The Troubling Chinese Mother-in-law Relationship

IMG_2151It could have been any other pile of clothing — pastel linen blouses, jeans with a flower pattern embroidered on the side, a silk robe in peacock blue, and more. But they were my the clothes of my sister-in-law, Da Sao, married to my husband’s eldest brother. And my Chinese mother-in-law was anxious to clear them away.

“Look at all of these clothes,” she said, lifting up a shirt and then the jeans, sighing. “She buys them on a whim, wears them once, and then brings them over here — and never wears them again.” Then, smiling towards me, she added, “you should wear them.”

It was a lonely pile of clothes, desperate to be worn. But I couldn’t shake the feeling that this was more than just housekeeping — because Da Sao was becoming infamous during our dinnertime conversations.

One day, my inlaws chastised Da Sao for enrolling her son, Kaiqi, in too many afterschool activities. Another day, they declared her too lazy, spending too much time on the computer. On another, they decided her cooking wasn’t up to snuff. I couldn’t help but notice that, even as both in-laws spoke, my Chinese mother-in-law supported the brunt of these indictments.

Da Sao is no saint — but not once did my inlaws suggest that Da Ge, her husband, did anything wrong (Da Ge, according to my husband John, is an uninvolved father who has also exacerbated his son’s behavior problems). Clearly, this was a troubling Chinese mother-in-law, daughter-in-law relationship.

But it’s not just Da Sao. For thousands of years, daughters-in-law have dreaded their Chinese mothers-in-law. Why?

Because the son’s mother has more power and status in the family. According to Confucian principles of filial piety, sons — not daughters — are the only ones obligated to serve and care for their birth parents in their old age. As a result, they are golden to the family (think insurance, before social security and pensions existed) and preferred over daughters.

On the other hand, daughters were tossed away in marriage to a new family, the husband’s, and must transfer their filial piety to the in-laws. In a new home — bound by duty to the in-laws first, and the husband second — daughters-in-law have little status, and were even thought of as slaves to some families (notice that the character for slave, 奴, includes the character for woman, 女).

China Hope Live explains it in another way:

Some of the tension in this relationship is inherited from the days when women in China really did marry OUT of their families and into their husband’s family — a girl might never see her own family ever again! At the same time, even though she had married into this new family, she would likely still be considered an outsider. As sort of “low woman on the totem pole” in her new family, one of her main jobs would be to serve her mother-in-law and make her happy. The Chinese mother-in-law (at least in ages past) had a reputation for being pretty demanding and difficult to please — after all, she had once been low woman on the totem pole as well, and had risen through the ranks to become mother, mother-in-law, and hopefully, grandmother. It seems this could all get pretty political, with both mother-in-law and daughter-in-law triangulating and manipulating to keep son/husband in their corner.

Village Life in China: a study in sociology — published in 1899 — is proof this problem has a long history:

The fact that Chinese girls are married so young, and that they have not been taught those lessons of self-control which it is so important for them to learn, suffices to demonstrate the absolute necessity for the existence of the Chinese mother-in-law in the family….

A great deal is heard of the tyranny and cruelty of these mothers-in-law, and there is firm basis of fact for all that is so often said upon that point. But it must at the same time be borne in mind that without her the Chinese family would go to utter ruin. The father-in-law is not only unfitted to take the control which belongs to his wife, even were he at home all the time which would seldom be the case, but propriety forbids him to do any such thing, even were he able. In families where a mother-in-law is lacking, there are likely to be much greater evils than the worst mother-in-law. Abuse of the daughter-in-law is so common a circumstance, that unless it be especially flagrant, it attracts very little attention.

The Chinese-mother-in-law, daughter-in-law tension even makes for great film drama, as described in this review of the 1990 film Song of the Exile:

The film depicts Hue’s grandmother as a traditional chauvinist Chinese mother-in-law who polices patriarchal loyalties in the conjugal home. While living in the in-laws’ Chinese household, Hueying’s mother, the Japanese outsider, suffers in silence while playing the role of the traditional daughter-in-law until her resentment brews against her own daughter, Hueying.

Of course, not all daughters-in-law must endure silent rejection, abuse or worse at the hands of their Chinese mothers-in-law. If anything, the decline of arranged marriages — which were always more of a benefit to the son than the daughter — has elicited a collective sigh of relief among young, marriageable women in China. Choosing your own husband does offer the prospect of more conjugal bliss — and thus more happiness, mitigating the in-law relationship. And nowadays, in-laws often have their own home. Though mother-in-law may stay with you to help raise the grandchild, she’s not a permanent member of the house.

Still, even among today’s married women in China, Chinese mothers-in-law aren’t unlike Chinese deities: something to revere and fear.

The looming prospect of a live-in mother-in-law was enough to break a relationship, in the case of my friend, Peter Pi. During Chinese New Year earlier this year, Peter told his girlfriend his mother would eventually move in with them, if they ever married. Peter had good reasons for it — she lives in poverty in Southern Henan Province; and since he’s the oldest son, he feels an obligation to care for her. Unfortunately, the girl broke things off immediately. “She worries very much for the mother-in-law relationship,” admitted Peter, with some chagrin. (Fortunately, they mended the relationship later this year, but only because Peter persistently called her.)

Some daughters-in-law fret over their behavior in front of the Chinese mother-in-law — because violating the hierarchy of traditional Confucian filial piety means trouble. Consider this example in the same post cited above, from China Live Hope:

The classmate asked her boyfriend to get her a drink of water, and the boyfriend (foolish boy) asked his mother to get him a drink of water (intending to give it to his girlfriend)….

First, the girlfriend made a big mistake in front of her potential-future-mother-in-law by not showing her boyfriend the respect he deserves. Taking into account that this mother has sacrificed many hours cooking, cleaning, and otherwise looking out for and taking care of her son, a request like this on the behalf of the girlfriend makes it seem like she’s not the kind of girl who will take very good care of him. Add into the mix that it’s apparently not uncommon for some Chinese mother-in-laws feel that their son’s wife/girlfriend has “stolen away their precious son” (yes, my teacher really said that), and the future potential mother-in-law becomes aghast that this son-stealer, this interloper is not only too lazy to get her own water, but also expects the precious treasure of a son to serve her.

Secondly, the boyfriend made a REALLY big mistake by passing the request on to his mother. In effect, he turned the “natural order” of things (daughter-in-law serves mother-in-law) completely on its head, and basically asked his mother to serve his potential future wife.

Yet, it’s tough to honor and obey your Chinese mother-in-law, when you know her actions have consequences. That’s the quandry of my 31-year-old friend Chen, distressed by her mother-in-law’s indulgent parenting towards her three-year-old son, Xiao Mai. For example, her mother-in-law chases Xiao Mai around the house with a spoon of food, instead of demanding he sit at the table and feed himself. But she and her husband, as full-time teachers in high school (the most demanding teaching jobs, given that their students are staring down the Gaokao, or college extrance exam), exclusively rely on her for child care, just as many families do. It’s also a duty often reserved for the son’s mother. Chen couldn’t criticize her — she would be labeled ungrateful, demanding…maybe even unfilial. So, she stifles the urge to say anything at all — reluctantly watching her son, under the mother’s care, become a little emperor, with a temper.

Sometimes, it’s not the mother-in-law’s actions that are the problem — but the suggestions. Imagine my surprise, the morning after my wedding ceremony, when my mother-in-law sat me down for the reproduction talk. “Don’t forget to have kids early,” she said, with a slight smile. Great idea in practice — but not if your daughter-in-law (me!) is the only family breadwinner back in the US, helping her husband do the impossible of getting into a super-competitive Ph.D. program — all with paltry catastrophic health insurance that doesn’t cover maternity. So, I told her we needed to wait. Her answer? “How about you have the child, and let me raise it until it’s three years old?” Even today, every time I return home childless, I feel her desire for more grandchildren weighing on me like an unwieldy Chinese lantern tied to my back.

Still, Chinese mother-in-law-daughter-in-law relationships aren’t always an authoritarian affair. Sometimes, the dialogue is reciprocal, the feelings mutual, and the result a smile.

Over the years, I’ve come to love my mother-in-law because she cares for me — from always making sure there are vegetarian dishes at dinner, to bringing me medicine when I get the flu. And I care for her too, from giving her vitamins for high blood pressure, to helping her persuade my father-in-law not to buy into expensive scams.

So later this summer, after discussing the behavior problems of Kaiqi, their grandchild, my husband and I suggested that coddling the child — as she and my father-in-law did — played a role. And that Da Ge, the uninvolved father, was also to blame, just as much as Da Sao. Well, this Chinese mother-in-law did the impossible — she agreed.

My father-in-law, however, did not…which is another troubling relationship, for another day. 😉

What has been your experience with Chinese mothers-in-law? Are they absolute queens in the house? A trusted family collaborator? Or somewhere in between? If you’re a daughter-in-law with a Chinese-mother-in-law — or know one — I’d love to hear from you.

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226 Replies to “The Troubling Chinese Mother-in-law Relationship”

  1. Hmmm, I must point out a note of caution here. Much of the perceived “traditional” Chinese role here of the daughter in law vs mother in law and the family dynamics once she moved to the husband’s household is to a certain extent cliche. While there certainly is a grain of truth to it, one must also consider the flip side and the fact that historically there is a huge variety of traditional Chinese/Confucian family dynamics that stem from regional, cultural, economic and social classe differences and shall we say occupational “hazards” consequent of the son/husband’s occupations that necessitate alternative family arrangement and dynamics.

    In fact according to traditional Confucian values, the wife or the mother take over the duty of running the household and other “internal” or “inward facing” matters whereas the husbands and sons take care of all matters concerning the (extended) family unit’s interaction with the outside world or “outward facing” matters. Consequently, in large and wealthy household or where the husband or sons are mostly away on business, government or military duty for long period of time, the women of the house (in accordance with seniority of course) enjoys enormous power and independence to the extent that the traditional Confucian division of “responsibilities” are very much blurred and ill-defined. This can be to the extent that sometimes Chinese men can even appear “hen-pecked” as they defer to their wives in household matter/budget and extended family dynamics after their eventual return.

    Historically, Chinese society have a deep seated aversion to marriages between people who share the same surname, as it smacks of incest, irrespective of the size of the population. Even today should two people who share the same surname wishes to marry, DNA testing are often conducted just to be on the safe side.

    Therefore historically matchmaking can take place over very long distances, especially where there are towns and villages where everybody is related and share the same surname. As a result for all practical purposes when the daughter in law travels long distances to move into the husband’s household, she is expected to transfer her duty and “allegiance” to the husband’s family. Yet unlike in the West, the daughter in law never adopt the husband’s surname as it is considered the height of filial impropriety.

    That was the very brief bit about historical Chinese social anthropology and some of the more mundane reasons for the supposedly “Confucian” values behind daughter vs mother in law family dynamics. Regarding the situation today and speaking from personal experience of having TWELVE aunts and uncles, and not all of them Chinese, my personal advice is to steer well clear if at all possible. Just smile, be yourself and pretend you don’t understand some of the more complicated (read: heated) conversations. That’s what my Danish aunt always does and it works a treat. 😉

    1. @Shirong,

      Thanks for sharing your perspective. Certainly, I could never cover everything in this post, and I’m glad you pointed out the flip side to the relationship, and considered this issue from other sides. It’s readers like you that make this blog even better. 🙂

      Will keep that “steer well clear” advice in mind. 😉

  2. It’s not a myst that Chinese women dread to be someone’s daughter-in-law, but I certainly can attest that women in general, need to learn to let go of certain “entitled controling symdromes” they feel – with all appropriate reasons, I nominate the fact living your life better to be the biggest benefit. Let me explain! I was born in a heavy Chinese society and raised in a very male-dominated family until 19. Then I came to the U.S. and married an American. Most Chinese people migrate into another country remain with their cultural similar communities, I did not and am glad. I do not forget my culture and anyone who knows me will know that my husband is more influenced by Chinese culture than I intend to promote – especially when food is involved:-) The point is, I have learned about the mother/daughter-in-law within the Chinese society which is one of the reasons I elected not to be married into a Chinese family but just consider the burden I needed to carry on if one day my son brings home a bride!! Instead of living my life and allowing my children to learn their mistakes and improve, I have to, according to societal standards, I must “keep the house in order” – aka. I will not have any breathing room and spending my finally free-of-young-children life making other miserable since the society demands that it is my duty to keep the daughter-in-law “in line”.
    My thoughts have come to this:
    1. I do not want my daughters to be lectured and suffocated into a “mold” by their future mother-in-laws because they think they are “upholding” their specific cultural values even in my view, these values prove to be abusive – simply because they have gone through these value-teaching with their in-laws and it’s a pay-back time.
    2. I am confident that my daughters are smart enough to make mistakes and smart enough to learn from them and make their lives and families better units in the communities they will be living in. Their in-laws won’t make this any better, but possibly worse.
    3. My daughters will make their decisions in child raising, finance managing, and other important decisions in their lives, I can advise, not demand. They are adults and I like to think they deserve adult-like respect as much as most of us do.
    4. I love my son and I am certain I love him enough to watch him fall and climb back up on his own. I don’t see my interference in his marriage will help any….point in check, I resented the years when my mother-in-law tried to interfere with my marriage with her son, no matter how good the intentions were.

    And finally, I want to live my life a little after my children have grown and established families – not pondering daily how to teach their spouses how to iron clothes, cook meals and fold laundry.

    1. I am caucasian Canadian and my fiancé is canadian (born here) with thai/chinese parents-and- OH MY GOD!! Mother in law from hell!
      Literally the most manipulative person I have ever met in my life.
      I don’t want to worry you all with a sob story and details- it took a long time for me to get over, and I went through depression for a whole because of her- but I am better now due to an incredibly loving and supportive partner.

      I just want to say-having that asian partner standing up is imperative! They will hate you more for it, because they’ll blame you for his back talk, but it will save your relationship and your sanity! The only thing that ended up working for us in the end was making then realize that if they didn’t accept me, they’d lose him. We did this by purposely not contacting them for months combined with making it super clear that they would never see their future grandchildren if they/she didn’t treat me with respect. It worked. I know she still hates me, but you can barely tell now if you were to see how she acts. All I have to say is, be strong! Hope this helped.

    2. @Odre

      Your mother in law did not want you marry her son? So, is she the type of mother in law that you don’t want to deal with? (as you mentioned that you don’t want to deal with Chinese mother in law)

  3. I’d be really interested in any stories about westernised children and their chinese mothers. I’m the eldest daughter raised in the UK, by my single Chinese Mother. I was raised in the British way as my Dad is English. I can’t speak Mandarin or Cantonese and my mother chastises me for not being a good Chinese daughter. I literally don’t know how to be a chinese daughter. I wasn’t raised that way by her but for some reason it’s my fault that I can’t do what she expects me to and when I ask what she means, she can’t articulate it and feels it is ok to scream and shout in hysterics. Anyway, this isn’t supposed to be a sob story post, I guess I’d like to desperately understand her and I have a few questions as I feel controlled and emotionally manipulated.

    1. @halfandhalf

      You might have to share with us more about your relationship with your mother! May be we can help you! If you want to of course!

    2. Very interesting! I am raised by loving Chinese parents but although I was born in China, I’ve lived in the UK from age 5. My parents came here before me and they were very busy earning enough money to keep us alive so I was left a lot with babysitters, have awful broken mandarin, married a causasian guy and don’t really engage with Chinese culture other than food.

      I have a few friends with the same background and basically all the women seem to have a terrible relationship with their mothers but the men seem to have an alright relationship.

      There are huge cultural and language differences and what seems to me to be a completely unwillingness from my mum’s side to consider that the younger generation may have an opinion and that this opinion may matter. Her usual response is ‘well I don’t care what you / your peers think’ or ‘why would I care what you / your peers think’. I think this is the filial piety thing but also perhaps language difference. Perhaps it comes across better in Chinese than I’m capable of understanding. She also takes any comment I make as an insult and is mortally offended. Is this just a language barrier or is this because of filial piety as well? Is this normal?

      My mum and I generally get on ok these days because I have modified my way of communicating and I let a lot of things go (as she said ‘why would I change? I can’t change and I don’t want to change). I think she thinks that she’s ‘won’ the argument and I’m happy for her to think this. I realise she cares deeply for me and wants the best for me even if we differ in our views of what that is. I know she’ll drop everything to help me in any way if I needed it. I don’t know if she knows how I feel about her but communicating is not possible and not just because of the language barrier although that hasn’t helped. I smile and I say nice things but it’s a bit sad because I don’t think she actually knows much about me, who I am, what I value (or even what I do for work) but I suppose it at least makes me think carefully about my relationship with my own children.

  4. I fret about having to live with my Chinese mother-in-law to be in the future. We have discussed that my fiance and I will move out after we are married but I am not entirely convinced she will not sneakily try to move in. She would take over the home and ruin and happy atmosphere. A lot of the things you mentioned above are common traits of her. The most annoying thing about her is that she constantly tell people what to do. Some of it is 关心 but it is constant. “Watch your hands, red and blue don’t go together, wear more clothes, don’t need to recycle just throw it away, eat moreyou have to do this, you must do that”, .. constantly it’s too much. I cannot think for it. She’ll see me in the middle of an action say folding some clothes and putting them away and she tell me to do it anyway. It suffocates me. I can’t be me in my own home. When I get married and have kids I would never want her to raise them. She would make them nervous.

  5. The relationship I have with my future mother-in-law is nonexistent. I am a 28 year old male and she is 26. We have been engaged for 2 years now and did not plan on marriage until after she and I were both done with our professional school. I am in a PHD program and she is in medical school.

    When I first started dating my girlfriend 4 years ago she tried to introduced me to her mother as my friend. Her mother always told her to find a man that would take care of her. A man that would cook for her and tried to make her feel special. I always loved to cook so I never thought much of cooking for my girlfriend. Anyway, when I met her mother I tried to show that not only would I take care of her daughter but her as well. I tried to help them in their Buddhist temple and in her kitchen.

    Big mistake! She would not even “talk” to me (she does not speak English and I do not speak Mandarin yet). She would barely look at me. The next couple of times she even saw me my girlfriend said she would get high blood pressure and feel ill.

    My fiance and I live together in a small one bedroom apartment. Her mother has no idea we live together but we try to be frugal because we are both students. Her mother still expects her to send money home and my girlfriend did that the first 2 years we lived together. She gave almost $10,000 to her mother one year and I got her to cut it down to $5,000 the next year. I don’t mind taking care of her mother too but how can we now, the money she gives is not even her money. That money is from student loans she gets.

    The problems with her mother has made a lot of stress in our relationship. When her family calls I need to be quiet and she is expected to go to her mother’s house every weekend. When they pick her up and drop her off I have to turn off all the lights and wait in the other room until she her family is gone. It is humiliating and degrading to myself.

    My family completely loves her and accepts her. They treat her like a daughter. I feel degraded, humiliated, and worthless to her family, especially when she calls where we live the “apartment” and calls where her mother lives, “home.”

    The strain has left me feeling if marriage is even a possibility. I believe marriage is a merging of two families, not taking a daughter away from her old family. What is your advise?

    1. Thanks for your comment, Kevin.

      It does sound like your girlfriend’s mother is asking a lot out of her. I don’t think I’ve ever heard of Chinese parents expecting their children to support them financially while the child is in college (and especially while taking out student loans). Is your girlfriend an only child? Is the mother divorced/separated and under financial pressure? These might explain the mother’s behavior, though even so, like I said, it seems bizarre that parents would demand money from a child that hasn’t started work yet.

      As for the way the mother seems to snub you, it may simply be the language barrier. My husband’s family didn’t really warm up to me until they met me, and discovered I spoke Mandarin. The mother may feel left out because you and her daughter can speak English, and live in this other world she may not understand. Additionally, she may have preconceived notions about who her daughter should be with — and because she cannot talk to you and dispel these ideas, they may be reinforced.

      Maybe you can talk to your girlfriend, and find out more about her mother’s situation to understand why she demands the financial support, and to what degree (if any) is she concerned about her daughter being with a non-Mandarin speaker.

      Hope this helps.

  6. I am married to a Chinese-American man for three years now. From the first moment my mother-in-law met me she has treated me with desrespect because she did not approve of me. Even after we got married she would make ugly comments and complain to my husband that I am a bad daughter-in-law and I never listen to her advise. I am a 36 year old, college educated woman, of Greek background, that was raised in a modern and relaxed family. It is very hard for me to get instructions from somebody on how to live every aspect of my life. She thinks she is entitled to direct everything from raising my child to how I cook or what I wear. When she is mad at me, for her own reasons, she comes to my house to visit and she does not even say hello to me. I am thankfull that I have a wonderfull husband but dealling with his mother is the one black spot in our marriage. I have to say that I am very happy that we do not see them very often.

  7. I’m a foreign girl with a Chinese boyfriend and I certainly fear the possibility of the Chinese mother-in-law syndrome. My boyfriend decided to buy his own home and move out of his parents house. His parents are still relatively young and in good health.

    On the day he moved into his new home, his mother went with him to ‘visit and try out the new place for a few days’, over half a year later and she is still there with her own room and comforts. Bring half the kitchen from her own house.

    I asked who is looking after his father and caring for his needs? why his mother was not being a wife to her husband? surely that was important too. The reply ‘She loves me more’ followed by a laugh.

    He did not intend this to be a new home for his parents and him but for him alone, hence his father did not move in too. Yet some how his mother moved herself in. I feel sorry for his father, his wife has abdoned him in favour of their son!!

    Having never lived on his own (and looking like he never will now) he didn’t see the problems this might cause in the future. Although we have many difficulties to face we would like a future together – I can see I will end up being the ‘awful’ foreign daughter-in-law. It wouldn’t feel so bad to me if both his parents were in his house but they are not.

    1. Dear Amelie,

      Thanks so much for sharing your experience! Ouch — the mother already moved in, even before he married? Wow.

      Sounds like the mother thinks of her son as her property, and so if the son has a house, by proxy it is her house too. It’s simply a product of how Chinese families are so interdependent (in this case, maybe a little too much)

      If it is a concern to you (having the mother at his place), maybe you can eventually talk to your boyfriend, and see if he can, in some way, coax her into returning to her home. If it is important for you and him to eventually have an independent life together, as a married couple, then it might be important for your boyfriend to let her know that she cannot just live with him because she wants to.

  8. Hi Jocelyn,

    I have been with my fiance for 5 years now and have had a rocky relationship with his mother. Our relationship at first was quite good, though she initially did not like me because I am half-Japanese (she is Taiwanese). Our relationship progressed to the point that I saw her about once a week and we would go out to eat, play bingo, shop, etc. This all occurred while my fiance was posted overseas for work, as well. Unfortunately, we had a big argument when he was back for a couple of weeks, as she said she did not think I could cook, clean, or be a good hostess and take care of her son. For me, this confirmed a lingering suspicion that I was not considered good enough for her son. This caused a major rift in our relationship, and she refused to speak to me for weeks. Eventually we were back on speaking terms, but last year my fiance and I bought a house together while she was back in Taiwan. She was furious that we appeared to have gone behind her back and bought a house while she was away, and did not consult/ask her (though we had looked at 75 houses prior to buying). This again caused a major rift, and she refused to speak nor acknowledge me. Obviously my relationship with my fiance was incredibly stressed, but he did propose to me at the end of last year. He has not told his mother because she refuses to allow him to be engaged. On Christmas Eve, he managed to convince her to come to our house for dinner. Things were going OK, but at the end of the night, I was sitting on the sectional, and did not move to let his mother and her husband sit side-by-side on the sofa. This was seen as flagrant disrespect and a territorial move by me, according to my fiance’s mother, and thus worsened my relationship with her, to the point that she does not want to see nor speak to me.

    I have tried buying her flowers, presents from my trips, and calling her on her birthday/Mother’s Day, but nothing seems to be working. It seems that things are getting worse, and my fiance and I are both at a loss as to what to do next. Please advise if possible.

  9. I am also an American woman married to a Chinese husband. We live in China. My mother-in-law is a very sweet and caring person; in fact she probably takes care of me far more than my husband and I take care of her. When we go to visit my in-laws, they have a virtual feast prepared for us and do not let us return home without at least 2 backpacks full of food. She never expects me to lift a finger, whether it’s cooking or helping clean up after dinner. That said, I can understand Jocelyn’s sentiments when she says, “every time I return home childless, I feel her desire for… grandchildren weighing on me like an unwieldy Chinese lantern tied to my back.” My husband and I married in our 30’s, and for many personal reasons we do not want children. Of course it was not an option to inform my mother-in-law of this, lest we dash all her hopes and dreams, her only hopes and dreams. I also experienced the “reproductive talk” shortly after my husband and I were married. In fact, my mother-in-law even cooked a special dish for my husband that (according to Chinese) is supposed to increase a man’s libido, thus increasing the possibility of me getting pregnant. A couple months into our marriage, when I still wasn’t pregnant, she asked my husband why not and were we using birth control. Mind you, I speak fluent Chinese and even though she was speaking the local dialect when she asked, I could understand what she was saying. We’ve been married for a year and a half now and the “baby talks” have died down a lot, but every time we visit it is still very hard for me. I want to do something to repay her for her kindness to me, but in the end I know the only thing she really wants is a grandchild and that is the only thing I cannot give her.

  10. oh boy. I have a Chinese boyfriend I have had for (eek) 20 years….his family is mostly nice to me, but it is always clear that they are Chinese and they are family and I am not. A lot of the time I do not notice it, but sometimes you run into the distinction like smacking into a brick wall. The “Chinese Family” is not anything I was raised with: it is like a whole separate entity unto itself with lots of rules and protocol and alliances and every now and then some obscure tenet rears its head and stings you like a serpent.

      1. easier…. no ..5 years later now, “boyfriend” has been sent on a mission to visit his sisters/nieces and to pick up a car for his parents in another state…he has been gone over a month on this family mission, and because of it, our usual fall vacation has been “cancelled.” None of this was discussed with me- just dumped on me. The hand of the mother is never far away. On my birthday, this year, the Chinese folk all went to visit another sister- suffering from a divorce. My life is non-existant to these people. While my boyfriend is a special person and I have spent 25 years with him, the abuse of me as a person who deserves some consideration in life has only gotten worse.

  11. I am a foreigner married to a Chinese man. I don’t speak Chinese and my mother-in-law doesn’t speak much English so communication between us is an issue.
    After my husband and I got married, he started looking for a place for “us” – I thought he meant two of us, but unfortunately he was thinking of “us” as him, me AND his mother. I completely freaked out, because I don’t have anything in common with his mother, we cannot talk to each other and sometimes she comes off as being really rude. Thankfully I was able to talk to my husband and we found place only for two of us, but every time his mother comes to visit, she makes comments and gives “advices” that sound more like orders – “Put down the blinds”, “Turn off the tap”, “Don’t put this here”, “Use this” and etc. She also always treats me like I have no manners – once she even physically pushed me towards a person that I supposedly didn’t greet (which I did, she just didn’t see it).

    I am happy I don’t have to live with my mother-in-law right now, but I constantly think about the future and that I will have to live with her. It scares me because I want to be myself in my house and live dirty dishes in the kitchen sink, stay in PJ all day if I want to and not to be afraid that I am not living up to some kind of daughter-in-law expectations. I love my husband but living with his mother might be a deal-breaker for me.

    1. Dear L,

      Thanks for sharing. Wow, I can imagine you would be worried about the future with your mother-in-law. Well, at least your husband was understanding to your needs in the first place and got you a place separate from her. Here’s hoping that things get better. 🙂

  12. I just met my Chinese boyfriend’s mother and it did not go as well as I wanted it to–but thanks to this article, I see that a lot of it was really just cultural and not me in particular. Thank you for the tips!

  13. My husband is a first generation ABC, calls himself a banana, and let’s not get into what his FAMILY calls him.
    Yet they expect him to jump to their tune, even though he left San Francisco when he was 18 and has done much to keep them out of his life except during Chinese New Years and Christmas time.
    His mother found out that he was ‘dating’ a white woman, who was older than him (I’m 28, he’s 22), who is a writer (so clearly has no value in society), and :gasp: that I have tattoos, piercings and brightly coloured hair. We have been hiding the fact that
    1) We’re married
    2) We live together
    3) He’s the bread winner and I’m the housewife

    We hid the fact of the marriage so that his family could have the option of having some giant wedding, because what he and I wanted was a small quiet affair. But we also know, and agreed that if we didn’t give his family the option of this big wedding… that he would be in big trouble. And that I would be made into a major villain.
    As for hiding the fact that we live together – that’s because he’s military, and the base he’s stationed at won’t allow him to get a residence off post unless he’s married. His parents don’t care about that, they’re rather out of touch and just tell him to leave the Army over and over and over again.
    And just because I don’t work a normal job any longer, does not mean I don’t work. I work on the house, I work for my mother’s consulting business, and I do basically everything that doesn’t involve going to a ‘standard’ job day in day out.

    So today his mother calls and asks him why he hasn’t been sending her money (that she spends on shoes, clothes etc, simply because they’re on sale) and he said no, that he had other things to do with it at that time. And then she accuses him of wasting all his money on me. Then proceeds to remind him that I’m “old” and that when I’m 40, I’ll “change”. That “change” translates into “She will be ugly, and won’t wish to have intimacy with you”.
    His family has yet to meet me, and while I’ve no issue with learning some of the dialect that they speak and being respectful (I always go by the whole ‘kill them with kindness’ route), I will not change how I look and how I act. If they’re not going to like me, it doesn’t matter if my hair is black/brown instead of it’s current pink/blue/purple/teal, it won’t matter one whit if I wear long sleeves to cover my tattoos, and if I put in silicone plugs into my piercings.

    Yet I find myself terrified, and of all things ashamed not by who I am, but by the simple fact that this woman, who doesn’t know me, doesn’t know how I take care of my husband… will always deem me not good enough no matter what I do.

