroom I would have had no way or arguing to keep them away, but by being their usual selves they blew it! You are very unfortunate that you need their help with your baby, your going to have one hell of a job getting away from them! A couple of hours of peace and quiet is nothing to ask for after a hard days work but to them everything that is normal in china is acceptable and you should tolerate it and if you don't you are being silly and over sensitive!

RDuck (4 yrs ago)
Dear OP, I am so sympathetic to you. I can also understand STEFFANIE.

I have been married (first marriage) to a wonderful mainland Chinese girl (first marriage) for almost two years; we both work and we intend to keep having 2 jobs and 2 incomes in the future. I have been in China for almost ten years, I speak some Mandarin and those who know me know I have always been very open, welcoming and constructive with foreign cultures. But somehow I have now stretched my limits. (However, I have to say the relation with my wife is GREAT and all problems we had so far depended on her parents).

Things with my parents in law are simply NOT working. I tried to show the utmost respect and friendly attitude at the beginning, including complying to all those protocols which would be unacceptable for my culture, but they managed to destroy the entire credit I gave them and now, yes, I HATE having them around and I don't miss occasion to let my wife know my unpleasant feeling about it. I show them a cold face whenever I can.

Though they are not farmers, and are supposed to be middle-class, educated (well, for Chinese standards at least...) and "elite" people - I laugh at these words as they sound so far from the truth - from a tier 3 city, they behave like ANIMALS with no respect for my wife or for me. I wish I could spend more words on the days they came to my home country for our wedding, when they behaved like a total nuisance lacking complete respect for us, my folks - which is unacceptable - and my country - which is also unacceptable......but I won't go into this now.

Personally I treat people the way they treat me, and I treat a foreign culture the way this treats my culture, and I have decided to completely disregard any respect/protocol towards them from now on. Yet they constantly play mind games with my wife and make her feel guilty for just about anything. They often try to interfere in my wife's priorities suggesting useless and non-sense things. They even try to solicit money from us as "contribution" to buy things they (believe they) need (which in a developing country happen to be non-essential luxury goods or appliances). Needless to say I put a gigantic VETO on that and so far cashflow in this house passes closely through my control. She isn't too proud of them (particularly of her dad, who appears to be the main problem), but yet she gives in every time.

We do NOT have kids yet and we are enforcing strict child birth control measures for the time being. What's more, we have recently left mainland China (though we were not living together with them, thank god) as I deem it a place unfit to have a baby and raise a family for a Westerner. Now I am taking advantage of the time to MAKE THINGS CRYSTALLINE CLEAR with my wife. Besides, I have a decently paid job which requires me to spend home large amounts of time: having them around for more than a week visit would be IMPOSSIBLE. My home, my money, my rules. In due time I am also planning to move back to my home country and my wife agrees with that. I am planning on putting THOUSANDS OF MILES between US and THEM, and establishing CONSTITUTIONAL RULES that NO FOLKS IN LAW be allowed to live with us.

What has been said above is right: you MUST talk to your wife. Also, someone in this forum said that *China is a male-dominated authoritarian culture*... Damn right! There is only one language they respect: strict discipline and hierarchy. Careful though, being traditional Chinese they expect this hierarchy to place them on top of the both of you (and not just of your wife). Well, teach them THEY DON'T. You married your wife. Not them. In no marriage contract (or religious promise) it is said that you should love/respect/cherish/protect/provide for your folks in law. The family hierarchy sees: YOU and YOUR WIFE in front and at the top of your kids. All the others are just cameo appearances. Make sure they get this straight. Fight for it. It's a fight for survival. Fight every day until they start learning and get a taste of their own medicine.

This will strain your marriage and cause a difficult situation in your wife, true, but it is the only way to solve this problem. You MUST establish AS EARLY AS POSSIBLE ground RULES (i.e. to be respected). Procrastinating only makes things worse. Your wife will always feel that she owe "filial piety'' to her arrogant and rude parents....well, remind her that she is now your wife, and no longer their child.

Also, it is true that it should be YOUR WIFE who handles the relation with them (and it is also true that Asian kids don't know how to impose themselves on their parents - one more reason to describe the above as a matter of survival for your marriage)....as it is YOU who handles the relation with your parents.

If it comes (and it does) to your marriage or them, become the strongman that they only seem to fear and respect.

Good luck.

bossanova0730 (4 yrs ago)
Bad behaviours of Chinese parents.

serenedesigns (3 yrs ago)
The Chinese parents are definitely not behaving badly
They mean well and are being themselves
I'm Chinese.. was raised in Canada but I completely understand typical Chinese parents and expectations.

As for Terryll best thing to do is speak to his wife and have her explain to her folks that being non Chinese he is not used to the living together for long periods and not having the personal space. The tricky issue with marrying mainland women is that often they are the only child so their parents will focus 100% on their only daughter. But traditionally the parents are to follow the eldest son, while a daughter marries into the husband's family.

There is no easy way to ask the in laws to give you space as they feel that they worked hard to raise their daughter and are willing to devote their lives to her and her new family. Your wife needs to help manage her parents expectations as well since she married out of her culture. Its unfair for them to expect you to be Chinese when you are not.

Best of Luck!

serenedesigns (3 yrs ago)
Thats a good idea Duracell

As for me, I dont care to hang out with my MIL too much but I encourage my husband to spend time with her. He can go off to have dinner with her etc. Dinner only takes 2 hours and I have quite a lot to do on my own as well. I think thats a better arrangement. There is no need to drag your spouse along if they are not happy to be there


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