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How to explain to my partner that I can't / don't want to live with his parents?

(48 Posts)
quietus Mon 01-Apr-13 16:59:39

My partner is Pakistani and we have a beautiful two-year old son. We have no bigger issues except that he is the oldest son and he feels responsible for his parents. This means that he wants us, and excepts from me, to live with his parents. He is just about to bring them to Britain.
On many occassions I have tried to talk to him and explain him why I can't live with them. I tried to explain him that I can't even live with my family and would not expect from him to live with them either. It is really nothing personal, but it is just how I am and how I was raised. I am also very independent and I don't have to rely on him financially.

This is getting sometimes so bad and I am so depressed. We have even talked about separation, but then I worry that he will go for the custody over child.
I suggested that he should talk to them and explain them the situation, but he doesn't even want to hear about it, because they allegedly wouldn't understand, and this is how they were brought up. I don't agree with this because they are both reasonable people, and personally I really have nothing against them. What hurts me the most is that they don't know what is happening between us, and how much this issue makes our relationship to deterriorate! Because of his attitude I fear I am developing a really strong hatred towards them, and even though this is not right, I can't help myself! Even when I think of them coming I get a very visible skin reaction. sad

How do I approach this issue? We have had some other issues as well, but we have sorted them out successfully.
Any advice would be greatly appreciated!!

anonymosity Tue 02-Apr-13 03:59:33

Its clearly important to him that he cares for his parents and it sounds like he is committed to doing it in a very traditional way.

Is there really no way you could give it a go? Can you not set up house so that there are separate areas so you can be alone when you need to be?

You may find having these people closer to you, in your life is hugely rewarding. Your child will have grandparents on call to show love and teach him / her things.

If you have truly nothing against these people I think you need to consider overcoming your cultural expectations and see if you cannot find a way of moving forward in a way that keeps your small (and larger) family together.

(I am sorry not to be suggesting arguments against it - I'm sure someone will come along more able to do this....)

MorrisZapp Tue 02-Apr-13 04:17:24

Did you discuss cultural differences before settling down together? Personally, I couldn't have my in laws or anybody else living with me, and would rather split up I think than go through that.

Did your DP think you'd be ok with this? If so, why?

Silvaspring Tue 02-Apr-13 05:23:49

I have been in a similar situation and I want to reassure you: it may not be as bad as you think. It is certainly not worth separating over! There are traditional cultural expectations in Pakistani families but there is more than one way to "fit in" with them. It may be that you only have to live with them for a while - or that they will be happy with you living nearby. In the beginning they will probably be nervous and want to hang on to every single aspect of their culture - possibly more than they would otherwise do, because they are in a new country and you, as an "outsider", are a potential threat to that culture. But, given time, they will probably relax once they get to know you. This is what happened to me. Compromise and give and take are the keys.

quietus Tue 02-Apr-13 08:38:38

Dear all,

Thanks for your answers.
I can't and don't want to live with them for various reasons, and I do have some experiences living with them. As I said, it is nothing personal but it may become personal because in their presence I really become malicious. It is very clear that we have different expectations from each others and different understanding of the world. My MIL was with us after I gave birth, and she wasn't helpful at all - she somehow thought that even after C-section I should take care of her in terms of cooking, cleaning, etc. She was just sitting around while my mom and me were doing everything to accommodate guests! There were other things as well, and my partner fully took her side, which is something he always do in their presence. He feels he needs to protect them, because they are "so weak!" Additionally, he changes so much when they are around. Three week after my birth she left in tears, without understanding why I "hate her so much!" And I am still so traumatised and I can't help myself hating him for making my experience of childbirth so miserable. He brought her there after all, and he didn't even wonder if somebody else's (yes, I know she is his mom, but she didn't have to go through emotional and hormonal upheavals) presence is going to have an impact on my emotional state of mind in such a delicate moment. I was trying to explain her how I feel, but she didn't either understand or he didn't translate correctly on purpose.
As I said, I have nothing against them personally, but I just think they should stay where they are.
I think it would be so much different if they were not financially, and obviously emotionally, dependent on him. I truly can't believe that 60+ old people can put themselves in a situation to be so dependent. He always finds different arguments for living with them, one of them being that the mother can't stand the father (who is abusive). And allegedly no other children are good enough to take care of them, only him!

Having said that, their son with learning difficulties lives with them, but they are still coming over to stay with us for four months or so even though they are very "concerned about his wellbeing" but there is nobody else to take care of him?

Yes, we discussed these issues when we met, and I preliminary said I could live with them but then I found out that I can't. I guess we said many things which we now can't fulfil. But he should have been also aware that he is about to affect his family's expectations by being with someone from outside of his cultural circle. I feel sorry for him because on one side he wants to be like a "Westerner" while on the other all these issues are pulling him back to where he is coming from.