    This Christmas I’m supposed to come with him to meet his family. Now all of my fears of being shoved to the side, treated like dirt, and viewed as lesser – just as they view HIM for being ‘lesser’ because of his ‘Americanness’ and his refusal to leave the Army (a career he loves, and believes is a good thing to show how much he loves this country – trust me he doesn’t do it for the money, though we have enough to support ourselves) – and for ‘dating’ a white woman… are fears that are being shoved into my face every time she calls.
    I told him this evening that it may be best that I not go. I don’t wish to be separated from him our first Christmas as a wedded couple. But I don’t tolerate intolerance very well. Or bigots. I’m educated and have stood on my own two feet for most of my life, became an emancipated adult at 16, and have a sharp tongue when someone I care for is pushed around.

    So now I’m unsure of what I should do… go and do my best to hold my tongue when they bash him as well as myself, or be separated from the man I married and love very much simply to avoid having to deal with this.

    1. Hi Rachel,

      Sorry for the delay in responding, it’s been a crazy week for me!

      Wow, what you wrote is just heartbreaking. If I were in your shoes, I would feel just as concerned. I shared your comment with my husband, and he was shocked that your MIL would call asking for money and be so demanding.

      I think, if you want to have any hope of fulfilling that long desire of having the family wedding, you should probably go — but only if you can try to restrain your comments. If you sound off in response to your MIL’s bigotry, you’ll only make things worse. Also, by going, you are making the point that you are a part of your husband’s life, and if she wants to see him at the holidays, she must see you as well.

      Perhaps what you can do is let your husband do the talking, instead of you. That shields you from the fray.

      Additionally, try to anticipate some of the things she might say to both of you — imagine the worst possible scenario, and prepare for how both of you would respond. By having a “game plan,” you’re less likely to be surprised, and you’ll know how to handle what she hits you with.

      Hope this helps, and good luck!

  14. I’m a 22 year old female and I’ve been dating my chinese boyfriend-AND his family, for two and a half years. His parents moved to the states from Hong Kong 30 years ago and had two daughters before finally having a son. Jason is the oldest son of the oldest son of the oldest(and so forth) and is extremely important to the family.

    Ever since he dragged me to meet his family after dating for six months, I have been introduced to the worst political game of my life. It is not his mother who stresses me out; although she does, she isn’t entirely unpleasant. It is his sisters.

    They are both single-handedly the worst thing I’ve ever dealt with in my life. From day one I have been treated like crap. When we first met, my every attempt to get to know them was met with short answers and I was crudely told what to do like I was a retarded 2 year old. His youngest sister had the same exact musical tastes as me, and every time I’d try to connect with her that way, she’d glare at me and give me yes or no answers.

    I’ve grown accustomed to being ignored at dinners while everyone at the table speaks Cantonese. My boyfriend never translates, so I’ve been secretly learning on my own. I understand much more than I speak, because I fear they’ll start speaking to each other in Fujin(his mother’s native tongue) if they find out I’m starting to understand what they’re saying.

    I remember overhearing them talk about making a website for the family business or doing something with computers that I know how to do, so I’d offer help, and they act as if I’m not in the room.

    I’ve been picked on, bullied, and scrutinized, and worst of all, it all happens indirectly, and it happens through my boyfriend. They don’t talk to me, they never do, and then they say I never say hello to them.

    They have called MY phone to talk to MY boyfriend to request I don’t spend holidays with them. When I obeyed their wishes, it (of course) upset the parents so much that they called thanksgiving off. The oldest one then called and blamed me for the fact that she ate Burger King for Thanksgiving dinner.

    I actually felt bad for it and bought them both such lavish gifts for christmas that I couldn’t buy anything else for anybody, not even my boyfriend, and they didn’t like them because “Coach bags are cheap.”

    The last time I tried to help out in the kitchen, I heard “If I would have known SHE was doing it I would have come and done it myself!”

    Since then I gave up trying. I don’t greet them anymore. I plan on giving them $25 giftcards for christmas this year. I almost wish I didn’t know what they were saying when I’m around because I’m sick of the comments made in chinese. “She’s so prissy she wears $200 jeans! I don’t own a pair of jeans that costs more than $80!” is what I heard last week. I wouldn’t care, except they’re both fond of $2600 purses(I don’t own a purse over $100) and I work in retail, which means I generally get those expensive jeans either deeply discounted or for free.

    I constantly hear “she’s too fat” and “she’s too thin” and if I eat anything traditionally chinese, they make fun of me in front of my face, but in chinese. “You told her that’s bird vomit right?” “I bet she doesn’t know that’s cow stomach! She’d think that’s so gross!”

    In truth, I’m sick of it. I’m tired of stressing out and spilling tears over crap that’s never going to change. I’ve told my boyfriend I’m not going out to family functions if they are going to be there, because all I ever get is my feelings hurt no matter how accommodating I try to be. I love his mother and father to death, I really do, but I’m sick of trying and I’m sick of dealing with it.

    I’ve been told that if we get married it gets better, but I doubt it. I’m feeling rather hopeless, and I fear that if I just sit around and pretend I’m okay with this, that one day I’ll snap. I’ve had dreams where I finally stood at the table and screamed at them both in chinese. I’d never woken up more exhilarated.

    Deep down, I really would like to get along with them, but this has gone on so long that all I can think about is how nice it would be to get vengeance. I feel horrible for feeling this way but it is how I feel.

    1. Michelle, I am so sorry to hear you have to put up with so much abuse just because you love this guy. You deserve so much more respect than what these small-minded women throw at you — they are obviously like social vampires, hoping to suck the happiness right out of you.

      The only question I have is — why is your boyfriend and his family indirectly complicit in this? Accepting their phone calls, not protesting their rude remarks at the table (in Chinese) or in other contexts at their home. None of them rebuke the sisters (or take them to task) for their villainous treatment of you — and the fact that they permit the sisters to continue makes them enablers, even though they would deny it. I would hardly expect any of them to change after marriage; if anything, things will probably get worse, because the problems you face will be even more complicated, and since you would be family, there would be even more horribly nefarious ways they could interfere with your well-being.

      In Chinese culture, when you marry someone, you marry their family. You don’t want to marry into a family that tolerates such outrageous behavior. You can do so much better than this man and his family — and I know, because I’ve heard of many warm, loving and supportive families through friends and readers of this site, so it’s not impossible. Please, please, please think very carefully about whether you really want to continue in this relationship. While I am only an outside observer and all I know is what you’ve written here, I see a lifetime of hardship if you move forward with a man and his parents who won’t stand up for you.

  15. Hello Jocelyn,
    I love your website. I am an African American female married to a first born Chinese male for four years. Great advise for Michelle. I am having a similar experience with my hubby’s older sister. She only gets worse over the years. I have found she masks her jealousy of me behind her negative behavior. I no loger speak to her and refuse to go into her home until she is able to be respectful. On another note, my mother in law has had little to no involvemnet in my pregnancy. This is my hubby’s first child and her first grand daughter. What experiences have you encounterted with Chinese mother inlaws involvement with daughter in laws pregnancy’s/birth? She has been an overall great mother inlaw who has supported our releationship.

    1. Hi R, thanks for the comment, and sorry to hear you’re having conflicts w/ your husband’s older sister. I hope things will get better in the future.

      I’ve never been pregnant, so I can’t speak from personal experience. I’ve often heard that Chinese mother inlaws will tend to want to do things such as helping to prepare nutritious foods/meals for you (as a way of making sure that the “next generation” you’re carrying will be healthy) and helping you get through the labor/birthing experience. But that’s only what I’ve heard.

      So it’s hard for me to say what’s going on with your mother-in-law. You might ask your husband whether her lack of involvement is typical in your family. And if not, maybe he can shed some light on why she’s keeping a distance.

  16. Thank you for your replies, I didn’t think I would recieve any so fast!

    Jocelyn: The bullying mostly goes on when his parents aren’t around. I’m quite lucky that his mother and father do love me, and I hear it most of all from their restaurant cooks who pester me to start calling his mother “Nai Nai” (mother-in-law in cantonese) The rude remarks get filtered through my boyfriend, not the parents(that I know of). But when the parents are around, they do make very subtle remarks.

    For instance, in the car last night for black friday shopping(he insisted I go), my mother-in-law was on the phone with somebody in china and his sisters went at it in chinese. When she was off the phone, they continued talking but the comments change to things like “She doesn’t know blah blah” or “she doesn’t have enough money for that.”

    While I got led around the mall by his sisters, I let them do their thing and I followed them around. I didn’t want to be a bother and try to ask to go to the stores I wanted to go to because I knew they’d grumble the whole time. While waiting for one of them to check out(it was a two hour wait to buy things at this store) the other asked “Are you done?!” rudely. It was literally the first thing she’d said to me in weeks. I hadn’t bought anything, and was frustrated that I hadn’t been able to, but I’ve mastered the art of masking my frustration and was merely standing patiently.

    It was a huge breath of fresh air when their mother wanted to go to a store that was cheaper than their tastes and I tagged along. I was frustrated when I found a gift for my boyfriend that I wanted to buy(I was anxious to buy SOMETHING at that point) and she kept saying it was a bad idea, but I was thankful because she showed me where to find that same item cheaper. I helped her find shoes, I carried her bags and her coat, I even took her to a store that had a better quality pair of pants that she wanted for cheaper, and she told me in her limited english how happy she was that I stuck with her because her daughters never would do that for her. I heard her say something to them about it in chinese later and they both backlashed and kept saying that she was being annoying and soforth.

    It’s extremely frustrating to have the oldest sister around, because she is the one that influences most of this behavior on her younger sister. When the younger one is alone, she isn’t that bad, however, the oldest one is a nightmare.

    Like R, I’ve limited most of my contact with her and she and I do not speak. I do not go to her home and she is not welcome in mine, not that she’s ever wanted to come over. However, it’s pretty impossible to avoid family dinners at restaurants or at the parent’s house.

    1. @Michelle, I haven’t forgotten you! Just been piled under so much these days, as the holiday season has arrived.

      Family is never easy to manage. But maybe the best thing you can do in this situation, if you love your boyfriend and see potential for the relationship, is just ignore them (which you seem to be already doing). Most of the time, people behave this way to get attention or get a reaction from you. Denying them this satisfaction might just help things.

      Good luck!

  17. Jocelyn, thank you very much for your input.

    I seriously wish there was a support group out there for “Western” Women dating/married to asian men. There really needs to be one.

    1. @michelle, I’m sure you’re not alone in that feeling.

      Well, if you or anyone else ever wants to start one (or knows of one), let me know — I would be happy to announce it, and promote it.

  18. Oh, this is the same with Korean families. It may be worse because Korea society is known to be more confucian/strict than China believe it or not. I have several of my cousin’s wives who just hate their in laws because these situations.

    Boy I hope I don’t come across this? Maybe that’s why I not married yet:-)

  19. AAHHHKKK!!!! What to I do?!
    My boyfriend, his mother and I are leaving for Hong Kong and Beijing tomorrow and she saw how much I packed. Now she won’t let me hear the end of it and is trying to force me to pack less! I caught her taking things out of my suitcase! We’re going to be gone for 21 days and she wants me to take 3 pants, 3 tops, and 1 pair of shoes and then said my american medicine is too expensive, was a waste of money, and takes up too much room(It’s all in a tiny ziplock sandwich bag wtf!) and that my really expensive wool coat and north face jackets aren’t warm enough for beijing! She keeps professing that she’s only bringing a couple things but she’s not going to beijing like my boyfriend and I are! I only packed 7 tops(mostly stuff for going under sweaters), 7 sweaters(mostly cardigans for layering) 4 bottoms, 3 dresses, 3 jackets, and 3 shoes. I’m already sacrificing because I initially wanted to bring double of that and I decided against bringing my laptop.

    I refuse to travel unprepared! I swear I’m about to go buy a combo lock for my luggage and keep it on there until we check our luggage! I have a whole 24 hours to try to prevent my suitcase from being EMPTIED! What do I do?

  20. Now that I have been married for my Chinese husband for almost two years, I think I finally understood that the best way to deal with my husband’s family and his mother is NOT TO DEAL with them.
    It depends a lot on the husband/boyfriend and how understanding and supporting he is to you.
    I frankly have short patience for people who make me nervous, upset or uncomfortable. His mother persisted that my husband’s sister and her husband would spend last Christmas with us, and she knew that my husband and his sister don’t have a good relationship. Surprisingly our Christmas was ruined by my sister-in-law and her husband’s anger outbursts, that my husband and I have taste for finer things in life, whereas the two of them just “live within their needs”. That was it for me. I told my husband that I don’t appreciate people coming to my house and insulting me, as well as I don’t appreciate his mother ordering me what to do and how to do things and not saying a word when her own daughter and her husband were insulting us. Since then, I refuse to spend time or energy with his family that dislike me or him, and I keep things brief with his mother. If she tries to order me anything, I just nod my head and do it my own way, the way I want it (since it is my own house and I live here, I have the right to decide the way I like my curtains, the way I cook and what I cook and when I do my dishes, not her).
    I understand Chinese culture and the way they respect elderly and parents, but the respect shouldn’t be just one-sided! I expect to be treated with respect too, regardless if I am older or younger, Chinese or Western.
    I think our husbands and boyfriends should support us, and not let anyone treat us with disrespect. All of us need to stand up for ourselves. It is OK to dislike his family. Everyone have their differences.
    I came to a conclusion that some Chinese mothers will never be happy with their son’s choice of marrying non-Asian and that no matter what you do, you will never please them.
    So therefore we should just do it the way we want it – if you want to pack 4 suitcases – you should, if you don’t want to go shopping with your sisters-in-law – you shouldn’t, if you tired of his family badmouthing you – don’t see them!
    Husband or boyfriend should support your decisions and not let his family to disrespect you, regardless how much they dislike you. Period!

  21. Hi Jocelyn,

    Thank you for such a great article. I am dealing with a very similar problem.

    My boyfriend of a year is Chinese and I am American. His mother liked me when we met and was very excited to spend time with me. This changed and now she doesn’t not want her eldest son seeing me because I do not put enough effort into learning Chinese and because I’m white. This causes my boyfriend pain because he wants to be with me and doesn’t want him parents to be unhappy with him. His mother now tells him she’s ill from this problem. For example, he’s at her house tonight because she says she’s not feeling well and I am internally freaking out. I’m worried he’s going to come home and break up with me. It creates such anxiety in both of us. He often gets very upset when his mother mentions me or I mention the situation.

    She calls him a bad son for not finding a Chinese girl to marry. She wants him to find a Chinese woman to take care of her when she’s old. I put a lot of effort in her liking me. I have bought her gifts, baked her goods, offered to take her to yoga and gave her all the vegetables from my garden (I also grew her a plant). I ask her about her day and try to talk to her about myself. One time, I attempted to learn Chinese through her and she ignored me.

    This article is wonderful; I don’t feel alone. My boyfriend and I have a great relationship and this puts a lot of strain on us.

    Thanks again.

  22. I have read a lot of the comments and I feel bad for everyone that is going through a hard time with an Asian family of your boyfriends.

    I am a Chinese male who moved here when I was 7 with my family. I am 23 years old dating a white girl and we are engaged. I have met her family but she has yet to meet mine. My family knows about her but haven’t really said anything too mean besides the standard ” are you sure she won’t leave you? are you guys serious? Don’t get her pregnant! And make sure she doesn’t have STDs”

    One advice I do have and I don’t see many people mentioning it here is to TALK TO YOUR ASIAN HUSBAND/BOYFRIEND/Whatever!
    Get them to do something! This shouldn’t be your fight alone!

    Someone said something about not translating chinese to english and how she is feeling left out. Just let your husband/boyfriend know and constantly remind him! I have felt the same way when I met my gf’s family ( they all from Russia and speaks russian at home), so I told her, “hey can you translate some, you don’t even need to translate word to word, just just throw out a few words during dinner talk like “Obama, health care” so at least I know what your family is talking about and I won’t be paranoid they are saying bad things about me.

    Also, sometimes, the Asian partner needs to just do something about it. Here is what I plan to do:
    1. translate everything between my fiance and my parents (who speak little english)
    2. tell her how to make a good first impression (similar to any first meet with future in-law) ex: dress conservatively, don’t talk too much or critize the cooking
    3. If my parents start to be all ” why can’t u find a nice Chinese girl” I am going to bring out the ” Hey this is America and the 21 century. Stop living in old school times. Ok, be progressive, this is America. (for some reason this works on my parents)

    And last of all, I have always been independent so I would threaten the family that if they won’t behave, they will not see the future grandchild. Trust me, the mother in law will behave. I know it is an extreme step, and it should be a last resort.

  23. Hi John,

    Thank you for your post. My boyfriend’s mother decided to accept me for the time being because he told her I am his just his girl friend and he doesn’t know if he’ll marry me or not. She has been trying to get him to date this local Chinese girl. He won’t talk about her to me and won’t talk to her about me. This hurts me because I’ve had patience and been very nice about the situation (occassional tears because I’ve tried hard to please her).

    I know he wants to please her and this puts stress on our relationship. He told her I’m willing to learn Chinese but she doesn’t care. It’s very painful that she doesn’t think I’m good enough for her son when he obviously cares about me.

    She leaves in a few months for China and I’d hate for her to always dislike me but at this point I feel helpless.


  24. Cool that this topic is still going strong. Apart from Tina, I would love to know how things worked out for some of the other ladies. Insightful topic.

  25. I’m so happy to find this thread because I don’t feel alone any more. I recognise so much of what is described here. However it’s also saddening because it shows the whole “Chinese mother-in-law” thing is a real issue and not just a phase that’s going to pass in my relationship with my partner. I’m really nervous about what will happen in the future. When my bf’s mum’s around I have trouble sleeping because at night (the only time I get alone) I have panic attacks about the future. I feel trapped. She’s the opposite of me in every way and I don’t know the proper way to show that I’m respectful, she’s displeased by the strangest things. It’s impossible because inside I feel utter disbelief at how rude she is, however I can’t say anything because I know that it’s a cultural difference, and she would never consider trying to understand from my perspective; it wouldn’t occur to her. I’d marry my bf in a second, he’s the best person I’ll ever know. I just can’t bear to think about marrying his family. I’m scared to publish this post in case one of them sees it. Our relationship is so wonderful, but if he had to choose between her and I, he’d never choose me. I wish I could love his mother as he does, but it’s so embarrassing and hurtful how disrespectful she is to us both. How can this have a happy ending?

  26. Chinese MIL can be a real headache;however, you have to be a problem solver to compromise with every situations. You need a strong minded Chinese bf/husband and a supportive white gf/ wife to endure any obstacles. Couples of same ethnicities have this problem with MIL ,too, not just Asian and white couples. My best advice is to live with your husband only. Tell the Chinese MIL to live with other siblings! MOST Chinese MIL will always cause little problems for you to fight. I’m telling you people from my experience! I don’t understand why WHITE MEN say Asian women are submissive, understanding ,etc etc. If they’re so damn submissive , then how come we have this kind of ASian MIL Problems?????I love to use the word , HYPOCRITE in order to make people think.

  27. Majority of the Asian MIL are extremely nice ,but there are some MIL that are bad. Communicate with your MIL and in laws people. My cousin’s wife is white and his white father in law lives with them. THey’re living in transquility. sooo peaceful! Normally, men don’t have issues , only women have issues. “5 brother in laws can live in one house, but 5 sister in laws can’t live in the same house for a month” You guys can ask your families and friends on my quote , they’ll will tell you why. bye bye have fun 🙂

  28. Oh where to begin?! …I am a white college graduate (art degree) wife to a wonderful (1st born son) half chinese half white aspiring High School math teacher. Back when my husband and I were dating I knew there would be issues in marriage because his mom was constantly trying to split us up. She would always be saying mean spirited things about me in Chinese and English…never to my face (though often just in the next room). I have a strong sense of morals that keep me from cow-taoing to her every demand, which included her wanting me to lye to IHSS, a goverment run program for senior/disabled welfare, about who was caring for her parents and how many hours they genuinly needed (because she “NEEDED” more money to support them)[Meanwhile she buys enough food to feed the entire impereal army of China only to let it rot because there is no way she can use it all]. When becoming engaged I too got the talk about if her son and I were to ever split up would I give back the ring.

    Now mind you my MIL does not completely fit the sterotype which I’ll explain, but it just goes to show how much more her double standards get in the way. She is devorced and remarried, already this is taboo for Chinese culture. Of course this is only more outlandish by her own culture’s stigmas by the fact that she married Mexican! Before she met this guy she hated Mexicans always complaining how ‘lazy they where, a bunch of drunk, dirty illegal immagrants’. (BTW I have no such beef with any nationality.) She is the second youngest daughter …I think she’s the 4th of 7 kids yet SHE is the one charged with lion’s share of care for the parents.

    Before the wedding I would help her by giving her breaks; I would cover meal times, wash dishes, give them medicine at the right times and do the laundry on my days off from school. Rarely would any of her siblings even come to visit …for a short while future MIL-DIL relations seemed to improve but should the wind even blow the wrong way we’re back to square 1.

    Our current topic of frustration : Titles. a month or so after the wedding she decides that she no longer wants me, or her son-in-law who is also not asian, to call her by her first name. She would rather us call he “Mom” or “Mrs. (Mexican last name)”. Since she has never bothered trying to be close to me I don’t feel comfortable with the first option and I didn’t feel that the second would ever get me closer to being able to call her “Mom”. Since both my husband and I can never tell if A: she’ll give you the time to have a heart-to-heart with her, or B: Be in a good enough mood to even approach the subject, or C: let you finish what point it is you want to make with out getting all uppity in her high pitched shrill like voice. So here is the letter I sent her via e-mail (just names have been taken out, after all I want to respect her as much as possible):

    [Dear (enderment form of MIL’s First Name),
    I hope this finds you in good health and harmonious spirit.

    Let me start off by saying that I acknowledge that you rather me call you Mrs. (Mexican Last Name) or Mom, and that I do wish to honor you in how I speak with you. Our cultural differences have caused difficulties in many ways and I would like you to know why it is that I have found these ways of addressing you challenging.

    First, the title of “Mom” for me it is a word I don’t use lightly, while it evokes a sense of intimacy, few bonds are as great as that of a mother and her child, it also commands a great deal of respect. I absolutely respect you, but I admit, I don’t yet feel close enough to you where I could comfortably call you by that title. Second, while the title “Mrs. (Mexican Last Name)” also commands respect it is very distant and cold. In the culture I was raised in, referring to someone by title and last name was held for people you barely know and teachers only, not family. I do consider you family and would very much so like to one day be able to genuinely call you Mom. I’m not there yet, but I hope to be soon.

    Do understand that when I call you by your first name it is never ever meant in any disrespect. Quite the opposite really, for me when I call you (Endearment form of First Name), as apposed to (Formal First Name), it is with the endearment of family. And familiarity, to me, is not associated with negativity or lack of regard. I love you very much, I hope you know that. I look forward to us growing together as a family.

    Love and blessings always,
    Rebecca (My new Last Name)]

    I even had my husband read over it first to make sure that I did everything I could to simply communicate to her what had been on my heart to say for months in the most polite way possible. I would rather it not have to become so tense that We cut her out of our family gatherings all together, though we have made plans for if that should ever become necessary. Well wouldn’t you know the worst thing ever happend, she starts blabing to her whole family about it, and likely didn’t even carefully read to whole letter, just the parts that she ‘wanted’? to read. So now I’m the villan where I’m being cultrally insensitve and that I don’t embrace my husband’s family and talking to everyone, including my husband and sister-in-law- NOT ME. Fortunately my husband is wise enough to remind her that she really ought to have the conversation with me and that yes he supports me in my wanting to have dialog on the matter.

    It’s so good to hear there is more of us out there that understand our, often daily, issues with the phenom that is a Chinese MIL. I whole heartedly approve of the idea of a support group for us.
    You are all in my prayers!

    1. Omg you made my day! Seriously I want to put this on a shirt.
      All these other comments make me worry more about meeting my Taiwanese boy friends parents. I’m seriously considering putting it off for another six months.

  29. Latest update in my situation.

    She replied, and clearly didn’t read my first letter in it’s entirety. She not only has brought in all her siblings but also a Filapina tenant of hers, asking thier “Opinions on the situation”…I seriously doubt they got to see my letter either. So here is the short e-mails exchanged in hopes that any others of you that may be dealing with the same issue can have an example to draw from mind(remember that the first email was in my priveous post):

    [Hi! Becca:
    After discussing your issue with all of your concerns about calling me Mrs. (Mexican Last Name) or Mom, we all come to the conclusion that if you think it is impossible to call me either Mrs. (Mispelled Mexican Last Name- I thought that was funny) or Mom. We ask you to can be excused from all of (Chinese Family Name) gatherings for reasons below:
    1. It is disrespectful to the Chinese culture and all of my family are Chinese Americans.
    2. I am one generation senior than you and we are related because of (Husband’s Name), my son.
    3. It is unthinkable according to my families. There’s inter-culture marriages in the (Chinese Family Name) families where calling the older other than the first name is an issue to identify generation senority.
    We will have different arrangements if you decide to call me(Enderment form of MIL’s First Name). Anyhow, you are welcomed to come to (home Husband helps care for grandma) when I am not here and (Husband’s name) have to work the evening hours.
    Mrs. (Mexican Last Name)]

    [Dear Mrs. (Chinese MIL’s Mexican Last Name),
    It saddens me that my first letter was not received with the understanding I had prayed for. My intent by it was never to be culturally, nor in any other way, insensitive. If anything I hoped that you would have been able to find it in your heart to comprehend the way I was raised and appreciate my efforts to communicate the desire of my heart.
    I know you don’t want to be called by your first name and I do respect that. I know I occasionally slip since the habit was created. My goal was only to inform you that in said faux pas that there was no feeling of ill will, and that I want to be genuine in how I address you, rather than avoid the issue.
    I love you and your family very much. Learning more about each one of you and about the rich culture you come from is important to me, so the notion of anything to the contrary is a misrepresentation of my actions. I wish that we could mutually come to a resolution about any such conflicts that occur honestly, and peaceably before there is opportunity to spread false accusations. It is my understanding that perhaps I could call you Aunt (Enderment form of First Name) which may bridge the gap until I am comfortable calling you “Mom.”
    Love and blessings always,
    Rebecca (My Last Name)]

    [Dear Becca:
    Thank you for your understanding of the culture differences.
    You can call me Aunt (enderment form of her first name) or Auntie (enderment form of her first name) for now.
    (Husband’s Name)’s Mom]

    So fortunately there is some room for compromise. YAY! but I can garentee she isn’t running to tell all those people that this has been resolved, or that she was mistaken about my sentiments towards her family.

    Best wishes to you all <3

  30. Only way to have a loving , quiet , relaxed relationship with your husband is to live away from your MIL. Time will heal all problems. IT’S THE ONLY WAY, NO OTHER WAY WILL WORK! I have tons of friends that have MIL and they tell me everything about their marriage problems. At the end, the MIL will compromise with you because she will realize why the house is empty and she’s living alone. You guys can try other ways but my way is the most effective and deadly.

    p.s. Rebecca, you have my support. You’ll make a wonderful director of that group .

    1. It’s so great to see the discussion going on in this thread. I should say a huge thank you to the Chinese men who have stepped in here to offer some advice.

      Rebecca, don’t stress too much about calling your MIL mom. I do it for my husband’s parents. It is weird, but maybe it doesn’t seem as weird to me b/c I do it in Chinese (i.e. Lao ba is “dad” and Lao ma is “mom”). Maybe if you call her mom in Chinese, you’ll also find it easier.

      Tina and Rose, sorry that the two of you are experiencing hardships with your MILs. As others have mentioned before, it is very important to have your Chinese partner act as an intermediary in these situations — can you talk to him and share your concerns, so that he can help you figure out ways to cope and/or solutions? And sometimes, as Bruce said, the solution may be making sure you have distance between her and the two of you (including physical distance).

      As for a support group, have you ladies signed up to join the “Foreign women in China” forum? It’s a closed group (not public), women-only, and would be a safe place for venting your frustrations. I’m sure Sara Jaaksola would have no problem approving all of you to join, and letting you create a place to share MIL issues. You would definitely find good company with them.

  31. Thanks for the idea of using “Lao³ Ma¹” I don’t speak a lot of mandarin yet but I think that will likely be the title I will transition to once she and I have grown a bit closer. For now she has accepted me calling her Aunt or Auntie and seems to understand my need to the time to adjust to different titles.

    As far as the “foreign women in China” group… Us ladies in the U.S.A. that have Chinese (first generation immagrant) MILs need to have some place too. On the west coast in particular, there are plenty of women that basically need a crash course in Asian Etiquette. This is NOT something that one can get as an elective in high schools or (I imagen most) college univerities.

    I encourage all of you to share as many triumphs and failures you can on the subject. As we read we learn, and the more experiance we can draw from the better equiped we are to have smooth in-law relations. Hopefully we won’t have to resort to the long distance methods of keeping the peace.

    Blessings to you all, remember you are not alone!

  32. I am in a kinda unusual situation. I have been living with my Chinese parents-in-law for almost 4 years now. The first year wasn’t that bad at all. Meaning, I was able to hold a conversation with my MIL for as long as 2 hours! More than 2 hours, she’ll be driving me nuts because she’ll just repeat the same things she just said.
    During our second year living with them, after I gave birth to my daughter, my relationship with them especially with my mom-in-law had turned upside down. She would demand things (not suggest) to me like: 1. don’t breastfeed, it’s not very convenient. Besides, formula nowadays are as good as breastmilk. 2. you have to put more clothes on your baby, or wrap her with more blankets even though it’s 80 degrees outside for God sake! 3. Don’t give your baby brown rice it’s bad for her. White rice is a lot better! And so on, and so forth! The problem with my parents-in-law is that they think they know all the answers because they’ve been through those situations. They get very upset when my daughter’s pediatrician will tell things that are different from what they said. They always say that doctors are stupid (like literally call them stupid!), they never had kids, why would you believe them over an experienced parent like us?
    Anyhow, no matter how torturing it is to live with my parents-in-law, it’s not very economical for my family to rent out our own place. First, cost of living here in San Francisco is not cheap. PIL only ask half of what we should be paying if we’re renting out. Second, my daughter is going to pre-school soon and her school is just 2 blocks from my parents-in-laws house. MIL can pick up my daughter should I have to stay late at work. Third, she demands to cook everyday which gives me more time to spend a quality time with my daughter. In conclusion, although I hate living with my parents-in-law, they in some ways or I say many ways are beneficial!
    Although, who knows for how much longer I can deal with them??!

