Interracial Marriage Series: Breaking the Norm, Part 1
Being a girl and growing up in the Hmong Community, we were raised to one day become an outstanding citizen, marry into a great family, and use all the skills we learned as a child to be the best hmong nyab. But what if the norm was broken and you did not marry into a Hmong family?
This week, we are excited to kick off our new series, Interracial Marriage, with my interview about breaking the norm and marrying someone who is not Hmong.
1. How did you guys meet? How old were you when you got married? How long have you been married?
When my husband and I first met, we were both attending college in Spanish class. He is Caucasian. We were 19 years old when we first started dating and were married at 21. We dated for 2 and a half years and will be married 15 years this May.
2. What were the initial feelings your family had about you dating and then marrying out of the Hmong Community? What are their feelings now?
I am the first of my eleven brothers and sisters to marry someone other than Hmong. My parents had always known I was probably never going to marry a Hmong guy and I also had a couple of aunts who either were married or in a long term relationship with someone out of race, so they opened the door for me. It was easy for me to bring someone that was not Hmong to the house. I am very thankful that my parents were very understanding and accepting. They loved my husband just like they loved their hmong vauvs.
3. Did you have an American wedding or traditional Hmong wedding? Or both? Did your husband have to pay the dowry?
My husband and I did not have a big American wedding. We did get married in a church by a Chaplain and then we had a small Hmong reception a few months later. Yes, he had to pay a dowry. Even though it wasn't as much as a traditional dowry. $4000, just in case anyone was curious.
4. Describe your husband's relationship with your family?
When we were dating, he was considered an outsider, even though my parents were accepting of him. Everyone was cordial and polite when he came around to family functions, but it wasn't until we officially married, that he felt like a part of the family. Through my eyes, I felt like he struggled a little at the beginning but now he's one of the brother in laws, a Hmong vauv.
5. Does your husband participate in events within your family and the Hmong community, for example, attend funerals, killing cows, attending the New Year, etc?
Yes, he does participate. In the beginning, he really did not. He did a lot of observing. I think it was a lot for him to take in. He is very comfortable now doing all things a Hmong vauv would do.
6. Would you do anything differently?
Yes. I would definitely teach him how to speak Hmong from the get go. He is not fluent but does know some phrases and understand a little bit.
7. What has been the best thing/worst thing about marrying outside of your race?
The best thing about marrying outside the Hmong community is that many of Hmong people are very accepting of the our relationship. The Hmong Nyab expectations doesn't really go into affect.
The worst thing about marrying an outsider...there really isn't a negative thing about it in my case.
8. If you have children, how has that affected your relationship with family members? Are they treated differently from the other children?
My family loves my kids. They always tell me my kids are cute. They are treated just like any other Hmong children.
9. If you have children, does your children know how to speak Hmong? Is that important to you for them to speak Hmong?
My children are 12, 2, and 1 years old. I speak a lot of Hmonglish to them. I would like to only speak Hmong but sometimes I even struggle with some of the words. Yes, it is important that I try to teach and speak Hmong to them. We have to preserve our Hmong language.
10. Any advice to others out there who may be struggling to receive support from their families?
When you fall in love, the race or skin color of the person you love does not matter. Follow your heart, be patient, and love the person you're with. At the end of the day, you're the person who is in the relationship not the people with the opinions.