So please, before you accuse me of being malicious and selfish, please tell me how do I approach them? Is there any point in talking to them? He forbade me to mention this issue in front of them, but how fair is that????

anonymosity Tue 02-Apr-13 16:50:58

It sounds like a really, really challenging situation and I do feel for you. I don't know what anyone can suggest as it appears you're in a kind of stale-mate situation with your partner. Some compromise is necessary and you're going to have to work through options together, to find that compromise, I believe.

quietus Tue 02-Apr-13 21:02:53

thanks, anonymosity.
i just don't understand why i "am not allowed" to talk to his parents about this issue. his argument is that this is their upbringing and they don't know a different way. i somehow just can't buy this argument, as life brings challenges, and they should be aware that we don't share the same culture.
i remember him once telling me that they asked if i would mind them coming and staying for few months. his answer was that this was not my business, as the flat belongs to him??? now, how nasty is that? but it shows that they have some concerns.

mumblechum1 Tue 02-Apr-13 21:07:12

Surely they wouldn't have the right to live in the UK permanently if they don't have jobs here though?

How long would they legally be allowed to stay here?

You have my sympathies OP, I think in your shoes I would have to insist that they set up home elsewhere. If they want to live in the UK they are going to have to adapt to UK norms.

quietus Tue 02-Apr-13 21:30:55

of course they have right to settle here permanently as he sponsored them, because they are his "dependents". they are now permanent residents in britain. they don't have to work, but after five years they are entitled to british pension (now, how unfair is that? i know it isn't right from me to think that this is unfair, but it can't understand that the system tolerates this). they are not going to set up their homes elsewhere because they are allegedly not used to this. his mom has never work, and the father does not have qualifications.
it seems that i will have to go against my partner's expectations and talk to them directly about it. there is no other way out.

mumblechum1 Tue 02-Apr-13 22:28:44

I had no idea that people who've made no contributions are entitled to UK pensions shock but that's a side issue.

Yes, talk to them directly about it but make sure he knows so he doesn't think you're going behind his back.

quietus Tue 02-Apr-13 22:54:45

yes, mumblechum, isn't that sad? i was also shocked when i found out.
Well, he will know about it as he will have to translate. smile but anyway, i wouldn't do it behind his back as i know how this issue is sensitive.

anonymosity Wed 03-Apr-13 00:07:26

Could you live next door to each other and knock a door through? I know families who have done this after divorce and it can work.

quietus Wed 03-Apr-13 00:12:45

i didn't even think about it. a long time ago i suggested that they should perhaps live somewhere in the same neighbourhood or the same town, but he said that this would be very insulting?
i think i should really talk to them as i think that it is not fair that they don't know what the problem is. after all we are mature people so they should understand. my parents were not really happy that we are together (because they were scared of cultural differences), but they accepted him readily.

Grinkly Wed 03-Apr-13 00:39:05

Speak to a lawyer to find out about custody of DS, no point worrying over something that might not happen.

It's a bit worrying about his dependent brother, will they want to bring him over too after a while. Perhaps you can agree that you spend part of the day with your mother, then the evening at home or something.

You might have to do the cooking. Perhaps you could arrange that DMIL does the cooking but you do the shopping.

It's a big problem.

If you agree that they are coming for say, 3 months, could you stick that? Then future decisions could be made depending on how everyone got on. Perhaps ILs will want to live nearby? Or are they going back to look after the other DS?

Grinkly Wed 03-Apr-13 00:40:26

DMIL would have been out of her comfort zone when she first came over to visit at the time of new baby. She probably normally works v hard.

quietus Wed 03-Apr-13 08:09:13

his brother was here but he lost his right to stay in britain.
and i work full time and all of my family is abroad - i myself am a foreigner here. i have a good job with a lot of responsibilities and stress, so when i come home i want to be in my own place, without anybody's interventions or unwanted physical presence on everyday basis.
whenever i ask him for how long they will stay the answer is that this is not my problem.
DMIL doesn't actually work hard at all. she is used to be served. sister never worked because she "had to take care of parents." back home they had "a cleaner" (somebody who would come every day and sweep the dust while they were having breakfast), "gardnerer" - a person responsible for taking care of one tree in front of the house, and even doing the laundry was a big shame. and all of this paid from their's son british salary. otherwise they would be nothing. been there, saw it with my own eyes. oh well, it seems that i am becoming a racist or will be accused of being one. But I really don't find them responsible for this situation. If there is somebody to blame, it is solely my partner and me from starting this relationship. I can clearly see it now.
whatever people say on this forum, i now think that it would have been much easier for me to find somebody of my own kind. this type of relationship is very difficult to manage, and unnecessarily takes away all our energy and good will.