  33. DS, older folks tend to repeat themselves all the time. Your PIL are too concerned about your daughter. Yes, Chinese MIL can be very protective. Don’t worry so much with your PIL. I’ve read your story and it’s not that bad comparing with other MIL.

  34. Hi Bruce, thanks for your reply! I do know that my current situation is not as bad compared to other MIL’s out there. However, I just thought about this few moments ago.. why wait for the situation to get worse? I mean, for how long can i be more understanding and quiet before i burst out?! I definitely don’t want to say things or do things that i will regret in the future if only I have taken an action earlier… I guess, I really don’t know what to do exactly. I want to move out of their house but at the same time, we still need their support, unfortunately.

    1. @DS, Ideally, you should make plans to move out at some point. But in the meantime, just try not to get too emotional over their demands. I know, easy to say, hard to do…even I get irked if my in-laws will tell me I need to do something. As Bruce said, they do tend to repeat themselves, and it’s kind of a way of showing concern for the child (as most Chinese do not show their love/concern with words or hugs/kisses the way we do).

      Yet, just because they say it doesn’t mean you have to do it. Be polite before them when they speak to you or suggest something — but then just do what you think is right.

  35. Like Jocelyn mentioned be calm and polite and if you do that over a period of time they won’t demand that much. DS, also whatever you say or do ….talk with your husband in the bedroom quietly first before you say something with your PIL. Don’t all of a sudden burst out like that. Your MIL will not be on the same page with you. DS, I really do understand exactlywhat your situation is right now. I’ve helped many friends with different problems or similar situations like yours.

  36. For example,most parents in Law are eager to help around the home and sometimes they can make things even worse than it is. Always keep your in laws busy all the time at home so they don’t cause troubles. Find them more new hobbies like gardening ( If they can’t one, build it for them) , exercising , just activities that are relaxing to do instead of causing troubles. Well, they live with you so elbows will be rubbed at times, trust me. Bottom line is to talk to your husband and tell him that his parents mean no harms by controlling on how to feed/ raise your kid. Tell your husband to tell his parents that your kid is not sick or anything , make sure PIL don’t get too excited and relaxed. Those words have to come from your husband though and tell him to be persistent .Let the younger generation takes over the parenting part. From my experience, if I don’t like something about my in laws, I tell my wife to talk to her parents or siblings and if she doesn’t like someone from my side of the families , she talks to me to address the problems to my family side. You and your husband MUST have support from each other and understand everything and anything on solving family problems. I’m not a writer like Jocelyn ,so maybe my choice of words are not so sweet to understand. I hope you will understand what I’m saying. Of course, when we make lots of money ,we want to live by ourselves ,but every family is different and every family runs into problems. YOU JUST CAN’T AVOID IT. The only way is don’t take it personally and solve it. “When your PIL talk, just listen on your left ear and let it out the right ear”. Just think like they’re singing. I know what we have to work long hrs and come home into a home filled with arguments. Do you really like that? I always say to my wife , ” This home is not for you guys or anybody to do whatever you want!, if you want to argue, go outside. do not bring troubles home. I want a quiet and peaceful home every single day FOR LIFE period.” Stress can cause diseases to crawl up.

  37. Hi all,

    I am so grateful I found this posting and it truly made me sad to see that this is really how more than a few Chinese MIL who deem it acceptable to treat their daughter-in-laws disrespectfully. I am a white American and my husband was born in Hong Kong but moved to Toronto very young. He has an older sister, who is very nice and a pleasure to be around although we see her rarely. We have been living with his family since we were married in July 2010 and it just gets more dramatic every day. I am literally in tears today and just want to strangle someone. I come from a very relaxed, close-knit family where everyone is their own person and accommodating and also believe we must uphold politeness as best as possible. As many issues as I have had with my own family, I never imagined the issues I am now facing with my parent-in-laws. When we got married, I demanded that my family not do anything special and threatened them with my wrath if they attempted anything more than pictures at our court held ceremony and still my mother slipped in a cake, which I appreciated in the end. When we got here in Toronto, his mother was upset that we didn’t hold the wedding where they could attend and insisted we do a “Chinese tea ceremony” and we pay for a dinner for her numerous (7+) siblings and their families, roughly 25 people. I did feel bad because she didn’t get to take part in our ceremony but truthfully she didn’t miss much, so I agreed even though I was so nervous around them and her family I made myself sick a few times and had to leave dinner early…(Yeah, I know…my bad there). My MIL demanding I greet her every day and ask her how her day was and ask her if she needs help with anything. She pestered me for months about cooking, but I really hate cooking and my husband understands this, he’s a chef anyway and will cook at home for MIL. I am grateful he is supportive and tells her to leave me alone, but she is very insistent with “try this, you should try this” even after I say no thank you several times. I have always ALWAYS been polite saying Thank you or dinner was delicious (even learned how to say it in Cantonese) and I always wash the dishes for them, I do many of the chores around the house except for one or two, MIL will clean mop the floors and scrub the stove on weekends. When we first got here she opened her arms to me and was so nice – these people have always been nice but they say things behind my back to my husband that really bother me. My MIL doesn’t like how I do my husband’s laundry, one day she told me I have to fold it a certain way (something to my face finally…) I told my husband and he put her in her place (Thank god!). My MIL didn’t like that I didn’t smile when I was talking to her or whatever and I tried to change me for them, I was attempting to appease them in any way possible. I use chopsticks even though I’m nervous in public with them; I feel so out of place. I am attempting to learn Cantonese and even asked my FIL to teach me because my husband is so busy with work, and he agreed. Months have gone by and only little incidents have happened, many I’d complain to my husband but ask he do nothing, until recently. I have personal issues with dead loved ones, and I did not wish to go to a cemetery as MIL was requesting we visit her parents and FIL’s parents. In order to spend a nice Sunday lunch with them and my husband on a rare weekend day off, I went to dim sum and rode in the car with them to the cemetery but did not wish to get out of the car and my husband said it was OK. I cried in the car, from the overwhelming sadness I felt simply being there, I wanted to leave as soon as possible but I said nothing, my FIL noticed me crying but said nothing to me. My husband noticed as well and held my hand for the long drive home. When we got home, I was still upset and talked to my husband why I was upset and he told me he understood and not to worry, but later he comes back in saying his Mom is telling him I offended his dad by not bowing to his parent’s graves. That I was a Wong now and I need to pay tribute to them…I was shocked….I’ve never even met his parents and they had always been very nice to me and never said much to my face or maybe my husband did not repeat it (I have requested he translate for me, but he rarely does). I was also hurt, as it had hurt so much to simply go there and I had told my husband I did not want to go there to begin, and very sad because they did not understand my culture nor did they attempt to but instead wanted to make sure everyone knew how I had offended them. I have felt like they have been very nice and generous to us but ask too much and are very sensitive about traditional subjects. But I really feel like they are trying to make me conform to their views on how people should act, even socially they demand things even though they are socially awkward themselves. My MIL insists she knows white people because she has worked for them for 20+ years, and insists she understands me. I find that offensive! She likes to make a lot of remarks about white people I find offensive but ignore. Her other favorite thing to do is offer me advice…when I obviously do not want her advice if I did not ask for it! I’m not so ignorant to say I don’t need it but If I did not ask for it why is she forcing it on me and then offended if I don’t take it. When her and my husband get into arguments I try to mitigate it and calm people down, but PIL are not considering my feelings in all of this. This morning I feel like it was the last straw, my FIL snapped on my husband for no reason simply because he didn’t speak loud enough when FIL asked him a question and when he did repeat it louder FIL got offended, it quite upset my husband especially since he’s been so miserable with his job lately & stressed, and still has to deal with this drama at home. FIL had the balls to follow up his nasty remarks (remind you, for not speaking loud enough) with insulting me (within my hearing, but of course not in English) saying I always had a sad face and I don’t acknowledge him. Well, I have been utmost polite and attempting to appease them but I really sick of this and if something doesn’t change I will be forced to leave my husband and go back to the states just so I don’t have a nervous breakdown on these people. I have never been so offended in my life and still I behave respectfully towards them, I feel like they need to show me some respect and if they don’t like what kind of emotions I’m having or how I look then they can look the other effing way!
    Well, I think that was a bit of a rant there. My husband said he is going to speak to his mother this evening about all of this because he thinks it’s ridiculous that I can’t even have my own feelings without them being offended by how my face looks. I’m going to ask him to tell her he is speaking for the both of us, that I feel exactly the same way and that I am tired of feeling alienated by them along with other things I’ve held my tongue about – I want it all out there in the open!
    I have faith that my MIL is a reasonable woman and will listen (usually she gets offended if people disagree with her and then say spiteful things to my husband).
    I must admit I feel much better reading all of your stories and sharing my own! Any advice is welcome! :]


  38. Samantha,

    Don’t leave your husband for this. The problem is with your PIL ,not your husband. Tell your husband to tell your PIL and say ” Mom and Dad ,please don’t use every SMALL comment or every little thing and turn it into a big issue/problem or disaster!!! how are we going to live happily together as a family if you guys keep on doing/creating this kind of nonsense”Only your husband can handle his parents so if he’s a strong person, I think you guys will be fine. Samantha, are you guys financially secured ? You can move out and rent a place or buy a home. Samantha , don’t cry in front of them. Some PIL won’t sympathize with you and some might come at you some more. Take good care of your health and exercise .. take a hr walk a day to relief stress.

  39. Bruce,

    Thank you for your reply. My intend was never to me away from my husband again as we started in a long distance relationship, him in Toronto, CAN me in the U.S. and we moved here for better jobs and because we want to start a family and believe this is the best place to do so. I had no idea that living here would be so hard. My husband does work but does not make enough to support us on a single income with the high prices of rent in Toronto. The purpose of living with his parents who are very financially wise is to save money now until I can get my work permit and then we move out so at least another year before we can consider being on our own even though it is drastically needed! I don’t like to cry in front of them, but I couldn’t help it. Thank you for your advice, health and exercise is a good way to keep my mind off them and relieve some stress.

  40. I can assure that if you exercise all the time, your stress level is extremely low ;therefore, you won’t burst out like an atomic bomb. I advised my friend and his gf make over $300k USD combined to live by themselves even though they love their in Laws . Your in laws can be Asian or both are ASian, White , Black , Hispanic , Green , Red etc, you will have issues no matter what. If you don’t believe it, try it and write to me next few yrs. Samantha, you will move out in no time. One yr will fly over you like light yr speed! The main thing is don’t take every comment, every action seriously . Gradually, your heart and your mind will tolerate all bad comments and negativities. I think I work with problems with the type of job that I do. I know life is not easy and everyday is a journey so please enjoy every moments with your loved ones. I went to 5 funerals this yr and all of my friends/clients died from breast cancer and heart attack. age from 42 to 57 yrs old. so take care of your health and mind.

  41. I have a question. My brother married Chinese woman with a grown son (21 yrs old) and brought both of them over to America. Prior to bringing them over my brother became ill and lost the job he had when he originally married her and now only earns a fraction of the earnings he earned before. My mother and me have helped him to go back to school to get a better job that will pay very well when he finishes. His wife and step son came here have been nothing but a disappointment to him. His wife only wants to pay for the food she buys for her and her son she only make food for my brother once in a while but only because there was an abundance of what ever she made for her son. She and her soon earn a come bind income of 2400 a month the same as me and my mother my brother ears a little less than 400 a month while going to school. The rent and utilities for our apartment is little over 800 a month. While I did not mind helping my brother out I do mind the fact that these two individuals make a big deal of not wanting to give 200 a month to my mother and me for rent this is not even a third of the cost of the rent. I understand that some of this may be because of traditional values and things in Chine but as far as I am concerned she married a Mexican American with traditions and values of his own and from my mothers own example that when she came to America she did not force her traditions on my father rather she came to this country and new it was going to be a need for compromises from both her and my father to establish a household from two different cultures. My view point is now of my sister in law is that she is the kind of immigrant I do not want in this country. If there values are so much better than ours and if everything is so much better in China I wish both her and her son would just go back. Because she has broken my brothers heart. I have been suspicious of her ever since she asked my brother to place her son on his life insurance. As far as I am concern he is not my brothers responsibility and he is a spoiled rotten grown man. I have advice my brother to take both his wife and her son off the insurance put everything in his daughters name and not give one cent to this woman since she will not help him. I guess my question is this what should my brother expect of a chines wife who has no respect for the mother in law who does not help him at all and wants to manage his money but yet does not want to contribute to the cost of the living expense of the apartment we are in?

  42. Raymond,

    Let’s not talk about how life is so good for her in China and she needs to be sent back. First of all , remove her son’s name on the life insurance. Your brother can do that without anybody’s permission. Give your sister in law and her son a stress test for a few yrs to prove themselves that they want to be part of the family. Secondly, explain to your brother what’s the meaning of the word “family” and why she should help out since you guys are only surviving on a benefit month to month. As a brother in law, you can only give hints, but don’t dictate what your brother should do. He could snap at you if you say something, trust me. he might be blinded by love. Sometimes, once the woman or the man save enough money. He/she will feel superior and capable of leaving. Some women/ men planned out everything in their country and marry foreigners to leave their country. So be extra careful. Understanding women/men will contribute financially into the family. Even I’m a young Chinese man in my 40’s, I’ve seen more situations than normal people because I deal with people everyday. They tell me alot of family problems. No I’m not a social worker *joke*.

  43. Raymond,

    What did your sister in law say regarding on helping out with food and living expenses? I want to know what is her excuse/reason for not helping out with the family during this bad time. She needs to send money oversea to support her family in China? I guess with this kind of woman, your brother really needs to put some sense in her head. Anyways, I’m just trying to help nothing else.

  44. Hi there! i have a Chinese mother-in-law. i have been married only for few months, my relationship with my husband is good and i can say my mother-in-law also. my husband have two kids with his first wife (divorced) and i accepted them and treat them as if my own children. My husband always argue with her mom and everytime they argue, her mom always tell the eldest daughter all the things that is happening with our family and im not sure if she tell the true story or what.( my mother-in-law, live with us). and then of course the daughter will call his brother (my husband) and argue about this. until one day, the argument involved me, my husband say, his family told him that i’m very lazy, i did not do anything at home, i always sleep, i always use the computer, etc…but the truth is i always clean the house, wash the clothes, cook for them and sometimes sleep because i feel tired also. the problem here now is my sister-in-law, try to manipulate the mind of my mother-in-law and the kids to hate my husband and me…all that is happening to our family, she know and she’s the one who always decide for us but instead, it should be me and my husband. that’s why my husband very angry with my sister-in-law and his mother and his kids because even the kids have been brain-washed…they dont respect us anymore as their parents, specially me because im just their stepmother. i want to know, is chinese tradition really like that? i dont think my sister-in-law should be the one who decide for us, we are not that stupid not to know how to raise the kids and its none of her business on how we raise the family…everything i do, for them its not good, she even told me once, im the reason why this thing is happening to them…i dont want their family relationships get ruined because of me…have i done something wrong thats why they blame me for this? my husband say because of jealousy…its so funny because there’s no reason for them to be jealous…i think, they dont want us to be happy thats why their doing this things for us (me & my husband & the kids) separate…i hope u can advice me for this.tnx

  45. Ah Chee,
    My suggestions can be a little bit too strong at times;however, the problems will be fixed and not start over and over again with the same old thing. Well, you have to understand your MIL is the “CNN Headquarter”. Whatever happens in your family , your in laws will know in minutes or seconds. You have to know who is a constant trouble maker and who is a peace maker in the family. Once you know who he/she is , the problem is easy to be fixed. YOur husband has to tell your MIL to stop calling the daughter regarding every single family issue, grand kids , cooking, etc ( just anything) but I know she won’t do it because she is so used to talking /reporting to sons/daughters or friends.Chinese MIL LOVES that kind of stuff!!!!!!!!!!!!! Let MIL know that if you don’t like the way “we” raise the kids, you can live with the daughter. By Chinese tradition, PIL have to live with the son (your husband). Tell MIL that it is very normal to live with son or daughter nowadays and give MIL an option that if she doesn’t like to live with the daughter anymore, she can move back WITH CONDITIONS that she won’t be soooo noisy anymore. Trust me, majority of daughters are closer to moms that is why you hear so much about your sister in law. take care.

    Btw, please give me a nickname . I will be called ” MIL Slayer” * tickles so hard*

  46. Hi MIL Slayer! thank you so much for ur response regarding my situation, well, for now, my MIL staying in my BIL’s house…for the mean time only because our situation here for the past two months really difficult…well, im bit more at peace not because she’s away but because no more “shouting” and too much calling from my SIL…but according to my step daughter, my SIL still spying on me, she always ask my daughter my whereabouts, what im saying inside the house, what time i wake up, what time i sleep etc…isn’t it so funny that she’s making herself so busy about me and my family? hahaha it doesn’t affect me anymore…they are free to do anything they want to do against me, as long as im not doing anything bad to them, i can say my conscience is at peace hehehe…i can sense that she is not happy with her married life, maybe a bit insecure because she can see my husband love me so much, maybe because she cannot be happy with her MIL that’s why she want to ruin my relationship with her mother…for now, i cannot figure out who is really the trouble maker but i think, if my MIL will stop calling my SIL and if my SIL will stop spying and stop deciding for our family, maybe that would make our lives peaceful and better…actually, my parents will be coming soon and visit us, they dont know anything about my problems here, i intend not to tell them because i dont want them to get involved with my married life’s problems and i dont want them to worry also about me because i know they will not allow me stay here with my husband if ever they will know, maybe they will ask us to stay away from my MIL and SIL which is not possible also…is it right for me not to tell them? or do i nid to tell them so they will know also what’s happening with me?

  47. See with Chinese MIL, “most” of them want to cause problems and stay with you though. Just don’t think too much and eveything will be fine.

  48. I am so glad I found this thread! I am a caucasian woman dating a Chinese-Canadian man. My boyfriend and I live in the U.S. My boyfriend’s parents live in Canada, originally from Hong Kong. We have been dating for two years and are getting very serious in our relationship. The first year we started dating his parent’s came to visit and I met them for the first time. I was very nervous because my boyfriend had never dated a caucasian woman before, and I wasn’t sure what his parent’s would think of me. The first meeting went fairly well. However over the past year, my boyfriend has not discussed much of his relationship with me at all with his mother. It started really worrying me because I sensed she was not happy with the relationship, so he avoided talking about me. I asked my boyfriend if she likes me and he would say, “yes.” Well, his parents are visiting again this year, but instead of a week, for a month. It’s been 10 days since they came to visit and tonight is the first time I got to see my boyfriend and his parents). We wanted to make dinner for them. My boyfriend warned me they only like certain foods so we made sure to make a dish we thought they would like to try. Let me also say that my boyfriend’s personality has changed dramatically since his parents came to visit. He is not the happy, joking guy I know. He looks terrible. As soon as we started making the meal his mother was harassing my boyfriend about how to cook properly, knead the dough correctly and was incredibly demanding. Based on some stories that he told me in the past, I knew she was very demanding. Things progressively got worse. As we served his parents at the dinner table, they both indicated that the homemade pasta wasn’t “cooked enough.” His mother then complained about everything. I was shocked and incredibly hurt. I still have 20 days before his parents leave and I can see my boyfriend. His mother is incredibly controlling and he hasn’t stood up to her. I sensed very clearly tonight that she does not want us in a relationship. I feel so much pain, anxiety and confusion right now. I love my boyfriend so much. We were friends for 5 years before dating. Throughout the years we were always there for one another. I realize that his mother probably will never change. I also realize that my boyfriend politely agrees to everything she wants. He provides his parents financial assistance (I am fine with), but on the other hand his mother constantly demands him to take them traveling, new clothes, etc. He has to live very frugally to provide for his parents. He is their only child. They have certain expectations of their son, and I am not one of them. I don’t know what to do — writing about this is very therapeutic. I didn’t know that this issue was so widespread, and now I realize I am not alone. Tonight was one of the most uncomfortable nights of my life. All I wanted to do was to give my boyfriend a huge hug , because I can’t imagine the pressure he has been going through. But I also know that he will have to stand up for me if these things continue. His mother was talking finances, wanting to know what retirement benefits I have, etc. I keep my finances private and provided a very generic response. She probably couldn’t tell how upset I was because I am very good about hiding my feelings, but since they left my house I am a wreck. Sorry about such a long post. I feel so confused and don’t know if things will get better or worse. I come from an easy going family who is accepting of everyone. They love my boyfriend and he loves my family. They treat him like a son. I feel fortunate to have such accepting parents. My boyfriend and I have been discussing our future, but I worry that his mother will make life very difficult for me. She even mentioned the possibilty of “retiring” to the U.S., which I know means to live with my boyfriend. At this point I am trying to process my thoughts and think logically, but my heart gets in the way. Thanks.

  49. C,

    I cannot offer you too much advice. Except let me tell you our situations are very similar, knowing my husband 5 years before getting married, he is Canadian-Chinese, originally from Hong kong and I am from the States as well. We currently live in Toronto with his parents and are working on getting our own place. It really is hard sometimes but It gets easier. I also vented on here and found it very therapeutic and was able to work things out of with my Mother-in-law because she is a reasonable person and didn’t realize half the things she was doing that upset me and my husband.

    First, please don’t do anything but be yourself. I would tell his mom if she continued to stick her nose in my finances that it is none of her business and you don’t appreciate it. Also, encourage your boyfriend to say “If you don’t like it, do it yourself” that usually shuts my mother-in-law up pretty fast. I have learned that Chinese are very blunt where our culture is more polite and abstain from awkward moments. Most importantly, don’t let her move in lol it really will be hell then, but I think that goes for ANY mother in law. You two needs your space as a couple.

    Good Luck
    <3 Sam

  50. Thank you Sam, for your advice! Yes, it does seem our situations are quite similar. I will have a heart-to-heart with my boyfriend when his parents leave and discuss some of the things that troubled me! I think he probably already knows some of it, but maybe there is a way he can discuss a couple issues with his mother. At least now I know more of her personality, so I will try not to take things to heart as much. I will take things day-by-day, and should his parents decide to move in, then some hard decisions will have to be made. Like you indicated in your post, my boyfriend’s mother, too, may not realize some of the things she is saying or doing makes me upset. I will have to be firm with her in the future if she continues to ask about personal finances or other issues that I prefer to keep to myself. Thanks again for your comment and advice!

  51. Don’t not take all comments from future Chinese MIL personally, they really hurt and annoying. It’s how you convert these negative comments and turn them around for you. Some readers here find my comments to be too much and in your face kinda situation. Well, being sweet all the time is not good too because people will push you around. In real person, I’m the sweetest guy, extremely understanding , out spoken and supportive. My family knows my personality so I don’t think my mom will dare to say something hurtful. If those comments are hurtful, I will explain what mom is trying to say or express. You know some people are not good at expressing their feelings. Every comments come out of their mouth can be rough but they don’t mean it though. If you always concentrate on EVERY single comment ,then you are only going to hurt yourself and nobody else. Most of the time is just misunderstanding and miscommunication! I’m a problem solver and not afraid to face bad situations. Please don’t run away. solve it together with your wife and husband.

    Thank you,


    1. Thanks so much for stepping in to offer your advice, Sam and Bruce — very helpful stuff.

      I also think it’s very important to have your boyfriend’s support when it comes to the family. There are bound to be misunderstandings when you come from different cultures, but having him be a mediator in some of these issues is invaluable. Even my Chinese in-laws, who I love to death, don’t always understand me and I need my husband’s help to resolve things. Knowing that you have him in your corner now is really critical, because things get even more complicated if you two decide to marry.

      And definitely, don’t take those comments to heart too much. You should see my Chinese family at the table. No one says “thank you” for the food — they just jump right in and comment on whether the flavor is good or if it needs more salt/seasoning. It’s incredibly blunt, but that’s how things are in this family. I’m at the point now where I don’t even care if someone says I look fatter — that’s their perspective! I know I am just fine, thank you. 😉

  52. Thank you for your advice and suggestions, Bruce and Jocelyn! Yes, I will definitely have to discuss some things with my boyfriend before things progress further so we are on the same page. Yes, many of the things are cultural. My boyfriend is the complete opposite of his parents in most situations (at least around me!), so I haven’t been used to some of what I perceive as “negative” remarks. I am a fairly easy-going person, very warm-heared, and always hope people enjoy my food (I feel I am a pretty good cook since I cook all the time due to food allergies!). I am not used to all the complaining and its a bit draining mentally. I grew up in the total opposite environment, where we didn’t complain too often, and we certainly never complained about my mother’s cooking 🙂 This is something I will have to adapt to. Thanks again for all your comments and helpful advice!

  53. C,

    I understand that we like to hear compliments on our cookings. I usually will always say good things about someone’s cooking eventhough it is not good. You know why? I want that person to cook for me again :). Last night , we had a wonderful cook out in our backyard and we burned a bonfire ,too. Friends LOVE IT ,the food, the company and everything about the backyard. We just love our lifestyle and it doesn’t matter if others complain about the mosquitos and the heat etc. C, please just love your bf the way it is right now . We don’t have to drag the future MIL into the picture. MIL will always be MIL . It’s very hard for your bf to pick between you and his mom ,so just imagine you and your bf is one family and future MIL is another family. Don’t let PIL bother the good between you and your bf. I have a feeling that you two will be great together by what you told us. PIL must live in a different home like 30 minutes away :(. Normally, other friends’ MIL afraid of me hahaha lol . I think it’s the way how I present myself to others. You just have to know how to control the situation with PIL or MIL. Tell you bf / husband to meet you in the bedroom and tell him how you can solve past and current dilemma so you’re prepared to tackle all issues. Well, we have to adjust our cooking to others’ taste ,too, once you know their taste though. It’s good to ask first hand if he/she like salty, sweet or spicy food and you go from there. I can handle atomic hot, spicy food but too salty is okay .Anyway, have fun discussing all issues with your bf.

  54. If you sense that your future MIL is a problem , let your bf/husband know about it and why. Some men are very stubborn and they want to take care of their parents because other siblings won’t do it. I’m speaking with my heart and experience right now . If PIL will retire in the U.S, that’s fine as long as both of you know that elbows will be rubbed when you guys live together and that’s 110% guarantee! How are we going to solve this problem if they want to live in the U.S. ?Well, Let your bf/husband handles it by SOFTLY telling his parents that you are glad that they will move here but in order for “us” to be happy and focus on “our lives” and work, it’s wiser and better for mom and dad to live 30 min to a hr away. Not close by okay! We have a Chinese saying” smell beautiful far away , close is stink” :). You know I almost work 6 to 7 days a week . I don’t freaking have time for troubles from MIL. We have to focus on Kids, work, wife, vacations ,business and future. I think you know that life is tough if you’re a working person. Don’t be afraid of MIL problems okay. She is last our list. I guess I know how to take of troubles step by step.



  55. It was so relieving to find this post and read all the comments. I come from a traditional culture too and so I have seen these MIL problems in my own home happening to my mother, which is why I feel that the guy or the “child in question” is crucial to your relationship with your in laws. Not just in putting his/her foot down when necessary but also in helping both sides understand each other better. Ironically my chinese bf’s mother is visiting him for his graduation for a month and staying with him. The first time I met her, was really nice, she got me a gift and tried to communicate with me even though I dont understand much mandarin and she doesnt understand much english. My bf asked that I accompany him every time he takes his mother sight seeing etc. However, this is becoming surprisingly tricky and wrecking havoc on my emotions. Firstly because we dont speak the same language, I simply have to tag along as he talks to his mother. I guess its tiring for him to translate everything to me all the time. Then, when we go out and eat, they share food but it seems I cannot and she wont try anything I offer to her, I dont know why. Also he wont take food from me in her presence, whereas he does that ALL the time otherwise. When they take pictures, she has very graciously offered to take pictures just for me, but never has either of them indicated that we all take pictures together. This makes it a little bit of a harrowing experience to hang out with her. Also though she has critisized me on some points, at least from what my bf told me, it was usually sthing that was true. So even though I was horrified initially (as much as I am traditional, I am not used to criticizing people so early on before I know more about them), but since she isnt making things up I was ok with it. She also indicated strongly to my boyfriend that she wants to live with him in the future, to which even my chinese female friends said they would never like that kind of an arrangement personally. But thats far out in the future and her personal situation is different that most MIL, and I grew up with my grandma so I have no qualms with such an existence even though it causes pain and trouble inevitably for all parties (but living together always does right). Future aside though, I really dont know how to mitigate the present situation. I have lost my temper several times on my bf for not forewarning me, but in retrospect he is doing what he can. And its not like I blame her, she just got to know me and we cant even communicate. I spoke with him, asking him to exclude me from these excursions since I really feel like the odd one out and have spent entire days completely silent and doing my own thing. And I dont want her to see ONLY my sulky brooding side. Then I cant blame her for not wanting her son to be with me right?!

  56. Hi Jocelyn,

    I LOVE your website & it’s great to hear other peoples’ experiences on this complicated relationship.

    I’m seriously dating a wonderful Chinese-American man. We’re planning to get engaged in the next few months & his family has already started talking about wedding planning.

