The Nyab Series: Married Over Half of My Life
1. How old were you when you got married?
I was 19, turning 20 the following month.
2. How long have you been married?
I've been married for 21 and a half years.
3. How did you meet your husband?
I met my husband through church. Our youth group played volleyball together on the weekends.
4. Were you in love?
No I wasn't in love. Maybe I was desperate for a husband.
5. Did you know your in-laws prior to meeting them?
No I didn't know my in-laws prior to meeting them.
6. Did you get along with them?
Yes, I believe I did.
7. What were the expectations you had prior to becoming a nyab?
My expectations were that I had to be the perfect nyab. I would have to cook, clean, wake up early, and do whatever it is that my in-laws asked.
8. What did your parents teach you about being a nyab?
They taught me to not be lazy, and to cook and clean.
9. Was it what you expected? Why or why not?
Yes it was what I expected. My in-laws farmed, and there was always constant cleaning, cooking, and running errands.
10. What are the pros and cons of being a nyab? Explain.
The upside is that if your husband loves and respects you, it is the best feeling. On the other hand, my mother-in-law wanted a Hmong Green daughter-in-law, and I was a Hmong White.
11. Did you marry the youngest son or oldest son? What was the experience like?
I was married to the oldest son. It wasn't so bad, but as the parents got older and they passed, everything sat on my husband's shoulders. Not only that but if there were problems that arose, he was the "go to" person, even though no one tells him anything.
12. What is the relationship with your fellow nyabs in the family? Do you wish you could be more open with your fellow nyabs?
My relationship with my fellow nyabs is fine, I suppose. We're open enough, and occasionally have dinner and drinks. I've been missing one of my niam ntxawm a lot these past few months.
13. Describe what has been the biggest struggle for you?
There is the constant accusations of cheating behind their backs, and also my husband's midlife crisis.
14. Do you live with your in-laws? Would you move out? How would this affect your relationship with your in-laws?
We used to. We lived with them until my mother-in-law said she wasted $10k on me, even though it was her son and her arguing, and I had nothing to do with it.
Moving out was the best thing for us. It made them miss us more, especially the grandchildren.
15. What is your relationship with your father- and mother-in-law?
My in-laws were good people. I had the best father-in-law any nyab could have asked for. He never talked down to me or my side of the family. He was a hardworking man and he loved his grandchildren. My kids tell me that they miss how Grandpa would give them candy from under his pillow, which was his secret stash (he was diabetic!). When my parents used to live close by and visited, he would be the one to cook for them.
My mother-in-law was nice as well. She was cool and lenient towards me, my children, and her children as well. She wasn't strict or mean like I was expecting. Overall, I'm glad I had her as my mother-in-law instead of someone else. During her last few weeks of life, we wanted her to move in with us, but she passed away before that happened.
16. Does your husband stand up for you?
He has never stood up for me, but I'm very capable of being verbal and expressing my feelings should anyone disrespect me.
17. What is your husband's role in the family and how does that affect you?
Because he is the oldest child of a big family, it can get very hectic and stressful because when there is a death or cheating accusations, everyone will call him because "he'll take care of it." No one actually calls to see how he's doing or how our kids are doing. It irritates the crap out of me because I believe that none of his siblings respect him as the oldest, but he still has to try and take care of everyone including his own family.
18. How is your relationship with your brother- and sister-in-laws?
It's fine. We get together sometimes for dinner, drinks and card games.
19. What kind of advice would you give to a younger nyab?
Don't rush into marriage thinking you're in love. Be patient, loving, and respectful of your in-laws like you would your own family.
20. What do you love about being a nyab?
I love that my children had grandparents that loved them and vice versa.
21. If you could go back and give your younger self advice, what would you tell yourself, as far as being a nyab?
I would have told myself that I should complete school while I'm young, even if I got married young.
22. Knowing what you know now, would you have gotten married at the same, or wait until you were a little older? Why?
I would not have gotten married at all! But if I had to, I would have waited until I was a lot older and financially ready to support my babies and my family.