SparklyVampire Wed 03-Apr-13 08:26:10

I think that if you are this unhappy about, well basically everything to do with your DP and his culture then maybe it would be in your best interests to split.
Having someone around who you resent would not make a pleasant atmosphere for anyone involved. Your DP also sounds very controlling tbh by completely dismissing your very valid concerns about who will share your home.

quietus Wed 03-Apr-13 08:33:23

Hello Vampire,

This is what I think will happen anyway, because we won't be able to go on like this. I totally understand and respect him for wanting to help his parents, as there are so many lonely old people completely left on their own in Britain. However, I come from a family where everybody is responsible for their own well-being. My own sister is severely disabled (neurological/autoimmune condition) but she still tries to live by herself and take care of herself. My parents are both 70+, still very active in and around the house as there is so much to take care of.
I really appreciate all answers and support offered on this forum, but it strikes me that nobody has so far given me any advice on how to approach his parents? Is this something that the majority of people get along with for the sake of peace in the house, or am I exaggerating?

BetterOnACamel Wed 03-Apr-13 08:55:59

Just from a S.Asian perspective - I think approaching his parents directly will be construed as a very hostile and disrespectful gesture that will certainly put a massive strain on your relationship which sounds like it's already struggling over the issue.

I can see see where they are coming from - and it is very much a culture clash. As the eldest (?)/ more prosperous son he IS responsible for looking after his parents in their old age (to the extent that in that culture daughters in law would be required to literally nurse the PILs until they pass on!) - and unlike your family these people would really not be able to comprehend not having that support, as much as your family members would be horrified if extended family moved in and took over every aspect of their lives. At this age I doubt that in addition to the changes brought about by moving to a different world they would suddenly be able to learn self-sufficiency as well.

Your DH seems to be taking it for granted that you will understand and fall in with his perspective in spite of it being completely alien to your upbringing/culture and you need to address this with him, not with two elderly people who are already being displaced and feeling alienated - and finding your perspective as hard to wrap their heads around as you are theirs.
Your husband made the decision to adopt the UK as his home and to love and create a family with you - it is his (and your) responsibility to sort this out between yourselves one way or another - if you drag the parents chances for a positive outcome are bleak.

quietus Wed 03-Apr-13 09:08:40

Dear BetterOnACamel,

Thanks so much for sharing your perspective with me, and I would like to hear more how people cope with this situation. This is why I can't blame them for anything, I can only blame him and myself.
He seems to be having a mindset of separating "his family", which is them and myself (who obviously doesn't want to become a part of that family). I was trying to explain him that all older South Asian women I see around the town are usually accompanied by younger ones who act as their nannies. I simply can't see myself in that role. I really don't understand why he had to bring them here, they will be just miserable and lonely.
I think he kind of understands all these issues but it is very difficult for him to overcome the cultural gap.

Timetoask Wed 03-Apr-13 09:10:44

This is a tough one, unfortunately, I think you will either have to agree with live with your inlaws or separate. These cultural expectations are so strong that I don't see you winning.

quietus Wed 03-Apr-13 09:22:52

I am aware of this, Timetoask... but in that case we will have to agree on what's going to happen with our little son. My heart breaks when I just think about that.

BetterOnACamel Wed 03-Apr-13 09:23:20

More than half the TV shows in S.Asia are based on the plot of strife between mother-in-law and wife - goes to show you it's a struggle even when both sides are from the same background and share the same cultural context!

I would suggest having an agreeable face on to have a chat with the DH - pointing out that

a) moving one's elderly parents away from their social structure, friends, family, lifestyle - everything they hold familiar and dear is more for his peace of mind than their welfare. As you well know, health services, domestic help, all this stuff is cheap as chips back there and it's much easier to support them on their home ground with all the creature comforts they take for granted than foist this upheaval on them and struggle here.


b) you are different culturally - and just as you can't completely disregard where he's coming from - he can't disregard your feelings and perspective either - that's the partnership you agreed to presumably when you met and married - and that partnership will suffer if one partner makes a major life change without consideration for the other.

Ultimately he'll end up with the two sets of people he holds most dear in his life suffering.

laptopwieldingharpy Wed 03-Apr-13 09:28:00

Hi quietus,
Been sitting on my hands since i read your OP.
At the end of the day i concur with timetoask.

It was very naive of you two to put your head in the sand about this when you both know it was looming.

Dont know what to say, hope you 2 can come to some practical arrangement. Can DH afford to put them up in a flat next door and find someone in the community to look after them like a daughter? That would be lovely for your child to have another loving household to go to.

laptopwieldingharpy Wed 03-Apr-13 09:35:55

Then again betteroncamel is spot on re option a)

It will be very hard for them unless you and DH have very solid grounding in their community (which i doubt from your post).

Am not SE asian but but from a mediteranean country with loosely similar expectations. My parents are really well travelled and have lived many years throughout Europe as expats. They could never ever live in the UK full time for retirement. I can only imagine what a culture shock it would be for your inlaws. Is DH in denial about this?

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