    I’ve had a couple of tense moments with his mom (nothing like some of the difficulties others have shared and certainly not abusive) but there’s definite tension. I know that she’s a sweet-hearted woman who loves her family, but even in her good intentions, sometimes I feel very criticized and talked down to when she gives me advice for things that as an adult woman, I know I can take care of. My boyfriend usually sides with his Mom (even though he tries to be understanding) mainly because he doesn’t see an issue with anything she says.

    I don’t want to be oversensitive but I also don’t want to ignore how I feel. I know that we all want to have a good relationship, but it definitely scares me to think about marrying into his family. The thought of planning a wedding together stresses me out & part of me wishes I could just walk away from the relationship. But my boyfriend is a great guy (largerly due to the love of his mother) and I want to work it out. I’m just not quite sure where to go from here… Any advice or help you can offer would be wonderful!!

    Caris Warnock

    1. Thanks for the question, Caris — and sorry to hear you feel that way about his mom. I completely understand! I spent three months living with my inlaws, and as much as I love them, I had a hard time with it by the end. Mainly, the experience turned me back into a child, and I never felt I could meet them as another adult. But this is Chinese culture — it’s hierarchical, so parents always expect to be parents to you, no matter how old you are (and, in turn, you’re expected to respect them and their opinions).

      You could try to talk to your boyfriend and share your concerns with him. Obviously, how you do this matters a lot. You might start the conversation out by telling him you’re not used to the way his mother talks to you — that it makes you feel differently than the way you feel with, say, your own parents. He probably doesn’t see things the way you do, because this is how he grew up. Chances are, you’re not going to change his mother and you may not even be able to change him. But if you can get him to understand more where you’re coming from, that’s always a plus.

      Also, I find that sometimes it’s also helpful to just let a Chinese mother-in-law say what she wants to say, without letting it get to you too much. Look , my Chinese mother-in-law told me I’m “too old” this summer, to my face! (That’s in reference to having children.) I nodded and later, just let it go, knowing that she says this because that’s what her culture tells her is right and she doesn’t know any better.

  57. I would advise any Caucasion woman who is considering marrying into a Chinese family to run, not walk, but run away as fast as you can. I just bailed my lovely daughter out of a horrible 6 year relationship/marriage that did not have a chance to work because of the husbands Mother. The woman was down right evil, fully expecting to train my daughter how to be a good housewife, cook and the dutiful, humble, subserviant daughter-in-law. All while having to work full time and going to school. She was never given credit for being an individual and having her own goals. The son even invited his parents on their honeymoon, never consulting my daughter first about it and then the parents accepted the invitation and accompanied them on the honeymood. Fortunately, there were no children involved when they were divorced. The husband was the first born son and his parents always came first. He would never stand up to them, even when he knew they were being out of line. No the Chinese shame was too hard to live through, so he never stood his ground when they did not approve of my daughters decisions or his if they thought he was out of line. Eventually, my daughter sought counseling (the husband refused to go with her) and determined that she could not stay in this marriage. She loved her husband, but just could not continue being placed in a subordinate position by her M-I-L and husband. They were so much in love, but the M-I-L runied it for them. She was controlling, OCD, manic and could never understand why my daughter wanted to get an education rather than having babies. It’s all very sad, my daughter is fine, but the son/husband is heartbroke that his wife left him. He won’t let himself understand that his mother caused the downward spiral. Yes, he’s the first born son and will always have to take care of his parents till their death. They have him right where they want him – under their thumb, alone, without a wife and lonely.

  58. Darlene,

    This is a case by case incident with MIL. I know that not all Chinese MIL are like that. I personally know that alot of Chinese MIL encourage education . I think this is a son issue not the MIL. There are two sides for one story. Sometimes, you might hear things out of context and that don’t make the whole story correct. For example, if I’m your son in law ,this world will be dead peaceful. I’m very fortunated to be a problem solver and an extremely good listener and I love to learn new things and compromise. I know whatever we read on the internet , we tend to believe it but in a real life relationship is very different and complex. Lots of things get involved in a marriage so finding a compatible soul mate is hard eventhough you are the same race period. Anyway, I hope you guys the best.

    all the best,


    1. @Darlene, thanks for the comment. I agree with Bruce that there’s two sides to every story — and in this case, the son holds some responsibility for the failure of your daughter’s marriage.

      Every MIL is different, but certainly some in China have what women like myself would consider outdated perspectives on women and marriage. Even my MIL, from time to time, doesn’t understand what I do or the choices I’ve made in life. She doesn’t do this because she’s inherently malicious — she has these ideas because that’s how her parents/family/culture socialized her to behave and think. But I realize that just because she has these ideas doesn’t mean every mother in China will. In fact, my grandmother (MIL’s mother) once told me she completely understood waiting to have children and wanting to have a career — and she comes from a different era than my MIL.

      I’m sorry your daughter’s marriage ended up in a bitter divorce, and I wish her and your family the best.

  59. Well,

    I don’t think the son and your daughter are heartbroken for that long. Both of them won’t be lonely either because we’re living in a new era. They will start dating pretty soon. If they love each other that much they should have worked things out instead of getting a divorce and that’s common sense. I think we’re generalizing here on the first son who has to take care of the parents for life. You know most Chinese parents nowadays don’t even want to live with the sons at all!!! They want to live with the daughters now and they’ll visit any sons or daughters they wish to and some don’t even want anybody to take care of them . They want to live by themselves because they want freedom and no nagging from the kids. Stories about Chinese parents sticking to their son(s)like leeches are ancient history. It’s just an obligation for son/daughter to take care of his/her parents ,it’s a given and that applies to westerners also. I see alot of westerners are now taking care of their parents. You mean you won’t have watery eyes when you see your healthy parents in nursing home ? Let’s not talk about MIL. let’s talk about living with sister or brother in law now. If I’m going to live with my sister or brother in law over the same roof , there will be world war III. I’m a neat guy and I like to help everybody so it’s going to be difficult. You know people from two different eras will have different opinions and that’s a fact. Darlene, I’m very happy that your daughter is getting a higher education. Getting an education is for yourself , it’s not for your husband, mom or dad. When you make big money in the future because you deserve it. I want to quote from my Chinese mom ” My responsibilities with your families (my dad’s family) and you guys ( me and other brothers) are OVER . Now it’s the time for young people to shine and mountains to move by the new generation. I don’t give a damn (fault languge) what you guys do anymore. I won’t worry about you because you have wings to fly . If I want to go to China, Haiwaii, France, no one can stop me” These are the exact words from my own , older era Chinese mom. She was extremely independent since she was 11 yrs old. I do admire this woman in many ways that I can’t describe. Even some educated women are afraid to travel alone but my mom’s English skill is not great at all and she has traveled to many countries already. She’s not controlling and she understands that we need space and it’s the younger generation era. My mom taught me to be honest and treated people with respect and dignity. Whatever I say here is from my heart. Now you guys are old even to differentiate right from wrong. You know SOME older folks can’t tell what’s right or wrong either. Good luck with you and your lives!


  60. Bruce,

    A divorce is always heart breaking no matter what era you live in. Sometimes you just can’t work it out no matter how hard you try.

    No one is generalizing first sons in Chinese culture, people on here are just sharing their stories and feelings on here, and unfortunatelly it’s not pretty. The relationship between Chinese son and a Chinese mother is not a myth nor an ancient story. I live it everyday and other posters live it too.

    “Stories about Chinese parents sticking to their son(s)like leeches are ancient history.” If that was to be true, this comment wall on this blog would not be utilized as a form of support group for those who have to put up with their Chinese mothers-in-law.

    Please respect people’s feelings. It’s wonderful that you have a wonderful “new era” mother who wants to be independent, but unfortunatelly others don’t.

  61. L.,

    Every Chinese MIL situation is different so you guys do have to figure out how to get thru the MIL heads.Some Chinese MIL are very stubborn and they keep on coming at you. They will stop for a month and come at you again. Half a yr ago, I’ve mentioned that a commission should be formed in China for Chinese MIL support group. I guess it’s a process. Well, if you guys don’t want Chinese MIL problems, please don’t move in with her, NO MATTER HOW SWEET SHE SOUNDS THROUGHOUT YOUR RELATIONSHIP. Remember don’t move in!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!Things will change when you move in 🙂 lol. My mom is 80 yrs old but she’s not old fashioned and she doesn’t live with me and she doesn’t want to live with me . Of course, I understand other’s feeling or else how can I keep on writing here. I don’t like to comment on the internet but it’s the only option I have right here. I would love to discussion this issue in a group meeting and I love to talk face to face with people. I’m a personal person which means that I rather see /visit you and talk in person. I know that we need more participants to talk about every issue here but most people just want to read here and stay on the sideline and watch. When it comes to discussion , it’s kinda hard to bring more people in. Maybe we should have a NFL football party and order pizza and hot wings then thousands of people will jump in the discussion. Yes, this wall on this blog is a support I do agree ,but things will change with a ” real , live” Chinese MIL problem. A person can read and study in college all you want but you need real experience to tackle problems you haven’t seen before especially in school. Another example : I was talking to a straight A’s college student last week. She said why this and why that ( spoiled brat) when she doesn’t understand the real issue. Her uncle said that she hasn’t gone thru real life situation like that. she just want it done right this second. just a book worm. Do you guys feeling better if we don’t talk about CHinese MIL ? I don’t like to avoid problem because it’s still there and not solved yet. I really need to drink tea. I’m wasting too much saliva.


  62. Before I go back to work again , I would like to say that marriage is about trust and if I don’t trust my wife who can I trust anymore? If my marriage fails for any reasons, I will not.. let me repeat again. I will not blame my mom, my in laws or anybody related or associated with me. The only person I can blame is MYSELF. As a man, I take full responsibility in whatever I do or engage in any activities.If we can not accept our failures , how can we learn and succeed in a relationship or career? We’re married to each other not to Chinese MIL or Western MIL. I understand the blaming game but it’s endless. Sometimes, I wonder how can all those Chinese daughter in laws get so used to living with their Chinese MIL. They just get used to and they’re in their comfort zone. When a western woman lives with her Chinese MIL , she is not in her comfort zone anymore. Her envirnoment is different from the Chinese atmosphere. It’s like sleeping over at a friend’s house. I’m not used to how they put their sofa or they put all the stuff on the table. It’s a different envirnoment for me ,too.

  63. Believe me Bruce, The Chinese MIL was and is controlling, insecure and evil. Her offspring were so brianwashed, they could not see it and accepted it for lack of ever being exposed to anything different. It was interesting to watch how the offprings and husband adjusted to her. By that I mean the husband was a work-a holic, one son was very passive agressive, daughter was passive but less agressive, other son just avoided. She ran the family compound with a firm set of rules and god help you if you breeched. Most of it was OCD behaviors. She threw a fit because her husband used the “inside” broom to sweep the sidewalk, rather than the “outside” broom. Pouted for days and refused to eat with the rest of the family. It caused havoc amongst her family, my daughter just sat back and laughed to herself.

  64. Darlene,

    I believe you about your in law. I know one lady just like you mentioned but she’s not Chinese. This lady is not married though because two of her husbands ran away :). All I have to say to all you ladies out there is to plan everything out if you two are going to live with CHinese MIL or by yourselves. If you are going to live with Chinese MIL , make sure she is an understanding, caring, no nagging, livable kinda woman and she lets the son run the show in the house. If you know that your future Chinese MIL is sweet or look like she is sweet and she is a total control freak , please talk with your man and ONLY live by yourselves. It’s wise to move out right after you get married. Don’t wait too long if you have a control freak Chinese MIL because she doesnt want you to move out later. You will know what I mean :).Some Chinese MIL will expect you to visit her but that’s fine at least you’re not living under the same roof. In America, westerners don’t have much MIL issues due to the fact that everybody lives separately in different homes and states. I’m sure you will have problems also with lots of people live in the same house. Darlene, do you know why those sons and daughter see nothing wrong with their mom? It sounds frustrating but that’s their mom and they are used to her behaviors and her husband is used to her ,too. Also, I do emphasize talking with each others ( husband and wife) on controlling each other’s moms. You and your Chinese husband should be united and work things out regarding siblings , gossips and in laws issues. If you and your husband don’t work as a team , your life will go out of control pretty soon. I want to go into more details but I have other obligations right now. “Honey, I’m home ! ” :). My Chinese mom once said ” IF YOU CAN’T LIVE WITH ME , YOU WON’T EVER LIVE WITH ANYONE ELSE IN THIS WORLD ” . Seriously, I’m betting my life on that line. She’s a people person just like her son , me :).

  65. Thank you Bruce, my daughter’s marriage failed because the first born son would not stop doing his mother’s bidding. He refused to move away from the family compound and live separate from his family. So in the end my daughter sought counsel and did what she had to do to get out of a horrible situation. Her husband would not go to a marriage counselor with her. She left her husband, he is heartbroken and the mother sends me e-mails saying how spoiled my daughter was. I’m so happy my daughter got out of the marriage before she had children. My daughter is strong, outgoing, independent, uninhibited – all traits that her husband was attracted to when they first met, but in the end it was those very traits that his mother didn’t approve of. She wanted the humble, dutiful, subserviant D-I-L and my daughter was just not the type to serve a woman that was so controlling and down right mean to her. It’s all really sad because they had a beautiful wedding, a honeymoon in Tokyo (which he invited his parents to accompany them on and they went). I’ve got a 5 page letter written to my former S-I-L which I will send to him as soon as the divorce papers are finalized. He wants answers as to why she left him and I’m going to give him answers – with the biggest one being the only women he will ever truly love and serve = his mother.

  66. Darlene,

    You don’t have to thank me. We’re here to listen and help you. I always tell people not to babysit their adult kids ( 18 to 40 yrs old). Those guys will become like trained whales at Sea World. You always feed those whales in captivity but when you release them in the wild , they don’t know how to catch fish. Darlene, when I talk to other men ( men I know personally)on some issues and they’re so easy to solve . When they can’t even solve simple things , I just call them ,” YOU ARE USELESS” without holding back. Well , those words are rude but I want to shake them a little bit .I had to talk to people or maybe argued with people and listened and learned how to coexist with others like in the job place or in your own home. Maybe you guys think I like to write here and surf on the internet but I don’t. I just like to talk and help.

  67. Wow I’m so glad I found this blog and this thread–a lot of these stories sound like my life!
    While I’ve met my fiance’s Chinese parents before, I just came back from a 2 week extended family tour in China that was both stressful and informative. Turns out his parents are way more traditional than I thought they were, and weren’t much support when we visited their extended family in the countryside. Fortunately I’m blessed with a fiance who can stand up to his family most of the time (not always…), and who understands why a lot of the comments and the treatment I receive really eat away at me. The good news is that for now, we live an ocean away and hopefully can keep it that way as his parents get older and as we have kids? It’s so reassuring to know there are others out there with stories just like mine, and sometimes sadly even worse stories.

  68. I just wanted to let you ladies know that Chinese MIL’s are not only crazy towards American White daughter in laws but they are crazy towards Chinese ones too. I’m Chinese and I’m married to a Cantonese who’s parents are now in Hong Kong. His mom expects him to call them every weekend and tries to manipulate everything that he and I do and treat him like a 3 year old child. When we first met, I was working in the top five consulting firms, have a bachelors from UC Berkeley, and graduated college with the highest honors at only age 19. His mom met me and told him I was evil before they even “knew” me and they said all I wanted was his “money.” He was jobless at the time, his family is poor, and my family is way more well off than his family. Needless to say, I was horrified. I wanted to end our relationship right there since I was only 20 at the time and had a great future ahead without subjecting myself to that BS. They also complained that I only speak Mandarin and English and not Cantonese and that I’m not Catholic. Needless to say, having grown up in America (although I’m Chinese), I didn’t want to take that BS.
    My father was an understanding man and he really liked my boyfriend so he asked me to stay in the relationship a while longer. My then boyfriend, now husband, turned out to be a sweet guy and very supportive and he knows that his parents are crazy. Not only are they crazy, but his grandparents are also crazy. They are demanding too. We were married when I was 26. We both just got our MBA’s from the University of Chicago and thought our career was first but his family pestered us about children. My husband stood out and said we weren’t having one anytime soon. That cut off the topic. Then my husband told them to stop trying to convert me to Catholic and any talks about it is restricted when they’re with me.
    My point is this… children “always” win against their parents so having an understanding husband, boyfriend, on your side is “super” important. He needs to want what you want – which is a life of your own. Then everything else should fall into place. My husband’s the only son, which makes it 1000 times worse for the daughter in laws, trust me. He needs to be able to stand up to his parents and tell them what he wants. This is the only way. As the DIL, you CANNOT be the one doing the fighting. Always act stupid like you didn’t know what happened.
    Remember this: you do not have to win their approval. It’s okay for them to not like you. You don’t need to spend your entire life trying to make people like you when they will never like you due to their own stupid reasons. His mom always thought I took him away or something and she talks to him like he’s her other boyfriend. I have to say, it’s pretty unhealthy! Asian mothers adore their sons and believe that their sons were their lovers in their past life (if they’re buddhists).
    I spent the first 2 years trying to make them like me. Growing up in a Chinese family, there were “NO” parents that didn’t like me. I’m especially good with the older generation in a traditional Chinese sense. I cook, clean, and have a high education and I chat with them and help them out with stuff. Many of my father’s friends kept pushing their sons on me! Therefore, after 2 years, I deemed it impossible for his parents to like me. I’ve done everything such as treating them to nice dinners, buying them expensive gifts, cooking for them, and also taking time OFF work to take them out! I did everything a Chinese DIL should do and still I wasn’t “good enough.” I finally said “F that” and decided to move on with my life. I caused myself so much stress and anxiety and deemed it not worth my time in life to please them.
    If your boyfriend is easily affected by his parents and cannot stand up to his parents, leave him. You’ll live a life of hell. The reason being that you’ll lose your love for him eventually if you guys live together. You’ll end up hating his parents first and then resenting him for not standing up for you and soon, you would realize that you don’t love him anymore. It’s sad but it’s true. I’ve seen it happen. If your husband or boyfriend is too weak to stand up to his parents, leave. You also need to tell him this: children “always” win. If he doesn’t talk to his parents for a week or even a month, they’ll surrender! They cannot bare the fact that their child is not talking to them at all. Seriously, it works. Just think about yourself if you have a child. Is there anything you cannot forgive your child for? The worse thing is for them to disappear from your lives right? Although it should be the last resort to give the silent treatment, a simple threat is sometimes enough.
    Sorry, but I know Chinese MIL’s too well. All my friends have them since we’re chinese but we’re also american since we were educated and born/raised here. We know what you all are going through and probably 1000 times worse since we know the language and culture. It’s not any better.
    Hang in there, be strong, and let your boyfriend and husbands know they need to step up! Let them do the talking, never you.

    1. CrazyJ, great comment and excellent advice. I completely agree that the boyfriend/husband is easily the most important factor in your future happiness — and if he’s not standing up to unreasonable parents, you’d best get out of the relationship.

  69. CrazyJ,
    Finally a Chinese woman agreed with what I’ve said and I think we’ve solved almost everything regarding Chinese MIL here. What a relief! In our Chinese families, we have the same problems with our moms , so to some CHinese people it’s everyday life. You guys have to know that the Chinese daughters learn this kind of stuff from their moms /MIL . This is learned and passed on to next generation ,but don’t worry after this generation when these Chinese MIL die, we won’t have many CHinese MIL issues anymore. I don’t have problems with my mom at all and I don’t have to call her at all. I’m stressed out with work all the time so she understands that I don’t call her. Every time, I talk with her ,I joke around with her and she can handle jokes and she’s not a serious person. I know what you guys are thinking that not all moms are like mine. I think is because I’m stubborn and I know how to handle the ways how people think so I twist my words. It’s like killing 2 birds with one stone. I think Asian men have to endure alot of BS from our parents than Western men. It’s alot of responsibilities and some people just don’t “F” understand. Do you guys know that usually men don’t have problems in the home? Who are the trouble makers most of the time? You guys know the answers to my questions already.

  70. There is no doubt Chinese sons take a lot of “S”! I feel sorry for my husband sometimes… but the best thing is to know how to deal with your own parents so that they don’t affect your own life and family. You love them but it’s also okay to tell them to back off and let you do things your way. You are an adult now with your own family. I always say it’s too hard to change people after 25. Parents should realize that. You’re old enough to live your own life. They will learn after a few discussions with you! The worst is for the son to ignore the situation. It’ll just become miserable for both the mom and your wife. NEVER let your wife be the “talking” person because your mom will hate and remember it for the rest of their lives and complain and complain about it to everyone. That’s how Chinese moms are unfortunately. They won’t ever complain about their own son though so therefore, sons need to do the talking. I love this forum!

  71. I’m another Chinese woman w/a Chinese MIL…and I super agree that having a supportive husband (from any background) is the key to a good marriage. You may not have a good relationship with the ILs, you may have NO relationship w/the ILs. There are some people who are impossible to please. In fact, they intentionally make it that way.

    My MIL literally flew off the handle during a visit. Raised her hand as if to hit me. Not pretty. She has not been in our home since. Not to say we’re not trying to repair and understand her better, we are. BUT we are doing so cautiously and on our terms.

    Anyone who sees their boyfriend/fiance have trouble standing firm with their parents, no matter the background (I don’t care if they are from Timbuktu), think *very* carefully about pursuing the relationship further. How can you stand firm together as one unit if they are constantly trying to please another? How can they be emotionally committed to you as a spouse if they are being emotionally manipulated by another person? You can pursue a reasonable relationship w/your in-laws. You don’t have to go into it with the assumption it will be bad. You can also learn to let go of the “I’m an independent person” and learn to pick your battles…let some of it go. My FIL loves it when I ask him questions and ask his “advice” (ILs are divorced). Let them be the “wiser” one. Having grown up w/a Chinese mother and getting nagged about every thing, you learn to just let it go and go “uh, huh. Sure Ma. Will do.” For some (as in the case of my FIL), a little service and a little conversation goes a long way. But when the rubber hits the road and it concerns the well-being and safety of your family (emotional, mental, physical), you need to make sure the boyfriend/fiance/spouse will STAND FIRM.

    Ladies, you too. Stand by your man.

  72. I love it when we have Chinese women talking about this subject. If you understand what Chinese daughter in laws have to deal with then Western women get an understanding of the whole situation!

  73. Honestly, I never expected to marry a Chinese man. I grew up in the Midwest surrounded by Caucasians and most of the Chinese boys I knew were cousins, my brother, or the random few others who lived in my town because their parents owned restaurants (no joke). And I, if I have so many issues with my own mother, how on earth would I handle a Chinese MIL?

    Just because I am Chinese, it does not mean I automatically get some brownie points with my Chinese MIL. There are dialects, personalities, unspoken expectations, and the ever-present knowledge that my husband is not only the only son but also the only child to deal with. My husband is rather in denial about how important that plays into the whole situation…he doesn’t seem to realize or want to recognize how traditional his mother is. Being well-educated (good university, grad degrees, etc.) only intimidated her, which manifested in other passive aggressive ways. Being pretty rankled her vanity, despite her looking 40 when she was 60…I still looked younger. Being in a good relationship with her son only made it worse, because her own relationship with him wasn’t so hot.

    A note about passive aggressiveness: yes, there are these veiled expectations for you to ask to help w/dinner, serve tea, etc. Expressing joy and disgust to others instead of directly to you is pretty standard. The thing is, if they never directly ask you for something, it allows them to be upset if you “don’t get it” and it also allows them to not give you credit if you do. Instead they can feign that isn’t really what they wanted and either just “oh, ok…I guess that’s *fine*” to seem like the bigger person, or they can change their mind.

    That’s a very hard thing for the direct Westerner to absorb. I grew up with it in my own parents, so I’m used to it. I still don’t guess correctly most of the time. Oh, well.

    And to offer some perspective on the IL side, not to excuse the behavior but just explain…the idea that a relationship, ANY relationship, takes 2 to tango is a very foreign idea to a more traditional Chinese person. In some ways, we have had to coach my MIL on how to *be* in relationship with another person and to set very firm boundaries with her. Exhausting to parent a parent, but there it is. She honestly has no idea how to give and take. She never saw it in her own relationships, so how could we expect her to know what to do?

    I will say…after I thanked her for raising such a wonderful son who is an amazing husband and father, she softened a lot. Words of praise and acknowledgment are sparse to non-existent in Chinese culture. A word of praise might take the form of telling an Auntie while you are in ear shot that you won an award. Direct praise? Heavens no. In fact, for a Chinese parent, their source of pride and recognition is completely wrapped up in the success of the child. So to directly honor the work and sacrifice they put into raising the child…that’s a big deal. Now…do I believe my husband is the wonderful person he is today solely because of his mother, considering all her idiosyncratic and frankly insane behavior? Well…no. Does that really matter? If I tell her that I got to go out with my friends because my husband (her son) is so fantastic and put the kids to bed by himself, I keep the peace. Is this because she taught him that? Heck, no. Does it matter that she takes the credit? I really don’t care. It greases the wheels a bit. You get a lot farther w/honey sometimes.

    Lastly: Take a gander over to Dear Abby every so often. A wise (white) woman once said to me, “Asians don’t have a patent on dysfunctional, passive aggressive behavior.” Please don’t assume that things would be better with an IL of another background. Do Chinese people have a particular brand of insanity and dysfunction? Sure they do. But I suspect all peoples do.

  74. Ni Hao,
    I’m am early 30 something white Canadian male who has lived in China for 6 years, speaks Mandarin and understands the culture for the most part. 4 years ago I married a wonderful Chinese woman who speaks English fluently and who I love dearly. This past September we moved back to Beijing, and in November, she gave birth to our first born child, a beautiful boy. In the past couple of weeks I have really started to become irked by my Chinese mother-in-law who now lives with us full time. I really don’t know where to start…
    As the only breadwinner in the family currently, I must give all of my salary to my wife, and I must ask for money to even buy the smallest of things. My MIL is extremely frugal/niggardly and always says things are too expensive. She is also very vulgar in her demeanor and is constantly spitting, grunting and clearing her throat. She does not cook well, and I’m tired of pretending to like what she makes. Now that my wife’s 1 month rest period is over, she still insists that the baby sleep in her room, a room that was supposed to be meant for the baby initially. She controls everything and constantly criticizes almost everything. She doesn’t understand any English, Western culture nor does she try to understand that for me and my parents it is unacceptable how she is doing by pretty much raising our baby. I haven’t changed a diaper in almost a month nor done anything but held my baby for brief moments before she takes him away from me. She lets bottles and cans pile up to exceeding amounts in the kitchen so she can return them for a paltry 5 yuan. She has the baby pee and poop in the garbage instead of putting a diaper on him. She has an excessive amount of water basins all over the place. And, most recently, I found a new 3 bedroom apartment to move into and I told my wife I didn’t want my MIL coming. To my chagrin, my MIL came and obviously said it was too expensive (she doesn’t even know how much I make), complained that the spare bed wasn’t big enough for her, and in the other apartment we really liked, she complained that the wallpaper might be poisonous and bad for our baby (plausible, but highly unlikely). So, now my wife won’t rent either apartment that we both loved because of my MIL. She tells me what to do in just about every sitiuation and I have no more control of my marriage, raising our baby, my life!!! I am just a cash cow and feel unwanted and unworthy. Please help!!! I’ve told my wife she must go! And am bringing my mother from Canada for two weeks, just so my MIL will have to go back to her hometown.

  75. Mark Munro, Plain and simple – get your MIL out of your home! Your wife most likely will never stand up to her mother, lest she be shamed or shunned forever by her mother and her mother’s relatives. My ex-
    son in law (Chinese, My daughter is midwest caucasion) admitted his mother was a meddling, OCQ tyrant, but he would never stand his ground with his mother or father. The parents and siblings and respective families all lived in separate houses on the same compound, but they were far from private. My daughter was expected to humble, serve and carry out her MIL’s every order, all while working full time and going to school full time. She put up with it for 5 years and left
    this summer to come back home. The divorce is not final yet, but we are hoping it will be soon. Fortunately she did not become pregnant while married to her ex. I’m sorry you are going through this, especially with your new baby in the mix. The chinese are all about putting on this illusion to their world that everything is wonderful but when the layers are peeled away it’s a horrible mess because of the

  76. Dear Mark,

    From reading your letter I KNOW you don’t know the Chinese culture. You say you do but you don’t. To deal with your MIL, you have to be a Chinese man! I’m Chinese so hear me out. Breadwinner makes decisions and talks the loudest at home because they pay for everything. MIL will try and control you if she sees that you’re easily controlled. Stop showing her apartments and getting her approval. That’s what western people do to be polite. Just rent where you want and TELL them they’re moving. They don’t get a say because they don’t pay. You get a handle on your money back. You surely have access to your accounts right? I know it’s a good thing to give your wife all your money but tell your wife that it’s for her to control only and it doesn’t mean you don’t have any control. It’s healthy to have your wife control family finances but not the MIL. Tell your wife that if she keeps listening to her mom and not letting you do what you want with the money that’s “good” for the family, then you’re taking the right back to control the money. Why do you get to say this?? Because you’re a man and you’re the breadwinner. That’s the way to deal with a chinese MIL. You don’t give her options to tell you her opinion. You TELL her what you want. If you don’t like what she eats, bring food home and eat your own food and say you crave eating other things. Tell her you don’t want her cooking anymore. Don’t worry, no matter how you act, they’ll still think you’re a dumb white person unappreciative of Chinese culture so nothing you do can change that even if you eat her disgusting food.
    Does she have her own house? Tell her to move back. You talk to her directly without your wife. Say it’s nice the last couple of weeks having her around but you really want to live with your wife alone and that’s how you’re used to. Do you give her money every month for living expense or does she survive on her own? If you are able to financially, I would give her a few hundred each month to support her and let her live in her own place. You know why? Because as I said, breadwinner talks the loudest. They can do what they want. The instant she takes your money, she will learn to shut up and do what you want. Read the comments on how women are complaining about their Chinese husbands… that’s exactly a bit of how you should act. You’re not in the West anymore. Quit acting like it.
    Anyway, I am Chinese and have difficult MIL and I handle her fine because I know how the system works. It’s not that I don’t hate it and find it ridiculous everyday but I’ve managed to handle my MILs just fine right now. The key is to get your wife/husband to agree with you that their mom/dad is making your family/marriage go down the drain. You need to talk to her how if this goes on, all the love in the marriage would drain. That’ll get them listening. Speak nicely but direct to your wife.
    First thing first… go rent that 3 bedroom!!!!!!!!!! Do what you want!

