The Marriage Series 001
1. How long have you been married?
I've been married for almost 25 years (married in my teens).
2. Did you love your spouse when you first got married? Do you love your spouse now?
I was young and in love. I care and have a love for my husband now.
3. Do you have children, and how have children affected your marriage?
Yes, I have children who are all older and independent now. My children are one of the main reasons why I am still married today. It is a good thing. Not many people will agree with me but everyone's situation is different.
4. Do you live with your in-laws? If so, how does that affect your marriage?
Currently, I do not live with my in-laws. I did live with them at the beginning of my marriage, along with my brother- and sisters-in-law.
It was a different lifestyle for me. I grew up in a small household and married into this much bigger family. I had to learn about my in-law's lifestyle and had to learn and adapt to everyone's personality.
I grew up Christian and went to church every Sunday and married into a traditional Shaman family where we did "jingle bell" almost every weekend. I would get up early to help cook. I even had to learn how to kill chickens which I never did before. I grew up not knowing how to cook and married into a family where I had to learn how to cook for the entire family. All this was life-changing for me, but I never saw it as a burden. I didn't mind living this way because I never grew up in a big family and I liked how close we all were (for the most part). I also saw all these responsibilities as a part of just being a nyab.
My parents never talked to me or teach me to be a nyab, but I knew deep down inside of me that as a Hmong woman marrying a Hmong man, all of what I've learned is just part of what it means to be a nyab.
Looking back, the things I disliked about living with my in-laws were not having privacy, always having to be aware of not "staying in my room" too much/long, watching my brother- and sisters-in-law's children without being asked if I can watch them when they go out shopping, being the only one who usually cleans the house while the other sisters-in-law did not help, buying things for the house for everyone to use while some brothers-in-law and sisters-in-law only buy for themselves and stash the items in their room, father-in-law and mother-in-law asking everyone to cancel their plans when they have last-minute gatherings, and hearing gossip from my sisters-in-law about another sister-in-law.
For the most part, I had no big issues with my father- and mother-in-law. I just looked at them as elders. Sometimes, they may have different viewpoints than me because they are from an older generation so I usually ignore and let things go in one ear and out the other.
5. Describe the cycle of your marriage, from the beginning, middle, to where it is now. What were the hardest times? What were the best times?
The beginning was the hardest because we were just teenagers. We argued and fought a lot. We both had short tempers. My husband went out almost every night with his friends while I was left at home taking care of our kids.
At one point, we did separate but decided to make it work for the sake of our kids. We bought a house of our own shortly after. Things did get better, but we continued to argue and fight over different reasons than before. Most of our arguments were petty things which led to bringing up other things within our marriage.
I also struggled internally because I kept thinking to myself that maybe we should have stayed separated or even gotten a divorce. I wanted to break it off many times, but it was for my own selfish reasons. However, I knew he wanted to make things work and would change his ways, which is why I stayed.
In my 30s, I went back to school to further my education. My husband was too consumed with his personal hobbies so I ended up being supermom: take care of the children, doing the wife and nyab duties, and going to school and work. All of that affected me emotionally because I felt I wasn't getting the support that I needed/wanted; there was so much on my plate but I learned to cope with everything and kept it moving.
The best time with our marriage is right now. We are older, wiser, and our children are grown. We get to spend more time together as husband and wife. We get to enjoy our own individual hobbies. We argue less because we know what we do to piss each other so we tread carefully with that.
6. What advice do you have for young couples? What advice do you have for struggling couples?
For young couples:
- Have fun together as husband-wife before having children
- If you live with your in-laws, learn and respect their ways although you may not like it 100% of the time. When you move out on your own, then you can establish your own lifestyle.
- Both husband and wife will change as time goes by (due to many life factors) so you have to be patient with one another. Your 20s will be different from your 30s, your 30s will be different from your 40s, etc. As you change and grow into your own individual identity, your marriage will also change.
For struggling couples:
- Pick your battles. Not every disagreement needs to end up in an argument with trying to prove a point. Sometimes, it's best to be the bigger person and just let it go.
- Don't make a permanent decision based on temporary feelings. Don't break up the marriage because of petty disagreements. 'Most things' can be worked out if you really want it to.
- Marriage is a two-way street. You can't be selfish and want things your way all the time. Learn to see things in the middle.
- Show appreciation for each other. One of the main reasons why marriages do not last is because there is a lack of appreciation. We hear it a lot from wives, but it goes both ways!
- Know your role. There are some things that are meant for a husband to do and to be, and the same goes for a wife as well.
- Take accountability to see how YOU can change to make things better. Sometimes, we are too quick to judge/blame our spouse when we have also contributed to the problem.
For all couples:
- Don't compare your relationship to others, especially with those on social media.
- Spend time together. Go on date nights or on mini-vacations without the kids if you can.
- Spend time away from each other too so you can miss each other. Don't nag or check up on your spouse every single minute. Let them have their fun.
- Compliment each other. Flirt and make love often to keep things spicy. just because you're married doesn't mean these things need/have to stop.
- Kiss your spouse good morning, goodnight, and when they come home from work to show them that you missed them.
- Maintain yourself and look up to par. Don't lose yourself just because you're married now with children.