Interracial Marriage Series: Open Arms
When I hear that Hmong parents are welcoming of their children's significance other, it makes me so happy. There was a time when Hmong parents were not but I'm glad times are changing and most of our Hmong parents are adapting and more accepting.
Our next interview, shows how both sides of the family were very welcoming of their children's relationship and treated their son/daughter in law like their own. Read her interview below and let us know your thoughts.
How did you guys meet? How old were you when you got married? How long have you been married? Can you also include how long you guys were dating before marriage?
We met at a club but we like to joke around and say we met at the library. We dated for 6.5 years before getting married. I was 32 years old when I got married. We've been married for 4 years now.
What were the initial feelings your family had about you dating and marrying outside of the Hmong Community/Marrying into the Hmong community?
My family has always welcomed my husband with open arms. They love him like their own.
Were they accepting or not accepting of the relationship? How did you feel about that?
My family was accepting of the relationship since I've never actually brought home a Hmong boyfriend. They knew I was different. I had always thought I'd date and marry Hmong but that wasn't in the cards for me. They saw how well my husband treated and provided for me so I think that made them feel relieved and open to me marrying a non-Hmong person.Did you have an American wedding or traditional Hmong wedding? Or both? Since you did not have a Hmong wedding and you had an American Wedding, how did you narrow down your list of guests? Immediate friends and family? Extended family? Etc.(Asking because at Hmong Weddings, there’s no RSVPs, everyone just shows up, if they were invited).
I had only an American wedding. Since my husband was not Hmong, we didn't need to do the Hmong traditional wedding per my parents and clan. The hardest part was who to invite because my Hmong family is big. We were able to narrow the guest list down to our immediate family and friends, mom and dad’s siblings, and closest family from the clan. Everyone was very good about RSVPing and made sure they followed up for confirmation.
What did your family think about each ceremony?
My older sister got married in a similar manner so my family was used to it. But my mom did bring up years later that she had wish I had done a Hmong wedding. She said I had not formally separated from her since we didn't get to eat our chicken together.
Did your spouse have to pay the dowry?
No, he didn't have to because my parents lived with me for 9 years and I was the main provider for them. My parents thought it was too much of a financial burden to put on us since we had to pay for the American wedding. Though my husband still insists he's paying it one day.
Describe your relationship with your in laws? What were your initial feelings when your husband first introduced you to his parents? What were your thoughts, when you met his parents and after meeting them? Nervous, etc...
I have a great relationship with my in-laws. They're warm and kind and have always treated me like their own. My husband is mixed race so I knew that his parents would be accepting of me. When I met them for the first time, I wasn't nervous because they had raised a humble and loving son.
Describe your spouse’'s relationship with your family?
My spouse has a good relationship with my family. I think at times he struggles because he is a very direct person and that can be off putting or considered rude because in Hmong culture we tend to beat around the bush and not express our true feelings because we don't want to hurt others' feelings or create conflict in the family. If my spouse has a conflict with my family, we've agreed that I’d handle that and vice versa. You know your family best and should manage those conflicts and be a liaison for your spouse.
Does your spouse participate in events within your Family and the Hmong community, for example, attend funerals, killing cows, attending the New Year, etc. What does he think about all of it? From your point of view, does your husband enjoy attending these events? Give some details to explain your answer response.
He enjoys these events only if there is limited or no drinking involvement for him. He doesn't drink and doesn't like the social pressure to drink when we're at Hmong events. If he feels pressured to drink, he politely declines and usually they don't ask again.
Funerals: He attends but does not participate in rituals since he is catholic.
Hmong New Year: He attends and celebrates HNY every year with my family.
Hmong Weddings: He attends but doesn't participate in the rituals.What has been the best thing/worst thing about marrying outside of your race? Can you include here, how many of your sisters are married, and what birth order you’re in? Also, if you married before or after an older sibling/younger sibling.
I love our culture and speak Hmong fluently but I think the best thing about marrying outside is not having the same responsibilities as my other sisters who've married into Hmong families. I have seven sisters and am the third oldest daughter. I married after a younger sibling. She said I was taking too long. I see how strong my sisters are and how much dedication they put into their own family and both the husband and wife's family. It's a lot to balance but they do it with grace and finesse.
If you have children, how has that affected your relationship with family members? If you have children, are they treated differently from the other children? If you have children, do your children know how to speak Hmong? Is that important to you for them to speak Hmong?
We have a little girl and another one on the way. My family loves her like their own. My parents actually gave her a beautiful Hmong name when she was born. She's one of the only grand-kids that actually say grandma in Hmong. My mom loves hearing her say that. She's still working on how to say grandpa I'm Hmong. I try to speak to her in Hmong but it's a challenge when your spouse doesn't. I think when it comes to raising kids, everyone has their own opinions and ways they like to raise their children. My husband and I struggle a lot when we're around my family because most of my siblings with children are not as worried about some of the things we are and that definitely puts some distance among us and they feel like it prevents them from getting to know our toddler. This is something we're still trying to figure out.
Any advice to others out there who may be struggling to receive support from their families.
I think the best thing you can do is bring your family to all the family events. Do not try to hide them or make excuses that it'll be easier so you don't have to deal with your family not being supportive or nice to your family. It's important to stand up for your family and to not tolerate those who do not want to support you and your family. If your family wants to see you, let them know that your family will also be coming along and if that isn't a choice then you don't show up at all. This is tough to do but you have to stand with your own family before anything can get accomplished or relationships can be repaired.
Would you do anything differently?
I wouldn't do anything different. Things happen for a reason and eventually all these things will find a way for it all to work out.