  77. Yes, I agree with JLI. Who likes to deal with problems or someone else’s problems anyway right? We must be problem solvers ourselves and we must know how to deal with problems with our marriage and our business. Giving money for wife is okay to MANAGE but having TOTAL CONTROL 100% over family’s money is NOT OKAY! Seriously, alot of you really don’t understand CHINESE FAMILY at all. Mark, rent that house/apt you and your wife like this week. Don’t miss this chance! I’m into real estate and I know every single thing you talk about ! Once , this apt gives you the right mood/feeling, rent it or buy it ! Listen to me right now , Mark! rent the apt or buy things that you and your wife agree on. Don’t ever listen to others, family members unless it makes sense! I want to go into details but remember that you know your family well , I don’t know your family so I can only say a few comments here. Mark, you will never rent/buy things ( cars, home, apt etc) by listening to someone ( MIL,FIL, friends, relatives) period. Tell your wife that MIL can’t stay here anymore , it’s past her time. In Chinese tradition, MIL or your mother ( Mark) has to take care of your wife after giving birth of a child for one week to a month. Now do you understand the tradition? Your wife will understand you on things that piss you off , Mark. Don’t be afraid to tell her! For example, I’m the calmest, kindest person you can find out there but if I see something I don’t like or see , my personality changes to like another person ( explosive, intensive and talk with common sense , leadership , w/ direction ). Another example in my life that I want an outdoor kitchen for my house. Alot of people say why ? I gave them 5 reasons why and the still said this and that. I told my wife that those mother…..s don’t know anything! After I built it, they all loved it until today. NO complains! Mark, I know you can do it! I want to give you more advices but I don’t want to talk to much here. I hope someone can give me some advices in my life but some people are selfish anyway.

  78. Always remember this, good things never come cheap! You get what you pay for! Location , Location , Location! I understand people around us are very distracting and they confuse the heck out of us sometimes including ( friends, families , MIL, PIL) . Let’s appLy some common sense here. Let’s focus on what make our marriage happier. If you can afford it, DO IT! Don’t stretch your budgets like on the borderline. save for reserves please. I’m giving you alot of hints here and I don’t want to ruin the moment of explaining in details .

  79. I am so glad I found your blog. I am an American-born Chinese and being in a relationship with a Chinese boyfriend for six years. We are planning to get marry in a year. For the last few months, his family from China decided to immigrate to United States to reunite with him. His sister and brother in law moved here first. He asked me to move in with him so that (1. I can help out with the mortgage/expenses, 2. We will be closer, 3. My dogs will have a bigger space). As soon as his mother moved in, things have turned 180 degrees. She had a high expectation of things. She nags constantly and judges the ways I do chores. I am already tired after work and help out with the dishes. She will monitor everything I do and tell me I am washing the dishes incorrectly. I am feel very tedious listening to her complains after complains. She is a very Chinese traditional woman. She believes women should take care of the husband (I believe being together is teamwork). She always tells me the women life is the hardest, because we have to do chores after work. I do clean the house, but when someone is judging everything I do, I feel like I am not good enough.

    She been through two divorces. Everything she talks about with me are about relationship and divorces. How I need to be more considerate and not create any obstacle for my boyfriend’s work (I don’t know what the hell is she talking about). Her son is a good man and I am not trying to steal your boyfriend. I am his mother. We have not seen each other for long time. This I understand very well. I am not asking for his attention every 24/7, but at least we need some alone time. I believe he should respect you, because you are his mother. I don’t know what to do. My boyfriend mentioned to me that his mom was expecting a traditional Chinese wife. I guess I am not meeting her expectation. Before I moved in I specifically told his sister, I am worry that our lifestyles are different and we have dogs. She said it is fine. The more the merrier.

    Now he asked me to move home so they can get to know me better. I think moving home is not a solution. Moving home is another way of saying I am not fitting in. I told him already, if I move home, I will never set foot in this house again and will never see your family. He tells me this is temporary. I hope he is not meaning that once we marry, I will move back in again. That is bullshit. The less I see them the better. I am feeling so stressed out. Everyday, I have to go back to a place where people don’t like me because I don’t have enough Chinese culture. My boyfriend said I am immature because of the way I think. He tells me he wants to live with his mom, because she will only be in his life for another 10-20 years, and I will be with him forever. WOW…. maybe we should all live with our parents until they die too. I think that is so one sided thinking.

    Any suggesting on how I should handle this situation? Should I sit down and talk to his mother? I am feeling more and more dislike of her as the time passes.

  80. YC,

    I just love it lol 🙂 !! She wants a traditional daughter in law my big , hairy , yellow ass 🙂 but she has been through 2 divorces already though. Sorry for my language but I just get excited. She is NO traditional woman herself . First of all, she is a hypocrite. You have to understand why a woman is divorced twice sometimes. To me , I don’t think she can get along with her 2 ex-husbands or anyone. I ‘ve said so many things already that things will go wrong once you move in!! Most MIL you can live with happily ever after but some you can’t stand them. You can sit still without doing anything , MIL will still cause troubles. My theory is women are troublemakers. You can’t put 2 or more women together in one house. You can try it out and write to me back. YC , tell your bf to command his mom to do those chores then so you don’t have to follow her ways. You’ll have clean , washed, folded clothes to wear at night. You don’t have to meet her expectations. It’s very painful to live up to someone’s expectations , YC. Your bf’s mom can cook , mop the floor for you two while you go to work . Tell bf it’s bonding time for him and mom. You have to fight fire with fire sometimes :). Well, if you move out, don’t move in again unless MIL is living in another house. Once you get married in a yr , you will have many small arguments( battles) for the next six more yrs. Trust me, prepare to argue , I’m not scaring you unless you let go of everything she says or nags. Can you handle this for 6 yrs? If you don’t like something and you open your mouth to complain, her son ( your bf) will defend for her. I smell trouble with this woman here that she tells you to move in , ” the more the merrier ?”. YC , sometimes you have to use profanity on your bf and tell your bf this ” what the F… you want huh? you and your mom tell me to move in “the more the merrier” but now your mom turns out to be a control freak. How can you know a person by living apart (moving out) ? I don’t think I can live with your mom when we’re married indefinitely. If I move out , I won’t move back again unless your mom lives somewhere else or with other sister ” YC, why did I use such hard words like that ? Well, all I know is history will repeat itself again. Sorry for my mean attitude but I’m really a nice guy who you won’t meet often. Men like me are almost extinct like dinosaurs!! In real life, I see and listen to alot of stories on daughter in law living with MIL situations. I have a feeling that your bf’s mom is talking bad about you behind your back and to move out to get to know you better! This is a bad sign because you already live inside the house already. I mean the problem is your bf’s mom NOT your bf. The ONLY WAY to know a person is to live together in one roof and if you guys can solve and endure problems , you will be happy trust me. I told a friend to live with his wife only and they trust me totally. they have a house and getting married in one month. I have lots of experience in this field. Anyway, I can go inside micro details but MY WIFE ( my boss 🙂 hahahah lol ) says I talk too much and I’m wasting alot of time here and that I need to be more productive on bringing money in . More trips this yr baby!!!

    have fun. be possible!

    1. @YC, wow, what a situation. It’s totally understandable your boyfriend wants to be filial and support his mom, but there are other ways to do this that don’t involve moving in. For example, giving his mom some money every month, helping to refurnish her house, whatever else she needs etc. Maybe you can have a conversation with him about how you can both support his mom, but in a way that doesn’t drive you crazy. Emphasize to your boyfriend that you care about her well being and want to support her, just that living with her is not going to work. Is the issue proximity, that her current home is too far away (which means maybe you might figure out how to find her a place that’s close by, but still separate from yours)? Or are there other living solutions out there that might work better? (Your guy has a sister and brother-in-law here, for example — though I know that living w/ daughters isn’t the tradition).

      I sincerely hope your boyfriend will listen to you and understand what you’re going through. If anything, it’s good that you have this opportunity to work this out — just imagine if the two of you were married with a kid and had MIL problems to boot. If you can get through this, your relationship will definitely become stronger.

      Maybe some others can chime in and offer their advice.

  81. I have lots of ideas to give to you but is MIL an understanding person.Will your bf Support you ? I know if you bring problems up right now, be prepared to argue unless you three don’t have temper. Even budha has temper. Or give those two your complaints,let see how they will answer you. Plan out your argument first so you will win them over. Have you heard The art of arguing?

  82. Gosh, these stories about terrible chinese mothers-in-law sound so scarry. I adore my bf’s mom, she’s one of the most cute and warm-hearted women I’ve ever met. And she also accepted me straight away, despite the fact that I’m a foreigner, I don’t speak chinese, I drink and smoke and the stuff I cook is strange to her maybe 😉 Hope that our good relations won’t change after we’ll get married with my bf 😉

  83. Don’t take everything too personal! Free your mind! MIL is not a big issue to deal with. It’s your personality that she is afraid of.

  84. Thank you for all of the advices. They make me feel so much better knowing that there is a solution to this. I understand my bf’s mom is very important to him. I felt that he does supports me, but not at the right moment. By the time, he does speak up, it is too late. I don’t know what I did to make a poor impression. I am thinking if things still doesn’t improve, all three of us might have to sit down and discuss the issues and resolutions to these matters. Right now, the mom is trying to avoid speaking with me when I go home from work. I do at some point regret moving in with him, but I have a feeling he wants to live with his mom, since they haven’t seen each other over 10 years! I respect this, but at the same time, he needs to balance his time for his family and me. I never know what to response to him when he mentions that I will outlive his mom and their time together is only 10-20 years. His life with me will be 40-50 years down the road, so he wants to spend as much with her as possible. I understand, respecting your parent is important, but not like this. I do hope that this relationship with his mom can improve. I am trying to understand and learn this Chinese culture, but it will take time.

  85. You are sugar coating the Chinese Son/Motor relationship. Chinese mothers raise their children – especially their sons to never disrepsect or
    stand up to their elders, less they be shunned from the family. Sons want all the benefits of a girlfriend or wife, but yet want to remain fully
    situated in their mother’s corner forever. Sure you can get your boyfriend or husband to agree with you, see your point when it comes to the M-I-L once in a while and that will make you feel better for a while. However things will go right back to your M-I-L meddling in every aspect of your relationship. Telling you when to have children, what to do with your money, how to deal with other family members, when to go to the cemetary and pay respect to the deceased, what food to cook, where to live – it’s endless. Mother may come off sweet and caring in the beginning of your relationship, but once you are married or in a
    committed relationship with her son, the personality changes. You will be second in line forever until her death. The son will tell you that he loves you and that you are number one in his eyes, but his actions will say some thing different. You’ll soon grow bitter and then you’ll question your decision to remain with this man you love that won’t
    cut the apron strings from his Chinese mother. My daughters divorce was just finalized last week. My daughter stuck it out for 5 years. She could not live with the fact that she was second in line to her husbands Chinese mother. Yes, his mother got her son back and my daughter walked away with her dignity intact! Run, don’t walk away from this relationship as fast as you can! It’s not about repspecting elders.
    It’s about total control of the offsprings by Chinese parents. Oh one last thing. My daughter’s in-laws even rationalized their way into accompany my daughter and her husband on their honeymoon. My son-in-law actually invited them to go along. Absolutely pathetic.

  86. YC,

    I understand everything what you write and what your bf is thinking right now. Let your bf explain to MIL why MIL and you are rubbing elbows lately. If he explains to her and she still doesn’t cooperate then you three have to sit down and talk. YC, on your end, you have to let go of the comments from MIL. I don’t know about your personality. Do you hold all your feelings inside and get irritated over everything ? I guess I talk to people everyday and I’ve trained myself to another level. Just let go and don’t think so much. It’s easy to say but it’s extremely hard to do sometimes right? I know. I know you will have conflicts with her again. Another solution is to show MIL that you’re going to be a family member with her side. “we are a family. Any conflicts / arguments are just for communicating and everything is forgiven and everybody should not hold any hard feelings from now . Let’s move forward as a family!!”. We shouldn’t hold any hard feelings OVER NIGHT!! If everyone in the family understand this concept, you will be fine. Come on , more comments. We won’t bite!! Am I the only man here talking about problems with MIL?? I know nobody like problems right? I’m going to vanish for a yr then 🙂

  87. Darlene ,

    I think you have to let go of the past and let the healing starts. There are in laws from hell everywhere so just let it go. Hating someone is very tough on your mind and body.


  88. Bruce, My daughter left her midwest family, moved over 4000 miles away to marry the man she loved and join what on the outside seemed like a wonderful Asian/Chinese Family. They disrespected her, treated her like a second class female with the wrong shaped eyes and skin color.
    I’m still paying for the wedding (which was beautiful) but one big party for all of their relatives and friends and only 6 of us. And now I’m paying
    for the divorce. I’m so glad to have my daughter back.
    Hate is way too kind of a word to describe the feelings I have for the
    M-I-L. The son – I just plain pitty him. Besides it keeps my mind sharp.

  89. Hi Darlene and YC,
    I agree that most MILs are hard to handle! I have one so I know! However, it depends on the son. If the son is supportive, there’s absolutely NOTHING the MIL can do to your daughter. My husband sticks up for me and makes sure his mom is far away. We’ve spoken about how we want “our” lives together while respecting his parents but there are a few ground rules:
    1) No living together at any point in time with MIL or FIL (or I divorce him – simple)
    2) Not seeing them every holiday
    3) Not seeing them every single weekend
    4) They can NEVER live with us EVEN when they’re here on vacation. We ALWAYS rent them a hotel room.
    His mom tries to control him all the time and give him hell but in the end he wins because he knows that children always win against their parents. Parents soften up when they find they have no other means to manipulate you (and I mean Chinese mothers love manipulation especially when they only have one son). Not only his mom is crazy but his dad is too. They’re like two jealous girlfriends not letting go.
    Worst part is every time we take time to spend to with my family, we have to keep it a secret or his parents get ultra jealous! What’s funny is my husband actually loves going to my parents because they’re “normal” and have their own friends and circle to worry about instead of putting their energy all on us!
    Anyway, it’s all about the son. If he’s supportive of you, you’ll be just fine. If he’s acting like a baby who can’t disobey his mother to get what he wants, most likely he’s also incapable of being a leader in life either. We’re not telling them to disown their mothers but to have their own lives and grow up. I’m Chinese and I’m saying this so those of you who say it’s a Chinese culture… yes, traditionally but now? NO WAY.
    Anyway, if you lay down the ground rules, you’ll be good to go. If your husband/boyfriend cannot set ground rules, your life will continue to be a living hell and you’ll start to slowly lose respect and love for your husband and boyfriend, therefore, leading to breakup or divorce! So hurry and make sure your boyfriend is on the same page! Or you’ll be just wasting your time!

  90. Darlene, I’m sorry for your daughter and for your experience as well. The thing is that: 1. not all Chinese parents/mothers-in-law are like this; 2. also non-Chinese mothers-in-law are like this sometimes. Sick relations between sons and their mothers don’t exist in Chinese families only. After all, the term “Oedipus complex” doesn’t come from Chinese culture, right? Is it true that Chinese children are taught to obey elders but “total control”? No, this depends on a particular family. And, as I said, this kind of situations happen in Asia, Europe, Americas, wherever. My cousin’s marriage fell apart because of his in-laws shortly after he got married so he wasn’t even allowed to see his own new-born baby, and both families are polish. However, I fully understand your anger and the fact that you might be prejudiced to the Chinese now.

  91. Hi Barbara,
    So true!!! Many of my European friends have the same problem! I think it’s a mother son thing sometimes… but I know for a fact that Korean families have it even worse and so do Japanese families. I think the Asian culture just feel that men should be the one taking care of their parents so parents have that expectation and as for women having a problem… stems with women in general liking power in the family. They like to be head of household when they’re at home and like stuff to be their own way, etc. Sigh… that’s why we set ground rules. That way everyone is happy.

  92. The feeling of hating someone or wanting to kill someone puts tons of stress on your heart and mind for sure!!! Deadly diseases like cancer, heart diseases and viruses willl come out if your immune system is weak due to thinking of negative things!!! I can promise you that it’s true. Countless friends, customers and clients walk through my office with sickness ,stroke, cancer etc . A person who I haven’t seen for a yr and she got cancer last month.Cancer = 80% death rate . She was crying ,but I told her to think positive. You may ask why the hell am I talking about diseases when the subject is MIL? The key word is stress. I have lots of things to discuss here about life but I don’t think we have enough time. I always think to myself that if I hate you, I’m actually damaging myself more than you! I always say ” smile, laugh out loud, manage stress, must be happy even w/o money, must have balance between work and family time “. Do you agree with me that health is #1 on the list? I rather have health ( walk, run, able to eat, sleep etc) w/o zero dollar than having $10 billions w/0 health ( like a vegatable just wait to die )!!! I used to have lots of hatred on something I didn’t like. Over the years, I know how to manage my dislikes and my stress level. For the past 10 yrs , I haven’t aged a bit ;however, friends around me aged like crazy. Actually, I’ve regained more strength than 10 yrs ago due to one injury. Friends say ” did gain some more muscles ( mass)? You haven’t changed a bit , still the same. ” My wife and I have changed our diet and our stress management. She looks younger though. We always laugh every single day. Why am I telling all this nonsense again? My answer: Is it worth it getting stressed over MIL or anything ? We will gain nothing period but lose more! still not convinced yet? 🙂 <——– everything I say is serious but you know me I love smiling face.

  93. Do not assume so fast that your MIL will be fine living with your bf’s sister! Your future sister in law and her husband (brother in law) will get a kick out of this. Lots of MIL lives with the daughter now because most sons won’t take that responsibility anymore. Get out there and talk to a few people and you’ll find out that it’s true. Imagine your MIL lives with her daughter next yr, MIL will give/create/cause lots of problems/ disturbance for the daughter which will cause more arguments with her husband. You’ll see if I’m correct or not . Once a troublemaker will always be a troublemaker. Only way is for your bf to control /talk to his mom and you control/talk to your own parents to keep the peace. Everything I say here is real life situation that happens already around me. Tell your bf ” I’m going to marry you not your mom. you’re going to marry me not your mom”. Both man and woman have to differentiate right from wrong. Many friends and relatives take my advices to live apart from their in laws already and they don’t have much problems although SOME MIL(s) DEMAND you to spend time with her on your off day. Don’t comply with her demand every weekend. once in a while is okay but not all the time. I really don’t know why I’m a MIL from hell consultant lately hahahahah heheheeh lol 🙂 . You have to know that sometimes women or men are blinded by one sided view only . It’s like driving near a blind spot ( you can not see other cars, and people are coming toward you ). This is how I handle my situation in my family and I really don’t care if my in laws are white , chinese, blacks , etc. If I don’t like sometimes I will tell my wife this ” you better talk to her/him regarding this situation. why the hell is she/he always bringing troubles to us. He/she is breaking our family apart for no reason. We have millions of things more important than this nonsense. you better control and explain to those troublemakers or else I’ll explode in front of them” . I would love to talk in a calm manner but you can’t just let people climb on top of your head all the time. Once they’re used to it, they will get used to giving you problems. Enough is enough! Others will assume that I’m a nice guy , talk with respect and kind that I’m not aggressive ;however, when things that I don’t like , my mind will trigger another personality of mine. You have to fight irrational people with irrational reasons in order to win. That’s why people who know me personally ,don’t want to take advantage of me beside it’s hard to take me as a fool because I know what people are thinking already. The good things about me is that I listen to people and I understand how everything works. I have too many hobbies ( fishing, hunting, like to collect guns , outdoor gun range shooting ,sports, exercising , gardening, collecting bonsai ? ( yup, I have tons of patience), carry handgun wherever we or I go ( licensed conceal permit) , and more .. too many to list. damn the list is just too long. Tell me .. We don’t have time for in law problems because we just don’t have to time. I purposely make our lives busy like that to experience life. To me, the problem is not on MIL in law. The problems are within your man or your woman. Take control , kick that phony driver out of the car and take over the wheel . Take it from me ” hey MIL, you’re old now , let the young people take cover now” . Sometimes it works , sometimes it fails. Keep on changing your tactics.


  94. Hi all,

    Recently, I decided to move back home after my boyfriend told me his mom might ask me to move home by March. I decided before things get any worst, I move back this weekend. From my understanding, his mom was worried that his son might have no one to take care of and rely on when she is gone. (Please… we are a team, we take care of each other.) It was my lifestyle that she didn’t like. It was too Americanize, too strange to her. She didn’t like that I look tired after work and not smiling 24/7.

    My boyfriend and I decided that we will move out together once we get marry. I am happy that he is being supportive. He is still going home to visit his family, but for now. At least now I know, I don’t need to live with her when we get marry.


  95. YC,

    Good to hear that! Tell your future MIL that it will take her 3 to 4 yrs to get used to the lifestyle in America. We don’t take afternoon nap like in China. In America, we have lots of expensive ;however, we still have the cheapest housing prices, cheapest food prices, cheapest car prices ( work and buy here in America). America is still # 1 comparing to China in many categories!! Most Chinese in China can’t even afford a lobster with a month of salary! YC, it’s very normal for you and your bf to take care of your future MIL. MY mom took care of my dad’s mom until 90’s yrs old. My own mom.. yup…

    I smile almost everyday but sometimes work is soo damn stressful that I want to kill someone. Yes, this is a life of a hardworking person. Welcome to America! hahahhahahah hehehehhe I love it!!
    Tired huh? it’s called lack of exercise and you don’t eat small meals and often. If your bf and you are unity and assure that to your future MIL, you will be fine. back to my lovely job. see you

  96. Bruce,

    I totally agree with you. Taking care of her and respecting his mom is important, but living with her is a totally different story. I don’t mind taking care of her with him, but I believe we need our own space. We have our own living style. I hope she will accepts me and we can learn to get along.

    She is always comparing the jobs in US to jobs in Hong Kong, because they have to work 10 hours in Hong Kong. She always compares the American culture with the Chinese culture. It is frustrating to see things that way, instead of learning to accept this culture. I understand that it will be very hard to change what she thinks of me, since things didn’t start out too well between her and I. I do hope that in time (if she truly accepts me as her family member), she will come to accept me and my lifestyle.

    Thanks for all these helpful advices and comments.

  97. This message is for Mark. Is everything fine with your situation? Like I said before it’s okay if your wife holds the money but don’t let it get out of hand that she’s like a commander in chief on family finance! Mark, some wives think that they manage the money, they can treat you like a dirt ( control every actions you take or make). We have a chinese saying here and it’s proven to be true!!!!!!!!!!! “if you marry a bad wife, 3 generations are ruin” generation 1 = husband , gen 2= kids , gen 3 =grandkids .

  98. Hi everyone. I have anew update. Yesterday, my boyfriend and I decided to make a stop at his mother’s house. He said it would be nice for me to go in and greet them (his mom, his sister and her husband). I thought it was a good idea too, since it has been almost a week since I moved out. I don’t want things to get too awkward. I walked in and said hi to his family. His mom just stared at me and turned away. She completely ignore me when I said bye to her. That was so rude. My boyfriend said the same thing. Every time she sees me, she gets high blood pressure. My boyfriend would leave me to go see her. I understand because he is worried about her.

    He tries to not tell her when we go out on a date. He would lie to her and said he has to go to his dad for dinner and won’t be coming home. I feel so unhappy that we have to hide our relationship because of her. I told him many times that he has to talked to his mom. This is going no where. He told me has to find the right time to talk to her. There is no right time, no matter when you tell her, she is going to be upset and have high blood pressure.

    I moved out because she wanted me to move out. I did everything they asked for. I might not be the traditional Chinese woman she was expecting, but come on, I grew up here. I know I don’t have much Chinese cultures, but I think she needs to be more flexible.

    I have no idea why she doesn’t like me. It’s really stressing both of us out. Does she know how much trouble she caused her son?

  99. YC,

    It’s up to your bf now to talk to her. Don’t let that both you . It’s not worth your time. Tell your bf to inform his mom that she has no right to pick future gf/wife for him. Your bf needs to tell her that she is destroying his happiness. “don’t you want your son to be happy?” I have lots of male friends in real life to back me up on everything I say here. one guy is 58 yrs old and another guy is 50 yrs old. If they hear your story ,JC , they will be pissed and stand by your side because situation like this happened to them. YC, This is the perfect timing. Don’t wait!! The longer you wait the more time she has to prepare herself for the next argument. High blood pressure? baloney! Tell her to exercise, eat less salt , eat less meat or take medication. What kind of lame excuse is this? She hates you that’s why.. that kind of woman is like that.. you can’t please her. We have tons of experience with this type of person. Your bf is your only remedy to the solution now.

    Thank you,


  100. Thanks Bruce. I agree with you. This is out of my hand. I told my bf that he needs to handle this situation. I also found out when she was so rude to me when I greeted her yesterday. Apparently, a week before I moved out, she thought I hid my body wash form her. (We had to share bathroom with her. )I pretty bought an extra set of the shampoo, conditioners, body wash, toothpaste, and mouthwash for her and my bf. I only put the body wash higher, so she can have more space to put her stuff next to the tub. Also the body wash was almost used up, so I decided to put it upside down (its Dove, so the top is not flat, so I can’t really just put it next to the tub). She is so crazy. She thought I was probably selfish for hiding the body wash. I told her from the beginning to use what I put underneath the sink. Why the hell would I hide a body wash from her!? It is not even more than $10! Talk about looking into details in a crazy way. When I moved out, I did take everything I purchased (even my bf told me to!).

  101. YC, I know what you’re dealing with right now and I understand and know everything about this situation. Having ISOLATION from future MIL is the only way for now and for life for this kind of MIL. WE have talked about similar story like yours 3 days ago when my 58 yrs old friend visited me . “Having a happy marriage/ relationship benefits you and your husband/wife only not your mom or dad. When a kid studies hard and makes big bucks in the future, it’s good for him/her only not for mom or dad. “. Some daughter in laws are “underdogs” that they become the best wives/moms later on. This is true ( I have proof to back me up). Some MIL get fooled by women with sweet , nice impressions in the beginning ;however, they become the worst or the worse wives/daughter in laws. Picking /marrying a good woman is not the same like a job interview. Your kindness, your selflessness, etc etc have to last for real. This is not a show that you can act for life. YC, I hope your problems will resolve soon and I hope this is going to be my last comment here :). Back to my lovely job 🙂 til then….

  102. YC, She was rude to you because of your placement of body wash?
    Do you want to spend some of the best years of your life being an
    “underdog”? Waiting for your anointed moment for years just so that
    when she finally dies you get to step up and take her place?
    Believe me – from experience these, women have OCD, ulterior motives and will constantly triangulate with her son to keep him in “her corner”.
    She will take advantage of your kind nature and her son will never confront her without there first being a fight between you and he about why he shouldn’t confront and why you insist he must.
    My newly divorced daughter is looking over my shoulder while I am
    typing this – reading your past posts. She stuck it out for 5 long years and decided to throw her Underdog Costume in the trash, and divorce the son to a Chinese mother. Go out right now, purchase a case of body wash and a step stool. Wrap them up in a beautiful gift box and present it to her with your head bowed in honor and respect of her all in the presence of her son.
    This all of course is if your future husband will allow you to spend the money that he needs to be in control of during your relationship.
    Oh and by the way – my daughter currently wears a
    Wonder Woman costume and is quite proud she was able to make
    the decision to do so.

  103. Darlene,

    I really sympathize with you and your daughter’s divorce, but now it’s a time for you two to relax and heal from all this insanity. I’ve learned to forgive so can you, Darlene. Don’t think about it and ignore everything.

    Last week, I know a white friend who was married to a chinese woman. he ,too ,just finalized his divorce last week. His ex- chinese wife was acting weird after she received her U.S. citizenship. This chinese woman was deceptive. True story… The good news is that he just got another an Asian gf. He loves asian women. Don’t get me wrong ! He is very nice and honest as a person so he is a good guy!!. Some white women love asian men too.

  104. YC, your boyfriend’s mom hates you. Frankly, I don’t think that the situation will improve in the future if your boyfriend will still act like this. He’s hiding your relationship from his mother! Not to mention the ridiculous thing he said about 10-20 years they have together! Come on, the relationship between your boyfriend and his mom is just toxic. Love and respect for family is one thing, cowardice is another thing. I know that maybe I have no right to say it cause my boyfriend’s mom in almost an angel, but if I were you I would have very serious doubts if I really want to be with this kind of man 🙁

  105. I know all of you guys always heard about MIL giving troubles to daughter in law but have you have heard stories about daughter in law giving problems to MIL before? I have seen it several times already where the daughter in laws actually physcially hurt the MIL.
    I’ve seen alot in my life.


    How about asian men like me? 🙂 . Maybe I’m a “deceptively” strong person . I think if i’m a weak person ,others will control me already. I just have my own mind. If someone wants to push me to the left , I won’t follow to the left .

  106. Yay Barabra! Finally, someone that can openly state that YC’s boyfriend and mother’s relationship is toxic. Just like my daughter’s former husband’s relationship with his mother. It has nothing to do with YC being strong or weak person. It’s about the MIL shaming her son into submission and getting her way. Even a stong minded son will cave in at any request from his Chinese mother and leave his girlfriend or wife standing on the sidewalk questioning why she is having to play second fiddle to his mother.

  107. So far, things are very stressful for me. It appears that his mother doesn’t even want to hear my name or anything mention of me. I kept asking why he can’t tell her how he feels. Just tell her I am the one. He told me if he did, she will have a heart attack. I am speechless and confuse right now. He asks me to wait, but how long? Until she dies? Time will cool things down? I do not even see her at all, so in 6 months, everything is going to be fine? He has no solution to this. When he speaks up for us, his mom will cry, have high blood pressure and heart attack. I feel so lost and confuse. I don’t know how long I can take this.

  108. What the hell…. She is really a freak. How can a person maintain this kind of craziness? Anyway, you two don’t need her approval. your mind..

  109. I wish he thinks the way. He said it would be awkward if we (his mom and I) are not in harmony. I understand, but she is making it difficult for him. He doesn’t want to make her mad but at the same time, it feels like all we can do is wait. I am so lost.

  110. Oh yeah I have a question for you , YC. Does your bf really really love you? Is there something else that you haven’t told us here that would make her to react like this? I don’t care if a man is 20 or 40 yrs old. If you don’t know how to handle this kind of situation with people , you just don’t know how . There is no school to learn this. It’s not about being afraid or afraid of that person. It’s about getting the message through that person and he/she must understands the message period. I want to know is where is PIL in this picture ? PIL has no words on this? PIL is afraid of MIL ? YC, I really don’t want to comment on your bf’s performance but sooner or later he has to understand who he needs to do.. I think he knows but he’s afraid of confrontation. Do you know if your bf and you can ignore MIL for a moment and have zero contact and just disappear literally. no phone or email contact for a month. Try it..

  111. Living with her for 3 weeks had been like hell. Constant nagging when I come back to work. She heard me calling her annoying when I was talking to my boyfriend. She has been through two divorces, so she is not marry now. They (my boyfriend, his mom, and his sister, and his brother-in law) are living together in one house. He is constantly trying to ignore the issues. I haven’t been there since I moved out. He has to be home everyday so she won’t cry and worry about him. He is a grown man! Not a baby.

  112. YC,

    I agree with Bruce. Your boyfriend probably doesn’t love you enough OR he’s a total coward which means, it’ll be like this until she dies. You’ll soon realize you’ll stop loving him because he’s got no balls to go for what he wants (assuming he wants you). In addition, everyone KNOWS you won’t die from not seeing your son at night and she will NOT HAVE A HEART ATTACK OR HIGH BLOOD PRESSURE. It’s something all chinese mothers say (have you watched movies???) or even american or whatever nationality. They always use “oh I’m fainting” “oh, I’m having heart attack” to try to get their kid to do something when EVERYONE knows it’s fake. So if your boyfriend is buying into that and dragging time out to marry you or whatever, I would just dump him. You’ll eventually dump him after you slowly lose your respect and love for him anyway. If you want to be a brave one and try to change her mind, you have to kiss her ass. What does this mean? Chinese MIL love gifts. Buy her perfume, lotion, jewelry, ask her out to expensive lunch, buy her whatever she loves and tell her how much she means to her son and thank her for raising her son the way she did and that you wish your mom was more like her, etc. They love hearing that stuff. The more fake you are, the better. If she asks you for an opinion of something, just say it depends on what your boyfriend thinks. Chinese MIL likes having their daughter in law with no brain and refer to their sons for everything. This way they know they have total control after you guys marry.
    On the other end, act like yourself with your boyfriend and say… “I’m doing all this because I love you but you have to let me know if you love me back the same and if you’re willing to move out if we get married. If we don’t move out, then no deal, I’m out.”
    Not sure if you want to be out of the relationship but I cannot imagine you’d want to live with his mom until she dies. His family sounds crazy since they’re all living together.

  113. YC,
    well, a heart attack would be a solution…
    But seriously, harmony between mother-in-law and daughter-in-law is not absolutely necessary maybe. However, it’s kind of cool when we are cooking something together with my boyfriend’s mom or she’s showing me his pictures from childhood. It’s only about accepting another woman who also loves her son, just in a different way.
    Untill the love between mother and son is healthy it should be all fine. But in this case, when you two are being terrorized by your boyfriend’s mom, it’s totally insane! Wow, come on, it’s not only about accepting you! I assume that she wants to have grandchildren. If you and your boyfriend will have kids and you’ll need help with children sometimes, would you leave your child even for a moment with this woman if you know how much she hates you??? I know nothing about your family, but if you really want to spend the rest of your life with this guy, propably you’ll have to introduce your relatives to his relatives. Can you imagine this, while his mom is so crazy? THAT would be really awkward.
    And I ensure you, this is NOT normal situation. I’m going back to China next week and today my mother gave me the rest of gifts for my chinese family. My suitcase is full of presents from my parents and sister for my boyfriend’s family! Even my small niece gave me a plush dragon for my boyfriend’s nephew 🙂 I have lots of stuff from my mom for his mom and… woolen sweaters for my boyfriend (haha, sweaters in Guangdong! mom killed me with this, really cute). And it’s all because my chinese family and my bf are not RIVALS for my parents. My mom and dad know that they take care of me there in China. Just like my boyfriend’s mother didn’t feel like she has lost her son, more like she has gained another daughter maybe.

  114. YC, let me tell you why there is no progress on your case yet. You have a bunch of WEAK ( non opinionated ) people living in that house like your bf’s sister and the brother in law. Yup, that’s right. You need a stronger force like your PIL , sister in law or brother in law to control the MIL. It sounds funny but it’s true. You need all the help you can get and that’s a fact. If your bf ignores MIL for a month without contact , MIL will get the message . She will be a little vulnerable ( lose control) of the whole situation. Normally, you will have a crazy wife or crazy MIL is because there is an inbalance of POWER in the relationship or house. Come on guys, prove me wrong! I’m here to listen or argue with you. See when a man or person has no opinion 24/7 , the woman or some women will feel very powerful and they can go crazy like this.. I’m talking about SOME women and this is the situation we’re having here. Some women really need a really bad ass verbal beating to let them know that you may look deceptively weak but a freak on the inside ( don’t mess me or else you will see my true self. I will destroy you ) .YC, I have tons of work/things to do but I’m willing to help you here. Don’t worry, we won’t leave you :). Last week, I heard that my friend has a freaking crazy sister in law doing all kinds of bad stuff to the family and her brother.. blah blah blah and yes that sister in law is from hell. YC, I know your bf is AFRAID of MIL and that’s why nothing has happened. You don’t have to tell me and I know almost everything about that family situation already. Yes, your bf really has to move out with you and that is a first step. second step is to disappear for a month or two without contacting her. I wish I could give your bf some of my testoterone to ignite an argument with his mom. If he argues with her, he should stand still until the battle is finished instead of running out in a middle of a heated argument. Don’t run away, stay til the end. YC, I wish I could be your brother in law so this situation can end right now but sorry I’m not. I’ve gained alot of respect from others and I don’t think most people want to attempt to agrue with me.

  115. Bruce – Unfortunately, he and his family (not his dad) havent seen each other for 10 years. He wants to spend as much time with them as possible because he said they gave up their jobs and life in China to come here to be with him. He respects his mom a lot. I understand this, but at the same time, how long can he baby his mom whenevershe cries. I asked him what his mom never liked me, what are you going to do? We stay in this type of relationship until she dies? everytimes he defends me, his mom will cry and disagree. aparentally when I was living with her (i regret moving in, that was my biggest mistakes), she said i was lazy, messy, cant take care of him, rude ( because i don’t know the Chinese cultures), sneAky (because his son went with me to have dinner with my family, and we didnt tell her earlier), talking about his mom ( between me and my bf), stubborn, and stingy. (what a list!) i am stubborn, but i believe when two different people living together, sometimes between of our lifestyle differences, we should be more flexible and understanding. She was not. I was working and taking three classes after work. She wanted me to serve her and talk to her. I don’t have the time to do t hat! She was being so difficult.

    I believe our relationship is between my boyfriend and I. Parents can give advices, but they shouldn’t interfer like this. They cannot predict the future, just because i am not who they want with their son. She wants her son to spend all the times with her. I think that is very selfish. She wants someone that can live with her, so his son can always be there with her. It upsets so much that i feel like i can fighting for his attention and our time, because he needs to be home or his mommy will cry.

    I don’t want to break up with him becaus of his mom. I am willing to wait for things to cool down, but if he never step it up, nothing will change. I am always willing to sit down with her and talk. He is scare that he will have heart attack and high blood pressure if he mention about us to her again. This really makes me sad. I feel like i am constntly crying. If it was our problems, i understand we are not meant to be together. It is not, we have been together for. Very long time and we were planning for families, wedding. When his family appeared (especially his mom), everhing fell apart. It breaks my heart things has to be this way.

    I understands in chinese traditional cultures, families live together.

  116. Allllllll my chinese friends live apart from their parents. Do not live w/a crazy person then you will be fine.
    Crying over nothing means she’s a woman from hell. Hopeless!

  117. Yeah, I agree with Bruce. This woman is nuts and, although I’m not Chinese, I’d say that it doesn’t have much to do with chinese culture.
    I believe that my boyfriend’s mom is quite traditional. She has never been abroad, never even moved out from Guangdong province. In childhood she could attend school only for two years so she can’t read and write. For most of her life she stayed at home, had to cook and take care of children. Now she stays at home and takes care of her grandson. And she NEVER told me that I can’t wash the dishes, cook rice properly, never interfered between me and my bf. Even during all these months when we were dating with Ye Feng but before he introduced me to his parents, she never asked questions whenever he stayed at my place for a weekend or when we went for a trip to Guangzhou. He just said “I’m going to Guangzhou for a few days” and his mother didn’t ask him why or with who he’s going. And yes, he lives with his parents and they are a very loving family. Of course she guessed already that her son has a gf (but didn’t expect that the gf is polish, hehe ;)). Later my bf told me that mostly Chinese don’t discuss their private life that much, even with their parents. I don’t know if it’s true or not. I know only one thing: YC, don’t listen to the bullshit your bf’s mother says! Basing on my experience I can say that she is NOT a traditional chinese woman and if she wants a ‘traditional chinese wife” for her son maybe she should marry him herself.

  118. I’m thinking here for a while. She must have a personality disorder or BIPOLAR!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! There are my findings. If your bf doesn’t come here ,she cries? What the hell is this? She has a daughter and a son in law in the same house. Maybe she wants to babysit your bf until he’s 65 ( ready for social security retirement) and carry him over her back like a baby. From my experience, no matter how well you are going to treat your future MIL, there is a VERY VERY HIGH chance she might go crazy in the future again. So your last option is isolation ( move away from her). With time and space can only heal this wound. As you can see, we are dealing with a worse case scenerio situation here. YC, I understand also that not all men or people solve problem the same! Well, If I have a same mom like your crazy MIL I have to use my type of personality to take care of business. I have to switch to another personality of mine ( rough and irrational). If my mom cries exactly the same way , I will use profanity first and then lay out my 1 thru 10 list. I would say ” mom, what the F… you are crying about ? Did someone just die in the family or what? This is non of your business. Eat your food, go out and have fun. Stay out of my god damn business and we will be a happy family” You just have to constantly attacking here and with time, she will give up or give in. Does MIL have high blood pressure or heart disease? If no, then you know what the problem. I know I’m just a stranger here and I have no right to comment on someone’s business but I hear and see too much..It’s good that we can talk in person as a group and you will understand.. I have lots of friends from 30 yrs old to 83 yrs old age and they will be glad to give you their life experience with MIL and PIL.

  119. So here’s the update. If we get marry, his mom will be upset. If he breaks up with me, he feels bad. He said a chinese saying “the back of his hand and the palm of his hands are both meat.” He told me last night that if he stands up for me, his mom faint. He said there is a crack between me and her, we won’t be happy to see each other until she dies. He said as a son, he rather makes his mom happy. Relationship can wait. His mom hasn’t seen him for ten years, and she wants the best for him. She wants someone who can take care of me, and has a big family so I won’t feel lonely when she dies. She doesn’t think I am a good wife. Sigh. I kept telling him our relationship and hers are two different things. I really want to go talk to her but he said don’t. I don’t know what to do. His mom is ruining our relationship.

  120. YC,

    Listen to me ,just let your relationship cool down for a while. I think this will do you two some good. I see things very clearly here that your bf is the type who doesn’t want to offend anyone. Time will tell if your right for your bf. YC, don’t feel hurt. You have a long long life ahead of you. Wait until she dies? people live until their 90’s now. Men can wait and get a younger wife but for women just can’t wait. Biological clock can’t wait. You bf is just too silly ( wait until she dies). To me, you bf is feeding this problem. Do you know that I go on and on? …. but things won’t get any better here. So just let it cool off for now. and JC , don’t be afraid that there won’t be another wonderful man in the future. There is always someone from everybody.. see you later for now. I have tons of things to do that I keep on postponing!

  121. YC, The man you love does not deserve to have a woman like you. You have given yourself to him and he prefers to make his mom happy? You have done nothing wrong. His mother is a selfish bitch. Chinese sons are raised to take care of their mothers, it’s a cultural thing that you can’t possibly undo. I’m sorry that you are going through such a horrible mess, but you have options. You can stay and suffer or leave with your dignity in tact. Let your boyfriend make his mother happy, he will come begging back to you within a week. Don’t answer his calls, texts, e-mails, letters – just shut down all communication with him and let him sink into the quagmire of making his mother happy. You deserve better. Invite him to read all of our posts. Good Luck.

  122. YC, by not giving you an answer, you boyfriend actually did give you an answer. Somebody who says “we won’t be happy until she dies”, “as a son he rather makes his mom happy. Relationship can wait”, clearly does not care about you or your feelings. He already made his choice and he didnt chose you. His focus is on his manipulative mother, and it will be, by his own words, until she dies (she might live until she is 105!) and unfortunately it seems like there is no space for you in their family. Move on and find a man who cares about your happiness and feelings and wants a relationship with you now.
    I speak from experience. Thankfully my MiL isn’t vicious or manipulative, but we do clash and I dont like to be told what to do or how to run my household. My husband thought we will live all together after our wedding, but i had to put my foot down. My husband understood that there is no way i would be living with his mother, therefore he had to make a decision. Today his mother lives 50 miles away from us. Why? Because he wanted to be with me and cared what i have to say.

    1. @YC, I agree with L, your boyfriend did give you an answer and clearly, he is the problem here because he doesn’t stand up for you and value you in the relationship, as he should (and, I might add, as my own husband would). MILs can be difficult sometimes, but remember ultimately it’s your husband that can mediate things and make the situation either good for you (as L’s husband did) or miserable. Don’t blame this on the MIL, she is not the one ruining the relationship, he is (because he gives credence to her arguments, because he takes her side, because he ignores how you feel about it).

  123. YC,
    You need a man who will work with you thru ANY big , small , easy or hard problems. Now , you know what I mean right with your current problem. Even before you’re married , you and your bf can’t resolve this MIL issue yet. Just imagine when you’re married and have issues. I’ve been through alot so I can tell you from my experience. I know also that finding a man or a woman who will work with you , solve problems with you it’s just very hard to find but not impossible! Lots of my personal friends call me or just meet me at a coffee shop for a long chat with family and financial issues so I do understand everything what you’re facing right now. Two people have to be on the same page in order for any resolution to meet. If others give 110% effort, I’m giving you 200% effort that kinda attitude. It’s not about your bf trying to fulfill this traditional belief that he must obey his mom’s order to get a better wife. The answer is about bf willing to do the right thing by telling his mom to mind her own business. My mom never questioned me about who I should date or marry. All she wanted was a good woman ( white,blk, asian or green). ” Doesn’t matter if it’s a black or white cat as long as it catches mice”. I have discussed lots and lots of subjects not even this blog talks about yet. You just have to judge on a person’s attitude and behavior long term and let this person blossoms into a wonderful person. How can you come to the conclusion within weeks or a yr or two that this person is no good or good? The true self.. the true face comes out maybe 3 to 5 yrs later. The ultimate respect that you’ll get from MIL is when you’ve raised respected kids by showing respects to the elders and others ( friends, teachers , neighbors etc). I know a close friend here who made her MIL cried when she died from cancer. Her MIL used to hate her like crazy until 20 plus yrs later that MIL realized what a god damn great daughter in law she was and other daughter in laws couldn’t compare with this one. I want all MILS and future MILS who are reading this out there to mind your own god damn business . I’m not afraid to say it here. When you see your sons living and working happily with their wives is very satisfying from parents stand point!! I sometimes shock alot of people in real life is that I have so much to say but not enough time to share with. YC, you have a really control freak MIL . She’s not normal. I used to hear a MIL just like your MIL. That woman told her daughter ” if you marry this guy, I’m going to suicide!!!” But now, MIL loves this son in law ??? 🙂 lol strange huh? Yes, you bet it is strange!! another MIL said ” I won’t approve you marrying this guy” but now, this MIL loves this son in law ! Those are all true examples I give you here. YC, I want you to be a strong person and not going into a depression over this. I think you should call all your gfs up for support. Yes, I know what I’m talking about!

  124. I like this topic so let me do some translating .
    “wait until she dies” means :
    1) I’m not rushing into marriage.
    2) I am “afraid” of confrontations , don’t want to face any problems.
    3) I’m listening to my mom and let this relationship fades away.

    P.S I would love to see her faints! fainting is better or trying to commit suicide better? Tell her to fall over the floor and do some kicking while she is fainting so I can laugh my ass off. Seriously, she says this just try to scare your bf. It’s harmless. Like I said, I’ve heard all kinds of crazy lines from MIL not approving of the relationship. Some men get soft and scared when they see women cry. I get pissed and angry when I see women cry especially when the above situation occurs.

  125. Hi guys and ladies,

    We broke up last Saturday when he sent me an email. After 6 years together, he sent me an email to break up. He couldn’t even do this face to face. Apparently he went to LA with his family that weekend. I felt very heartbroken. He also emailed four of my friends to comfort me. Then he told two of his friends that we broke up and both of them called him an idiot. They both said even if he stood up for me, his mom will be mad, but she would never disown him. She would never cut the connection with him, but our connection was easier.

    Also his mom said that he can marry anyone else except me. When my friend asked him what if your mom didn’t disapprove of me, do you see a future with me? He said yes. I feel so hurt by this. He took the easy way out. He never wanted to stand up for us because he felt his family gave up everything to come here for him. He felt he owes them. He also didn’t want to leave his mom. He wanted to live with her forever until she dies.

  126. Yc,

    Don’t get depressed over this! Get up and restart your life again! I bet you there are some many men who will appreciate you for who you are. We all fall before but how we get back on our feet again is your ultimate success in life. Next time, find a person who has less influence from outside it’s even better. We are always here for you.


  127. YC, My sympathy goes out to you. Six years means you have lots of
    memories (good or bad) to not think about anymore. You still have your dignity! My guess is the coward will come begging back to you and only you can decide if you want him back in your life. And as for
    the cowards mother – just make up your mind that you’d rather be
    dipped in excrement then to have her in your life. Darlene

  128. YC,

    I had a feeling that this would end like this. Thank god that he was your ex-bf not your ex-husband! If you marry him and his mom is the cause of everything, I don’t think you will have a happy life. Why? He is soo protective of his mom and his mom will feel very comfortible about causing problems. I see alot out there. good luck


  129. interesting coming across this article. seems like most of the posts are from a wife to mother in law point of view though.

    any advice for a man currently living with his wife, sister in law AND mother in law?!

    ive been in two relationships with chinese girls, my ex gfs mum was lovely and we could communicate well but my wifes mum is just nuts.

    she talks to herself a lot, has no concept of humility or being humble…she always praises herself for whatever she does eg her cooking can be nice but often or not its very average yet she will go out of her way to say how well it was made and how great it tastes and asks for our (me, my wife and sis in laws)laws opinion (read agreement).

    shes a typical controlling mother who tries to control what we eat and when we eat and is very hypocritical e.g. snacking is bad for you etc yet she will snack as well after trying to stop us.

    most things we try to do she will always come up with a “better” way of doing it because she was taught by her mum and it is just the right way to do it.

    my wife and i are in our mid to late 20`s her my sis in law is in her early 20`s and my wife and i have been married 15 months the last 2 of which the in laws have been living with us.

    my wife takes her mums side each time we discuss issues relating to her and keeps saying “thats just how she is” or “can you not let her do what she wants?!”

    i am in the stages of looking for our first home (we are currently renting a 2 bed apartment) and am wondering if my wife and i will still be together in a few months as the stress and strain of living with my mother in law and just having her hark on about how to go about my own life is really starting to get to me.

  130. To JJ,
    I suggest you to move elsewhere and live privately with your wife… but commit to the mother that your wife will regularly visit her so she won’t feel being left out or “losing her daughter” after marrying foreigner. You may join visiting your in-laws only if you wish to do so.

    Btw, if it matters, I’m not Asian American. I’m “Asian Asian” man who was born, educated, work, and live entirely in South East Asia. Both of my parents came from Chinese-descent families who emigrated down here few generations ago.

    In general, I think it’s easier for a man to live together and blend-in with parents in-law rather than woman (although I won’t do that myself and definitely not asking my wife to live with my parents). Since you are not happy living with them, my suggestion is to live in separate house with the promise of regular visit from the daughter.

    As a “Chinese-descent Asian Asian” man, I believe that visiting our parents regularly is a great thing to do for our parents. However I don’t buy the idea of living with in-laws or own own parents / siblings in the same household on a permanent basis.

  131. Now i am already 32.sometimes i felt regret.i already married to a man of my choice for 10 i was blessed with 3 sons.i never knew my hubby is mom son.i was too young n naive by that time.i am chinese also but my thinking is more to westerner.totally different from my in law side.i thought each newly wed couple got their own freedom to lead their own live in their own world but i was very wory.since beginning she already planned where should we stay how our wedding reception will be etc.she really queen of the house in silent.she had planned many many for us in her is likely force in soft.i was not high demand type,till now i see there is no other woman like me that can go through n built a good relationship with in law.but sometimes i felt tooo depressed.i love my hubby but i really cant take it anymore .my sis said married to only son family is good.but through my 10 years experience it is a disaster.everything the mom is rely to him on him even though she got another one daughter.i dont have my honeymoon,romantic time like new other couple do.all our private time is spent on too someday will bcome somebody inlaw,i hope i will not followed her path.sometimes it came across my mind that i willing to let go my hubby because of his mom n led my own life with my 3 kids.i just keep on praying that someday god will show me the never knew this for me also never tell anybody till today i just through web to express my feeling.

  132. Hi! It’s been more than two years that I haven’t updated you about my situation with my MIL. Well, the last time I sent message here is because my MIL acting like a broadcasting company and I followed your advice but until now still like that and it seems like its getting worse. Every year by this month of march, she treat me very bad that’s why every year, the family always have commotion every march and I’m sick and tired of it. I just want to know, are Chinese MIL really like that? They cannot accept their daughter in laws as part of the family? And that everything the husband do for his wife, she need to be jealous? She always compare herself to me even I’m not competing with her. I tried to ignore her bad doings towards me and my husband because she’s my MIL and I need to respect her but the problem is, even I do the good thing towards her, she still hate me. She’s even showing me how much she hate me, she doesn’t want to see my face so everytime I go out from our room, she will stay in her room and once I stay inside, that’s the time she will go out. She even make lies to her daughters and sons about me and my husband. I can say she is selfish and greedy. If somebody give her food, she will bring the food in her room and ask the two kids to eat with her even she know I’m there infront of her. Since the day I got pregnant, she’s trying to manipulate the mind of the two kids, she keep on telling them that we will treat the baby better than them and she’s laughing at me that the two kids grow up already but still have a newborn baby brother. She how bad she is? Instead of making the kids feel comfortable about the arrival of the new member of the family, she’s trying to destroy the relationship of the kids towards us and their little brother. She doesn’t want us to be happy, if we want to eat together as family, she never join us, she will make reasons not to eat with us. She never treated me good even once, since the day I lived with them. I want to learn more about Chinese MIL, how can they be good to their daughter or son in laws? pls help! I’m terribly disappointed with her and I want to have a happy family but she’s the one who always ruin the happiness. Thank u and hoping for ur help with this!

  133. After reading your article,i can describe her as ‘traditional conservative MIL’.not meaning to frighten you, but this type people wont change.i am chinese too but i see many many category of chinese.They most likely to compare and the most love is if your husband get mad of you eventhough u make a small mistake,she will be very very happy instead of sorry.Same like me, but she a little different from yours.She will manipulate silently and always stick between us whenever whatever we do.If hubby or me missed her out from our even though few hours activity, u came back home and you can see the face is different.Now i just relt to God as i never complaint to nobody not to my family also.I pray to God ask from him to guide me and even though i felt stress i tell myself i still live until today because of my beloved hubby n kids my sis n father.all this will make me fell better.

  134. Hi there Diana! Thanks for ur response and OMG, means I have to live like this forever? You are definitely correct that MIL would feel very happy once me and my hubby having a little bit of misunderstanding. She wanted the attention of my hubby to divert from me to her, meaning, she doesn’t want someone to support me. Everytime we ask her to go out with us to eat for lunch at the restaurant or go for shopping, she never said yes but she tells her other son or daughters that we always leave her alone at home. I can also say she’s “money face” and she’s a very good actress. Actually, I respect her so much because she’s the mother of my hubby and soon be the grandmother of my child but she never showed any appreciation or love in all the things the we did to her. I’m just worried for our upcoming baby if how will she treat him. I know she cannot accept me but how I wish she will treat my son fairly. I’m always praying for her…

  135. In Chinese MIL eyes-
    Daughters in law should- obey to their family,serve husband well,wake up very early and sleep late than others in the family in order to carry out the chores,no right to say NO,whatever her instructions always yes yes,cook delicious food,show a good manners during ‘their’ relatives visit.Bear a male heir.

    Though not all MIL is scary as monster but majority is like that.for eg,my sister said, she expect her future daughter in law to followed our tradisional chinese law(as i described above).i said to myself ‘ u rather not a good example for daughter inlaw how can u expect somebody to obey??’A friend of mine who has a scary inlaw too complaint to me.She said her in law also a good actress.In front of the son she called her with her real name, but when the son is not around she will called her with sorry (Bas….)!She always told her grandkids that their biological mom is not as good as they think.Wah i think that is too much she is brainwash the kids.
    Whenever u r very very sad, learnt from me, i will-cry,pray to god, see my sons n hubby photos, i will hug tight my sons and i will said,i am here today because of them.nowadays because there is a technology i will browse the web.i told myself i got to survive i dont want kids loose mother at very young age( my mom passed away when i was four). By doing all these i felt much much better.My advice there is no use u fight back unless u r terribly been attack.just shut your mouth carry on your own activity n think There will always be generation gap instead of MIL n Daughter in law crisis.No matter how modern our world is the story between in law wont end.

    (My father was blessed with three daughters which i was the youngest one.The day when i was expected to arrived at this world,father was very very indecesive waiting for the unborn baby just to know wheter is that a boy???Nope me a girl,father was upset.whenever i go when i small till teenager people will ask father or grandma how many kids does he have,the replied is three girls!People will again said No boy??Ohh so pity and so on and now i was blessed with three sons.whenever i go people again will ask how many kids that i’ve got.My reply is three sons, people will said Wah ‘homia le’.u know whats that? It mean u got a good life because own many sons and when i old i need no worry about my life.i got son to take care of me.My reply is Ohh too early to said that.It upon to God who give me a good life.In loving parents I think girl is better in this.Female tendto more responsibility than male.This is Chinese eventhough now is IPAD Apple Era!!

  136. Missed out – for your baby future u need no worry whether been love appreciate or not.if the baby is male it is most welcome.Daughter in law is outsider but the grandkids is ‘My gene belong to our male side family. Ours’

  137. Hi there again! I’m so amazed how u handle ur relationship with ur MIL. And thanks for the good advice. Actually you are right, MIL want to show their power as the “boss” of the house even though physically and emotionally they are not capable of it because of old age. My MIL really like that, she always tell the kids that she’s the “boss” that everything need to ask permission from her. I also can feel that she treat me just like a maid, a stranger and never a part of the family. When their relatives come and visit, she will cook for them…only for them and me and my hubby not included in there. Or sometimes she will ask me to cook for them and when the relatives come, she will tell them, shes so tired of doing all the household chores and in cooking for them etc., which is a big lie! its good if i cannot hear but infront of me shes saying those things? OMG, shes very insensitive. One reason I think why she treat me like this is not only because of her personality but because she hate my hubby since he was still young. He always blame my hubby for all the hardships she had in the past. That’s why I concluded, she cannot love her own son, how much more me, just a daughter in law…right? So I need to deal with this all my life and I need to accept reality. How I wish I can survive this life. I want to protect my family, I don’t want this family to be broken. I love my family, my husband, my kids (even I’m not their biological mother). Actually the kids already been brainwashed by her but I just ignore everything.

  138. 🙂 hehehehhehe ahahhahahahah I’m back again on this lovely subject! Nobody dares to talk about his subject huh? 🙂 lol . I just know a friend and he is getting married soon ;however, he wants to buy a home first and moves out with his future wife. He knows that his wife can’t live with his mom (MIL) even though his wife is such a sweet woman. Now you know the true answer to why Chinese people always focus on boys instead of girls. Traditional Chinese don’t care much about girls at all and that’s why the families will let the girls marry who ever they want to ( White men, Black men, etc) . Just move out please and you will be fine.


  139. Hi there Bruce! It’s good ur friend hv the chance to move out, but me and my hubby, cannot because this is our house and my MIL don’t want to stay with her other children’s house and also her children don’t want to live with her because they know she will only cause trouble to their family…

  140. Ah Chee,

    From my experience and what I’ve seen around me, you have to educate your husband and MIL on how you can live happily over one roof. Some MIL are loud and direct but they are harmless. All you need to do is to talk to them and don’t run away when MIL try to talk with you and hubby. Running away from problems will never help once your MIL lives with you permanently. You can sense that MIL can be annoying over little things but focus on big problems. If your husband likes to talk to your MIL, then definitely she will always love to talk to him and attached to him over other siblings. Don’t run away or ignore your MIL. Keep talking to her and getting to know her inside out and with time, your CHINESE MIL will like/love you regardless of her outrageous/rude personality. You have to believe me this time unless all of you abandon your MIL and kick her to the senior citizen community. Sometimes, you have to talk to your MIL like a baby with a soft voice because you know old people are becoming like little kids when they get old. Hopefully this will help you.


  141. Hi Bruce, thanks for the advice but the problem is, my MIL is the one who keep on avoiding us. If she can just stay in her room the whole time so that she will not see us, she can do it. That’s the number one problem, don’t hv communication and she never listens no matter how many times u explain to her, she’s not the kind of person that is open-minded, she only believe in what she think is true. That’s why every year instead of getting better the relationship, it’s getting worse. And when it comes to her relationship with my hubby, I think tat would be impossible because everytime they hv the chance to talk even just simple matters only, not yet 1 minute, argue already. Theres a grudge that my MIL keep in her heart that keeps her feelings away from me and my hubby but I don’t know what is it.

  142. I have been wonderfully blessed with a somewhat open-minded Chinese mother-in-law. That is to say–she has changed a good deal of her dreams and ways of living just by accepting me into her family. When my husband and I got married, she of course expected to live with us–and was talked out of it. She expected to have a heavy hand in raising our children–she now knows that my husband and I desire to be the primary parental figures in our children’s lives. She hoped that we would always be living nearby, that when our children get older, she and my father-in-law would take our children to school. That she would come over to our house to clean, wash clothes, and cook dinner. Sadly for her, we will be moving back to America in three months to stay for several years.

    The thing to remember that these things–she living with us, taking care of us as if we were still children, and taking care of our children–these are considered her honorable duties as the primary caregiver of a Chinese family. However, because she has been denied these “rights of passage”; these things that I had to fight to let her know that I wanted to do them myself, I believe that she deserves a good deal of understanding, sympathy, and graciousness instead of animosity for her desire to “take over” and “nag”.

    Speaking of which, it is important to remember that those qualities we as Western women consider “nagging” (for example: “You’re wearing too little!”, or “you really shouldn’t drink such cold water.” or her very many opinions on the way I raise my daughter!) are considered very good manners in Chinese society. I constantly hear complaints from Chinese friends and family about one person or other who did not nag enough! Even in a relationship, if a Chinese man or woman does not pay enough desired attention to the other, it can be reasonable grounds for a break-up.

    I think, in most cultures, having a mother-in-law often gives a certain amount of trouble. I have plenty of American friends that complain about their mother-in-laws! I believe a good rule in general is to develop plenty of patience, understanding, and tolerance. After all, we are stuck with these ladies, and it’s better to have a good relationship with them than a tumultuous relationship. Also, she raised the man you love! There’s got to be something in that.

  143. Ah Chee,

    My only advice is that time will tell and also your Chinese MIL needs to do more community work or go to the Temple to help out as a volunteer. These activities will open up her narrowed mind. “It’s easy to change your outside appearance , it’s mighty hard to change your personality”


  144. Dear Bruce, if u can tell my MIL all these.She never go out without us, dont like to mixed friend/relatives,24/7 is with us.Me n hubby is never left to be in our world .

  145. Diana,

    How old is your MIL? Does your MIL likes to brag but she knows NOTHING? Tell your MIL not to discriminate your husband. She needs to spend more time with her daughters and other sons too. I’m just very direct and blunt so my mom listens to me. I won’t use my anger with her, I use humors to get my ways. I think I know your type of MIL. She is the serious type that has no friends and expects people to call her and don’t laugh or smile much right? It’s Sunday!! I’m still working. why you guys are soo lucky ?? 🙂 lol


  146. Stephanie,
    U are lucky enough to hv a good MIL. And I can see the way ur MIL treat u is all about “care” but mine is about “hate” and “jealousy”. She wants the full attention of the family to focus only on her. Now that I’m pregnant, sometimes I feel tired so I need to rest a bit, u expect, she will feel tired and sick also. Means she need to rest also. I don’t hv freedom, I don’t have power to manage the family because of her. She wants to control everything. We live under one roof but the way she treat me, seems like I’m just a guest who will stay here temporarily…it’s really difficult for me but I’m trying my best to show her my respect, love and care, I just wish that someday she will realize everything.

    Actually my MIL always praying but she cannot be a good person in real life. She always stay at home and no friends. The way I see it is that, maybe when she was young or when her husband still alive, maybe she’s been deprived with love and care from the people around her that’s why she’s like this…I don’t hate her actually, I pity her and how I wish I can help her remove the burden inside her so that she can truly love and care her family…

  147. She is in her 60s.My husband nor me dont have the right to voice out our thinking most of the time.just last year after for so long her son against her once(no yelling at the mom just not sided her).and she began to cry and shout saying the son no longer love n respect her and she really make me felt guilty, all the time.she wont go for so long to the daughter house.maybe once or twice a year that accumulated not more than 2 or 3 weeks.when she left the most happy is the kids n son!no matter to who she talked she dominated the whole conversation.Now my days passed quickly because of kids activity n school that took most of my time,but still i can hear she complaint that nobody company her, how she got to passed the boring day bla bla.i just told my husband no matter how bad your mom kept on nagging him day n nite, just dont against her word but agree by forced.

  148. Ah Chee,

    I have several Chinese friends that have the same problem that you have right now. Their mother-in-law treats them terribly, ignores them, or doesn’t respect them.

    They come to me complaining about these issues, also unsure of what to do. The mother-in-law is such an integral part of a Chinese marriage relationship that these problems, while in Western countries would be a lot easier to ignore or simply not visit their mother-in-law, that these woman (and yourself) or forced to figure out how to deal with the problem directly.

    In most of my friend’s cases, I’ve seen them finally enlist their husband’s help. That he come and stand in-between, and help with those problems. In the beginning, my husband (although he hated it) also needed to help me with issues concerning his mother.

    Now that you’re pregnant, it is so important that you confront these problems with your mother-in-law now (with your husband’s help) because if you do not, it will get much more difficult and complicated once you have your child.

  149. Yes, always bring the husband in the picture! I never have had this MIL problems because I always communicate with my mom. It’s very important for the husband to always talk to his mom. No matter what’s the problem, I will fix /solve it. The son has to show his mom that he has the expertise to do anything then she won’t interfere with every single issues.


  150. Hi there again!
    This is not related to the topic but can anybody help me regarding the beliefs and superstitions of Chinese people? I just want to know what are those so that I will not look stupid if ever my MIL talk about those things because I really doesn’t have any idea like the cat visiting the house, dog barking differently, wearing white clothes during new year etc…thanks 🙂

  151. Ah Chee, most chinese is very superstitious for eg,:
    -white clothes during CNY
    (CNY is the most ‘sacred’ festival for chinese, white represent death in chinese and red represent auspicious in chinese cultural.while in west white is famous colour for wedding but in chinese it is red.)
    -cat visiting house
    (Bad omen)
    -no floor sweeping after 12 midnite of CNY eve until 3rd day/no hair shampoing after 12 midnite/no talk about ‘die’ ‘unlucky’ all these unauspicious word/ eat bitter gourd
    (Sweep away all luck, the rest of life is bitter , unfortunate)
    -any age of female is not allowed to sit on brides bed when visiting her room
    ( if she dint bear a male baby, the person will get the blame)
    Visiting a newborn
    ( never on first week after born and never never praise how chubby the baby is- if the baby fall ill, the person will get the blame too)
    -clothes hang exposed overnite
    (In asia mostly people dry the clothes by hanging exposed to hot sun, but u need to bring all the clothes in house before 7pm or dark to avoid the dew contact with living clothes-reason the dew is for the dead
    -never say Snake name when at home
    ( to avoid snake visiting- bad luck)
    Visiting graveyard
    (If we bring any umbrella to graveyard make sure open it up exposed to sun in order to chase away any bad spirit follow us in the house)
    Baking ‘huat koi’ a type of chinese traditional cake(rising cake)
    (A pregnant, women in menstrual is never allow to enter the baker kitchen because of the reason these people is ‘dirty’ and will cause the ‘ huat koi’ faill to proof)
    -no knife/sword/sharp metal display
    ( never either in living room or kitchen display these objects by hanging or direct exposed- family will fight all the time)
    Wall clock/ knife as a gift
    ( never to chinese people!wall clock represent that when the people die no son will complete his burial ceremony:mou chai song chung;
    Knife is believe will cause a bloody tragedy and never allowed as a gift)
    No white flower for all ocassion/ no white hair pin pinned to hair/a type of shawl beige in colour and the texture similar o straw/ hay
    ( for the deceased) in mourning, and white pin represent husband just passed away
    And if you are now pregnant and u see a cute baby of somebody(chinese parent) never never volunteer to carry or touch their baby.
    And lots lots more

  152. Thanks so much Diana for the info! I didn’t expect, Chinese had many beliefs…are there any practices so that the relationship of a mother-in-law and daughter-in-law be smooth or I mean so that they can get along together? Haha just hoping…and I observed, mostly Chinese really depend on Feng shui which sometimes become the reason why I cannot touch many of my MIL things being displayed etc. because the position, the location etc, all have meaning that’s why even how much I want to clean or arrange her things, I cannot do it. She’s also practicing the twice a month vegetarian thing and at first, I didn’t know that her plates and her cup and glasses and separated for vegetarian days and non-vegetarian days…that’s why now, I never touch her things to avoid misunderstanding…

  153. Culture cannot change… people can… And if tradition is stopping you from being yourself, stop tradition.

  154. Hi- I guess I’m writing because I’ve hit a wall with my mother in law. I am an American living in Australia. My wife, who is Malaysian Chinese just had a c section for our first born son two nights past. Her mother came in from Malaysia for the confinement period for a month to help out. Since that time, well mainly last night we had an argument. I attempted to say how much I respect her decisions, but my wife and I had our own views on certain matters such as breast feeding, etc… . This is her first grandchild and she is a widow. I am trying to be accommodating and understanding, however she is choosing to persist in behaviours that to put it shortly go contrary to the doctors advice, midwives, nurses and myself and my wife’s wants. I tried to address this yesterday as my wife also has the baby blues and she just went up to her and stated stop crying! You need to stop now. The car ride home was not a good place to be, it finally got so bad I said to her ‘mom I respect you, but this is what my wife and I want and this is our family!’ She asked to get out of the car and walk home in the rain. Our house was a short way away and we drove there. I attempted to write speak to her further, she however wished to have none of it and started to yell at me more. I spoke to my parents and wrote her a letter explaining the importance of certain things for my wife and myself at this point in time. She has chosen to opt out of visiting her daughter for several hours and has avoided me entirely. I now have to broach this topic with my recovering wife and still deal with my mother in law for a month yet. ANY ADVICE would be great, just so I could attempt to get her on the same page as us…. New parents. HELP!!

  155. My only advice is when dealing with chinese adult always low yourself down to earth in other meaning always agree eventhough u not that agree and give less opinion.Sorry to say that there is two type of chinese modern chinese is more likely to westerner and conservative chinese they dont quite like foreigner.

    1. This comment was erroneously sent to me via e-mail, so I thought I would post it on the author’s behalf (Julie):

      There’s a Chinese saying, “into one ear and out the other”… just pretend you guys didn’t hear her or didn’t understand her when she suggests something you guys don’t like. Make it a cultural communication error rather than you trying to change her. You cannot change her. It’s just not possible. Just make sure she leaves in a month. She’s still great help around with the baby and you do need her help. Usually the daughter knows how to communicate with the mom. You don’t do it. It’s disrespectful for you to do it. Mom and daughter communicate better. I would be able to tell my mother directly what i want and don’t want and my husband doesn’t have to say a thing. Just like it’s weird for her to ask your mom if the situation is reversed. If your wife is the “weak” type and don’t know how to talk to her mom, then she has to suck it up or get what she wants just by saying “she’s not feeling well and she just wants it that way”… she just had a baby and she has the prerogative to be moody and weird… I know…I had a baby last year and I wasn’t myself at all. Have a talk with your wife and have a game plan together. It’s only a month. Think about those other people who have to LIVE with their MIL forever………

      It’s not that bad. My mother in law uses judging eyes all the time on me and talk behind my back to all their relatives no matter what good I do. It’s just like that. What matters is YOU DO WHAT YOU WANT and ignore her comment that you don’t like. So if she says… don’t breastfeed and you guys want to… when you’re with her, just say, ok, I’ll try NOT to but then do it anyway. She’ll have nothing to say. She may complain but she won’t take the baby away. Your wife can just say I just love the bonding experience and can’t help it. Make up some bs and skid by it. If she’s a harsh one and won’t let it go, then sorry, you must just have your wife step up to the plate and say “mom, leave me be on this one… ” That’s the only way. Your child is the most important thing right now and should be brought up the way you think they should be. My mom gave me a bunch of advice and I took only 70% of it. The other 30%, I told her to back off. She’s my own mother. No matter how I talk to her, she won’t disown me and she won’t want to see me suffer so I always win. See? That’s how it works. Just realize this when your kids grow up too. They always win because parents just can’t bare to see their kids suffer…

      Hope this helps.

  156. I’m an American female married to a Taiwanese male. I’ve always had a great relationship with my in laws. But this year it has changed. My mil had totally flipped on me. She had always been super generous and caring but now she is insulting and rude towards me. The only difference is the fact that my brother in law ( her eldest son) has finally met someone ( through an arrangement that my in laws have practically paid for) who is also Taiwanese. I don’t know if that had to deal with it or not. I tried holding in my feelings but unfortunately I yelled at my mother in law ( in front of other family members) this morning and probably made matters worse for me. I’m just so disappointed. I used to brag to all my friends about what a wonderful relationship I have with my mil. And now she’s ruined it because she’s finally decided to exercise ( what she believed to be her right based on cultural politics and heirarchy) the Chinese mil insulting tactics. I’m just so annoyed. What a waste of a relationship. My husband and I now have two kids and I don’t even want them to spend time with my mil. All she does us sit back and complain about them. She is very “hands off” and judgmental which us not what I was told she “would” be like. In fact, when I was pregnant I was told she would come stay month with us after baby to help me adjust. I ended up having a ç section and she never came. I also had a ç section with my second which was much harder to recover. And she never came. We talk a lot through Skype and age is always insisting we visit and or send the children to her. But we came to stay with her for two months and she couldn’t stand to be around the kids. I offered to take care if housework and cooking and she would refuse at first saying they she couldn’t watch the children, that they are too much trouble. And then she told my husband that I don’t know how to cook or clean properly. My kids are the only grand children she has. I’m just wondering how much the new “Taiwanese” daughter in law has to do with this sudden behavior change?

  157. I had MIL issues for the longest time…
    I started dating my Chinese Canadian husband in high school. DH didn’t tell them that he was dating me, they sort of found out. They told me that “this isn’t a relationship, that they don’t mind me being friends with him, but not gf.” he was 18 at the time. Upon graduating, my family and I moved 5 hrs from my hometown and I went to university. I thought DH was going to university in our hometown as he told me so, but he skipped off when he wasn’t working. When he had academic troubles, they blamed me, although I wasn’t even there and didn’t know about him missing class. They tried cutting off our contact, blocking my number, changing their number etc, but DH still wanted to be with me. I learned Cantonese to please them, but it didn’t.

    in 2001, he moved to my city to go to university. I hoped he would do well but he didn’t do much with it. He would go home for summers and vacations until 2005 when we moved in together.

    In 2005, things seemed to warm with the ILs and they asked DH and I to come back to our hometown to take over the family restaurant. We went in 2006, but it ended up to be horrible. MIL would often berate me in front of customers and other staff, she would even sabotage me by purposely making mistakes in the kitchen then blame me for it when anyone is in earshot. FIL would start in on DH. They thought it would break us up, with me moving back to my parents and him staying there, but we left together.

    We got married in 2007, the ILs tried to ruin our wedding and tried claiming I was a bad person because I didn’t book a hotel room for SIL and her bf (she was with a white guy, but that was ok, just not ok for their son) But, we told them and everyone else they were responsible for their own accomodations, and they said they weren’t coming to our “stupid wedding”. I got my sister and husband to give up their room to accomodate MIL and FIL, but that wasn’t good enough. Thankfully, DH’s aunts, uncles and grandparents were on our side and stood up for us.

    things were cold in 2008, when they ignored DH and lavished all their time, money and attention on SIL and her bf. While they were rude and disrespectful to them the whole time.

    2009, sil’s bf dumped her and she moved back in with the ILs where she is today. They still won’t speak ill of the ex bf although he lost face for them, but while they were not being mean to our face like they were before, would still talk about me behind my back and claim that “I broke up their family and that they were happy before me” (not true, they were not happy before…but I found this out later)

    2010, things were ok, but we didn’t see them more than once or twice a year.

    2011, MIL found out she was in early stages of breast cancer, and the treatment center was in our city. She called and asked ME (not DH) if she could stay with us. I said of course, right away. We set her up in our spare room, and I did everything to make her stay comfortable. I had no problems with her while she was here for a month. The month after she left, I found out I was pregnant.

    Things were getting better, and when my son was born, they loved him. He looked just like DH and they liked that (they before claimed hapa kids only look Chinese if their mother is Chinese). But they were still a bit weird, like FIL was supposed to name DS his Chinese name, but he didn’t come up with anything or put thought into it. It was ok though because we then found out DH’s grandma who raised him as a child already picked out a name for our DS before she died. They also didn’t go to DS’s Mun Yut 2000 km away, although they flew themselves, SIL and her BF all expenses paid to go there in 2008 for DH’s grandpa’s bday.

    I think taking care of MIL when she was sick made a difference. Since then, I never heard MIL or FIL say mean things to me, or have things get back to me. Usually they would have relapsed into insulting me by now. They are still a bit strange sometimes, but as long as they are not being hurtful to me or DH or DS, then I am ok.

    I learned some things about Chinese culture in dealing with them, that nobody talks about feelings or emotions in their family. When they act outrageous, unless it’s immediately threatening, like when they tried to ruin our wedding and the family stepped in, the family just ignores it, “do their part” and does their own thing, being respectful, yet avoiding them when they don’t have to be together.
    I think that is a good strategy for me as well. Smile and nod, be cordial and respectful and just go about our lives.

  158. Hello,

    First of all, thank you for this helpfull blog! It means a lot!

    I am really desperate for some advice regarding my mother in law. I am together with my Chinese boyfriend for 5 years now. We met while studying in Europe and he had both a western and Chinese education. His mother is divorced, dated a German man for a while and travelled a lot. So speaks oke English, so the language isn’t a barrier. By now me and my boyfriend live in China together, she is having (thank God), her own house.

    My mother in law is extremely demanding and she is crossing ‘my’ line often when she is arround me. How much can you tolerate and accept just to keep the relationships good? I will give three short examples, but there are unfortunatly many.

    Before I moved to China I went on a diet, I lost like 16 kilo’s. I was always a bit curvey, never really fat. The first time I was ever alone with her (me and my boyfriend just started dating) she started about my figure. That I had a beautiful face, but that I was really too fat. I told her that I was working on it and that I lost a lot of weight. She said that only plastic surgery could help me and that the problem was too extreme. This was my first experience in China with my mother in law. I was so hurt, because I didn’t look fat in that time at all. I told my boyfriend later on and a huge family fight started. He told me how much he loved me to stand up for me like that.

    When we first travelled in China, we bought a souvenir together. We told each other we would put this in our house when we would live together in the future. We were students and poor and we split the costs of it (how symbolic). After our trip it ended up at her house temporary because it was heavy so it was harder to bring it back to Europe. We live together for nearly 3 years now and she still doesn’t want to give it back. After we got an apartement she told us she needed it for luck. I thought it was strange, but I said it was oke to have it for a few months, after that she wanted it until Chinese New Year and then she had another excuses that she really needed luck again. She knows that I want it back, but she doesn’t care even after I told her that this souvenir means a lot to me. My boyfriend doesn’t want to come between it, because he doesn’t want to make her angryl I will do everyting to make her happy, but she is crossing the line. She thinks she can do whatever she wants. This souvenir with this nice idea becomes now the battle of someting bad. Every time I try to stand up for myself, but how do you do that whe she made up her mind and she will start screaming at you?

    She is extremely demanding and screams at my boyfriend often for no reason. Last time it was our anniversary and she called when he was in the restaurant why he was not with her helping her. She never told him she needed help that day. The way she treats him has also an influence on our relationship. When she is angry he gets upsad as well. Which results into arguments between us. She just has a horrible temper and she is behaving like a queen.

    I am not even speaking about that she tells me how to do my hair, my clothes style, how stressed I am when she is coming over if the house is clean, how she is watching everything I am doing which makes me nervous, how she is influences his career path (the result was that he was at home for a year, because she told him that he couldn’t accept certain jobs because it was not in the fortune 500 or how to treath the HR manager, which was awull and arrogant and therefore he didn’t get hired).

    Last year it was the first time I was going home for Christmas in a long time and he joined me. For 2 weeks he was out of the country with me. Often she called him screaming that he left her alone with Christmas (which is not even her tradition). After this she does not invest in the relationship with me any more. I invited her for dinner at our new house several times, but she always cancells very late (house clean, food ready), she is never inviting me over to her place any more. I am fine with it, and the last year I felt better then ever! The only part that I worry about is how important this relationship is for him, would he still take the step of asking me to marry him? How much will he let his family influence this? He looks sure of me, but he still calls his mother place ‘home’, and not our place. When she is angry he forgets about it fast and 5 minutes later they act like they have the best relationship in the world again.

    His father is unfortunatly not in the picture. They divorced when he was very young and his mother went to court and she told his father to never see him again. By now he is 29 years old and until the day of today she tells him not to have contact with his father. I spoke once with her about it. She asked me why I was asking and if he wanted to have contact with his father? I told her that he would not do that because he does not want to hurt or upsad her. Her answer to that was: ‘oke, very good’. I cannot believe that you will put yourself above the happiness of your child.

    I do not think I hated somebody more ever in my life. I keep going because the relationship with me and my boyfriends is great, but he knows that if I break up with him one day it will be because of his mother in law.

  159. Hi, Jocelyn! I’m a new fan of your blog, I think you’re doing an amazing job. 🙂
    I wanted to ask you for some advice, I know that maybe you’re busy.. I don’t know if you’ll have time to reply me, but if you do, even if it’s a small answer I won’t mind ^^ I simply need some advice.
    Well, first let me tell you what i am concerned about. I’m Portuguese and my boyfriend is Chinese. We have been together for almost half an year, I’m very young and he is 3 years older than me. We met on the internet and we haven’t met personally yet, we are planning to do so on next wednesday (18th)… and I’ll meet his parents too. (Here comes the problems… >.<)
    When we started our relationship he immediately told his parents about us. His mom saw me one or two times when i was on webcam with him and she said I seemed very "温和", she told my boyfriend she liked me and that I was very pretty, etc… then, when my boyfriend told her more about me, there were two problems: first, I'm too short (155cm), and she said she didn't accepted me for that but than she eventually said it was ok… the second problem, recent one, is that I have freckles on my face (she's so picky :()… she said she would not accept me, my boyfriend stood up for me and he said he wouldn't leave me no matter what…
    So, yesterday his dad asked him when were we going to meet, my boyfriend told him 18th, and he said i could come over to their restaurant (they have a restaurant) to see me…….. when he told me this i was just so nervous! but he said i had to go, if i went we still had hope! so, i thought about it, and i said yes.

    Now, going right to my question, I just want to hear some advice you could give me about meeting his parents, just a few things you feel that are essential, or that i can't forget about!
    Giving you some more detail:
    -My chinese is so-so, i can have a normal conversation, but i'm a very shy girl… ^^ so i'm not sure what should I say~~~ what would be nice
    -They said I don't have to bring anything, any present..
    -My boyfriend told me when we are eating I should pick some food and put it on his plate~~~ I'm still a little confused about this, I know the meaning, but I've never did it before, I don't know how should I do it to look more natural… because it'll be my first time doing so.

    Sorry for the long long text~~~ I hope I can hear some advice of you 🙂
    Thank you very much! I really admire your dedication to this blog, I'll keep following it! Thanks!

    1. Thanks for the comment!

      On the first point, I don’t think you need to worry too much about what to say to them. In fact, being shy is a plus in China in general — people like shy. As long as you’re polite to his parents and generally go with the flow regarding the dinner and any plans afterwards, you should be fine.

      When you pick up something and put it on someone else’s plate, it’s a way of showing care for them. Basically, people in China do this when a dish comes out that they believe the person would like and/or is a desirable dish in general. Before you serve yourself, just take a piece or two from it with your chopsticks and put it in his rice bowl (or on his plate, if he doesn’t have a rice bowl). As they turn the lazy susan and you happen to see other morsels he might enjoy, you pick them out from the dish first for him and then serve yourself (if you want some). I wouldn’t do it over and over again, as if you’re feeding him like a kid! Maybe just the first time you see a dish…or when that dish happens to be in front of you (because you or someone else just turned the lazy susan).

      Even though your boyfriend said no presents, I would probably still bring something along. I recommend buying some wine or spirits you can enjoy with the meal, or even some Western-style desserts (such as cookies or cakes) to cap off the dinner.

      1. Jocelyn, thank you very much for your advice. It went pretty well! 🙂
        They were very nice to me, and I wasn’t that nervous after all because I had my boyfriend by my side. His parents and his aunt also said they really liked me, and now his parents approve our relationship. ^^ We are very happy.
        Thank you once again, I will keep on following the blog. 🙂

  160. Hello 嫣然,

    if I may give my 2 cents opinion…
    In general, just be who you are as naturally as possible and as what you’re accustomed to. It’s quite understandable that as a Portuguese, you may not do what the Chinese normally do, and vice versa. Of course you may follow some Chinese tradition / custom, but only to the extent that you are willing to do so and feeling fully comfortable. Like putting some food to your boyfriend’s plate… you may do so if you feel okay with that. Otherwise, you don’t need to do that. I don’t see any meaning doing something to get appreciation from others while inside you’re not comfortable doing that. I mean, at the end of the day, your relationship it’s up to you and your boyfriend, not his parents to decide.

    Btw, I’m a Chinese male but not from China (I’m from South East Asia) and I have a relationship with western woman. I never force her to follow any of my custom. I let her to decide herself what she wants to follow. Parents sometimes have some judgment, but I value our relationship much better than any parental judgment.

    if you don’t mind, how old are you and your boyfriend?

    Be happy :).

    1. Hi, Ray.
      Yes, I agree with you. Actually, it’s not that I’m not comfortable doing so, deep inside I also want to do it, not just because it shows my care for him, but also it makes me happy doing so, but the fact that his parents would be watching us just made me feel nervous~ I felt I wasn’t prepared… what actually happened is that when we were eating it was him that was giving me food all the time! It was really sweet! ^^
      I also think you are very considerate with your girlfriend.
      I’m almost 18 and my boyfriend is almost 21. ^^
      Thank you, be happy too. 🙂

  161. Just wanted to share another “atypical” story – my Chinese MIL is a great woman, and one I look up to. Until she met me she disapproved greatly of her only son being with a white devil woman. But since we met we greatly respect and care about one another, despite the fact I’m a hard-drinking, loud, Canadian-raised Irishwoman, and she’s a very gentle and traditional woman from Guangdong.

    The terrible mother in law is (IMHO) the stereotype of unkind movies and stories. My MIL can look over my flaws… I’m sure there are a lot of Chinese MIL’s just like her.

  162. Wow, this post really “hit the nail on the head.” I wish I would have see this before. I had no idea what was going on in my house. Now I understand what my request to not throw used cooking oil next to the house is really all about. Here I just thought my mother-in-law’s poor elementary science education was showing up again. (I explained lots of times to not throw oil near the house, because it will draw mice/rats…Hubby told her to throw it in the driveway to cut down the dust, so she threw it in the walk way…I told her not to throw it in the walk way, because it’s hard to clean the floor after someone walks in it so I had her put it in a bowl or cup, and I would take care if it later….She’s back to throwing the oil next to the house and used the excuse that I never throw the oil out, when I just did that yesterday by putting it in the garbage and taking the garbage out.) Anyhow….If you haven’t guessed by now, I’m the “buckway.” I’m white American and hubby’s Chinese. We live in the USA. The house is hubby’s and mine. Our 1st house we had to get a $20,000 loan from MIL (Mother-in-law) and paid it back with interest. Our 2nd house was completely purchased by us without any of her help. (I wanted it that way, so I could finally be able to decorate my own house and tell the contractors how I wanted things done….which I have reasons for and not just for beauty.) Sorry for straying off the topic so much, it’s just that wow….I can so relate. We got married according to “Chinese tradition” on an odd numbered day in an odd numbered year. The 1st 1 1/2 yrs. was great!…..Well sort of great as in she was really cool and really nice. She had to stay with us the minute she arrived for the wedding, because she’s right from China and her husband had just died a few months prior to the wedding. (Right after hubby told them we were engaged…Some timing, right?) We never had a honeymoon, because it was all about her and “showing her America.” She had questioned why I took so many pictures without people and would race to be in the picture, completely blocking the famous buildings and gardens I wanted for my photo album to show/remember what we did for our nonexistent honeymoon. I over looked it as just her excitement and slightly vain character. (She thinks she’s really pretty.) She cooked, she did the dishes, and offered advice on how to “hemmmm, you know….bedroom stuff.”….after all she’s a nurse and knows how “it’s” to be done. I felt quiet uncomfortable with her doing so much, so I did the dishes. After the 1 1/2 yrs. of bliss….She and her friends started in with the baby boosting. I hated it, because hubby and I had discussed before we were engaged, that we never wanted to have children. When I discussed this with some of my Chinese friends, they said it was because hubby got his “green card,” so they are done with me and want me to divorce him. Things got really bad quickly. MIL’s friend accused me of having an affair with a classmate and with my coworker’s supervisor, whose old enough to be my father! They said the only way to “prove” that I love my husband is to have his baby. MIL’s friend made lots of false accusations about me. She claimed I called her grandson yellow, which is really low. To this day I only tolerate that “friend” of hers and will never trust her. Well I stuck it out and about 1 year later my mother came down with cancer. The pressure became even stronger in regards to having a baby. I thought how sick to hit someone at their lowest point. Both MIL and hubby nagged me not to visit my mother too much, because I might “catch the cancer.” (Lack of elementary science again.) I finally told them I’ll give them a baby when I turn 35. This helped to put them at bay and everything was great again with only a few ups and downs. Nothing really big. 2 years later we had to take care of my father, who died the following yr. In that year’s span, MIL and her friend accused me of cheating with the same classmate again. This time they said they saw me talking to him outside a store. (Like the man’s not allowed to walk down the street and say “Hi.”) I finally caved in, because I was just so numb. Now I had to take care of my father, while I was pregnant. While I was pregnant she forbade me to watch horror movies, hold the dog, and look at the cat…..because the baby would turn out ugly or looking like the cat. She only wanted me to look at pretty women and flowers! I told her I couldn’t do that, because I’m not gay. (Sorry, I hope I didn’t offend anyone…It’s just that I was frustrated.) I defiantly watched as much horror films as I could find, hugged the dog, and put a scarf over the cats head and said, “Who wouldn’t want a cute cat faced baby with a little nose?” Sorry, but I couldn’t resist making her mad after all, I was the saddest pregnant lady in the world. I cried everyday and had to leave work to go to an outdoor temple to cry and pray. When I finally went into labor, she forced me to eat and I wound up puking when we got to the hospital. The nurse told her she shouldn’t have done that and it’s normal for women in labor to not want to eat. MIL told her she was a doctor in China and that’s how they do things over there. (Notice how her rank went from nurse to doctor, and she’s retired! I wish I could do that.) Wound up with her in the delivery room with hubby and me. She had hubby turn off the TV, because she felt I need to concentrate on giving birth. Jimny Crickets, the baby practically slid out. I didn’t need to concentrate. I delivered my son in 1/2 hour. (I was lucky there.) After the baby was born, they kept me upstairs and wouldn’t let me come down for anything. No TV, because I was to “bond” with the baby. It felt like prison. They served me cold food that was supposed to be hot. She refused to help me with the baby and would get mad when hubby would help. The only way I could keep my sanity was to take the baby downstairs with me when they went to work. I’d sit in the recliner with my baby positioned on my stomach so we both could watch TV. Then walk him all around the house, watching his eyes light up when I pointed and named objects. Finally after 2 weeks, I couldn’t take prison anymore and decided to threaten them in order to get them to help out so I could get a break. (I had post-partum depression brought on by being in MIL’s prison.) Things got better and I became the best daughter-in-law to brag about to her friends. When my son turned 3, I started teaching him how to write his name correctly, (He was writing it backwards.) read, and how to draw. When turned 4 and started school, things got worse again. Tons of yelling, throwing toys, and breaking toys…Oh, not the child. Our child was the best behaved child you could ever meet and always listened to me. No, the temper tantrums were my hubby’s, secretly encouraged by MIL. I was bad, the kid was bad, my relatives were stupid, etc. All in the name of racing the kid to the top of the “academic food chain.” Our child was lucky if he had 1/2 hour play time. It was off to school, come home and eat snack, do homework, eat super, study, study grades ahead, take a bath, get tested by Daddy on things he wasn’t taught yet, told he was stupid, Daddy yelling for 1 hour or more, Daddy teaching more math, Mommy teaching English, (If Daddy doesn’t run over, which he did and would accuse me of not teaching and our son having “bad English,” which wasn’t true. He’s a straight “A” student with beautiful writing…..Just that Hubby didn’t understand the vocabulary our son used.) maybe 1/2 playtime or maybe just straight to bed depending on the time. It was ok to keep the kid up until 11:00PM – 11:30PM with Daddy studying, but not to play. This continued until our son hit high school. I just didn’t get it. High school is the most important time, what happened? Ooooops…..It just happened…..our son got a “horrible PSAT score”. Yep, he missed a scholarship by 1 point…Got 3 questions wrong on the SAT II level II math. Now, we’re back to I’m a “bad mom,” “the kid’s lazy,” “the kid’s immature,” “the kid doesn’t study enough,”… Do you really want to know the truth or can you believe them? The truth is our kid is gifted. They are wasting his artistic talent, by calling it “trash.” No encouragement for apply for scholarships, even if I mention them. I am ignored like always. Hubby is in there with “the kid” every night right after super until 11:30PM testing and “helping” the kid study for the SAT, so “he doesn’t mess up again and miss an opportunity.” Yet it’s ok for them to actually entertain the idea of not sending him to Harvard summer school; even though, he got accepted into the summer program for high school students.

    Ok, so what does all this rant about have to do with my Chinese MIL? This is how controlling she is. All this happens, because of her secretively talking to hubby in Chinese with that “cute” hand over mouth gesture I have come to hate. When we got our new house, I took control over how it would look. Nothing matched in our old house and it looked like a disaster. The contractor would double check with me, when she would tell him to do something since it didn’t match what I told him. She almost had him put the wrong floor tile in the wrong bathroom, which would have looked terrible. Why did she do that? She liked that floor tile and wanted it in the bathrooms that “guests” would use. (The joke is we don’t have friends, so how can we have guests? She’s the only one with friends, and they live too far to visit.) I’m not allowed to have friend. Not even female friends. God forbid if I even talk on the phone with my sister. MIL will pick the phone up to “ease drop.” If I say something out of place, I’ll get yelled at. Oh, so what happened with the oil? Yes, I told her that she should have asked me to take the oil out and I would have instead of dumping it next to the house. That was the end of it. She yelled at me and would even listen to what I had to say. I even tried to put the blame on myself, that I should have taken it out since there was ice and snow but I couldn’t think straight since I was so tired from shoveling it. Hubby came into the kitchen to find out what happened. She ran up to tell him her side of the story first of course. I decided to stop and let her, then when there was a brief break and her story was complete, I tried to tell my side…Yep, she kept right on yelling so he couldn’t hear my side of the story. Then something pretty amazing happened. She didn’t just break down and cry like she normally does. Nope, she tried to fake a faint just like in those Chinese drama series she watches. (Chinese “soap operas”as I like to call them.) I had to fold out the chair in the kitchen, so she could lay down. He laid her down and for the first time I saw him act very tenderly with her. (He usually yells either at her or me.) She then had him take her pulse with occasional outbursts at me, just like in a movie. I had to leave temporarily, because I almost broke out laughing at the poor acting. Then she had him take out her fake nitro and put it under her tongue. I know it’s fake, because my dad used have nitro tablets in his pocket for his heart disease. He emptied out 3-4 black poppy seeds and gave it to her. I told her I was sorry, but she would just start yelling again. No matter what I said, she’d yell like a maniac. I decided to concentrate on cooking my son’s meal…..It just couldn’t get done fast enough! She saw she couldn’t get a reaction from me, so she rose up and said she was going to die for me, that she would slit her wrists. I just made a face and hubby pulled her back. What a drama queen. I just can’t wait for her to go back to China. I just feel like I can’t put up with her anymore. Finally hubby got her to bed and talked to me. He wants me to apologize again, because she doesn’t accept the one I already gave her. Then he told me she’s still mad at me and not to talk to her, so…….I used it to my advantage. I told him I think I’ve learned my lesson now. I can’t compliment her and I can’t correct her, so I won’t talk to her at all. I’ll go through him like she wants me to. (I don’t understand what the difference is if I tell her about the oil or he does, but after reading this I now understand.) I told him to tell her not to speak to me either, because she’s been very nasty….She makes rude comments about my food and calls me “fat.” (No, I’m not really fat…I wear a size 8.) So I will just hold on with hope. Once she goes back to China…Hubby and I will finally be able to live like adults in peace and quite.

  163. There are some things in life, where you just make up your mind, never to quit. We almost didn’t happen. We should not have happened. The last few days each advance was treated with rejection, each good intention had hit a wall, each new idea or person introduced into our group was received with a scowl or dejection, we broke up, and mended fences.

    Sometimes I would come home, depressed by her attitude, sleep late into the afternoon and wake up, with no reason to continue on. Sometimes I was ready to give up, but then I would remember what TGIM said, “Just because you fail don’t make you a failure, and just because you lost don’t make you a loser. You had 998 hits, 998 hits, one or two more hits and all those diamonds will come out.”

    The reason people never succeed is because they give up. If I was going to give up, I should have quit the day I met her, the first date, the first time I visited her work, the day I spent the first few hundred dollars, the day it started to get hard. But I made up my mind that no matter what she said, no matter what the challenges… I just won’t quit. She can try to quit on me but I can get through this, I can outlast this. No matter what happens… I will never quit.

    The day our relationship started to unravel was when we had the “mother-in-law” conversation. Chinese people will know the ignominy of this conversation. I can even share a link on the hundreds of people who have shared the ignominy of their cross-cultural stories here on (try to find mine with my 6-year relationship).

    Meiping and I became an official couple on August 15, 2014 after a few weeks. Her usual consternation was constantly at odds with me. I sensed her whole attitude changed when I looked at properties two days later in Foshan. Later in the afternoon I visited her work, showed her the details, introduced her to the friend I was with, and chatted to her friends who worked across the street. I could sense in her eyes, this started to become too close, too intimate, too involved. MeiPing hardly asks questions, so when she asked, in Chinese, “Will you look to buy an apartment in Guangzhou as well,” I could sense the reason is because of the unspoken, mother-in-law.

    I know from experience, the Chinese mother-in-law is a sensitive subject, but this time I came with experience. The big mother-in-law talk broke us up on August 18, 2014, and I had not even met her mother. Meiping was always circumspect to speak of her, although, true to her straightforward attitude, assured me there was no chance in hell her mother would accept a foreigner of any kind as a son-in-law. There were lines thrown at me like “迟早都要告诉她” ‘sooner or later I have to tell her’ to the line that every single traditional girl has said to me before, “我妈妈的思想没那么开放。我妈不同意我们一起,所以,对不起”, ‘my mother’s thinking is not so open-minded. My mother won’t agree to us being together, so, sorry’. She also explained that whatever her mother said, because of 孝顺 she had to obey, regardless of our relationship. I knew this was an infallible truth. In addition, her mother would attempt to “二送一” which means find a suitable local Maoming boy and match-make her into a relationship. She came up with a world of excuses not to continue our relationship, ask me to find a better girl, give up easily, ignore me, and in the end, she said, ”面对现实“ ‘face reality’. Such a tumultuous four-day relationship.

    The next day, I was so depressed, unable to wake up from bed. I could easily have just given up on her, because I enrolled in university and met a few new people, one prospective future. But the moment I woke up, and heard the rainstorm outside, I decided, not today, I won’t quit on her. I defied her reasons. I defied her fears. I defied her fallback to tradition. I visited the university to enroll in a new chapter in life. I also visited Meiping. I know where she works, so she can’t escape me. When I walked inside, there was that smile I saw the first time we met, the cute demeanor, the thing I fell in love with. I had arrived, again, in her life…

    On this day August 18, 2014, where we had already broken up our relationship, and she had given back my spare house keys which she planned to do…; in morsels we discussed the taboo mother conversation. Meiping wrote on a piece of newspaper, in Mandarin characters, her thoughts. She seldom shares. The piece of paper she wrote on which said “爱上你样子爱上了错” ‘falling in love with you is like falling in love with a mistake’. A relationship embroiled in an unwanted battle of frontiers was bound to be a ticking time-bomb. So we discussed the issues of why.

    We decided that the “mother” conversation was too soon. I told her, don’t tell your mom. You can tell her before I leave for Australia. Just let us enjoy our relationship. I shared my experience of Chinese who come to Australia and as soon as they arrive in Australia, they forget their culture, and know their mother is a thousand miles away, so the kids are relatively free to love, free to date, free to spend their parents money, and they integrate into our cultural norms. This opened up her mind. Because I pleaded not to tell her mom we gradually removed the unwanted pressure from the situation. MeiPing is free to have a relationship with me detached from her mother. I would remain anonymous for now. Later after our discussion she wrote on the same newspaper “越简单越快乐” ‘little by little, happier’. I was pleased. I never quit. I won her back.

    Still, she was intensely reluctant to continue our relationship as normal. When she finished work she asked us to leave separately. I was sad because those are harsh words to hear, but I also knew her personality, no matter how much she says no, she means yes. I told her, okay, in a sad voice, I will just go walk around the area, she can go catch a train. I turned my back on her and walked off. A few minutes later when I assumed she had gone I turned back for the metro. Meiping was standing on the same corner I left her. She just couldn’t let go. Despite how she knew we would both eventually be hurt in this relationship, because her family will not accept a foreigner, she waited for me. When I walked back she pretended not to see me, and walked on. I smiled, caught up to her, bumped her shoulder, looked her in the eyes, smiled, and held out my hand, as she held my hand back. We were a couple again… just like that. We walked to the park later, to have a one-hour conversation on everything that concerned us. She still had reservations.

    These reservations made me angry later when I called to speak with her. When we are face-to-face she is honest, but when we speak from afar, she jokes around more, deflects issues, makes jokes, and nothing ever comes of our conversations. So I flipped! If you have been my previous girlfriend, you will know what happens when I flip. This time however I flipped with a wave of experience.

    Me: 广州人都无聊。意思是你们都思想落后,你想我是外国人所以你家人,中国不喜欢外国人。你从不去大连。你从不去澳洲。我们都外国人跟中国人结婚。你们都像盲人,盲人摸象。你不知道不同的。
    Translation: Guangdong people are all boring. I mean, you are all backward thinking people. You think I am a foreigner, so your family, all of China dislikes foreigners, you think. You’ve never been to Dalian. You’ve never been to Australia. We all in Australia inter-marry between Australian and Chinese. You all resemble blind people. Blind People Touch Elephants. You don’t know any different.

    Her: 你喜欢大连的女孩那为什么要喜欢我。
    Translation: If you like Dalian girls, why do you want to like me?

    Translation: You resemble a blind person. Guangdong people are all backward thinking. Now it also includes you.

    Her: 随便你怎么说没你们开放
    Translation: How can you so casually say you are not open-minded?

    Me: 你去过了大连吗?难道你知道大连人吗?
    Translation: Have you traveled to Dalian? Do you purport to know Dalian people?

    Her: 没去过。
    Translation: I haven’t been

    Me: 对,你怎么知道呀。你家人告诉你就你应该讨厌外国人,你盲人就要听着,还摸象。我是你的象。你是我的盲人。你思想特别笨。我也许特别钻石,不过,你盲摸我想起来,我是象
    Translation: Right! So how do you know ah? Your family members from that rural city Maoming told you that you should just hate foreigners? Your blind people just want you to listen, but still you want to touch the elephant? I am your elephant. You are my blind person. Your thinking is particular dumb. I may be a special diamond, but you are so blind that when you touch me, you still think I am a useless elephant”

    Her: 知道你聪明啊。
    Translation: I know you are smart

    Me: 面对现实。
    Translation: Face Reality.

    The morning after, when I was ready again to give up, optimism to never quit, saved me. I decided to begin her morning with this poetical line in Mandarin to wake her up.
    Me: 这个是文明,不是茂名,你不是开明,醒醒美萍
    Translation: This is civilization, not Maoming, you are not open-minded, wake up, Meiping.
    After that, she changed.

    Today, we finally discussed “compromise”. We decided, meeting everyday at her work, is too much pressure as well. She wanted to see each other once a week. We settled for once every three days outside of work, and I would not come to see her at work as often. We finally made a compromise together. That was a watershed moment. So we promised to watch a movie, and I promised to focus on my study for the next few days until we see each other again on the weekend… but we still talk daily, as usual. That worked for both of us. We were happy.

    When we met today, the sparks were back on. Meiping is a great, responsible, affectionate person, despite that mongrel attitude 10x worse than my sarcasm. For example, today when she saw me outside her store, she snarled at me. But when she finished, she was the first to hold my hand. She tries to pay for bills now because I once expressed how expensive it was to catch a taxi one hour away to her home, and then back home. Not only does she offer to pay for bills, taxi fares etc… but she will not take my money, at all! She doesn’t use me. When I am silly enough to buy her small gifts, she wards me off from giving her presents, and says “不太好” ‘don’t be so good to me’. She sympathizes with my struggles. I knew when I walked away from her in our final goodbye, and she ran back to me, I knew this is the kind of girl who will support, protect, and believe in me. And she always considers me when she expressed the hurt she may cause me, but let us enjoy our love, and allow someone else to break us up, if disapproval is our fate.

    The cinemas tonight were a whole new sensation. There were no more excuses from her. You’ll probably notice in her eyes, from the before the cinema and after the cinema photos, that something pretty deep happened in that few hours we attempted to focus on an American movie she was unable to comprehend 🙂
    We returned back to my apartment to pick some things up later, drove her by taxi back to her area, and despite it being 2:30am we had late dinner because we both were starving.

    No more awkwardness in public anymore. I call her “很大的文字打我” because like a big mosquito, she slaps me on the hands, ass, back, and chases me down the road when I slap her back harder. She’s rough and playful. Not the usual type of girl I date, which is awesome because she has my type of untamed personality. We now have no awkwardness to be ourselves in China, around everyone. People quickly accept us when I order meals and then we have slapstick conversations in Mandarin. She shared her family, her friends, jokes she sees on her mobile phone, her own pictures, her history, we are more informed about each other. There is less to hide.

    All that trouble, because I never quit. Glad she realized and she never quit either. We’re still happy. Happier. Belief, share it in your heart. Because we all want to be happy. We have an understanding. We are finally, at liberty.

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  165. I have a Chinese mother in law and I love her to bits, she is cute, friendly and even know her words and “suggestions” are more like “this is what you WILL do” I know it is always said with love. She cares deeply but has trouble showing it. ^_^

  166. I am very glad I found this thread, though parts of it make me worry more about meeting my Taiwanese boyfriend(and love of my life)’s family. Other parts and comments remind me to be the kind hearted strong willed Native American girl my Boyfriend fell in love with. Even though I want his family to love me the way I know mine loves him, I’m okay if they don’t. I already know they don’t like that I’m not Asian. The point is we love each other and make each other happy. I will try my best but will not allow any mistreatment on my In-Laws part. Especially after we marry, and have children. When marrying thier son my job is to take care of him and our family not jump through hoops.
    I am a strong lioness and I will hold his parents to the same standard I hold my own, respect us and love any future grandchildren we give you, or you will not see them. Period Point Blank. If at anytime you can’t not be trusted as a good loving grandparent, you will no longer be one. My bf understands this about me and agrees whole heartedly.

  167. Sometimes I have to hold back on my blog so I don’t have to rename it to “Betty and her Chinese In-Laws”. 😀

    I once insulted my mom in law really bad without even knowing. I only realized I said something really really bad (I know it was a little off, but did only realize how far of later). She told me about an ungreatful Austrian daughter in law of her friend who didn’t want to let her MIL move in with them after birth. She complained about the Austrian girl and sobbed about her poor friend. I told her I understood the Austrian girl and I also wouldn’t let her move in after I got a child. Her face turned white and she didn’t talk to me for days… Oops! 😀

  168. My singaporean mil and sil and bil have caused nothing but utter hell for my wonderful husband and me here in canada. For years i have endured things like them saying, ‘we hate canada and we hate canadians’ to my face. I tried all the foods, tried to show an interest in the culture, i regret every wasted minute on a family who moved to canada but despises this place and feels they are superior to all other people groups. My mil makes her son work like a slave for her, spending months of his time each year on her paperwork. Finally after over twelve years of their ongoing hateful comments i asked them to stop and said their comments were racist. Oh, i am the bad person now. Likewise my mil has food wars, she will squirm and fuss over western food but we have to eat utter garbage at hole in the wall dives. Every gathering with her is another excuse for a food war where we get to play a cruel guessing game on what she really wants to eat for dinner. The bil married an american girl and in asian elitist eyes this must be superior because she loves the american and would never, ever say anything bad about america, but canada, her new official home, she hates. The sil said to my face, ‘i hate canada, i hate the place, i only keep my canadian passport to travel’ because while these singaporeans despise canada it seems the world in general still has a decent opinion of canadians. Sil now lives in america. I have heard singaporeans in general can be challenging to get along with, maybe someone can comment on that? Mil gives our kids the cheapest presents you have ever seen yet she is rich. At the beginning inlaws were not involved and spending most of their time in the us, not always legally, but they hated canada and wanted to be far from here. As they have aged they have needed our free medical system and returned. Very,very demanding and unappreciative of their son. If i had to do this over i would not have tried so hard. It has ripped my heart out to have people, my own husband’s family, express so much hatred for my homeland. They are not refugees, they wanted to come here. Establish intense boundaries and don’t weaken them. I have tried too hard and it was not worth it. Please let me know if anyone can comment on the singapore thing. Thanks.

  169. It’s been a while since visiting this sight. My very white, Caucasian daughter left her Chinese/Hawaiian husband/family in 2010 after five years of absolute hell and misery that her in-laws put upon her. She was able to leave with her dignity in tact, placing her previous life behind her and move on.

    It breaks my heart to read about the horrible living situations some of you are experiencing.

    The only advice I can leave you with is to recognize that Asian Culture is Matriarchal dominated. Those people want all the benefits of living in the United States, but refuse to acclimate away from their ancestral ways.

    Don’t walk, run as fast as you can. Get away from the Chinese Mother In Law as she will cause nothing but evil – especially if you are marrying her first born son.

  170. @Darlene Dodge,

    I disagree entirely. One bad person’s experience does not make another. I’ve known plenty of American mother-in-laws and their families who are equally awful. The dragon of a mother-in-law is not single to only Chinese/Asian culture.

    I’ve been married to my (Chinese, mainland-born) husband for almost six years, with two children and another on the way. My mother-in-law positively dotes on me. Nags me with the same nag that she nags her only son. Spoils me rotten. Gossips with me, laughs with me, cries with me. She doesn’t speak English (I do speak Chinese, but that hasn’t always been the case), and she thinks that my American mannerisms are strange, but tolerates them.

    Saying that, I just want others on this comment section to know that having a good relationship with your (Asian/Chinese) mother-in-law and their families is entirely possible. Someone’s bad experience is only that: THEIR bad experience.

  171. Stephanie, Have you taken the time to start at the beginning of these posts and read what people are going through? You clearly are missing the point of the entire blog.

    Enjoy the blissful relationship you have with your MIL; nags and tolerates you?


  172. @Darlene Dodge, no need to get aggressive. I have read through the comments, and that’s why I posted what I did. It sounds like YOU think this comments section is an outlet to degrade an entire culture based on your bad experience, and to pass on your hatred.

    I prefer to pass on encouragement, and I have that right to do so here without you personally attacking me. I responded that your extremely prejudiced advice for people in a mixed-Asian culture relationship to chuck it and run is misplaced.

    My relationship with my mother-in-law is wonderful, and I’m not the only one–did you even read the article posted??? I don’t really see why you took such offense at me posting about my personal relationship with her, just because it is a good one and your experience wasn’t. Jaded, much?

    But please, continue in your misery.

    1. Dear Stephanie,
      I agree with you, I’ve been married to my Taiwanese husband for 19 years. We lived in Taiwan for 7 years and my MIL never, not even once tried to interfere into our marriage, neither there, nor by phone when we live in Europe. His whole family welcomed me and has treated always very well. My husband said even when he was young his parents never tried to tell him what he should do. There was a nosy aunty- my MIL always hated her to try to advise her and her children. Sadly, she just passed away two weeks ago, RIP. But my own dear Mom behaves as my mother-in-law instead of her 🙂 – nevertheless my husband tolerates her since she really helped us so much. A marriage and family always needs cooperation and tolerance on all sides.

  173. Stephanie,

    Count the number of occasions a Pro-Noun was chosen – that should be a clue as to your mind-set.

  174. I had a Chinese MIL. When I was in a wheelchair with a broken pelvis from birthing her grandchildren, I was “lazy” and “not taking care of the house.” When I worked FROM A WHEELCHAIR to support my husband for 6 years while he “searched for work” I was “selfish” and “un-womanly” for not cooking and cleaning for him. But she was never mean. She inserted these comments into the conversation with lots of smiles. She would read books about “positive criticism” and apply all the techniques until I was ready to strangle her. Finally she encouraged my husband to cheat with a woman from the same part of China as her… which he did. 20 years of marriage up in flame. The one good part is that she is now my ex-MIL.

    1. My Chinese MIL too gave me a book on “becoming more positive” when I asked, after 13+ years of marriage for them to stop saying to my face “they hate Canada”–they had moved here. They are allowed to say all types of hate-filled things right to my face, and I am to just smile and accept it in a positive way. This was a “Christian”book too. They consider themselves “Christians” which I find absolutely hilarious. My Chinese MIL also encouraged her own daughter to divorce her American husband. Why? because he was physically ill and couldn’t work. He ended up living on the street while Chinese SIL went on trips around the world. She is a doctor and had all the money in the world, but when he couldn’t get instantly “better” Chinese SIL abandoned him and left him to rot. Eventually he ended up in the psych ward from all the abuse he suffered from the combo of Chinese MIL and Chinese SIL. I am really sorry for your experience. These women are CRAZY.

  175. Wow what a bunch of stories! Even more comments have come in since the last time I read them a couple of years ago. After 5 years with my husband and MIL, and extensive research (reading books, blogs, talking to Chinese and foreigners), I’ll share my tips:

    The husband
    1. You and his vision of married life and raising children should be similar – if not, talk and research until it is. Can you hit a child? Is academic success important? How is cooking, cleaning, earning and spending divided between you?
    I started discussing these the minute we got serious. For example, he would never dream of hitting our kids, which originally he thought to be OK (before I showed him the research and better alternatives).

    2. He should be capable of living alone. Can he cook, clean, take care of himself? If he has never lived alone, he will either expect you to take the place of his mother, or he’ll ask his mother to live in because “it’s convenient”. My guy had lived 10 years alone in Australia, so this part is problem-free. We share cooking and cleaning seamlessly.

    3. He should be capable of standing up to his parents on things that matter to him. His parents should be used to young people occasionally disagreeing and disobeying, with nothing more than a grumble. If they’ve previously had fights and shouting matches on other issues, the parents won’t see you as the cause of them.

    How to deal with MIL, then?

    1. Say “hao de” to everything, while keep doing your own thing. If you disagree, just let it go if it’s a minor issue. If it’s a major issue, calmly explain your solution and get your husband to continue backing up your opinion. Stand your ground only on a handful of important issues, the others, just let slide. This way, you can also require her to respect your ways, because you respect the way she does them.

    2. Try and keep them as out of the loop as possible regarding any big or small problems, unless they could be of help, of it’s something really big, like an illness. I might share some things with MIL, but she is then sure to butt in.

    3. Don’t live together, and don’t rely on them as main childcare. OK some of you might manage living together, that’s great.
    I solved it by hiring a nanny, and then limiting the days MIL can come. I did it as gracefully as possible, “don’t come every day, it’s bad for your blood pressure” etc. I try to be out of the house when she’s there.

    4. NEVER have a bad quarrel. Never go to the point when you lose your temper and say bad things (your food tastes like vomit, all your info is not only wrong but downright dangerous etc.).
    Very often MIL has pushed me very close to losing it, very close, by sarcastic negative comments about everything. At that point I just grab the kids, make a quick excuse, and we run away. It works like magic! “We’ll miss the bus”, “I need my morning walk”, “The sun is at a perfect angle to support melatonin function”, whatever. Just go. Sometimes my nanny tells me MIL is very unhappy about something I did. I seethe at home, she seethes at home, and the next day we pretend it didn’t happen, and soon everyone forgets about it and life goes on as usual.

    My MIL expresses things in a very negative, pessimistic way. Only complaints or orders come out of her mouth. I try to think of how hard it must have been for her in the cultural revolution, being sent to the middle of nowhere to work at a farm for who-knows-how long, with little food, no relatives, not knowing if she’ll live or die, or ever come back. Having the dream of being “a perfect stay-at-home wife”, but limited to one child and forced to work full time, so can’t even feed your own baby. I mean, that kind of past must do something to you. So, I hope I can make her years comfortable.

  176. Some of the advice here is very good if you are a Westerner living in China (or Asia) and marrying a local. If this is the case than unfortunately you do have to bend more to the local culture. If you are in Canada or the US, and you married into a new comer family, and your MIL expects you, the Canadian or American, to bend to Chinese culture–DON’T DO IT. From day one, set the standard of expectation so high that SHE, the MIL, must bend to Canadian/American culture. My MIL, who is from Singapore and moved to Canada, is the biggest you-know-what you’ll ever meet. I made the mistake of trying to please her. Don’t even try to please these bat-crap crazy women. MIL will use her Chinese culture every time to excuse psychopathic behaviour. She’ll take advantage of my own family, say bad things about my own family, refuse to help/participate in the own family, and then blame it on Chinese culture. This is baloney. If she wanted Chinese culture she should have stayed in Singapore where they would actually care about that. I made the mistake of being “too nice”–these women do not respect “nice”–get that crazy lady out of your life from day one. Honestly. And if you are in Canada or America, you have ZERO obligation to bend to Chinese culture. ZERO. I would say try to be respectful for up to 5 years, maximum, while all the while keep in mind that probably nothing will change these crazy dragon women. If you have a good husband, be thankful for that, but set the boundaries to your own nuclear family life very firm. Chinese MILs will exploit. They couldn’t care less about you as DIL, all they care about is what they can get from you, and your extended family. Maybe even think twice about marrying a Chinese man. Perhaps I wish I had run for my life. The only thing that makes my situation worthwhile is my children.

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